Tuesday, December 14, 2010




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 wells

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.


Let go.

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?

Liberate words

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.

Other times

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

doesn’t envy

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

and birds

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

is non-dimensional

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.

Ignore yourself.

Let go.

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

she’s sad.

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.