STILL LIVING WITH INTENSITY
upon being asked about life as a poet
Still living with intensity
without making much of an effort.
Still looking at stars with such a longing to know
why they exist at all
things that were opague when I was young
I can now see through.
I am more disgusted if anything
than I ever was
when I look at the world
as the butcher’s carnival it most often is.
The black farce that denatures the principles of life.
In a world where atrocity has been standardized
and excruciation of the flesh
is a creative war-crime
I am still so outraged
by the moronic savagery of it all
in the face of the way things are
I fling the impossible things I once believed in
side-arm into their eyes
like stones skipping out over the sea
or the moon through a watching window.
The Inuit may have twenty-six words for snow
but for half a century
I’ve evolved ten thousand ways
of saying fuck you in terza rima
to the stooges and the mud muses
on the world mountain of shit
that keeps coming down on everyone below
as if the only choice left for most in life
were to decide
whether they wanted to be buried in excrement
or believe what they’re told
and be buried in snow.
My indignation still flares up like a king cobra
with a one percenter deathshead on my hood
and even if I don’t frequent the fountains I used to
where I learned to sing from the birds
I am still inspired by a muse of spit
to poison their eyes
like open wounds
like windows into their souls
that would foul hell itself
did not hell sting them
into convulsions of eyeless space
like an oxymoronic anti-dote to the filth
the angels and the demons
both agree in this one instance
would desecrate any fire that consumed them.
I’m still wandering
but I remember dreams ago
passing through the gate of my irrelevance
and looking back upon it further up the road I was on
as one of my greatest blessings.
Zero isn’t bound to its own beginnings
the way people who count are.
Those who go
are happier than those who stay.
Genius is the uncontested freedom
from having to understand yourself
for the sake of someone else.
If you’re merely creative
you’re still clinging to yourself
like a blossom in a windy orchard.
Take no account of your labours.
Drop off yourself
like the afterbirth of seeds
and know what it is to be creativity itself.
The minor talents sip from the fountain-mouths of the muses
until they’ve had enough.
Genius drinks from the brimming cup of the full moon
down to the last drop
in a single gulp
knowing it’s never empty.
It’s the same way with love.
It’s the same way with light.
It’s the same way with living.
You can’t point to a time or a space
in the whole of the universe
when it wasn’t letting go.
Life is an open hand.
It’s never a fist.
But I’m not too sure of that.
I never am.
But there always seems
to be enough certainty to get by on somehow
even if you come to see
that you were only another sleepwalker
trying to get to the other side
by trying to cross a bridge of quicksand later.
Illusory cures for illusory diseases
as the man said
but you shouldn’t be
too hasty to condemn them
any more than you would a dream
that retrieved you from the lost and found
of your awakening awareness.
You want to master words?
You want to master paint and music?
You want to be a Merlin of occult eloquence?
A Morgana la Fay of spellbinding magic?
from your mind your mouth your voice.
Stop making chain link fences out of ripples of rain.
What are you going to say to God or the universe
that they haven’t already heard before?
A young poet hisses like green wood in the fire
but the old wood burns
as if it were listening to the stars.
Every path comes with its own light.
And there’s enough stars and fireflies to go around.
So why waste your time
waiting to be discovered
by the lantern you’ve been holding out in front of you
like the skull of somebody else’s past life?
It isn’t the light that knows where your going.
It isn’t the darkness that misleads you.
Time doesn’t know anything about growing old.
Space has no way of measuring itself.
No inkling of how big it is.
It’s the same way with the mind.
It doesn’t know what it means to be
anything but its own becoming
from one transformation to the next.
One eyelet of water
can reflect the whole of the moon and the stars
but that doesn’t mean it can see.
It’s got to open its eyes to do that
and the moment it does
it’s gone like visionary vapour on the air.
It let’s go of itself like a cosmological theory
that grew weary of keeping it all together
like a straightjacket on an anaconda
that swallowed the universe.
Liberate words like slaves
from that literary pyramid
you’re trying to build in a hourglass
to house your afterlife
and you’ll stop talking like a mummy
about the secret to a long life
and realize the generosity of death
in every breath you take.
You’ll stop rolling words up backwards
into balls like a Sisyphean dung beetle
and learn to sing like a snake in the sand
as if you were swimming alone on the water of a mirage
like the wavelength of a thought that’s lightyears from home.
You’ll know the loneliness of light
in an almost perfect vacuum.
And sometimes you’ll shine
like a nightlight in a morgue.
you’ll ghost-write your own passage through the darkness
like a loveletter to someone
who doesn’t exist yet.
You’ll walk out by yourself late at night
into a field that was ploughed by the moon for years
before it was returned to the wilderness
and you’ll look up at Pisces and Aquila
and finally understand
why a real eagle doesn’t take flying lessons
from the fish in its claws
and a true lion
the termites their jaws
and that fire water earth and air
like the measureless sky of your own mind
and the words that disappear into it
like Venus in the dusk
or loved ones
all come with their own wingspan.
You won’t need to kiss another snake on the head
to turn it into a dragon
because even the Monarch butterfly in your mouth
knows the way south
all on its own.
And it won’t matter
whether you wear your wings
on your head or your heels or your shoulders
or fly too close to the sun
like Icarus eclipsed by an oilspill
and lose it all
because in an omnidirectional multiverse
that gets off on its radiance
your fall is just as aspiring as your ascent.
That’s what it means to be starmud with eyes
and be everywhere by yourself all at once in an open field
and look up at the sky and the stars
and ask for direction as if it were the straight line
of a needle aligned with true north
as if all your rivers were flowing away from the sea
and your blood had lost its way to your heart.
That’s what it means to feel like the one part
the whole left out of the grand scheme of things.
That’s what it means when you feel
whether it’s in an hourglass
or a pyramid
and there’s a universe in every grain
your life is still just sand passing time.
That’s what it means
when your soul goes pearl-diving in a desert
and comes up out of the waters of a mirage with the moon.
That’s what it means
when the pain of everything
and everyone you’re missing
has grown so immense
it can’t find an abyss big enough
to bury itself
so the dead go on living in you.
That’s what it means when you come to realize
looking deeper into their eyes
than they’ve ever been
that even the sane
are one part enlightenment
and two parts madness.
That oxygen is extraterrestrial.
That’s what it means
to want to be a big first magnitude star
in an influential constellation
but in every direction you look
you see nothing but darkness
as if you were blind to your own light.
As if you couldn’t see the people
who have been following you for years
like someone they could believe in.
That’s what it means to be the wind and feel lost.
To be the sea in a drop of water
hanging from a blade of stargrass
that’s looking for itself
in its own immeasureable depths.
That’s what it means
to never get a straight answer
when you ask the night for direction
forgetting the genius of zero
and doesn’t need to be guided.
You want to know the way
to walk on stars without burning your feet
or disappearing like a snowflake on a furnace?
You want to be a snowman that can take the heat?
You want to look out
over vast expanses of space
to see what’s become of your light
and see habitable planets thriving with life?
Get the midwife out of the seed of the flower.
Give birth to something on your own.
Take that thorn of thought out of your paw.
Take that claw of the moon out of your eye.
Stop trying to shoot the stars out
as if they were to blame
for that feeling you carry around
like a game of Russian roulette with love
as if that bullet through your heart
were the one with bad aim.
Fireflies in the valleys
and stars on the mountaintops.
Forget all the clues that you’ve gathered from experience
about who you might be
and let go like a parachute or a dandelion seed
that trusts the jumper on its back
will open in time like a flower
if it falls far enough toward paradise.
If you’re standing in the presence of God
who needs to ask for her advice?
And if you’re not.
You’ve got nothing to lose anyways.
Stop trying to walk in a straight line in curved space
and you’ll see how the light flows like a river
not a highway.
The first is life.
The latter roadkill.
The first is wild irises.
The latter wildlife under your wheels.
This isn’t Rome.
Stop doing what the Romans do.
When you’re in the universe do as the universe does.
Walk any path you want.
But walk it well.
Liberate your genius
from the spell of your own magic
and let the dragon wake up with the morning doves.
And if you meet an angel
or a Buddha in your way
don’t wrestle with it or kill it
or lame yourself trying to make a clean getaway.
Just remember the last time
you looked into the eyes of the enlightened
you saw the dreams of demons
that didn’t believe in themselves
and now that you’re sure
that you can trust the universe
like the cornerstone of your uncertain self
you can’t be fooled again.
Illusion is enlightenment
as the monks are fond of saying.
But be that as it may
you’ll know your own genius
as you know your name
as the absolute freedom
not to be yourself
and yet like space
stay in touch with everything.
Because you have no wisdom
you are wise.
Because you don’t look for anything
nothing escapes your eye.
Because you have not mastered anything
Michelangelo sits at your feet.
Because you are not blinded by the light
you can see in the dark.
Because your voice isn’t your own
you can speak for everyone.
Because the way things appear
an insightful lie
can sometimes blaze like a phoenix
and a blind truth
contain the sacred ashes of a burnt-out firefly
in the starless abyss of a tiny urn
you don’t mistake your nostrils
for eyes at the end of your nose.
You can smell the thorny sweetness of the rose
and see by the colour of her blood
Because you don’t cry for the clowns
or laugh at the demonic spectators
you’ve always got one calm eye
on a cosmic storm
and the other on the local weather
like a Druid whose mistletoe
has just been kissed by the lightning.
Because you don’t generalize
nothing out of being
whatever it is
everything is blissfully specific.
Because the light ripens as it ages
there are dark eyes
and a green star of insight
in the hearts of the apples of knowledge you bite into
in a rapture of compassion
that brings tears to your understanding
like a love of rain to a garden.
When the orchards are gone
the winter trees
cherish the moon
as their only blossom.
When the birds and butterflies
have aligned their stars and magnetons
to the more fruitive constellations of the southern hemisphere
you can read the account of their voyage
in a journal of water
or follow the starmaps
in the nests and cocoons
of the empty fortune-cookies
that take the words right out of your mouth.
Because you experience your genius as effortless
and not the consummation of anything
your freedom has no end or beginning.
You play with it like a child
making worlds up to pass the time
until a friend steps out of one of them and says
like life itself
I know you
as if you were God the Greater
and you both laugh at the fraud
of created and creator.