Sunday, October 17, 2010




I did the kind of good a storm does.

I may have broken some tree limbs

and downed some powerlines along the way

but I cleared the air of its festering

and from top to bottom

we got down to the roots of things

like lightning and rain

like real radicals

free-basing the ideological ions

addicted to their brains

like razorblades.

O ya

I remember now

we were going to save the world from itself.

I gave up trying

when I realized

that if we did that

there would be no one left

to save the world from us.

Trying to justify yourself in retrospect

is like trying to exonerate a big hairdo

you wore back in the early seventies.

It can’t be done

except as a kind of dangerous chess

you play with yourself

and cheat.

It’s fun to play

with the lethal intensities

and swaggering immensities of yesterday

as if all those great sublimities that moved us

like fixed stars

had come down to earth

like the ashs of fireflies

in a snakepit of thought

poured out of tiny urns

the size of a human heart.

When I’ve got nothing else to do

and the moon bores me late at night with its looking

I run my tongue along the edge of your words

like old knives

I’ve kept like a collection of my favourite smiles

to see if they still know how to draw blood

and what that might still mean to my heart.

Maybe I should have fallen on them like swords

as you wanted me to

instead of reading them

like a delinquent boy

in front of a no trespassing sign.

Back in those days

my heart was a rock

and my mind

was a broken windowpane.

But I’m not one of those people

who long for the past

as if you could step into the same river twice.

Everyone forgets



is the mother of the muses.

Everyday the past

comes up with a new song

that surpasses the last like the future.

The ghost of tomorrow returns to its grave at dawn.

The past is just as spontaneously inspired

as the present

and makes it up as it goes along

thinking this is what it must be like

to live on and on and on

with your cosmic elbows

leaning on earthly windowsills

wondering what it might be like to die

and come back

reincarnated as a horizon

or a threshold.

But I don’t go back to the past

for the view

like a tourist passing through

his old neighbourhood

to see where he was born and died.

I don’t want a brass plague

for a birth certificate

and a postcard

from the edge of nowhere

for a passport

that lies about my record

for telling

what I mistake for the truth

to anyone who’ll listen.

I don’t want to fake my way into reality

the way they do in Zen.

I don’t want to begin again

like tomorrow’s has-been.

I’m not trying to convert the faithless

to my disbelief

like a tree preaching to a leaf

like a cross to a crucifixtion.

I’m not trying to pump my latest work of fiction

up into a universally inflatable religion

you can take on camping trips to the holy land.

I’m not sure

I’m even really trying to understand

the way things were way back then

when we didn’t need to.

Just something to do

when I’m watching the moon

float downstream

like the prophetic skull of Orpheus

all the way from Thrace to Mytilene in Lesbos.

If I look at it long enough

even through a dirty window

I can see a footloose waterlily

preening its feathers

like the swan of a loveletter

late in the autumn

to someone

who will pick it up out of the water

and wonder who it’s from

for the rest of their life

like I do

remembering you

as you are to me

now that all these lunar calendars

have shed their blossoms and leaves

and stand naked as the tree of knowledge

adding zeros to everything

like tree-rings in the heartwood

of my personal history.

I’ve never made a cliche

out of any muse of mine

whether she took me to bed or not.

If she infused me with inspiration

I didn’t abuse her

with a parting shot

like the afterthought

of an ignoble mind

or a paper phoenix

that couldn’t take the heat

when things got sweet and hot.

I come back

like an old wind to a funeral pyre

that blazed its way up to the stars

to see if anything

was left unburnt or unanswered

in the ashes of the scorched earth.

I rock the cradle awhile

like a manger in hell

that once gave birth

to a childless messiah.

I transcend my own innocence

and fall toward paradise

without asking to be forgiven.

Love hangs stars above us all

that take the fall

for the way our scars

demonize our open wounds for living.

I drink from my skull

to your memory

and then I drink to you

whoever you are now.

In a desert on the moon

in a sea of shadows

I drink in the darkness alone

like an open window

to let the birds out

as if they were the only words

I had left to say

about the passing years

to hide my crazy tears

like an atheist on a grailquest

who knows that life

is a mirage

of burning muse water

that tastes like broken mirrors.