THE ONES I LOVED THE DEEPEST AND THE BEST
The ones I loved the deepest and the best
turned into strangers and enemies
or worse, friends.
Now I’d trust evil
before I’d trust stupid
because stupid will get you killed faster than evil
almost any night of the week
when I’m out with my demonic acquaintances
like a gangland constellation
that wants to burn the house down
to get even with the astrologers
who talk too much
about the eloquent future
they see in our illiterate past.
And it isn’t as if
I’ve been emptied of human content
and I don’t care
if I feel anything or not
about the unspooling
of my emotional life
as just another way of breathing in and out
or the indifference and separation
that has passed between me and all these people
like a knife looking for something holy to wound.
Sometimes the river
just tears the roots of things
away from the shore
in a torrential downpour
that wakes the desert up
and a judas-goat tempts a bad messiah.
Compounded of too many different parts
to belong solely to any one of them,
a bag of starwater punctured
by nine black holes
that haemorage like an oilslick
that’s trying to pretend
it’s just another eclipse in passing
and endowed at birth
by the black beatitude
of an intensely acquisitive intelligence
that approaches knowledge like a Mongol,
I put a Zen finish on the agony of my solitude
and hold my ground against the approaching abyss.
What does it mean to be a human?
What else but this?
Just this as it is and isn’t?
The river flows by the skull of the swan
and the bones of its wings
that once swam upright
like a harp on the water
and played to the moon in tears
slow songs about the stark beauty
in the sadness of passing things;
the river flows by extemporaneously
true to the nature of water
going along indifferently
with what’s missing by the mouthful
when death rises from the bottom
like a snapping turtle
to the lunar surface of things
and hunger’s the only meaning in life
that satisfies the doubtful.
The opposites engender each other
like predator and prey.
If I didn’t know you were listening
I wouldn’t know what to say.
The words may be male,
stars on a lonely night,
fireflies and lightning bolts
but the voice is the dark female
behind all this commotion of light
raising waves on the ocean of life
like thresholds and sails
that cling to the coasts of their thoughts
for fear of drowning alone in their tears
like a lifeboat
all tied up in the nets and knots
of the last navigator
that swore he’d send a continent back
to look for them
as soon as he made landfall
like a dove from the Bible.
What’s the meaning of an open door
when you approach your own house
as if it were the house
of someone you once knew
who doesn’t live there anymore?
That’s what the stars feel like
denuded of light
like the meaning of words
in an expanding universe
driven by the engine of dark energy
into the strange empty spaces
older than light
of the black muse-mother
that keeps out of sight
of her offspring inspirations
so they can exist on their own
to look for the meaning of her absence
when they get home
on the backstairs of everywhere
who don’t know where to go
or what to steal that’s real.
Who stole the moon from the window
of the cosmic view
I used to take
of my human relationships?
I put a finger to my own lips
and listen to the silence
rolling over like hard evidence
there’s no truth in facts or words
that isn’t a complicit witness
to the crime-scene
that chalks the sidewalks of my mind
with the ghosts of old friends
outlining where they fell
when the past caught up with them
like someone they once knew well.
I drink the eyes of yesterday’s lovers
like wine from my own skull
and fall down drunk in the doorway
of a stranger’s afterlife
as if it were the gates of Eden
hidden like the petal of a dream
that clung like an eyelid
to the vision of the black rose
that only revealed its mystery
in the dead end of the light.
How could I help it
if I kept falling in love over the years
with women of the first magnitude
always a night shy of shining?
And it didn’t matter
what shape of darkness
I took in their minds
to enhance their outlook by contrast
they weren’t any brighter for it
by the time they left
and I wasn’t any less blind.
And it’s hard to say
who got the best
of whose worst
but I always thought of it
as my last loveletter
to what they were
and would never be again
if they left first.
Life and love
like the food of angels
who don’t eat
because they’re above all that
goes better with an earthly appetite
and a clean place-mat
in an allnight restaurant alone
looking out through the window
like a rogue constellation lost
in the artificial glare of things
like a bottomless cup of coffee
or a blackhole
where the moon used to be
before they fenced it for money
and the cow ran away with the spoon
like the Milky Way with a lean junkie
she suckles like baby Zeus
snorting stars from the mirror
of a stone-cold Titan
that wants to eat him like a cannibal Dad.
I’ve learned to feel sad about things
the way the mad do
when they wear they’re feelings
inside out like skin and clothes
as if nothing were weird or strange
about living without fear of a straitjacket
that’s been bruised and abused by bad tattoos.
The impersonality of life
that shepherds my memories like moons
through these echoless valleys of death
that have disembodied my voice
in the vastness of an unanswerable space
like a bird disappearing into the nightsky
crying like a wounded thing
struck by the cold stone of the moon on the wing
can’t be expressed in a lot of sentimental boo-hoos
that run amok like the ink of a loveletter in the rain
and stain the last known address
on the rainbow envelope
like the name
on the watercolour
of a miscarriage of the moon
framed by a family album
like a face at the window of an empty house.
So I don’t raid the tombs of the dead
as if I had no respect for bones
or couldn’t keep faith
with the sacred whims of chaos
that makes pyramids
out of the dust of our afterlives
as if we were pharoahs
aiming our souls at Orion
like long-shot snipers
through the wrong end of the telescope.
I’m an enlightened cynic.
I take the shot
with the hollow-point
of a higher calibre of hope.