Wednesday, June 16, 2010




You were the singularity at the bottom of the blackhole

where all the light and life and love and money went.

You were an abyss that just couldn’t stand being empty.

You wanted to be a fat void in the midst of plenty.

You took your own body as the Standard Model of the Universe.

You were a death-maze that tried to make a living selling breadcrumbs.

You used to tell me

I could run from the blessing

but I could never escape the curse

of being an optimist for whom

things kept turning out for the worst.

You always did try to make an original point of the obvious

but your clarity was invariably cruel and cunning.

So I gave up arguing with you

and learned to grow orchids

that slept with secrets

in the shadow of that outhouse on the moon

you kept up like a diary of your changing moods.

Being the stupid one

I thought love had substance and content

the way thought and feeling had flesh and blood.

You thought it was a wardrobe of auroral attitudes

you could put on or take off as you wish

like smoke in a mirror

or a whisper of lingerie.

Sex with you was always a good day

and we had a lot of them

and that’s how I ended up staying for six years.

That and the compassion I felt

for the tears of rage you would shed

like rain on the lava of a wounded volcano

that would pop up on the west coast without warning

and bury both of us like Pompey and Herculaneum

trying to grow geraniums on its harassed slopes

like the hippies who grew pot

on Mt. Saint Helen’s

who aren’t selling anymore.

I always thought you gave your love to someone

and that’s what made it a gift

but you bestowed yours upon me

as if it were a right

I should be grateful to receive.

I was abolished from diplomatic lip-service

in the court of the mad queen

time and again

for things I didn’t mean

even in my native language

that were just too insane to believe.

But the body endures.

The mind copes.

And despair and ashes to me

given the tragic optimist I am

are full of high hopes

like spiritual loveletters

in earthbound envelopes.

And just as I did then

when at least I taught you

what not to look for in a man

I hope you’ve found the simulacrum

of the real life you were looking for

and it’s healed that crack in the mirror

that used to scar you like a black sail

on an empty horizon

waiting for cosmic news of the weather

that kept running you aground

like a widow on a beach

every time the tide came in like providence

and left you just out of reach of yourself

like a wedding bouquet

the bride tossed away over her shoulder

without looking back.

As for me

things have gotten worse for the better over the years.

Swimming through quicksand.

Swimming through stone.

Impersonal revelations of intimate stars.

Sometimes the moon shows me

the fossils of the ancient oracles

she’s pressed between the pages

of her darkest shales

like deep wounds

gashed in the matrix of space and time

that were the distant ancestors of us

who have survived the truth of their prophecies

like scars without a myth of origin.

I still end where I begin

like the black grammar of a white magician

answering for myself before my own inquisition

for heresies that were holy enough

to be condemned to the fire as proof

of their volatility.

Your blood was a watercolour.

Mine was an oil.

And red was the colour of pain.

I shook things off me

like water off the fur of a dog

that’s just come ashore

on the far side of the river. 

You ran in the rain

like a crazy ribbon

from the gifts you were given to give

and didn’t know how to survive.

But wanting to live

isn’t the same thing

as trying to stay alive

though they’re the two ends

of the same telescope.

When despair becomes

the orthodoxy of the age

and sinks like a heavyweight

who threw the fight like Atlantis

when it lost its sea-legs

the only true protest is hope

and the abandoned courage of a bubble

expanding like the universe

to break the surface

in a rapture of aquatic freedom

and disappear into the new medium

of an evolving atmosphere with wings.

And sometimes it’s hard

to remember the way things turned out

as if the certainties were brief weathervanes

of the good days that never came

and the doubts went on forever

looking for scapegoats they could blame

like the leftover smoke of an extinguished candleflame.

And though I might be slow

I know I’ve been thorough over the years

in wishing you love and life and laughter among friends.

So I’ve never summoned you by name

like a ghost to a seance of strangers

who think they know you better than I do

and make way too much of too many little things

that don’t matter anymore.

I haven’t swept the stars off my stairs in years.

And there are loveletters piled up in the mailbox

that say I’m in arrears

and when the windows cry

as they sometimes still do

looking out over the vastness of the view from here

at the solitary figures fading into the landscape of their homelessness

I try to cheer them up

like a reflecting telescope

by getting them to look at the bright side of things

by exchanging their lenses for mirrors

the way love does

new lamps for old

when everything that’s beautiful and lucid

disappears under a veil of rain  

like old eyes looking out at the world

through the new tears of a stranger’s pain

like a faithful death-wish that’s come true again.