Sunday, August 29, 2010




Mysterious the body

these fingers lips eyes skin

this finite that encloses

this infinite within.

The shape of the universe

is the shape of a human.

It flows from the inside out

and the outside in.

A bag of water

with nine holes in it

leaking like the moon.

I live in it like a fish in the sea

swimming through myself alone.

A fish is water being life.

A bird is sky being life.

My body is the earth walking upright

as the grasslands replace the trees like clothes.

I can hold my life and my death

in my own two hands

and when I let go I can breathe through my nose.

Bags between my legs

bags for lungs

a bag for a stomach

is it any wonder

I’m a hunter-gatherer?

A mouth like the entrance

to the underworld

I’m all caves and underground tunnels

a blind star-nosed mole among dark roots

trying to show me the way up to the flowers

by guiding me like water

toward the light.

In my eyes

room for the world.

In my ears

the voice of thunder

the roar of excruciating nightseas

that pull the dragons under.

The abyss speaks

and I can hear it

smell it

touch it

taste it

shape it into a world

I’m making up as a I go along

for company

like a verb with a noun.

Not a subject with an object.

Seeing the eye.

Hearing the ear.

Tasting the tongue.

Smelling the nose.

Touching the skin.

Thinking the mind

if you’re a Buddhist

with a sixth sense.

I look at myself in this body

to see who I might be

and it comes to me like a universe

that abounds with origins

I am a nothing

that just happened to begin.

My senses are an ancient alphabet

buried in the stars.

A hieroglyph written in the sand

by a viper of water

only the wind can understand.

And what’s a mind

if not a Rosetta stone

in an infinite number of voices

that are all my mother-tongue

improvising lullabies

to keep the shadows back?

Humility demands

I approach the universe like an effect

and so I do

but I’m also possessed

of a demonic intelligence

that walks right up to it like a cause

that keeps breaking its own laws in jest.

Maybe your body’s the host.

Maybe your mind’s the guest.

You can bow on either side of the threshold.

You can enter the palace with grace.

You can blunder in like a buffoon.

But there’s no end of the dimensions

to the negative reflections

in the black mirrors of space

that stared out into the emptiness long enough

for the light shining down on the starmud

to turn into the eyes in your face

like a planet slowly evolving an atmosphere

that could see life at the end of the tunnel.

Our genes have found a kind of material immortality

that allows them to inherit themselves

like water and apple-trees.

Who needs to teach chaos theory to the bees

or preach paradise to the flowers?

Maybe the body’s a journey that walks through itself

like the heart follows its bloodstream

like a river out of Eden

with one shoe on and one shoe off

just to keep things balanced

between what is kept

and what is lost

but step by step

pulse by pulse

breath by breath

things pass away into a new start.

Yesterday goes to bed

and wakes up like the future of now.

Or maybe the body’s a vehicle

that knows where we’re going

even if we don’t.

Maybe it’s got destinations

and rendezvous of its own

and we’ve just come along for the ride?

Or we’re riding shotgun on an old stage coach

urgently trying to get home before sundown

with all our passengers alive?

I might be the nightwatchman

but I’m not the foreman

on the nightshift of my cells.

I’m amazed at how much goes on without me

when I hold a lantern up to

what seems to be dreaming me

as if the darkness had windows

I could see through

to see what I’m up to

this far beyond the light.

I feel I’m hollow inside

though I know

how densely packed I am for the ride

all the essential organs

in saddle-bags at the back of a Harley

that isn’t stopping to ask for directions.

Mysterious the body is

and just as the mind makes a point of thought

when it’s trying to be serious

the body can make a comic farce of pain

or a Greek tragedy of pleasure

trying to gouge its eyes out

when it wants your attention.

It’s always the old scar

and I’m always the new wound

sitting like a valley at the foot of the mountain

that knows how to heal the self-afflicted

who keep falling on their swords within

to stay true to their words on the outside

but even that old argument’s wearing a little thin

because it’s just wearing your skin inside out

so people will think you’re honest

if you reveal everything

down to what you last ate

at your last supper.

The bread and fish of a poor messiah.

Or the poisoned mushrooms of a Roman emperor. 

The body is a Druid

sacrificing itself

in the peat bogs of Yorkshire

to keep itself fertile and yielding.

A cult of flesh erects a temple of bone

and dedicates its resurrection to the gods.

My body’s an empire of sentient life-forms

that keeps losing legions in the Teutoberg Forest

to the barbarians at its borders

defending their ancestral homelands.

War always has two eyes open

until peace closes them both

in a dream fit for a human.

The mind may summon the body to a meeting

to discuss the day’s events

but it’s the body that sets the agenda

that removes the presidents

as if J.F.K. and Jimmy Hoffa

just disappeared

for lack of evidence.

Poor body.

Poor old shoe.

How many roads have we walked

all these years

all these miles

and never traveled any further than the distance

from our heels to our toes?

What a long way we had to go

to find out we never left.

What goes out the front door

comes in through the back

like a universe

that’s locked itself out of the house.

Light inside.

Light outside.

But the body

they must share to see

what’s revealed

by their lucidity 

is the same window

that looks through them.

Once you stop approaching things like a key

to your own house

you lost somewhere in the grass

things will stop shutting you out

like a thousand unopened locks.

The body’s a walled city with nine gates

that are always open.

Who needs to knock

on either side of the door?

The body’s an old cave dweller

that paints its dead red

and buries them under the fires of life

as if the past had a future.

A meat-eater opens a theatre

and the prey’s been running ever since.

The mind is an artist.

Able to paint the worlds.

In blood.

In the six colours of the senses

and a seventh that no one’s ever seen.

There’s a perspective of meaning

that establishes the foreground

of an intimate identity

you suppose is yours.

The hot poppy of blood

under your nose

that keeps burning out

like a torch in the cold blues

of the veteran distances

that carry the dead and wounded on their backs

like broken doors that never had a home.

You begin

with a thought

in your mother’s mind

the wayward nudging of a distant notion

like the wings of a tiny insect

trapped in the hair of her arm

fluttering against her skin so gently

she frees it from its plight with a breath

that sways it into being

like the plaything of circumstance.

One thought-moment is the birth of eternity.

You grow a body from the seed

of last year’s flower.

You take it as a sign

that you exist.

You wear it like a spacesuit

on an alien planet

that is so lifeless

it has to import its fossils.

You fill your lungs

with a sky you brought from home.

And what’s a highly evolved brain

but a hunch of starmud

taking a good guess

at what’s ahead

and how it got here in the first place?

Look at all the stars sent out

like doves in a dark flood

to look for land

to look for a tree their light could perch in

that are never coming back.

Your body is the cornerstone of your solitude

in a vast space

that hasn’t finished preparing the ground yet.

Your body may be rooted in the soil

but the original bread of life is light.

Light seeds the worlds

with time and space

in such a way

the future is hindsight

and memory’s a prophecy of what’s to come.

After the harvest

the light sits down with everyone

and breaks bread with the dead like matter.

The body a satyr.

The body a buddha.

The body the Mad Hatter.

The body the ruse

of a crazy wisdom

that dupes it into enlightenment

like a cedar

a star

a waterlily

that flowers out of its own root-fires

like the illuminated sage

of a billion dark desires

burning like the energy of dark matter to be

clarity life lucidity

nur wa nur

light upon light.

The being in the light by which we see.

The body a koan of flesh

that liberates the mind

like a cosmic fortune-cookie

full of emptiness and silence

as if the sea were missing

when you put it up to your ear

to listen to the ocean of your own awareness.

The body the history of food.

The body the psychology of matter.

The body the hysterical mystery of sex.

The body abused and broken.

Driven out like Quasimodo

swinging from the bells of Notre Dame

or Caliban enslaved by Prospero

to do his bidding on demand

as if one hand were wrong

and the other were right.

The body may be dark

but the root isn’t ignorant of the light

and the blossom isn’t afraid of the night

and there’s no original sin

waiting in a garden of delight

like the seeds of damnation.

The mind is crammed with two of every kind.

The body is the ark

that carries them across

the deluge of their own blood

to be scuttled on a mountaintop in Turkey.

And when they die.

The hunter.

Food for the birds.

An offering to the sky.

The farmer.

A seed in the ground.

A tribute to the recurring earth.

We’re divided more by life

than we are by death.

Many atmospheres.

One breath.

Fire is the flag

of a small country

that lives with its shadows in fear

there’s no place for it among the stars

it disappears into

but the body is an empire

walking on water

and in every one of its tears

you can see the sun rise

and the moon set

over a vast night ocean

no one’s crossed yet.