Saturday, June 12, 2010




If you know more

about what you don’t want

than what you do

you might think you’re wise

but I just think you’re aging

whether you’re eighty-six or twenty-two.

Many friends and lovers have died.

Many dark windows without eyes.

But only on the outside.

Inside they live with me like clouds

in the uninhibited vastness of a sky

that goes on forever

like the memory of some small kindness

that revealed everything about them

I ever needed to know.

They come and go like birds

each a theme of light in their own element

that is embodied in me like starmud

that has become human.

Water or carbon

fire or wind

I taste of them

like an autumn apple tastes of the sun

as the sun goes down.

I drive by the houses

where they used to live

that other people live in now.

And I don’t always know

who I’m praying to or why

and it doesn’t really matter if

no one is listening

or standing at the window

but I ask whatever powers prevail

even if it’s just to nudge an atom with a thought

to fill their sails with generous horizons

and make a warm wind

their forwarding address.

I thank them for who they still are

not were

like the memes and genes

of the better part of my dna

that makes me me.

They are the dark matter

of things I cannot see

that shape the universe I’m living in for now


The trees are more compassionate

because they lived

and the stone of the world

on which I lay my head at night to dream

is softer for some memory I cherish of them.

The rain is more loving.

The grass is greener.

The flower more red.

But that doesn’t mean

when I lie with a living woman

I’m making love to the dead

or she brings a cemetery to bed

or I’m the corpse on a pyre

and she’s the fire

that feathers the phoenix in flames.

I don’t look at the moon in passing

and see a gravestone with many names.

And if I howl like a mad man sometimes

just to hear an echo in my solitude

it’s the agony of life not death

that smokes the cold night air with my breath

high above the timberline

where the stars may be uncompromisingly clear

but they’re not cruel.

Life isn’t death’s fool

if you don’t live it in jest

like a guest who’s forgotten

how to be grateful for all the fireflies

you followed like stars in the east

as if you were a magus

on your way to a feast with gifts

not the grave-goods of a funeral.

Disappointment and pain

have aged you faster than time.

You’re a stone bird transfixed

by the indelible eclipse of your lucidity

swallowing you whole like a cosmic serpent.

Even your constellations are jaded tatoos.

And the wines of life

with all their chameleonic world views

no longer get drunk on you

and since you’ve drained

the colour from your eyes

like the iris of a rainbow

you might conceive of things

as if they were clues

of broken promises yet to come

but you’re inspired by albino muses

paler than the skull of the moon

waning through its final phases.

If you’d only turn your coffin over like a lifeboat

and give it back to the sea

like the fossil of an exoskeleton

you don’t need anymore

or roll the moon like a stone away from your tomb

you’d see how the yellow grass greens in the light

and the shadows of the trees and leaves

play upon it like music on water

or a strange intelligence upon the light

that is thereby made visible and alive by it.

A flat earth without ecstasy

and an impoverished ocean

where all the horizons are flatlining

because they’ve lost heart

is the small wave of a petty emotion

in the rapturous tides of life

that wash the dead and the living up alike

in the same turmoil of beginnings and ends.

I embrace my friends living and dead

the way a mountain weaves a river

like a strong rope

out of many weak threads

that spontaneously got it together.

This one wants to use it

to hang himself

and this one wants to

climb up to heaven on it

like a caterpillar.

And this one’s trying to read it

like a lifeline on the palm of his hand

with his index finger

as if it were the alpha and omega of his name.

The dead-and-gone forever

is also here-and-now

where their absence

is alive as melting snow

or the heartwood of a green bough

that keys the spine of the singing bird

like a Spanish guitar

or the dead branch

that holds the moon up like a blossom

or a loveletter to a star.

I share space with everyone and thing I’ve lost

like a shape-shifting constellation

in an expanding universe

where the light that left my eyes

just a moment ago

like people I’ve been and met and cherished

over the long dark radiant years of transformation

it’s taken me to get here

shine as if they’ve just arrived.

Life and death like all opposites

that engender one another

are a collaboration.

They’re not at war.

They give birth to things 

like two hands of the same potter

who doesn’t just work

with the substance of the clay

but the emptiness as well.

Turn it skyside up

and you can turn a funeral bell

into a wine-cup

and pour your life into it

like a sea into the mouth of the moon

and pass it around among your friends

as if they were all kings and queens of the zodiac

getting drunk on the same planet together

around a fire down by the river

toasting the night in tears and laughter

like generous atmospheres of good weather

knowing death is only as far from life

as a wave is from water

the knower from his knowing

the gone from their going

or a cup is from its emptiness

when the wine is flowing.