Monday, November 29, 2010




Always this serious side to me

I think I inherited from my mother

because she worried about everything

and things were always worse than she thought.

Life is prematurely older on the dark side of the moon.

There’s a better view of the stars

but sometimes as Rilke says

the heaviness of life

is heavier than the weight of things.

But one man’s carillon is another man’s death bell

and most people suffer a deficiency of joy

that if left too long attended

can prove lethal.

I’m grateful

despite my innate trust of my own sex

because my mother believed

when she was angry

she had to keep her life in trunks

in the basement

waiting for a day that never came

to live it

because all men were violent sex-addicted drunks.

Meaning my father.

I’m grateful that the man I’ve come to be

hasn’t tried to amend the passions of the boy

that are as much alive in me now as then.

The stars are even more beautiful

when you’re looking through a broken window.

The outside comes in.

And the inside gets out.

I’ve tried to evolve my way out of

the legacy of the abyss

my father left me like an astronomical catastrophe

way back in the Permian of my childhood.

I’m more mammal now than reptile.

I’m born from a womb not an egg.

My mother made me warm-blooded.

And it was growing up

without a nightlight in the darkness

in a hostile environment

that first made me think.

And more importantly feel.

It can be dangerous to get in the way

of people who are trying to ruin themselves.

The self-condemned see people

as the dandruff of the world

they keep brushing off their shoulders

in contempt of those

who have chosen to go on living.

There’s a ferocious messiah

inside every suicide

that’s dying to get out

but he’s tongue-tied

when it comes to bearing witness to oblivion.

The orthodoxy of great pain

thinks of joy as a heretic

and burns it at the stake

to make an example of its innocence.

I learned to shut up to keep from being converted.

I still think that was wise.

A kind of proto-Zen way

a star in the blazing noon

keeps shining

in the world

not of it.

White dwarfs and mini blackholes

abusing their habitable planets

like the refuse of a solar system.

They bent space into twisted children.

And I don’t know if I’m one of them or not

because experience has taught me

there’s nothing more gullible than thought

and I’ve never been much for long

that didn’t delude me into believing

there were islands in the abyss

I could crawl out of

like a creature from the sea

into a new medium

where I could remake myself.

Where I could build myself

a little house of transformation

out of the fossils of my past

pressed like dead flowers

between the shales of the moon.

Where I could build

a small chrysalis in a slum

and go in a bitter spider

and come out a honey-bee. 

But it’s degrading to turn a demon

into a domestic

and live with integrity.

I couldn’t quite get the knack

of dumbing down

to someone else’s best.

There was no room for solitude in the nest.

So I jumped back into the same old snakepit

and on the way down

the highest and the lowest came together

and  I discovered I had wings.

I was an oxymoron. 

I was a serpent who could fly.

I was a dragon o yes

but was I wise?

Could I express the fire in my eyes

without burning my mouth?

Could I make the rain come?

Could I swallow the moon whole

and regurgitate it like an ostrich egg

without shedding my skin

or turning into the afterlife

of a flightless embryo?

Was I a true eclipse

or merely a shadow of myself

that grew longer as the years past?

Was I the double feature

of the creature from my childhood

that crawled out of the dark lagoon

like a freak of nature

that had savagely matured?

Soon the questions lost their appeal to me

and I sluffed off both delusion and reality

like two straitjackets of skin

that couldn’t keep it together anymore.

I pulled them both like twin hinge pins

from the same door.

And just walked out of the house Jack built

into the open like a bird

who preferred branches to rafters

and everywhere it landed

was at home in its homelessness.

The moment you realize

delusion and reality

are not opposite sides of the mirror.

It’s like this.

The water doesn’t follow the path

the moon lays out for the waves

that scatter the light like petals

all the way back to the horizon.

There isn’t a step you can take

that isn’t a homecoming.

There isn’t a threshold in the world

you can call your own.

Green bough.

Dead branch.

Broken rafter.

Same song.

Same grammar of the wind

trashing the first drafts of the leaves

like outdated starmaps nobody reads.






Out of so much experience

so little to signify it

in a language

extraterrestrial life could understand

about our relationship with gravity

and what’s crudely human about being a human

we don’t even have in common with ourselves.

Out of so much sorrow

so many tears shed

like oceans of wounded salt

like bruised orchids of blood

like the lightyears between windows

living next door to each other

there is so much vastness between us

in an expanding universe

in the way we reach out to each other

like the stars in wavelengths of farewell

toward the red end of the spectrum.

Out of so much radiance

so much shining

not even the ash of anything

to show for it

when the last ghost has left town

with leaving so much

as a loveletter of smoke

propped up against the mirror.

Out of so much that was seen once only for good

and for a moment understood

until we started thinking about it

my eyes taste of what they’ve seen

like iron apples ripening in the rain

no one can take a bite out of

to improve their education

by learning how to bury the dead

because most of what I’ve seen

is pain without insight

pain without eyes

like impact craters in the skull of the moon.

A war of windows in a world without vision

without stars

without dawn and moonrise.

Viral eyes that abhor stained-glass

as much as they do the godless clarity

of the most advanced telescopes

playing Russian roulette with the stars

to prove the Big Bang was cosmic suicide

and we’re here like living proof of the afterlife

of its bad karma

like a hunting religion in an agrarian society.

Out of so much mystic specificity

so little sense of earthly union

in the fractious sameness

that tries to blame everyone else

for why things are falling apart

as fast as they’re coming together.

Five petals open.

And no flower blooms.

The sun rides a victory chariot through Rome.

The moon a deathcart through a slum.

But the stars know

how much the night keeps to itself.

How much it can’t say

when the silence clears the sky of birds.

How much there is to express

that leaves even the dead speechless.

Out of so much verbiage

so many words

so many opinions

stuck like bats in burrs

just beyond the porchlight.

Out of so much hatred of life

out of so much hatred

of light and water

air earth and fire

compressed like a fist of coal

around the blood diamonds of the ideologues

who write political suicide notes

for whole nations by proxy

who don’t know how to bleed for themselves

or convince the dead

they died for someone else.

Out of so many words

so many civilizations

from the Tower of Babel

to the New York Metropolitan

with its polyglot fire alarms

warning Alexander

about the approach of Caesar

and his love of books.

Out of so many voices

that spoke like trees in the wind

or out of burning bushes

and the light of the stars

or the thunder that follows the revelation

that it’s raining on a lifeless Mars.

Out of so much clamour and noise of insight.

Out of so many whispers of stars

and rumours of waves

held up to both our shell-shocked ears

like skulls of oceanic awarenessness

that found us washed up on a beach somewhere

after some serious weather.

Out of so many poems and paintings and heartfelt polygraphs.

Out of so much confessing.

Out of so many speechs.

So many prayers and blessings

So many dead languages that carried their mother-tongue

like mitochondrion in the DNA of their mouths

down through the generations

so that every living word

contains the corpse of a metaphor

like a mummy under a pyramid

or Lazarus catching his breath

to be interviewed

about a life after death

that looked exactly like his

when he woke up to this all over again

with nothing much to say about anything.

Out of so many with so much to say

how few are listening

as if their lies depended on it.






















You’re already standing in the light

but you keep turning around

to inspect your own shadow

for signs of yourself.

And like most people

you think love means

you’ve got to stay

but love’s a sweeter intimacy

deeper within

when it grows to mean

you’re free to go

because when love is real

instead of solid

there’s nowhere in all these worlds within worlds

the universe is ever separate from itself.

Which means the mind can’t be either.

Or the heart.

Or a lover from a lover.


that almost sounds like wisdom

but I wisely assure you it’s not

anymore than the colour blue is.

Love doesn’t institutionalize

its passion for madness

in the bones and stones of a church

like the new moon in the old moon’s arms.

It’s doesn’t sucuumb to the big clues

about who you is

and then train its thought

like a seeing-eye dog

to keep it on the right path.

Love doesn’t take the chaos out of its art

like the genius of a housefly

out of wet paint

you’re hoping to sell to the purists

as an expression of how beautiful the world is

when you leave everything out.

And it’s as easy as it is forgiveable enough

to fall in love like Icarus

who flew too close to the sun

into the blackhole of a plunging I.Q.

but love doesn’t dumb down to the heart in anything.

It adds itself like nothing to one

and one is amplified tenfold

like an expanding universe

way ahead of itself

like a star ahead of its light.

You learn to feel with your head

and think with your heart.

You begin to realize

what idiocy it is

to be smart

in a world full of insight.

You see what’s wise about madness.

You see what’s foolish about wisdom.

You see that your blood’s full of dark secrets

it keeps from the heart

on a need-to-know basis

that keeps an eye on your art

when no one’s around at night

like a streetlight in the snow.

The mystery of how to make love stay

is the mystery

of how to make the mystery stay.

I think Tom Robbins wrote that.

But you look into the mystery

and the clues get in the way.

Love sees this in that

but you’re always looking

from the inside out

for that in this

and you miss everything that way.

There’s no room in the window for the moon.

There’s no time of day in your eyes.

You wait for love in ambush

hoping to be surprised.

Longing is to love

what emptiness is to a cup.

Something to be filled up.

But you’ve turned into an expert

on what you haven’t realized.

You might know a lot

about being a sunrise in waiting

and when it’s best

to raise the blinds like eyelids

and let the light in.

But love doesn’t try to fix the fireflies

like the stars of a distant zodiac

in a homely mason jar

to keep faith with the future like jam

over a long winter on an isolated farm.

Love is the lunatic

that unscrews the lid

of the full moon

to let the light

in the arms of its journey

find its way home alone through the night

knowing when the stars are out

even the dirt shines

with constellations of its own

that are as high-minded as any starmap

that ever traced it ancestry

all the way back to you.

But love bleeds red.

Not blue.

And just as light

isn’t the pariah of dark matter

that was cast out for shining beyond itself

love isn’t a misfit

unworthy of a perfect universe

just the way it is.