Friday, October 1, 2010




I expand and exaggerate my faults

to make them shrink with laughter.

I douse my rage like a torch

in the mindstream

of a waking dream

to know a darkness

that’s much colder than I am.

Even the perennially young

grow relatively old

but it’s got nothing to do with age

unless you’re counting.

Living your life well

is the subtle art

of learning

to let it unmaster you

as if you’d never existed.

Space is more immensely here than matter.

As you were

whenever I watched the wind

trying to help you hang out the laundry

as the bedsheets blew

the loose wet sails

of a clothesline Cutty Sark in your face.

You were trying to be a good mother.

You were trying to bring your bow about

and get the wind behind you.

You wanted to forget a lot of things

to make room for some new dreams

but you knew you were only pretending.

Your future was already out of fashion

before those parts of your childhood

you hadn’t lived your way through yet

caught up with you like an old debt

to a dangerous passion.

I was the eldest son of a single mother on welfare

and you hurt the way she did

and there was no way

my sacrificial heart

couldn’t find you beautiful.

And you needed me

like you needed a pet delusion

until your old man got out of prison

and reality put on its old cruel aspect

just like my father

who opened things up like a door

that was always angry and drunk.

If my mother was a rose

with the soul of a bloodbank

my father was a haemmorage

with the heart of a drunktank

and the man you married

was almost as pathetically violent as him.

All women were whores.

All children either

stage-frightened child stars

about to enter show biz

in front of his drunk buddies 

because they were his

or shit on his shoes

he could wipe off

on the flying carpets

of their innocence

as he was leaving for good

for people that knew how to treat him

a lot better than we did.

I remember walking that autumn beside you

barefoot over my emotions

like the broken mirror

of a reflecting telescope

along Cordova Bay Beach

deserted in the rain that fell for miles and miles and miles

as you explained

why we couldn’t see each other anymore.

You were eleven years older than I was

but I remember thinking

you sounded like an emergency door

looking for a way out of life

that didn’t have a squad car

with flashing lights

or an ambulance

blocking the exit.

It’s still a dark mystery to me

why women like to give scorpions

a second chance

to humiliate them

like Catholic interrogators

in the church dungeons

of Albigensian France

burning heretics at the stake

as practice for the crusades

aimed at Jerusalem.

You taught me a lot about men and women

and what you taught me

was for the most part

lyrically dark

and dangerously lunar

and if sometimes

I smile like a knife

at something I still like

about the way my heart

doesn’t open old wounds

like a Texas text book

to rewrite the scars of the victims

by turning them out on the streets

of revisionist history

like the apochryphal books of the Bible

I attribute that compassionate irony to you.

You were the clarity

that abounds with illumination

like a whole new universe

astounded to discover reality

is its own revelation.

The rabbit pulls itself out of the hat.

And when you did that

you left a lot of things behind

because your heart couldn’t bear

anymore than it could carry

and you already had a dead marriage on your back

because you were a Marine on Guadalcanal

who wouldn’t leave the wounded behind

as you went off upright out into the open

to rescue yourself and you family

like a wounded voodoo doll

caught in the spiritual crossfire of imperial demons.

Why did you do that

when all the cherry blossoms were perfect?

Why did you die for the emperor

instead of surrendering to us?

Why did you let so much time and space

get in the way of us

my sense of the near and intimate

for years to come

would always be a bird

disappearing into the distance at moonrise

like something you said

you knew I’d remember

about what makes love

an ordeal of life

that only the loveless

can live their way through.

And even if it is true

and I’m still not sure I believe you

why did you pick that night

of all the nights I wanted you

to blow things out like the stars

and walk off like a hurricane rose

that had just shed me

like a wave or an eyelid

in a flood of tears

that came in

like a shipwreck of providence

at hightide on the moon?

I could have taken

any amount of earthly poison

and lived

but it was the spiritual sugar

you put on the point of the dagger

that wounded me forever.

You left me with nothing to hate

but the way love advances intelligence

like a woman cutting flowers

at the gates of hell

with nothing to hide

under the veils of Frankensteins bride

telling herself tall tales

about Isis in her moonboat

trimming her sails

like love-letters 

to stay afloat

in the perilous weather

that kept knocking you about on the rocks

of a mythological marriage.

You let him ride you

like a golden chariot

through a slum

in triumph

until the wheels fell off

and it was too late

to remember you were mortal

with or without him.

Why did you let

a reflected glory

eclipse the sun at midnight?

Why did you change

the course of the story

just as it was about to enter the sea?

I went down like stars

when you changed seasons

and spring got caught out in the cold

with nothing but her reasons on.

Black virgins cursed the advent of your absence

as your name peeled like paint

off a weathervane

that was pointing

in the opposite direction of prayer

just to prove you didn’t exist

to believe in yourself

and there was nothing worth asking for.

That night I showed up like an opening

and you showed up like a door

to say you would always love me

though you couldn’t anymore

for the kids’ sake

and how important it was

that they know their real father.

You could change him in time.

You could teach Chernobyl how to barbecue

in your own backyard

with all the kids around.

I knew mine.

I can still feel his guiding hand

around my throat.

As Francis Bacon wrote

children are hostages to fortune

and who was I to argue with the ransom note?

And just like that

ultimate unity

was free of the two of us for good.

I never wished you anything but the best

and if I cursed a little bit

under my breath

it was only because

for a little while

in your presence

I thought I had been

so supremely blessed

accepting my death

took an afterlife longer than usual.

Fifteen years later a friend from Albuquerque

said he met you in a hardware store

looking for chicken-wire

to make a dog-pen.

He said you’d let yourself go

after a nasty divorce.

You were a fat alcoholic soccer mom

into acupuncture and reading the Tarot

to tourists from London

to supplement your income

as a part-time home decorator.

That was the first I’d heard of you from anyone.