Saturday, February 26, 2011


Wired to looking for Gardens of Eden at the wrong end of my dopamines.

Want to move back to the country

and live in a secluded place

you couldn’t find unless I led you there.

Want to take pride again

in knowing all the names of the trees and stars and flowers

as if they all lived in the same small community

of intimate immensities that I do

like pebbles on the edge of an avalanche.

Tired of playing Russian roulette with the asteroids.

Want to live somewhere even the animals know

the plants know more about healing than they do.

And it would be great

to have a woman who knows how

to think and feel and fuck there with me

to laugh at what a brilliant idiot I am

to know how to make soap out of the sap of flowers

that smell like their names.

Bouncing Bet.

Pride of London. Lady at the Gate.

I’m not looking for purple noons and honeybees.

I’m not trying to make a big splash like Basho’s frog in Walden Pond.

Just want to lie down in the tall yellow grass of a September hillside

and feel like a freshly baked loaf of bread

cooling on a windowsill

like a philosopher’s stone

as the sun goes down over the hill

and the dust of many roads

gets in the eyes of my starmaps

like gusts of stars

that makes them water with the wonder

of being here at all to know how lost and homeless I am

even in the depths of the dark womb that first imagined me like water.

I cling like a tree to my lucidities

and I’m rooted in the light

as much as I am the dirt

and I sprout poems and paintings like flowers and leaves

and even when I’ve been struck by lightning

the dead branch blooms like the moon

and you can hear the drums of silver apples

marshalling at my feet

like a troupe of white-winged horses.

Like the pulse of the windfall

when death first entered the garden

to let me know how alive I am

in this present moment

that has no death or birth in it

no beginnings

no ends

and goes on forever

as the only feature of time

that doesn’t need a calendar.

But I’m not waxing Biblical about the brevity of days

and I’ve always been grateful

that I was born too stupid to be a cynic

and looking up at the stars from anywhere

one of the greatest wonders of life to me

is that so few people are amazed.

They’ve never listened with their eyes to the night

so that when their eyes speak

they don’t understand

the mother language of the light

and the fireflies forget how to talk to the stars

and everybody’s looking for an interpreter

to tell them the meaning of things.

They don’t know how to enjoy

being alone

with everything they don’t understand.

That’s why I like New England asters and purple loosestrife.

That’s why I like being kept at home by snowbound roads

and unanswerable fires.

I want to sit at a carved picnic table

under a locust tree in the morning

when it’s in full bloom

and humming with thousands of bees

and wonder aloud in a poem that’s writing me why

whenever you find nectar

there’s always thorns

as if my life depended upon it.

I want to approach my material confinement

with the suppleness of water

given that’s what I mostly am

and have no fear of spiritual evaporation

after I’m dead

and gone beyond into

the transformative darkness of my original watershed

because I’ve seen the same thing happening to the shapeshifting stars

that everyone says are fixed.

I am not deceived by appearances

into believing there’s any kind of reality behind them

as if a mirage were lying to a desert.

Water’s no less of a window

when it reflects the moon on its surface

than it is in the depths of the sea

that grows it like a pearl.

If you can only see with the eye

and not through it

as Blake suggested

then you’re inundated with visuals

as impersonal as the camera lense

that follows you through the city

like an upgraded form of state shadow.

But out in the country where no one’s watching

but the occassional squirrel

once you let the light in

your seeing isn’t just

a phenomenological reaction

to photonic randomness

but a creative response to chaos

that makes images out of visuals

and symbols out of visions

and facts out of purposeless experience

like tiny mouse skulls

and abandonned herons’ nests

that don’t make a liar

out of your imagination.

I want to live somewhere in peace

without thinking I’m selfish or a coward

to observe the world around me

as if it were the expression

of the beautiful absurdity

of this reclusive artistic discipline

that keeps making me up as it goes along

to fill in the lyrics

of a half-forgotten song

it’s singing to itself like water.

I’m tired of the gibbering of the sacred monkeys

who don’t know what’s holy about life

unless it’s washed in blood.

I’m tired of the intrusion of the good and bad

into my solitude

as if the mob

and the government


culture and education

had a right to homogenize

the taste of life in my mouth.

Not the same.

Not different.

Not exclusive.

Not effacing.

I’m sick of gaming the rackets of life

for my daily bread.

Sick of the maggots

laying claim to the pedigree of butterflies.

Sick of the tapeworms

trying to convince me they’re spinal cords

and shoelaces

or downed powerlines that are the envy of cobras.

Sick of never underestimating

the violence and ignorance of humans

without always being right.

Are there ants that go to sleep hungry tonight?

Are there bees in the hive without honey?

Just want to walk out late at night up to a high field

with a broken gate

by myself

or with someone else

that hasn’t been closed in years

and delight in going creatively mad under the stars

exalting in the radiance of human eyes

in an exchange of lucidities

that proves we are not strangers to the light

here on earth

or in any other place

where we greet each other like guests without a host

wondering why we are gathered here to ask.

My heart is torn under its own weight

and all my dreamcatchers

have turned into unsustainable spiderwebs

by accumulation.

My soul is the swan of the full moon

unfeathered on dark waters

by a snapping turtle

that keeps rising from its depths like the world.

I’ve walked so long down this long road on crutches and stilts

it’s forgotten the feel of my feet

and all the mystic auroras of my spirit

robe me in meat

and chameleonic anxiety.

Sick of technological progress

that is the equal and opposite reaction

to the devolution

of what’s beyond comprehension

into the truth

into wisdom

into knowledge

into facts

into data

into lies

that upstage the myths of the stars

with mutative alibis.

Want to go somewhere I can scream

and the hills will understand the echo.

Want to go somewhere I can look at the spring columbine

growing out of the green moss tupe

on the lichen-covered rock

and not see it covered in the blood of children.

Want to walk out into the darkness

even on a starless night

and feel like a vulnerable mortal

made wary by the innocence of natural dangers

and not the deranged perversities

of ghouls off their meds in the cities.

Want to get away from the maggots and tapeworms

that govern the body politic within and without

like the corrupt flesh of a dead horse

that died of exhaustion

pulling the milkwagon uphill.

Don’t want to walk any more roads that turn into quicksand.

Just want to kick my cornerstones like pebbles

down a dusty lane

as if I had all the time in the world

not to explain to anyone

why it seems so crucial

to get the colours of the New England asters right.

And I know it’s a dream.

I know it’s an illusion.

A mirage of the way I feel.

But sometimes even water

is wounded by this desert

where the only roads are snakes

that make paths in the sand and the stars

and it takes a mirage to heal.

Sometimes it’s better

to let yourself be decieved by appearances

to be relieved by the compassion

inherent in the way things seem to the mind

like a cool herb on a severe burn

than go blind.


Friday, February 18, 2011


Disaffected disenchanted depressed.

Toxic insight into the nature of what’s worse

than the way things really are among humans

for thousands and thousands and thousands of years

when you look behind the scenes

of the morality plays that pass for the truth.

It’s all true

or nothing is.

Keep trying to write my way out of this

like an emergency exit at the end

of a long hall of mirrors

that are sick of looking like me.

Trying to remember what I meant

fifty years ago when I devoted myself

to this excruciating discipline of vacating myself

to be whatever I was called upon to be

to live a life of poetry

from the inside out

as if it had nothing to do with me.

Bright vacancy.

Dark abundance.

The ferocity of my childhood

prepared me for the nightside of the street

and I learned to see in the dark

what there was to be afraid of

and long before rapture

it was terror that enhanced my awareness.

The gods eat their children.

Injustice wills what shills for the divine.

Tolerance is a defense mechanism for the sublime.

The people are krill.

The people are the algae of the sea.

The people are thermophilic bacteria

seven kilometers down in a diamond mine.

The people are the voodoo dolls of the rich.

The rich stick pins in the eyes of the poor

until they’re blind enough

to convince the people they’re stars.

Can’t go on like this.

Coming apart like a oilspill.

Haemmoraging like an eclipse

gored on the horn of the moon.

Mithras Tauroctonus.

Maybe I’ll bleed wheat yet.

Fat chance.

They’ve got asylums for those into self-sacrifice

where the serial killers act like spiders

charged with the care of the butterflies.

And right next to the eternal flame

there’s the eternal mouth

trying to explain all this blood

that keeps flowing from the same old watershed

like one long last eloquent sentence of the dead

that runs on like a periodic incommensurable

without a point.

It’s a forgone conclusion

that the future is already a thief.

And somebody’s thrown bad meat down the well of the present

like the moral tone of a hypocrite

preaching to the furious ones

how to hate their neighbour

and blame it on love.

Got to find a hole in the ice.

Come up for air.

Break through to the other side of the mirror

and hope there’s no one standing there with a spear.

Not all the cosmic views are beautiful and radiant.

There are blackhole insights that are so universally devastating

the third eye is all pupil and no iris

and everything you see is as dark and indelible

as cannibals saying grace over what they’re eating.

Even the dragons have nightmares in this darkness

and the sharks that are circling like sundials

are afraid to go to sleep.

I stare into it with three hundred million year old reptilian eyes

because that’s what poets do.

They go down on the Medusa without turning into stone.

They break themselves like twigs and trails

and cracks in the planet

when the wilderness gets lost in them

to say they were here once

where you’re standing now

alone with the Alone

like an alien

lightyears from home

and ever since it’s been habitable.

Better to look into the darkness like a pioneer

than an exile.

The stars don’t drive their light out into the night

deprived of a door a window and a threshold

to survive on shadows among the homeless.

Even from the bottom of a deep well

you can see the stars in daylight.

Embrace the night

and the creatures of darkness

even when your eyes shatter like glass

and you can’t see your features in anything you’re looking at.

There’s more than just the Big Bang

and Steady State theories of the universe.

The first is actively mad

and the latter passively depressed.

But you can take a tantric point of view

and combine the two

into a crazy kind of wisdom.

You could see how the light

depends upon you for its seeing

and that you’re the original insight

that embodies it in being.

That the clear light of the void is eyeless

and illuminates nothing

until you open yours

to lavish the night with stars

and be the place they’re going

as they look back at you

ahead of their future

waiting for you to put a face to their knowing.

Life is a perennial insight into a temporary mystery

that looks through

our extraordinary eyes

to see what’s unattainable about us.

Listen to the universe as if it were speaking to you in your own voice.

Look and see.

Listen and hear.

You don’t need to polish the mirror

to make the darkness brighter.

A crow is a crow

not a dove in hiding.

You don’t need to denounce one

to reveal the other.

They’re not opposites.

They’re twins.

Like creation and apocalypse.

They’re simulacra.

And the valley of the shadow of death

is the exact likeness of the holy mountain

that casts it like a deathmask over a mirror

to remember its own reflection.

If you’re looking at stars with tears in your eyes

maybe that’s the only way

you can teach fire how to swim.

If you’re drowning like a nightsea in your own weather

maybe that’s just the way

you feather your waves like birds

and teach water how to fly.

If the stormclouds have left you starless

and your luck plays dice with your knees

and the cure is begging favours from the disease

maybe the dark waves all around you

pulling Icarus who flew too close to the sun

by his winged heels


are just water’s way of teaching you to walk on water like the moon

by lighting it up

and blowing it out like a lamp

a firefly

a star

a mirror

a mind.

Appearances are not the illigitimate children of reality.

A blackhole falls on its own light like a sword.

But one’s not a hero.

And the other’s not a suicide.

Maybe they’re just the pupils in the eyes of space

sacred wounds

keyholes in time

trying to see for themselves

what things look like on the other side.

Maybe there are times when the black mirror is brighter than the white

and infinitely deeper than a star in the night

that can only take it back so far

into the darkness that gave birth to it

before it runs out of light.

Maybe this depression is nothing

but the crone-mask of the dark mother

she puts on like the moon

when she’s sick of her webs and her veils

and giving birth to lifeboats

that don’t know when to lower their sails.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Stranger in the leaving

than you were before you came.

Is it not always so

when people separate?

Lovers who knew each other intimately for years

close their gates to each other

and say each others’ name

as if they weren’t philosopher’s stones anymore.

And the base metal outweighs the gold that comes of it.

Alone with the alone

in the abyss of the absolutes

what was vivid and vital

turns numb as glass

and what was mystically specific about the other

is no longer a shrine that holds the secret name of God.

Stranger in the leaving

than you were before you came.

You leave with some of my memes

as I leave with some of yours

and we are both no doubt slightly changed for good

by the reciprocity of the encounter

like hydrogen and oxygen make water.

Though now it’s all tears frozen on the moon.

Good-bye my lovely

I shall miss your eyes and your skin

and the thrill of your dangerous heart.

I will miss your wounded mouth

I tried to heal with messianic kisses

that never walked on anything but the earth.

And there’s no blame

you couldn’t fit my lunar month

into your solar calendar.

We had everything in common except time

and our faults were as compatible as our virtues.

I will miss the rumours of alien life in the wavelengths of your hair.

I shall miss losing myself like a firefly

in the wishing wells of your eyes

even if now my own seem more

like impact craters in the prophetic skull of the moon

when I consider what’s leaving like an atmosphere from this mindscape.

And I shall always remember

that your heart was as generous as your breasts

and whenever we made love

how the earthly was the envy of the spiritual fact.

You didn’t want anyone to know you were gentle.

Not even me.

But I could see through that mask

eyebrow to eyebrow with you

as if we both were intent on showing the same face to the earth

like the crescent fangs of a Georgia moon that said

don’t step on me

because we were afraid.

More than enough to have you in the nude

I wasn’t a glutton for your nakedness

that demanded you take your illusions off

to prove you loved me.

It would have been an irreverence

beyond the aspirations of heresy

to witness you renewing your virginity

like the new moon bathing in a sea of shadows.

I never tried to pry the petals of the flowers open

before they were ready to bloom.

I was never the ant

that told the peony what to do.

I never tried to look under the closed eyelids of the rose

to see what it was dreaming.

Though I’m not into voodoo

I never desecrated

the bird shrines

of your involuntary taboos.

But now I look in your eyes

and see that yesterday

is less vivid than tomorrow

though neither of them has happened yet.

The new moon is all potential

The full moon all used up.

There are effigies of potential

standing like scarecrows

in late autumn cornfields

and paragons of actuality

who love to star in constellations

that make them out to be the hero.

I try to stay

and I end up going.

I try to go

and the earth moves underfoot.

The root feels the death of its flower

as the autumn stars turn into frost

and burn its petals like old loveletters

to the immensities that didn’t have time to read them.

The harmonies of life

are distinguished from the harmonies of death

by a single breath

taken in

and turned out

into the vast expanses of where it came from in the first place.

And the spirit that isn’t shy of its own lucidity

knows that everything it illuminates

whether by day or by night

has the lifespan of light

and light is the brainchild of the darkness.

So even when the lights go out

like people and candles

and us

the shadows go on blooming

and even when the stars

are a gust of ghosts at our heels

the dust is rich

with the memory of all the roads

that once got lost in us

trying to their way back home

like blood and fire and spirit

as if their final destination

were always the place they started from.

And if in the lightyears ahead

you should ever wonder if I remember you

be deeply assured

I shall remember you

as if every footstep I took

were a threshold of this homelessness

I am brave enough to cross without you.

And I shall thank you for this courage

inspired by the muse of your absence

and the feel of my blood Doppler-shift toward

long meditative wavelengths of red

that stream from the intensity

of the wounded white-hot blue of a renewed beginning.

You can’t teach a bird to fly in a cage

or snakes to bite other people.

But when I first met you

it was as if the serpent-fire at the base of my spinal cord

that was running to keep its thoughts aloft like kites

suddenly had wings

and all my dirt-bag myths

that crawled on the earth among the lowest

were elevated into constellations

that burned like dragons among the chandeliers.

And when the muses of life well up in me like water

as they will

and ask me back

for all the tears they’ve shed on the sorrow

of the way things had to be

between you and me

for them and us

to happen the way we did

I will show them the eternal flame

of the nightwaterlily

blooming in the clear fire

of its lonely lucidity

not even the rain

the dragon brings

can aspire to put out.

I will show them the sun.

I will show them the moon.

And I’ll say

you see?

That’s us forever.

That swan in the heart of a phoenix.

And they will be well-pleased with the beauty of the lies

I use to shadow the truth with compassionate alibis

for why the flowers fall.

Sometimes it’s the bird that swims through stone

and the snake that flys

in a profusion of fire and water

shadow and form

darkness and light

intensity and death

madness and wisdom.

Sometimes you meet someone

and you realize

this fallible flesh just as it is

is the deepest longing of the spirit fulfilled

like light in a perishable garden.

That there are no flaming swords

in the hands of the angels

at the wounded gates of our exile

trying to keep anything in or out.

Stranger in the leaving

than you were before you came.

The knowledge we have of each other

might want to keep things the same

but like all living things

in this garden of creation

the only way to sustain our innocence

is change.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Even though the snow is still on the trees

I can smell the flowers from here

Like a distant fragrance of light.

Everything is creatively radiant.

Everything is an unsanctified insight

into the nature of everything else.

Whatever exists.

Whatever has ceased to exist.

What has never existed

is me.

Either I’m all of that

as you are

and we’re all of each

or we’re altogether nothing.

We make paths for ourselves

out of what we’ve already experienced

but those roads are always behind us

like the wake of a lifeboat

like the light of a star

like the generations of those

who summon us to a seance in the future

like the ghosts of those who haven’t died yet

because time doesn’t run just one way

and the mindstream doesn’t follow its own flowing

anymore than water does

because wherever it’s going

it already is.

Even at the end of all roads.

In dangerous backalleys

and suicidal cul de sacs

life makes a way out of no way.

It never looks back.

It never looks forward.

It doesn’t turn time into a schedule.

It doesn’t come early.

It doesn’t come late.

It isn’t full of hellos and farewells

because wherever it walks

it greets itself.

A bluejay turns upside down

to get at the seeds of the sunflower

with its face downturned in a crown of thorns

like a station of the cross

and a gust of stars flys off its wings

as if some stargazer

had just breathed out the Milky Way in Aquila.

You want to know who you are.

You’re that.

You’re this.

You’re him.

You’re her.

You’re it.

Just stop looking at the world

as if it were inanimate

and you can breathe in

the same night the stars do

you can breathe in the space and the darkness

and the abysmal depths of time there is

in every moment

in every breath you take

and you can turn it all

including the exceptions

into a clear light

that illuminates its own shining

nur wa nur

light upon light

with awareness

with life

with the jewel of a hidden treasure

by which the world is known

to be wholly and solely

no less or more than each of us.

I see the dead leaves

still clustered

this deeply into winter

on the young maple tree

that hasn’t learned

that poems were meant to be scattered on the wind

or that there’s a voice in the burning bush

that’s her own

she hasn’t discovered yet

that’s as passionate and generous as the fire

she speaks through now to the stars

she aspires to.

Why go looking for symmetries of randomness

like jewels in a dark ore

when they’re right in your face like your eyes?

There’s no secret eclipse in the heart of the jewel

that’s as obvious as a morning like this.

There’s nothing to know.

There’s nothing not to know.

And the light seems so much like bliss

I doubt if there’s anywhere anyone can go

where the light can’t touch the dark spot in the heart of a fool.



Long riverine violet shadows

snaking their way across the snow

like spontaneously confident brushstrokes on a white canvas.

Morning’s in its studio.

I’m at my desk.

And both of us were driven here

by our own free will

though the morning’s always

more gravely creative than I am.

There’s nothing sprightly about a limping iamb

that’s trying to wrestle

the angel in its way

without dislocating its hip

like a prophetic wishbone

that doesn’t know what to ask for.

But here’s a prophecy if you want one.

There will come a day

when you won’t want to know the future

and you will take your head in your hands

like the skull of the moon

and turn it around

so its dark face

looks down upon the earth

like the back of a mirror.

One day the wonder of being alive

will freeze like a mindstream

that’s gone deeply underground

like water on the moon

to keep from thinking

about the horror of what’s going on.

Cynics look into the future

and uncover the ancient ruins of their expectations.

The light festers like the ingrown hair of a solar flare

that screws up its spiritual compass

and turns back on itself

like a flower that couldn’t see the point of blooming.

The optimists look into the future

in an abundance of light

that rises like ghost bread

they’re always handing out to the dead

as if they were the most needy among the living

to be deprived of hope.

But ruining the future with hope

is no different than ruining it with despair.

But by far the host of humanity

keeps its eyes on the present

from the inside out

trying to be what’s not there.

They’re like lost trees that read their leaves like maps.

They’re like the wind trying to get a fix on where it’s going.

A voice taking singing lessons from its echos.

The shadows flow away from the light

like roads not taken

or the luckiest among the forsaken

who know

what’s most precise

about the cosmic paradigm

of the human mindstream

is that it doesn’t have a design

it ever squares with twice.


life’s a mood-ring

that changes like the colour of blood

or a reptile on a rock in the sun.


it’s a chameleon

that’s mesmerized

by its own reflection

in a palace of mirrors within mirrors.

But I put it to you gently

as if I didn’t have a voice of my own

when was the great sea of awareness

ever troubled by its waves

or confused by its own weather?

Don’t defame the shadows

because they’re trying to make their way in the world alone.

It’s the dog on the short leash

that’s trying its hardest to get away from home.

And you could just as easily read them

as a kind of poetic script of the light

written in a sacred alphabet

that evolved out of a secret insight

in how to delight in our own creativity

living in the moment

imagining what we might be

without knowing who we really are.



Trying to express a more immediate intimacy

with the life of the mind

without attributing a form to madness

might just be another way of looking for comic relief

from the actual facts of the tragic folly that confronts us

like a world that won’t tolerate any mask

you want to put on it for long

to lie about the atrocity of your irrelevance

and pretend you don’t know what you’re looking at.

I dream I suffer the same corpuscular purpose as a paramecium.

I wake up from these desert mirages

and it’s true.

OK it’s true.


Because nothing in life is an endgame

And despite the full stop like an empty cup

at the end of a thought

with the lifespan of a punctuation mark

my cup runneth over like the new moon

and everything is drunk on the lunacy of its light.

It’s not the content of life that matters

as much as the way space bends

to accommodate it.

It’s not the wine

it’s the emptiness of the cup

that shapes the forms of our knowing

so that they can be grasped by our eyes and hands

as separate things in the world.

Mind is a poet a potter a painter a parent a prophet

that will not be bound by its own works

or the laws of the defenseless who expound them.

Look out into space

and the furthest you will ever see

is a face in the mirror that’s older than matter.

Space is a vehicle of transformation

that doesn’t go anywhere

because anywhere it goes

its wheels are centered in the still points of themselves

as we are to our navels.

And all lifelines

straight or otherwise

are emanations of its radiance.

Order and logic and reason

are the dry wishbones of the fearful

looking for predictability in a world

that can’t be contained

by a unified field theory

or an elaborated straitjacket

on the fashion ramps of science.

Physics says one size fits all

but by the time the spiders are finished weaving it

the sleeves are always too short

to keep up with a universe that’s growing at the speed of light

and I’d rather walk naked

in the skin of my own clarity

than be clothed in someone else’s hand-me-downs.

I’m not out hunting birds and butterflies with a dreamcatcher.

I’m not looking for peace and healing

by abstaining from myself

like a promise I broke to my ancestors.

Everyone was born a lifeboat

in an abysmal sea of awareness

or they wouldn’t be here to know it.

So who needs to be saved?

Or is there some kind of holy war going on

between the lifeboats and the waves?

And where does Jerusalem go

to free itself of infidels

when it goes on crusade?

All waves are waterbells

that never stop tolling

and the mindstream

they’re raised upon

is in everyone

the sum of what’s holy about life.


to transcend your certainties

if you want to get over your doubts.

Don’t hoard the effects of your efforts

in the name of a good cause

that’s so blinded by its own light

that it can’t see

that there’s as much randomness in the wonder

as there is in the horror.

That what’s most terrifying about life

is that it’s free

of anything you can say or feel or think about it.

That every part in every moment

is not the sum

but the consummation of the whole

that roots and flowers in everyone

as if it were a secret that bloomed for them alone.

To know the names of things

like the names of stars and flowers

is to look at them from the outside.

Who called you Eve?

Who called you Adam?

If you know your name

you’re already in exile.

But it was not us who were driven out of the garden.

Knowledge drives the garden out of us.

It turns our eyes around

so we can’t see Eden from the inside

where our beginnings are always now

and we are no more dispossessed of our innocence

than the passion expressed by a flower

in a loveletter to the light

can be disenchanted of the insight that inspired it.

What’s truly tragic about life when it seems so

is not that it’s evil

but that it’s innocent

and its innocence is older than compassion.

The moon sheds its phases.

The flower its petals.

They’re always coming and going

from the same abyss they’re heading into.

The emptiness engenders this abundance

out of its own potential for growth

and even death is not culpable.

This is space.

That is space.

But the two

can no more be separated

than a wave can be from water.

You don’t need a unified field theory

to understand unity.

You don’t need to hold a mirror up

to your face

to see your own reflection

when you can see yourself in everything.

What does space look like to space?

Mind to mind?

Light to light?

The dreamer to the dream?

What could God possibly say to herself

that she didn’t already know?

There’s nothing hidden.

There’s nothing secret.

There’s nothing that escapes detection.

There’s no simulacrum for the void

that elaborates everyone’s likeness.

There’s no dead metaphor in the word

waiting to be resurrected.

The absolutes may be in denial

about the way things seem

but even when their eyes burn through glass like stars

lost in their own immensities

they can’t impress the darkness

with a theory of cosmic shadows.

They don’t need to look any further into space

than the ends of their noses

to see the constellations

casting them

across the universe

like the shadows of the stars

that aren’t there anymore

trying to throw a light on black matter

by noting its absence.

Gravitational eyes devoid of light.

Black holes without keys

in the doors of perception.

Dry wishing wells on the moon

that have never plumbed the depths

of their bottomless longing

to hear something irrevocably truer

than the echoes of their own voices

coming back to them

like crows and doves to an ark.

By the time you know it

any event is over.

By the time you see the dawn

the sun has already set.

In the seed of every insight

you can read your own gravestone.

You can see there’s as much death in it

as there is life.

You can feel the spring coming on

as if you were already buried

under the savage tiger-lilies.

And you can ask

until you’re as blue in the face as a hyacinth

what it all meant

after you’re dead

out in the incredible open

that’s closed to the living

just past the end of their fingertips.

Or if it ever meant anything at all.

You can see and be it this way.

You can go on a long journey

to a prison or a shrine or a hospital

and return home

with no more insight

than you had when you left.

And still wonder if it was all worth it.

Because no experience of life is truer than another

reality is not separated from our awareness of it

nor subject to reform.

There is no norm

that isn’t a prevailing illusion by consensus.

But the desert isn’t looking for water

and only the one-eyed fools

mistake their eye-patchs for an eclipse of the moon

and their own mirages

for a new way of thinking

when it’s thinking’s best virtue not to have one.

People and things are ok as they are

but they don’t realize it.

They keep trying to live up to their own reflections.

They keep trying to sweep the stars and the deserts

off their front stairs

looking for a stairway to heaven

where the dust of the world can’t find a place to rest.

But time is a pulse of the heart

not the heavy pendulum of a grandfather clock

and as Pablo Neruda once wisely said

the poetry is under your fingernails

and I would less wisely add

as is heaven.

No one’s on the wrong path

once they open both their eyes

to what’s underfoot

whether you’re walking on water stars or fireflies

or riding dolphins.

Whether your road is a shoelace or smoke

or the lifeline of an umbilical cord

measured in wavelengths and lightyears

or your journey’s still an astronaut in the womb.

Mirrors holding mirrors up to judgment for their spots.

Narcissus doesn’t like what he’s looking at.

So what?

The roads don’t suddenly turn back on themselves

because they lack floors

and a place of their own.

Heaven uses the same return address as hell.

But when death comes knocking in Aleppo

and you’re out walking your own mile

in your own shoes

to nowhere in particular

free of arrivals and departures

no one’s ever home

and every threshold you cross

is not hindered by an exit or an entrance.

Some walk.

Some run.

Some swim.

Some fly.

Some crawl.

Some ride.

Some dance.

And some sit still by the window

growing younger by the moment

the longer they look into the distance.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011


for Louise and Morgan

Dangerous to love things that perish

but cowardly not to.

You weren’t just a cat.

You were Morgan.

You were

as when I first saw you as a kitten

cupped in Louise’s hands

a cloud

a whiff of incense


a breath

a gust of stars

someone in love had breathed out.

And we loved you.

And now you’re dead.

And there are two more people in the world

who can’t stop weeping.

Because there is no now

in the suddenness of death

and it’s colder in our hearts than it is outside

because your absence

like your body

doesn’t have a temperature anymore.

And there’s a dagger of darkness

that’s thrust through everything

as if God were an assassin

in some kind of video killing game

that put black holes to shame.

Or is it just the impersonality of life

that it seems to derive a cheap thrill

from killing the things it creates

without knowing their names?


Got it.

Morgan the Cat.

A work of genius.

And you’d be a whole lot wiser than you are

not to forget it

because she was a goddess in her own rite.

She was the auroral shapeshifter

that was born a kitten

but grew up to be more than a human

because we always wished

we had more of her characteristics

than the ones we had as a superior species

and we worshipped her

and paid her the attentive kind of tribute

that was and is the natural due of her magical virtues.

And Morgan though it’s doubtful you can hear us now

where you can breathe easy out in the open

like the cool breeze you always were

among the wildflowers that look like stars

and copulate with Orion

the only cat who ever loved you back

as much as you like

without any one throwing cold water on it

because humans have learned to live like prophylactics

we want you to know somehow in some mysterious way

our species hasn’t discovered yet

how much you did to improve our innocence

by watching you live your life

as if you were born

knowing how to live

and didn’t have to work at it as we do.

You were tenderness with claws.

A female buddha with the eyes of a warrior

that were the envy of the moon.

A boddhicatva who didn’t answer to anyone

if you can forgive a bad pun

but showed us the way in

to the feline felicity of a paradise

that was as open as space to everyone.

You were the embodiment

of an affection and gentleness

that lingered like smoke in the air

above the cat’s eye flame of a candle

that God just blew out.

And the stars mourn as we do so deeply

even the darkness is panicked

that it will be turned inside out

like an absolute certainty from an absolute doubt.

There’s a blackhole in the heart of the light

that can’t be eclipsed by insight

and the reality of you in your flesh and your fur

no longer sitting by us on the floor

listening in with your eyes closed

as if even when you were sleeping

your ears were always awake

is a wound so deep

a rip in the sky so irreparable

that nothing that pours out of it by way

of tears and stars

thoughts or feelings

though blood pour from our eyes

could ever be worthy of it.

Thank-you for the love

that always fell into our laps like you.

Like an unexpected reward

for just being us.

Thank-you for teaching us

how to love you unconditionally

and knowing like a quiet healer

just when to apply your presence

like a soothing herb

to the hurts and fevers that afflicted us.

Sad and alone in the dead zone of an unanswerable room

you’d rub your tiny skull

with its walnut sized brain

against my leg

and I’d realize

that it was you not me

with my three and a half pounds of neocortical starmud

for all the lightyears I’ve been searching

that had found the philosopher’s stone

the moment you opened your eyes as a kitten

and you could work miraculous transformations

with the slightest touch of affection

or the nudge of a small wet nose.

When even God and Lucifer couldn’t move me

if they were to try and change my mood

you could

as easily as Morgana la Fay moved Merlin

with her felicity for emotional alchemy.

So many times when all I thought I could do

to save the situation

was let go

you flowed like water around my legs.

Sometimes it takes a river

to remind the bridge

what it stands for

and keep its spirits up.

Sometimes the thread of life

passes through the eye of a needle

like light

in the form of a cat

and the rip in the sky

where all the stars were pouring out

is patched up

with a single act of seeing

when a cat looks at you a moment

and then closes its eyes in contentment

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

You were Louise’s child.

You followed her around like a third eye

that could see into the future

like the front door you sat beside for aeons like a sphinx

waiting for her to come home

with the blue bag of salmon-flavoured cat treats.

I never saw you as her shadow.

You were more

a mirror with a mind of your own

that could look deeply into her spirit

and see your own reflection.

You were her affable familiar.

Her talismanic charm

against the obscenity of human lovelessness.

Her emergency exit.

Her fire alarm.

You were the whiff of smoke that woke her up.

If she were the long hard art

of learning how to be mastered by love.

You were the discipline

waiting on the other side of the door

that made her trudge to the store in the snow

to be sure you got your treats.

And when she returned

you’d study everything going on in the room

as if you were looking at it all for the first time

but the more I looked at you looking at us

the more I realized

you weren’t the student

you were a school

that compassionately exempted fools like us.

And now sweet one

what is it

that you want us to learn

from your perpetual absence?

As you once sweetened our lives

are you now trying

to sweeten death?

Are you trying to teach us how to see in the darkness?

To let go of our grief

as if that weren’t the only thing we had left to hold on to?

The silence in the house is a lot lonelier

for the lack of your whisper

to confide in

like a secret you kept to yourself

when no one else was home.

The birds and the windows keep waiting

for you to jump up at them any moment now

but it’s beginning to dawn on them you can’t anymore

and it isn’t just the rain

that’s making the glass cry.

Who’s going to stare at the plaster for hours

like Bodhidharma meditating in his cave

listening to the baby squirrels

learning to crawl through the walls

now that you’re not sitting there

tense as an archer

and as attentive as a Zen master?

You had a C-spot under your neck

close to your jugular

that could make you purr

when anyone pampered it like Cleopatra.

Now who’s going to know how

wherever you are

to make you stretch your claws out

like crescents of the moon

and make the green honey of your eyes

ripen into gold?

There’s a darkness in the heart of grief

that burns like a black fire

all these tears can’t seem to put out.

It’s a measure of the love you inspired in us

that we’d rather let the pain of missing you

consume us in the flames

of remembering

some tender eccentricity of your cathood

even in the midst of trying to let life

get on with us without you

than ever let death make you a stranger to us.

You were Bast the Egyptian cat goddess among us in the flesh.

We learned to read your eyes like a Druidic Ogham

like phases of the moon as it waxed and waned.

One glance and I knew what you wanted.

You were a rose with retractible thorns

and we’d watch you for hours

wondering what you were dreaming

under your twitching eyelids.

And the tenderness that people are afraid

to expose to each other

because they haven’t learned to walk through life skinless

we showed to you

without feeling that even the slightest gesture of it

was ever wasted

or unreturned

or that the spirit didn’t recognize its own

whether it was embodied by a cat or a human.


you’re among the stars now

like a gust of light on the road of ghosts

like a hurricane that found rest in the eye of it own turbulence

like a cat-muse among these words

that can feel you watching them like birds

from your perch in the cosmic window

at the foot of the bed in Louise’s room.


though there’s this black hole

your absence has left in the middle of everything

it’s not an exit.

It’s an entrance.

It’s the way you taught us

how to diminish the darkness

by growing bigger eyes

to get the most light out of it

even when we think

as we do now

that there’s nothing left

in this starless night

that could shine.

That the winds of time

have swept the last of the blossoms away

like phases of the moon

and even our tears

are the one-way tides

of the heart-numbing farewells

the whole of our lives seem.

Did we have the dream

or did the dream have us

or is it only the nightmares

that wake up screaming out in their sleep somewhere

where the pillows are wet

and the mothers come running

to reassure them

that what they thought they saw in the dark

was not real?

It was just another human

summoning some lost joy from the past

like the ghost of a watershed

that keeps recalling things

as if it were alone at night in a dark museum.

But an abyss isn’t just an abyss.

It’s also a fountain.

Everything reveals its emptiness

in the fullness of life

like the depth of the valley

is revealed by the height of the mountain.

The sweet brief life of the blossom

is the bright vacancy

rooted in the dark abundance

of the indelibility of the way we change.

To be here once

should be enough

to prove to anyone

that they’ve been here forever.

Life leaves signs

that anyone can follow back to themselves

like leaves on the mindstreams of their flowing.

They had to let go of the tree like maps

to know which way they’re going.

It’s the same with humans and cats.

Life breathes on the ashes of the starstreams

and everything starts glowing

like the eyes of a cat in the dark.


it hurts not to see you

mesmerized by the turning water in the toilet-bowl

or sleeping in the bottom of the tub

or the end of my bed

or across the top of the easy chair

like a strategic adornment

keeping one ear open

to everything that was going on around you?

It hurts to wonder

what Louise is going to use for an alarm clock now

that you’re not there

to lick her eyelids awake in the morning

and where are the candles

where are the plants

that could ever take your place in the windowsill

watching for her to come home

as if you were one of the streetlamps?

Sometimes it’s hard to know

which hurts worse.

Never to have known love

or realize at times like this

how vast and excruciating the abyss is

how sad and foregone

the sad effusions of sorrow

the begrudging smiles of acceptance

that feel like the scars of an assassin

who doesn’t know who to get even with

when even the least atom of something we’ve truly loved

like the cosmic beginning of everything

in large and small

in the petty and profound alike

in the mystical and the earthbound

in what is different and what is not

in the star and the candle and the phoenix and the firefly

in Louise and her cat

is extinguished.

Morgan yes

you’ve left a hole in the light

as big as the universe

and all the stars are pouring out of it

as if the light could cry

for the passing of your radiance

but Morgan

no more than the pupil of an eye

blocks the light from getting in

does the hurt of your death

qualify the dangerous rapture

of having loved you in this life

as well as we knew how to love anything.



We’re all on the same journey

though sometimes we change bodies

like forms and shoes along the way

or walk barefoot awhile on stars

along the Road of Ghosts

talking to shoeless angels

about how mysterious it is

that every step of the way

where we come from

is where we’re going

and it’s not the destination

but the journey itself

that enshrines what is most sacred about life.

Not the arrival.

Not the fulfillment.

Not the completion.

Not the consummation that exhausts us wholly

and leaves us beseeching heaven

or pleading with emptiness

for a clarification of death

like the air we breathe out

leaves us longing for breath.

Our beginnings go on forever without end

and Morgan like you

if we wind up chasing our tails around

it’s only because of the great delight we take

in knowing nothing’s ever over

and everything is looping

like a snake with its tail in its mouth

or the horizontal eight of eternity

that keeps falling over

like a Bodhidarma doll

and righting itself like spectacles

worn by someone lying down

whose eyes go vertical

whenever they’re dreaming.

It’s not the farewell of the guest

but the welcome of the host

that we treasure most.

It’s not the finding

but the seeking

that’s the jewel of our quest.

That’s why you stuck your nose into everything

and learned to see with your ears

and hear with your eyes

the wings of the stars and fireflies

that hovered just outside your window

when what was always wild about you

answered the Zen savagery of the night

like an austere summons to life.

Morgan you’re gone

but there’s no imperative

in why you had to go.

No harsh god.

No assassin cloaked in light.

No doors close

our senses and our hearts

to the earthly delights of loving you.

No gates open

like a cats’ eyes

that will not see us return like insight

to the faces of the living creatures

we live to behold in our own features

and touch most gently.