AND IT ISN’T AS IF I DON’T MISS YOU
And it isn’t as if I don’t miss you
it’s just that I realize
you’re not that person anymore
and neither am I.
People and things
grow away from each other
like stars in an expanding universe.
Their light might linger like a memory
but by the time it gets here
they’ve moved off into a different space
like waterbirds that leave no trace
of who we are now.
But we’re mingled in each other
like the nameless water
we took from the river
and gave back to the mindstream
that flows on forever
like stars and lovers and leaves.
I can still taste your valleys
even this high in the mountains
where even the echoes of things
are afraid of the heights
and hear your laughter
and the words you said to me
like nightbirds in the mouths
of lunar fountains
when no one else was listening.
I have gone on living with you
long after we left
for hearts unknown
as if gold still marrowed the bone
and the dead branch blossomed.
The breath within my breath.
The voice within my voice.
The death within my death.
I can only see you on the inside now
but what has past
has as much creative potential
as the present
and I’ve watched you grow
as I have
as intimately inconceivable
as this world I find myself in
searching for something
that never shows up in a mirror
that can make me give up looking.
Strangers to each other before we met
and what we knew of each other
by the time we left
how can I look upon
who we were to each other with regret
as if life had squandered an alternative ending?
Love might be
a heart-rending mind-bending bitch sometimes
guilty of war-crimes
and iron-willed truth
more of a truce with rust
than an oath of saint’s blood
sworn on a righteous sword
in a crusade of the word
against a forked tongue
but when has love ever not been
a lie you can trust
to lead you away from doubt
faster than thought can keep up with the universe
that keeps us guessing
whether it’s a curse or a blessing?
What gets better?
What gets worse?
And it’s an unholy obsession
to read a loveletter
as if it were the letter of the law on the make.
I wrote mine to you in fireflies
inspired by the muse of a snake
that struck me like lightning
with one fang
and healed me like a man
who could see again
with the other.
I treat yours like butterflies
I dare not touch
for fear of damaging their wings.
So I open their envelopes like flowers
and let them come and go as they wish
like earthly pilgrims on a divine wind
that has returned from an incredible distance
with news of the sinking of the Mongol fleet
by a hurricane-rose.
But I don’t embellish my defeat
or relish my victory
as if I lay at your feet
and you lay at mine.
I don’t stand long at the intersection
of a peace sign
where three roads meet
and take the one less traveled by
at a suggestion of the wind
as if it were a Road of Ghosts
and anyone who walked it
were walking away.
I whip the dust at my heels
into a gust of stars
that spins like a Sufi
bound to oblivion
like a shepherd moon
that’s just found its true direction
and freewheeling on my own thermals
like a red-tailed hawk on an August afternoon
or Messier 33
or a double helix
I let the road
that’s never left home
tag along with me as you do
all the way around the bend
of the known universe and beyond.
The red and black threads
of life and death
of passion and its passing
that bind us to one another
like rivers and roots and lightning
like the thorn to the rose
or horns on the moon
or two snakes copulating in the grass
like fire on the water
are not the kind of lifelines
that can be cut short
by fate and circumstance
anymore than you can wound
and separate water with a sword.
Water is its own physician
and heals itself
like a wound
that knows how to keep its mouth shut
when it’s drowning.
And fire is an old prophet
that sees better when it’s blind.
Two words for the same thing
like water and wave
come to the same sum
so nothing’s ever missing.
I loved you like time loves space
like absence loves
the nearness of things
in a loved one’s face
like an apple loves the ripening.
Like opposites engendered out of their union
love the continuum of knowing
no matter what direction they take
they’re headed back they way they came
like light out of the darkness
like the cosmos out of chaos.
But it isn’t as if
sincerity were born of falsehood
like a waterlily from decay
or the bad fell out of love with the good.
If you could only know
how many nights
I have spent thinking of you
down on my knees on the floor
looking for the skulls and moons
that have slipped from my spine
like beads from the broken rosary
of a cult that never caught on
or how many starless nights
I had to give up looking for my eyes
because of a lack of light
before the first gnostic firefly
showed up like a mystic insight
into a blackhole in the heart of the night
with a halo and a horn
that were both as true
as I was to you
and you were to me
or a knife is to its latest victim
or dark matter born of its own lucidity
to shape a new universe
out of everything that’s missing
until something comes alive that can see
it’s not the eyes that make the seeing
anymore than two lies make one truth
or two nothings make one being.
But the butterfly doesn’t make its debut
dressed in the jewels of the worm
it came from
like a loveletter out of a cocoon
when it opens its wings to let them dry
like the pages of a book
somebody’s been crying on.
Every moment of our lives is as true
as any other
even in the way they’re sometimes not.
And you may be long gone from here
but what’s far
is just the other eye of what’s near.
And though it was lightyears ago
that I loved you like a star
that was always a night shy of shining
like something you kept back
like the vagrant secret
in the flagrant heart
of a black rose
that only bloomed at night
I want you to know though it’s late
and my vision of life
is shedding its eyelids like the moon
to see better in the dark
by turning out the lights
like the small windows
in the houses of the fireflies
that could never keep their zodiacs in line
I could never separate space from time
and it’s always been you
that comes like a grape to a dead vine
or a constellation to the meaning of a firesign
rising from its ashes
with no exit in mind
that could ever find a way out.
The past of tomorrow
is the future of yesterday
and they’re both happening now.
Three waves of water.
Three petals of the same blooming
that goes on forever
like all the birds it takes
to make a feather.
And though there may be infinite room
in one mouth
for many words
and the eye can go on
gathering flowers and stars forever
without dropping one
the only way to say
what can’t be said
is to let it say you
so you don’t know
who’s playing the picture-music
though it sounds a lot like you
except the notes are true
to a theme that can’t be heard
except by a nightbird
that cries out in its solitude
like the first and last words
of the same voice in the dark
that calls to you
I am more inspired
by what I don’t understand
than I am by what I thought I understood
about how dangerous it was to be good
in a bad neighourhood in hell
that didn’t know how to defend itself
against thieves that returned their innocence
and generosity was looked upon as a bully
and any kind of compassion was acclaimed a coward.
But even through these broken windows
in the worst hours
when the heart was bruised
like the skull of the moon
and it wasn’t the solitude
it wasn’t the loneliness
that came to remind us
you can’t stare into the abyss for long
and expect to see stars at the bottom of the well
as your eyes are turning to stone
at the sight of your snakey reflection.
Sometimes it takes a lot of night
not to be blinded by the shining
like a star in daylight.
And I remember trying to deepen
the negative space
to coax the stars out of hiding
but nothing seemed to work.
And what gods didn’t we try on
like the stars and weather
to see if they could fit
the world we were living in like skin
with enough room inside to hide us
from what was most human about us
when we stepped out into the open?
The fame of a good name
that lives up to its legend
like a spontaneous myth of origin
compared to the vinegar of celebrity
that spells it out like bitter gossip
that’s run its course
from lip to lip
then sells it out as a farce.
I may have fallen upon
hard cold times
like a Martian meteorite
trying to put down roots in Antarctica
like a refugee’s last chance at survival
but that hasn’t changed my point of view.
I still look up to you
like a sad mad intoxicated fire
looks up at a constellation
on a long lonely desert night
and sees that it’s still just as beautiful
as the first time it bloomed in the flames
like the flower of a story I once knew
where all the lies come true
like lovers in chains
and unknown heros
that can’t put a face to their names.