Monday, May 10, 2010




Nothing sadder than the soul of a clown in spring

or an old man sitting on a park bench alone

like a garden gate someone left open for good.

And deep underground I can feel the roots of the flowers

waiting for news of the weather

so they can decide what to wear

and which colour goes with another.

And I can’t look at the white chalices of the morning glory

whatever it’s tangled up in like a junkie

without seeing some kind of grail-quest going on

and I always want to say

Don’t look for it before it’s gone

but delusion too is a way of getting on with things

and what have I ever gone looking for

that wasn’t just as beautifully foolish?

God for example.

Or enough light

in an ice-storm of a woman

to survive the night

like a wooly mammoth

though it lasts twenty-five thousand years.

I keep trying to carve chandeliers out of glaciers

but everything just ends up in tears on the sea-floor.

Or the wind wants to give the waves a haircut.

But as my brother would say

That’s ok too

and expand his black laughter like space

to include everything wise or foolish

that wants to take its place inside the theater.

Existence is an occasion I dress for like a human.

And one size fits all.

So I assume everything lives as I do

even inanimate things like rocks and bones

as if we were all modes of the same intelligence

that excites us with insight

when the light strikes the water

and we all begin with no proof of anything

except somehow we’re all here alone together

rising and falling like waves

on the great night sea of awareness

that cradles us in its arms

like the full moon between opposites

and shines down on everything alike

purring with ancient lullabies of reality

and says in a voice even children don’t fear

You can trust the universe completely.

Even when the babies fall down

like blossoms torn from the fruit.

Even when the wind gusts up

like a dervish of stars in your face

with the moon like a dagger between his teeth

and his blood like a savage rose

and says There’s nothing to affirm or refute

but you should try dancing

for a change of direction

and spins off like a galaxy into deep space.

An echo perches on the branch above me

like a bird from a distant valley

feathered by the shadows of death

and asks me if I know how to live

and I let the green bough in my heart answer

poem after poem like plum blossoms

trying to be serious

God may have had the first word

but the last word will be up to us.














What the shadows think of as water.

Shadow-water on the grass like the tide of a tree.

All the windows in the neighbourhood

look cold and lonely.

Only crows and gulls on the wind.

Was just about to take the next poem out of here

when I started wondering

if our shadows think of us as their identities.

Poor things.

Nothing sings

as the tree slips its finger

through a lot of token engagement rings

that were the growing edge of last spring.

And though the flowers look the same

as they did last year

I’m sure they don’t remember me

and to be honest

I’d be somewhat insulted if they did.

Music’s not the memory of someone who’s listening.

Music is what time feels like

when it gets carried away like a leaf.

Music is the bell

peace takes off the shoulders

of a refugee grief

looking for shelter at the side of the road

among the weeds and the wildflowers.

What’s the mind

if not picture-music?

Things flowing in and out of focus like fish

swimming through space

swimming with stars

swimming through the wind

as it coils and unspools

like a snakedance on the mindstream

when the moon lays its feather on the waters?


All that is intangible

about our joys and our sorrows.

The unattainability of what we expect of ourselves

when our longings grow infinite in the darkness

and music is the only light we’ve got to go by.

Music on the rocks

is still a siren you can drown in

and Orpheus still loses his prophetic head

for driving the maenads mad with his lyre

and frenzied choirmasters that scream like fire

still echo the agony of eagles in the valley below

that wakes up to the death-throes of unknown predators

high in the mountains above

where music has stood its ground for years

like one of the clouds that circle the pious peaks.

Music is all eyes that can seek what you’re looking for

when the wine goes looking for the grail

like blood that’s out of touch with its own heart

but it doesn’t do the finding for you.

That’s your part.

But even when we fail

music takes its tail in its mouth

like the old symbol for eternity

and shows us a way of thinking for ourselves

that doesn’t bind us to anything.

Music is hunger and food.

Music is sin and redemption.

Music is what the Buddha knows

that he never told anyone

when he propped his loveletter

in front of the mirror

where no one could find it.

An anthem in hell.

A hymn in heaven.

A requiem

and epithalamion on earth.

Music dresses for the occasion

but everybody listens to it

as if they were naked.

And then it throws you the shirt off its back

and walks off stage skinless.

Doorway and exit and entrance

music crosses its own threshold

with every step it takes away from home

without looking back

to see who might be following.