Saturday, July 24, 2010




on being told by a young poet

he’s going to commit suicide


Pathetic little boy

you’re always around me somewhere

whining about the lack of meaning in life

as if you’d been deprived of some ancestral illusion

the lack of which

makes you the ontological bastard you are.

You’re dying like a fish

beside a freshwater lake

but you won’t roll over and drink.

I’m not trying to be gratuitously cruel

or cut you with compassion

but sometimes I listen to you

and think I’m talking to a spider

that has run out of life-lines

like thread

to weave its own webs.

If you were the first to look up at the stars

we still wouldn’t have constellations

because you couldn’t connect the dots.

If you were a dreamcatcher

you’d starve to death in your sleep

or lose your jewel

to one of your own traplines.

As it is

you’re a mirage

in a desert of blowing sand

that’s leaking pyramids.

When life comes looking for the meaning of you

what are you going to say

when it opens you up like a fortune-cookie

to read your genome

like a bit of good luck or wisdom for a day

and there’s nothing but an i.o.u.

or an afterlife pointed like a ka-gun

at the belt in Orion

without a mummy to see it through

like an eye at the crosshairs that crucify you?

You suffer the world

through all fourteen stations

of its thorns its whips its nails

its tears in the garden

and plant yourself like a lightning rod

on your hill of skulls

waiting for a revelation

but I’ve never even seen a thief

condemned or redeemed 

let alone a messiah

hanging from you

like a meaning with a spinal column

or even a good guess that suffers like a human.

Life is a tiger not a metaphysic.

What reason do you need to get up in the morning?

Here’s a tip.

You’re looking in the wrong direction.

The meaning you’re looking for

every meaning any meaning

like the northwest passage to Cathay

will always be behind you

like the widening wake of a ship

parting its veils in passing.

But don’t start following your own butt around

like shrieking seagulls

looking for a hand-out from history

when history itself is looking for a way home

that doesn’t take death for a course correction.

No matter what anybody says

about the first word

before the arising of signs

there was mind

and it didn’t need to be understood

like a hidden secret that wished to be known.

There was mind

and it wasn’t bad or good.

It wasn’t lucid or absurd.

It didn’t think that life was food

and eat itself up like experience

to wake up hungry the next day

wishing it weren’t this way

as if there were always something to long for

it wasn’t.

Everywhere life is

it’s in the presence of itself

and there’s no getting out of it

because everywhere it looks

it stares itself in the face

so just as you can’t separate

the moon’s reflection from water

anymore than you can find a backroom in space

or deprive a window of a view

you can’t pour life out of itself

without life catching itself

in its own hands

like blood and wine and water

returning like the Nile to the mouth of things

that tastes like the ashes of Alexandria

discussing how many feathers of fire it takes

to make a phoenix with three wings that flys.

The only way you can rinse

the bitter emptiness

out of the skull cup

you’ve been drinking from

like a mirage that’s been flattering water

with imitations

is by filling it up with the real thing

like an Artesian spring

that flowers in its flowing

whether you laugh or weep

or just rejoice in knowing

that water has roots that go deep.

You tell me you’re looking for a meaning

you can believe in

but I might suggest

you’re in for one hell of a surprise

when you realize

there are meanings

that haven’t been born yet

that are longing to believe in you

the way an embryo believes in the womb

that makes room for it in life

like a waterclock

that counts the days

and bears the burdens of time

like the Maya in Tikal

waiting for the ecliptic

to intersect the celestial equator

at the solsticial colure of the last festival

just before the clock strikes

December twenty-third two thousand and twelve.

You’re a baby sea

mispronouncing your own waves

like a vocabulary that belongs to someone else’s voice.

Now here you are in this huge abyss

of an empty department store

that used to be a thriving mind

wandering through the aisles

as if you still had a choice to make

between nothing and nothing.

You’re gloomy and doomy and down

and there’s nothing you’ve found to soothe

that diaper-rash of a mind

that chafes like a bum

that so badly needs a mother and a change

to talc your cosmic tantrum with absorbent stars

you’ve forgotten

that nothing can mean anything

it hasn’t already become.

You can ask reason what it all means

when the geese pass high overhead at midnight

like loveletters and death-sentences

meant for someone else

and reason will stand mute before you

with a broken wishbone stuck in its throat

like the crescents of the moon

above an empty lifeboat

drifting to shore on the current.

It may be the devil’s last lie

to say that he doesn’t exist

and God’s that she does

so everyone’s either going out

or coming in

on a low or a high tide

like a pulse or a thought or a feeling.

But reason and logic

are scorpions that sting themselves to death

when they’re surrounded by fire.

Black candles that commit suicide

as a way of healing

what they can’t put out.

They curl up into toxic interrogatives

and make their points

like the talons at the end of their tails

that sting them to death

for being so illogical and unreasonable

they need to prove they don’t exist

with honour

like many subatomic particles.

A passion for life is a tiger

but the art of life is a serpent

with its tail in its mouth for eternity

that knows how to make a good end

of beginning where it left off.

But the love of life?


that’s something different altogether.

That’s the great sea of awareness

that loves its own weather and waves

truer than any law

and well beyond reason

through the fire and the water pillars

of chaos and cosmos

that open their gates like the wings of a bird

with a chance for enlightenment

as vast as the open sky before it

that clears its voice of everything

before it can truly sing about nothing

and mean it.

You can turn toward reason

as if it were a way to advance more laws

to enhance your ignorance

but deep in its heart

logic already knows

it’s the science of chance.

Better to sit alone in an empty room

and let your imagination approximate things

by averaging out the crucials

of impossible worlds to come

that are booked for creation

like the handprint of what is solely

and wholly human

in the heart and mind of this one.

And as for what it all means

when alpha goes looking for news of omega

and comes back with a lot of world views

trying to grow skin over a wounded planet

dying to make peace with its scars:


Write this down in your book

after you’ve taken a real good look at the stars.

After you’ve been abandoned like a dream that came true

in a sweeter mysterium than you ever imagined

could emerge so easily

out of the turbulent urgency of the confused being

that tries to clarify its seeing

by washing the stars off with mud.

After you’ve lost everything for good

as time does to the vacant space

that used to be the old neighbourhood.

After you’ve opened all the eyes in your blood

like wildflowers in a high field

that let its horses run free a long time ago

and you’ve finally realized

you can see no further than you did

when the gates and flowers were closed.

After you’ve sacrificed all your stain-glassed windows

to a lucidity that’s colour-blind

and doesn’t traffic in rainbows

or gold necklaces

that can replace that lack of spine

that stretches from your ass to your mind

like a giddy suspension bridge

you haven’t got the guts to cross over.

After you looked upon war and murder

injustice agony famine and death

gluttony and its starving disciples

the doctor who treats the human body

like bad meat with a disease on its breath

and throws it down his neighbour’s well

as if the means justified the ends

like swords made from ploughshares

or the cannon that kills like a bell

that was more useful in hell

commanding things

than it was calling the faithful to the prayers

of the transcendent underlings

that have abandoned the underworlds

of their lost origins

like monks that eat roots in the desert

they dig up like lightning bolts

struck down by the trees of heaven

as their way of growing up and getting even.

After you’ve made an acute body count

of human suffering

and plundered your next incarnation

like a corpse at midnight

for all its vital organs

all its body parts

to donate to a dismembered child

who will see more through your eyes

than you ever did

as a hidden donor

who kept what you saw to yourself.

After you’ve wept yourself to the end

of beauty and grief

and bliss and wisdom

and madness thinks you’re too strange

to ask for asylum anymore

and takes the necessary meds religiously

to be moved up to the next floor

with a deranged view

it can understand suspiciously

in the old way of paranoid things

that practise blind-folded disciplines

of self-control

in front of a firing squad.

After you’ve met God like an autograph

and returned to your past superstitions

more than a little disappointed

with the latest edition in hardback

of his best-selling holy book.

After you’ve floated up to the surface again

like an innocent witch in water

like a heretic mammal

airing its brain in a more rarefied medium

than the more orthodox fish with stiffer fins can swim through

and you’ve been unmastered by the atmosphere

of the alien planet you’ve made of the earth

and drifted out into space

leaving all the spheres of yourself behind

like water and stone and wind and light and mind

and there’s nothing but endless space before you

so dark and cold and sublime

it creates stars out of time

without meaning to

that shine down on nothing

like the bright vacancy

that emerges from the dark abundance of you

like a firefly of insight

reflected in a drop of dew

that burns like the eye of a phoenix

with a vision of something new.

After you’ve endured all your ordeals and blessings

like rites of passage on the wrong page

and come through oxymoronically

into the wrong age

to do any good

like the echo of a distant prophecy

that came true too late to make a difference.

After you’ve realized all this is delusion

and implausibly enlightened

the source of confusion

by swimming against your old mindstream

as you learn to fall up

out of reach of convention

like a salmon with a deathwish

it will fulfill like an ocean

in the name of creation

to keep things going on

through generation after generation

of your fingerling afterlives

flowing with the current downstream.

After you’ve lived through

all the ills of society

regenerated out of the lost children

abandoned like original sins of omission

by the side of the road that walked out on them

when it realized it was raising its own assasssins.

After you’ve discerned

spiritual and physical health

two waves of moving water 

are not deceived

by the way you labour to keep 

everything the same

like youth and wealth

and rocks in the river

but knowing how to change

without hurting yourself

wrestling with the angel in the way

who always wins to make you stronger

though I suspect that’s seldom true.

After you’ve come to understand

we’re all living this dream of lucidity

in the eye of the lie

that’s living us

on the dark side

of all the things we can see

that will soon disappear

like lunar scars

and the clarity of stars

from the two-way mirror

of everything we’ve been.

After all this and that and more to come.

Consider this.

Take a long look

and write this down

like a flower you can stick in your skull.

A soft clapper in a hard bell:

You had a tongue before you had teeth.

It listened to the world through a sense of taste

long before it learned to speak for the mind

behind it all

like a lawyer for an aging godfather

who wants to die alone at home in his sleep.

And life was sweet.

But words soon rose up against thoughts

in the power-vacuum after he did

and assumed control of the rackets

in different parts of the neighbourhood.

Now you hedge your bets through a bookie

and things that were clearly out in the open

are well hid

like justice and corruption.

Now it’s a death-sentence

for your thoughts to be caught

wearing the wrong colours

cruising the street for words.

The peacocks war with the parrots

and life is so messed up

raptors evolve from birds.

And guns come out like stars

in the darkling heat of the evening sky

to make chalk constellations on the sidewalks

of those who die.

And the innocent

are afraid to be innocent

and the guilty weigh their relative hearts

against a feather of absolute doubt

and buy off Anubis

with his weight

in money guns

compaign funds

votes and drugs.

And everyone lets out a collective cry

and knows why

they’re the victims of district thugs

but they write it off as absurd

and then take sides

to see who’s winning

who’s the bat

and who’s the ball

when a word takes a swing at a thought

and knocks it out of the park

like a cosmic home-run

that’s one for the record.

Bread and circuses

but who watches the watchers?

Who pimps out the metaphors

behind closed doors

like executive advertisers

trying to sell coke to Santa Claus

as a way of getting it up for Christmas?

You want to know what it all means?

Trying to understand the world as it is

is trying to understand your own mind.

Fire looking for fire.

Water looking for water.

The star looking for light.

The mind looking for the mind.

You looking for your flashlight

with your flashlight.

You’re already so deeply in on the know

what could possibly be hidden

what could be secret?

Everything you do expresses it.

Everything you say

gives it away to everyone.

The secret is you.

The meaning of things is you.

You’re whispering into your own ear

but you’re not listening

because you don’t like what you hear.

The wind’s gone tone-deaf.

You’ve forgotten how to tell

the names of the trees

by the sound of their leaves

and it’s a bad Druid that doesn’t know

which crescent of the moon to use

or which tree

to harvest the moon like mistletoe.

But make of it what you will

because it’s all true

and when everything’s out in the open

it’s the mystery of the world

and when it’s a secret

the secret is you.

Just a matter

of opening and closing your eyes

and believe me little brother

you’re not the only one

who’s waiting to know

when you’re going to let yourself in on things

before we all have to go.

But write this down before I do

as if you were sketching your face in a mirror.

Death is so self contained and well-defined

it’s a singularity at the bottom of a blackhole

that’s distinguished by its lack of characteristics.

It doesn’t exist.

It doesn’t appear.

There’s no room in it for anyone.

It isn’t open.

It’s a black sun.

It turns the light around on itself

and shoots itself in the gut

like a bullet-wound in space

it takes for a navel

when it can’t find one.

There’s no place in it

that isn’t its own face

turned inside out

so there’s no room in the mirror

for doubt

when you can’t see

who else it might be.

But life is always

open to interpretation

like a shapeshifter

a lightning bolt

a firefly

a whiff of smoke

elaborating the mindstreams

that flow down the world mountain

into the great themes

of why we’re here

where we come from

and where we’re going

that return to the oceans of awareness below

like an answer their questions

have lived their way into

like the silence between the lines

that speaks of things

deeper than signs can fathom

or the mind put a face to

just to remember.

Short breath of the wind.

Long breath of the wind.



Where does it end?

Where does it begin?

Go ask the New England asters

blooming among the goldenrod

what it all means

and they’ll tell you immediately.


This brief wink of a season now

when you’re all the time that’s left

to harvest what you’ve been sowing

to take its place

from one full moon to the next.

And here’s the reason if you need one

to unman oblivion

with another interpretation.

The life of meaning?

The meaning of life?

The first is enlightenment.

The second deception.

Deception wants to get

to the bottom and end of things

as if the mystery could be grasped

like the end of the story

and the rest were history. 

But enlightenment leaves everything undone

as it is

because life has never finished anything

it’s ever begun

and doesn’t make an end of anyone

as if there were a point to the conversation.














































Life has never finished

anything it’s ever begun.











that make a good end of beginning

where they left off.



imagination room alone empty


The secret art of life.

Make a good end of beginning where you left off.


I ask my imagination.

I sit in an empty room alone

and ask my imagination to approximate things

by averaging out the crucials