Friday, June 4, 2010




Love isn’t an anti-venom

you inject into your heart

every time you feel the moon

sink its fangs into your heel

like Persephone in the spring

dragged down into the underworld.

Love isn’t a cure

for the way you feel

bilious about the world.

It isn’t black toast to your stomach acid.

It isn’t the holy grail.

Go looking for it like a sail

even over the edge of the known world

and you and the wind will both fail.

Try to run from it like time

and it turns into space.

Love isn’t the meaning of anything.

It isn’t a cause.

It isn’t a final effect.

And though it might hang from the Buddha’s nose

like the jewel of a fact

it’s not something to accept or reject.

Love is an embrace that deepens your solitude.

It isn’t a way of keeping the lights on at night.

It won’t save you from death.

Love is a dark matter.

What can you know of it?

It’s not an abstract idea.

It’s not in the world of forms

though it often assumes

the shape of the universe

like a white horse on a hillside in the moonlight

in early autumn with the first frost upon the ground

it isn’t the exit of your beginnings

nor the entrance of your ends.

Love is a helium high weather balloon

that dumps things out to gain altitude

like family and friends

as it ascends to the stars.

But it’s not a parachute.

It’s not a dandelion seed.

It’s not a way of growing wings on the way down

like the twin-bladed propellers

on the seeds of a maple tree

or Archaeopteryx.

It won’t turn your feathers back into scales.

You might unreasonably expect perfection

but love is just as much a way

of imperfecting things

as it is the genius that resolves them

by coming up with a unified field theory

that explains everything.

When two people gamble on love

one is always the squared bone

of a foundation stone

and the other the eyes of the dice.

Love can squander stars

like a generous Cowichan chieftain at a Potlatch

to make a show of its power and wealth

and spend itself like a mountain

on everyone around

and then resent the wind a few seeds

stuck in its hair like flowerless diamonds.

To ask for something

isn’t the same as to ask

but love isn’t the answer to a prayer

anymore than a face in a mirror is.

It’s like inspiration.

It doesn’t care.

Love might be food for the soul.

But it hungers like a body.

The gods might imbibe

from celestial fountains

all kinds of elixirs nectars and wine

but there’s nothing divine

about the way love drinks blood.

Or tears the flesh of false messiahs.

If you haven’t learned to fear love

you don’t know it yet.

You don’t know

how dark and lonely it can get

on the far side of the moon

when love turns its back on you

like a cross it refused to carry.

You don’t know the terrible history

of being mortal in a world that’s passing

until love opens its eyelids like a rose

and reveals the corruption its been hiding

deep in its heart for years

like a worm

that just wouldn’t turn into a butterfly.

Or what a thankless discipline it is

to haul your emotions

like blocks of quicksand

up to the top of a gold-capped pyramid

that never got off the ground

to ensure the afterlife of love

is a happy mummy hunting with Orion

among stars that shine down on nothing.

Love is a cosmic caprice.

An uncompromising accomplice.

It commits the crime

and then it calls the police

and makes a false confession.

Love isn’t a calling or a cult or a mission.

It isn’t a holy war God can’t win.

You can sell your soul

like debased currency

to the devil for it

or your flesh to a passing john

but love isn’t a profession.

It isn’t rehabilitation.

Love doesn’t have an I.Q.

and it’s not a lesson you can learn.

It doesn’t say to the water flow

or the fire burn.

It’s not the Tao or the I Ching.

It’s not a cheap novel you can read like Tarot.

It’s not a sign language for blind pronouns.

You can ask it anything.

It puts its finger to its lips like silence

and blows the stars out

and rolls up the braille starmaps

that failed to grope their way

through a northwest passage

tapping the ice like three blind mice

with the white canes of their broken masts

around a continent

that calls itself North America

but acts just like Atlantis.

Love might play the part of the clown

but the roles it seeks are tragic.

A great black affable familiar

that practises white magic

love is a spider

that seams its webs like dreamcatchers

and silks the torn butterflies

in cocoons that confuse the dead.

Trying to say what love is

when it keeps its word

is like trying to describe colours

to a blind chameleon in front of a mirror

when it’s looking the other way.

Love is elemental

but you can’t place it on a periodic table

or count photons in a Wilson cloud chamber

or find the mystic G-spot of the universe

in a hadron collider

by bombarding it with orgasms

in a charged particle field reversing spin

like a beatific sin.

Love is meeker than light

in a black ice age

that can’t bring itself to cry.

If God were ever prone

to distort the truth

love would be her lie.