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.