PATHETIC LITTLE BOY
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
when you can’t see
who else it might be.
But life is always
open to interpretation
like a shapeshifter
a lightning bolt
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