to some moment of happiness
that ran out to meet you at the gate
or some state of imagined innocence
that’s just one more myth
behind the parting curtain.
Not return to a yesterday
that’s as impossible to know
as the future
because everything’s estranged
by the time it takes to get back here.
Ask any quantum mechanical physicist.
The only thing you can say
about the nature of things
is they’re not certain.
Why take refuge in history
thinking it’s fixed and finished
when there’s no more stability in the past
than there is in the present?
Any attempt to get right down
to the bottom of things
to master the world
with numbers and names
because numbers have guile
and names have power
will end up trying to define chaos.
The mutable maculate world as it is
is the definition of chaos
and order’s just a passing gesture
of inchoate sensory mayhem.
Your obelisk is standing
on a cornerstone of quicksand
the moment you say I am
and mean it as if you were
an isolated monad
of self-contained sentience
and not the wind blowing
through the window
of another abandoned house
like a skull
to see if you still live there.
Embracing the uncertainty
as a door to change
that opens from the inside out.
You’re the biggest obstacle in the way
of what you will become
as you go your own way like water
but one key of doubt
is enough to undo a thousand rocks
the way the sun undoes all the flowers
without prying them open
by forcing the issue.
The point is
to keep enough confusion in your clarity
to stay human
enough chaos in your cosmos
to keep your wet cells from turning into crystals
your sad eyes from believing
they’re just drops in an ocean of mirrors
that is smudged by whatever appears
like you with your black sail unfurled
like the skull and crossbones
on your own event horizon.
Allowing yourself to grow beyond
your own expectations
without meaning to.
Keeping just enough
madness in your method
to justify your sanity.
Enough absurdity in the sage
to keep the truth happy
and the Buddha laughing out loud
at what we’re all trying to get away with
when we take ourselves so seriously
we ask what it’s all about
as if there were never any room
for darkness or doubt
in the infinite abyss of enlightenment.
Darkness is the ore of light.
Suffering is the ore of bliss.
Ignorance is the ore of insight.
The meaning of life
isn’t a kiss on the cold forehead of the dead
before the coffin slides like a Viking funeral ship
into a propane sea of fire in a carpeted crematorium
as if the dead were offended by the sound of the living.
Live intensely enough in the unknowing
and one of these lives
that’s just as good as another
the gold will come pouring out of you
like a secret you kept to yourself.
You’ll pull the magic sword
out of the philosopher’s stone
like King Arthur and Alexander the Great.
You’ll live up to yourself as you are this very moment.
You won’t hesitate.
You’ll know the light isn’t divided
into night and day
and when you’re called upon
to be wise and compassionate
you’ll know what to say to Shakespeare
between the lines of his best play
when he asks you not to think about Lear
shaking his fist at the gods
as a sign of defiance
that dignified anything.
Learn to love well enough in life
to justify the sorrow of your separation
and accept the way things change
away from us sometimes
and leave us looking for fulfillment in their absence
and the moonlight on your skin
won’t burn like lime
on the corpse within.
You’ll stay human
even in this
and your grief will flow like a local river
into an oceanic abyss of blissful sorrow
that makes no distinction
between yesterday and tomorrow.
You’ll discover that it’s all the same day now
like time in a dream
and recover what you lost
a long time ago
like something you looked forward to in passing
when the moonlight was urgent
with white waterlilies on the nightstream
and enlightenment kept you guessing.