Thursday, September 16, 2010




You were the intimacy

of the things I loved

that were so impossibly far away

I could never reach out and touch them

except by touching you.

In the long silence of these past thirty-seven years

I have never been able to look at people again

the way I used to see them before I met you.

There’s a fear in the way I love them

that I learned

from living your absence.

A deep black wounded space within

that has sadly outgrown the stars

like October outlives its fireflies.

And every threshold I’ve crossed ever since

has turned into a long road

with a precipice at the end of my spinal cord

swaying like the first night I met you

on the Capilano Suspension Bridge

and you said

the only way

to overcome your fear of falling

is to have the courage to jump.

And I laughed and said

staring into the gorge

and the thin silver water down below

what’s to fear

if you know how to fall toward paradise?

And you knew right away

I was your kind of challenge.

And I knew you wanted

to sword-dance with razorblades

you laid out like the Tarot

later back at your place

as if you wanted to convince yourself

you were still silly enough to believe in tomorrow.

The candle beside the cards on the floor

didn’t turn out to be

enough of a lighthouse

to warn us of the approaching storm.

We were sincere in the darkness

for a little while

astounded by the expert innocence

of our mindless flesh.

You shone like the sun at midnight

and I came undone like Icarus

to prove I was falling

without regrets

like a spent star

into the singularity

of a whole new universe

where everything that didn’t happen in this one

came uncannily true in the next

for both of us

as if we were at last worthy

in each others’ arms

of our own happiness.

When happiness is brave

it’s bliss.

And when it’s afraid

there’s nothing sadder

than a gift that was never opened.

Joy is a warrior that risked hoping

there was nothing left dying for.

Sorrow comes up with a million reasons.

The only way of life

is not making a way of life.

Nor making

not making a way of life

a way.

One day you just get off the road

and start taking the long way home through the starfields.

You stop looking in the mirror

to see if you still have eyes.

For years after your death

no matter what I looked at

I always saw the same thing.

The black clarity

of your existential absence

staring me in the face

without turning me into stone

because that would have been mercy.

Try how I might

I could never quite

shut the lid on your coffin

or accept

that you were buried in me for good

or that my blood burned

like the infernal red

of an emergency exit

to show me the way out

of heaven and hell

by falling on them both

like a two-edged sword

that killed me deeper into life

than your death ever did.

Either life’s unfair

or I’m not man enough

to live up to your suicide

but I remember how I used to love

feeling the weight

of the nightstream of your hair

as it poured through my hand

like a landscape that could feel

for the first time in a long time

water running in the dry creekbeds of its lifelines.

Things woke up.

And I saw the flowers

among the thorns

that had been guarding them

like the secret names of God

you had to know

to get  past the burning angels

through the gates

of your sad return to Eden alone.

The eloquence of your flesh

when you walked on the earth

as if your heart danced to your blood

like an old song we both knew

now a broken harp of bone

a wounded guitar

someone laid down for good.

A prophetic skull

without a future

anyone can foretell.

The full moon going down

like a spare penny

into a dry wishing well.

Me looking at the dark hills

like the contours of your corpse laid out

under a collapsed tent

as they wheeled you into the ambulance

to spend your first vast impossibly long night in the morgue

among the dead

who don’t catch their breath

or break their bodies like bread

alone in the stillness

that can’t distinguish one death from another.

However I wept for you

all the hard bitter baffled tears

all the sweet radiant wellsprings

that washed the dust like stars

off the wings of the birds

that had laboured to carry the souls of the dead

far to the west

when I remembered

how blessed I really was

that things had been

so beautifully dangerous for awhile.

And all the dark fathomless watersheds of lucidity

I drowned in like a eye in a grail

looking for butterflies in a suicide note.

All the black pearls

the diamond skulls

the eclipsed chalices

all the precious jewels of my grieving

that death hoarded underground

nothing in the end

but nameless water

frozen between the cracks

of a gravestone as old as the moon.

I remember how I loved your ice-blue eyes

and how they burned with an Arctic clarity

you had to dress warmly for

if you didn’t want to suffer from frost-bite

but there’s more nightshade in them now

than chicory

when I look into them like tundral flowers

and the light turns hurtful and eerie

when I recall how the melting snow

washed itself clean of itself

all those years ago

when we didn’t know

what all this meant.

It’s of little relevance

that we once loved each other

the way we did

and once you’ve exhausted

the meaning of signs

like galaxies expanding

ever more deeply into space

less significance.

What does it look like from Mars?

Your death was a koan

not a fortune-cookie

and the koan broke me

like a man it couldn’t understand


There is no scar for you.

You will always be

this open wound inside of me.

When I look at the stars

I can’t dissociate beauty from absurdity.

I cherish their clarity

as something that can’t be

contaminated by my eyes

when they’re nothing

but two black holes in space

a snake-bite of the light

in the middle of my face

like a colon without the following:

the kind of faith

that makes what little is left

so incommensurably greater than what’s been lost.

I can see the blue morning glory in the garden

as if moonlight had turned to skin

just to feel what it’s like to flower

but I can’t forget the frost

that fell like your death over all of it

when I went so numb

space turned into glass

and time pulled the blind down on the window.

I closed my eyes like a mirror

content to let the stars make sense

of their own reflections.

I gave up on directions

and burned my starmaps

and followed who I was

without caring what I became.

Absolutes of ice

spread like cataracts

over the relativities of the river

that went on flowing

as if nothing had changed

and my life was still a dream without eyelids.

A ghost would be easier to deal with

than the fact

that you don’t exist anymore

except as bare bones

denuded of the world

like yarrow sticks

thrown before the Book of Changes.

But then I expect

you’d exorcise yourself

at a suggestion of the night

that the stars would be so much brighter

if you only blew out the candleflame.

You’d do it just to see

if things got better.

You’d leave me in the dark again

staring at the stars

like white ink

on a black loveletter

you left unsigned

as you disappeared into death

like your last breath on a cold windowpane.

I’ve long since forgiven you my solitude.

I’ve long since forgiven you

the severity of the wisdom

that hardened my eyes

like diamonds in the darkness

that could cut through anything

except my attachment to you.

I have forgiven you

for the way I have grown through suffering

to realize

how much I owe your death

and the terrible eyeless abyss that followed it

like an enlightened insight

into the impersonal nature of compassion.

I have forgiven you

the way I am spontaneously compelled

to love a world that is so estranged from me

I feel like water on the moon

trying to imagine what it must be like

to fall like rain on the intimate earth

with a reasonable expectation

of coming up flowers

that weren’t destined

to be laid on your grave.

I’ve gone grey gathering them up

and bringing them to you

like bouquets of paints and brushes

that are ready at hand

should you ever wish

to pick them up again

and show me what the world looks like

without a body for a picture-frame

as you play the part of the upstart genius

who lived the black farce of creative pain

like the agony of the wick

burning at the stake like a heretic

between the flesh of the wax

and the spiritual aspirations of the candleflame

thrusting spears into space at the stars

as if the only way you could ever know God

if you ever met up

was by the scars.