Saturday, April 30, 2011


Because I don’t confront you

doesn’t mean this tree

doesn’t know how to stand up to the wind.

If I bend like a river reed in a current

I’ll still be here

long after the current has passed.

To the unenlightened it’s inconceivable

there’s nothing to win

because both opposites are empty.

Take empty from empty it’s still empty.

No reason to put a gun to your head to check it out.

Just because you’ve got a trigger

like the first crescent of the moon

doesn’t mean you have to pull it.

Three for three.

Blood and cartridges.

Strange lipstick.

But you’re still banking on the one that’s empty.

Those that have the power to hurt

but will do none.


Sonnet 94.

Lonely advice to those who never take it.

And it’s not hard to imagine

better things to do in the world

than trade barbs and stingers

with third world killer bees.

And there’s nothing unholier than a holy war.

Or a faith that festers

because it doesn’t know

how to clean a wound properly.

Even maggots make better nurses than that.

And besides

as unlikely as it seems at times

I’d rather be loved than right.

I don’t want to lie down with a woman at night

like a body count.

You say I’m not in touch with reality

as if reality were some kind of guillotine

you expected me to stick my neck out for

swanning on the block.


I don’t stay in touch much

with French executioners.

But I can see the world as you see it.

A snakepit with the occasional apple-tree.

You think of reality as a hard medicine

you have to wince like a lemon to take

but if you ask me

the way you put it

reality sounds more like a toxin

than the antidote to the snake.

If the kids don’t like it then neither do I.

The iodine you pour on things

hurts worse than the original scrape.

The cure is more delirious than the disease.

You see the black door of the prison

and you want to paint it pink.

You realign the constellations

like barbed wire around a concentration camp

and reality drives up like the commandant

of what you think

to announce to the inmates

they’re in the real world now

where iron rules

and the watchdogs never sleep.

What happy fool

bemused by watching his illusions

chase their tails

and play with snakes

is going to turn his delusion in

for something as stern as that?

An ideologue is someone

whose spirit is weaker than their intellect

and ideas pack like cholesterol around their hearts

and harden like plack on their teeth.

Someone who is terminally ideational

thinks of reality as a kind of rehabilitation

for the rest of us.

A man asks for water in a desert of stars.

An ideologue offers him bleach

as if he were redressing an incorrigle wino

for giving up on reality.

And when he talks of reform

it’s like listening to a dvd

giving step by step instructions

in how to turn a chameleon into an albino.

And I see something of the same in you.

Ideologues are appalled by the sloppiness of life.

They see it as something to organize

not something to create.

They hate the suggestible mysteries

that never quite come into focus.

They want to refit the Flying Dutchman

with real sails and upgraded astrolabes.

They loathe the Uncertainty Principle

at work in their atoms and their evolution.

They look at beauty as ornamentalism.

There’s nothing functional about a sunset.

Even out in the country

I’ve heard them scolding life

for squandering itself on a flower.

Wild asters and loosestrife

are merely a silly extravagance

and there are so many stars at night

you’d think life was running a casino.

When you tell me I should get in touch with reality

I feel I should be looking for some ultimate

behind everything

some ulterior way of understanding life

that illegitimizes everything under my nose

as mere phenomena and appearance.

The rat behind the arras.

The meaning of things

that makes things irrelevant

as if what my senses perceived

were mere wrapping.

When I look at things

as if there were no inside or out

to them or me

I see the creative contents

and events of a mind

that belongs to all of us.

And there isn’t a thought or a thing

that doesn’t express the whole of it.

Delusion and enlightenment

share the same nature I do.

The star is as much me

as I am the star

so when I say the stars have opened my eyes

to how exalted you can feel

when you’re humbled

by the sublime lucidity of life

my eyes have done as much for them.

You want to put life on a diet.

And time on a budget.

Usually when someone tells me to be realistic

I’m talking to a conservative

who’s in denial about the future.

Nature is nurture

and no one’s ever left the womb

but there are available dimensions

in the dark backward abysm of time

that’s been maturing us for the last

fourteen and a half billion years

out of our own inconceivability

like wine

not vinegar

into this sublime creative collaboration

which is the life of the mind.

Whatever we create

simultaneously and seamlessly creates us.

It’s a child’s drawing.

There are no flaws in it.

What’s unrealistic about a purple sun?

Lebanese cochineal shells

for the togas of the Roman imperium.

The emperor’s got no clothes.

So you dress him up in your nakedness

and paint his portrait in purples and blues

and ask Caligula to lend him some shoes.

It’s a dynamic equilibrium of transformations.

It’s a living cosmic harmony

that’s as mystically specific and intimate

as a snowflake melting on your arm.

The dead branch blossoms

like a witching stick

whenever it’s near water

and the magician’s wand sheds its skin

like serpent-fire on the wind.

These things are true too.

Anything the Inconceivable

does or reveals

is always spontaneous

because there is no way of predicting it.

Every drop of water

that opens itself like an eye

in the infinite sea of awareness

is merely water watching water

shift its shape into fish and trees and humans.

The river turns

and the zodiacal kings of the Etruscans

bow down to Vertumamnis

who will grow up to be kidnapped by the Romans

and raised as Morpheus the god of dreams.

Or Orpheus among the Greeks

if he dreams while he’s awake.

If life weren’t creatively inconceivable

we couldn’t have been born into it

to conceive of the unthinkable.

It’s the empty cup that pours the wine.

It’s the mystery

that all our answers are looking for.

When I look at the stars

though they’re arranged in constellations

to me they are never endlessly one thing

but radiant with beginnings

going off in all directions at once.

You speak of reality

as if it were the negative

of a photographic starmap

elapsed by time.

You’re an equatorial mount with clock drive

and a colour-blind spectrograph

where your third eye used to be.

Thirteen ways of looking at the same blackbird.

Meaning infinite.

And they’re all true.

I am.

And so are you.

And what’s a blackbird

if it isn’t the primordial atom

the many in the one

nuclear fusion

the muse and the inspiration

all the combinations and permutations

of the way it will continue to be seen anew

in every moment

as if it will always be the beginning of creation?

Six trillion miles in a light-year.

And Proxima Centauri 4.7 light years away.

The next star over unfencible time and space.

You look at the insurmountability of these distances

and you think that’s how far it is from here to there

and your isolation brings you to the precipice of despair

when your omnidirectional self

looks creation in the face

and mistakes humility for insignificance everywhere.

And you say to yourself

there’s no point or place

for a period

at the end of an infinite sentence.

And you make a brutal discipline of your irrelevance

and call it reality

and the dead begin to legislate for the living

and the blind for those who can see.

Van Gogh said it best in a letter to Theo.

Some people live their lives

as if they were walking to the stars.

Some take the train.

And some fly.

For the birds

nothing’s ever further away

than their wingspan

as it is with fish and fins.

And turning the jewel in the light

and looking at its infinite flashs of insight

without the glass eye

of a Cyclopean appraiser

cut it up atomically

like a butcher or a surgeon

deciding on where to make the next incision

I would add that like a star

even after billions of years on the road

whose light never really leaves home

because everywhere it goes

it’s in the doorway

on the threshold

because there’s no discontinuity

no distinction

no severance

between a ray of light and its source

between a way of life and its course

there’s a fourth kind of pilgrim

who just has to look up at the stars

or the sun and the moon

or Venus luxuriating in the sunset

if he wants to shine down on everything.

So if I don’t confront you like a bottom-feeder

on the floor of your thinktank

rising to the surface

like a scumbag to high public office

it’s not because I’m a coward or a fool.

It’s just that I’m enrolled

in this funny kind of school

where you learn through experience

to use your ignorance

as a teaching device

to enlighten the Buddha.

What’s water to the goldfish

is water to the barracuda

without and within

every wave of water light and life

the whole sea of awareness at high tide

the whole sky with all its myriads of stars

tatooed on the skin of a water droplet

that thinks it’s tough

to stick pins through the eye of an inkwell

like an Oedipal voodoo doll

with Medusan issues

because she never had a mother

who didn’t turn her heart to stone.

Water is fish.

Fish is water.

Air is bird.

Bird is air.

Earth is worm.

Worm is earth.

And fire is a phoenix that nests in its own ashes.

And you can ask the moon

if you don’t believe me.

Sometimes the water

makes a quick exit

and swims out of you

like tears and light-years of neap tides

but there’s never going to come a time

whether you measure it in lunar months

or waterclocks

or the wavelengths of a snake-pit

you’re ever going to swim out of it.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011


This prophet swallowed the whale

and there’s a sorrow that haunts me inside

like a heavy bell that’s already written the music

but hasn’t caught up to the lyrics yet.

I’m riding a wave of tears like a dolphin

nudging a drowned man toward a shore

that keeps disappearing over the horizon

like an island that’s afraid of the dead.

I am encumbered by a grief that weeps glass

and moves like a python of lava

a wavelength of life

that’s a path unto itself.

An old unknown sorrow

an ancient ore of suffering

that hasn’t ripened into gold yet.

The empty wombs of the hydrogen clouds

that were the first to give birth to the stars.

The echo of exhausted siloes

that finally found their voice

when there was nothing left to say.

Something I can’t see

but I seem to understand.

And sometimes I even think

the rocks feel it and the trees

and it’s rooted in the very heart of things

like our veins and arteries are.

Not a longing for anything that exists

but an absence that’s been waiting

to be fulfilled by someone.

An incomprehensible sadness

that probes the disposition of humans

to determine the fate of a star.

And yet it has the wisdom of a mountain

and the weight of the sea about it

and in its heart

a thorn like the crescent moon

and the blood of a million roses

that didn’t end in love.

Sometimes it’s so intense

I think I can hear far back in the cave

a wounded Medusa crying alone

that even her tears turn to stone

when she looks at herself in a mirror.

I know the drunks feel it

especially at night

after they’ve fallen down

for the last time

before the morning light

and they look up at the stars

that don’t mind where they sleep it off.

Sometimes it seeps into my dreams

like the taste of saltwater mingling with sweet

and there’s a plea in its presence

as if it were asking me to bury

the afterbirth of death

so it can rest easy in oblivion

knowing the right thing was done at last.

One moment it’s the wasteland

of a lunar watershed

resigned to its lost opportunity

like a widow at a window

making love to the rain

and the next

it’s an unborn child

that’s been wounded by its future

in the womb of now

and knows more about abominations to come

than even the most inhuman of us do.

Bruised flower.

Blue lotus.

Black rose.

Your sadness is a strange elixir

on a poet’s tongue

a fragrance of pines in the shadows

their resins sticky with moonlight

like slow emotions that keep to themselves.

I experience you like a mysterious symbol

of all that is injured and broken by life

of all the struggle and agony

of those the mountains cast down

like the bodies that lie frozen

with their mouths open

on the unapproachable slopes of heaven.

You are the old woman

who comes late to the battlefield with the crows

looking for her son

like a ring that slipped from her finger

knowing the real devastation

doesn’t start until the war is over.

Not even a maggot has ever fouled the light

that shone upon it

but I can feel the silence of your compassion

for all those who have been deluded

into thinking they do

and pass judgment on themselves

like an eclipse upon their shining.

You are the custodian of prophetic skulls

and I sense the great tenderness

in the way you caress them like ancestors

who are grateful to have someone like you

to talk to.

What secret graces

do you whisper to them

to leave such silly grins on their faces

long after their faces have gone?

What do you say

that makes them gape?

If I were to ask them

would they break salt and bread and words with me?

Would they predict the past

turning their zodiacs in reverse

like deep sky objects

ahead of time and space?

Dark mother

what woes do you embody

what unspoken despair seals your lips

what unfinished lives

what green works

what blossoming passions that never guessed

by late spring

among ubiquitous beginnings

they were already past their prime

and perishing?

Is it your voice or theirs

that summons me to listen

to the abandoned picture-music

of these icons in exile

no one reclaims

from the spirit’s lost and found?

The undiscovered genius

who lived too long

to be a tragic loss

and the child prodigy

who died too young

to sacrifice her facility

on the altars of her art.

Do they find salons for the rejected

like eyes that weren’t acceptable

in the open abyss of your embrace

hanging their works

like constellations in the sky

so no can miss

what’s obvious about the night

and singularly rare?

I can feel the desolation in your sorrow

like an elephant in a graveyard

who can’t forget anything.

And what is this buoyant heaviness

but the perennial testamonial

of the leviathan within me

remote and deep

that never comes up for air

but what the sea feels

after so many millions of years of giving life

to plankton and whales

who took what they knew

about being wolves

and turned back to the water

like prodigal sons and daughters

with stories from foreign lands

and extra-uterine worlds?

Lonelier than the small self-effacing smile

of the Mona Lisa

resigned to the truth

she couldn’t share with anyone

that she would give birth

and die young

I sense in you as well

the same ambivalent incomprehension

that stills the wind

and leaves the tides flatlining

to see the number of needles

piercing the eyes of the voodoo doll

you played innocently with as a child

like harpoons in the side of the moon.

Sharkfin soup.

Canned dolphin.

As if the only food

that could be tasted anymore

in this feeding frenzy of appetities

the only things worth ordering

on this menu of an abbatoir

were all taboo.

Bad meat.

Blood in the water.

Peacock’s tongues

and butterfly antennae

the livers of black bears

and tiger dicks

original Viagra

elephant tusks

and rhino horns

and the hands of silver-backed gorillas

and whales in the morning

running from slaughter in pods

beached and dying

under their own weight

all along the beach

like a miscarriage of faith in life in Jonestown

because there’s nowhere left to swim

where the sea hasn’t turned into black kool-aid.

All the lifeboats returning like surgical barges

full of body parts

torn from your womb

as if it were the backdoor of a hospital

without a crematorium.

I wait like hieroglyphics

in this desert of stars

with long afterlives

and no islands

for you to open your mouth

like a Rosetta Stone of scars

and speak to me in the native tongue of your sorrows.

My gumboots are stuck in the starmud

like words that weren’t invited to the dance

and the guitar in my voice

is that dunce in the corner

gathering dust

waiting for new strings

like a puppetmaster

who can pick it up and play the blues

for a lady of the lake who’s worth more

than the dues she’s paid

to keep it all in

like wounded water

in a lunar womb

that never breaks.

What spirit of sad wine

are you trying to mature to birth in me

like autumn in the grape?

Have I not already thrown

the ceremonious sword of my lunar art

like a sacred blade

that was raised on my blood

from the rainbow arc of the bridge

as a tribute to your river

that it might be washed clean of me

without profaning the mindstream?

Young moon in the arms of an old light

it’s well past last crescent

and I still don’t know

if it’s a lover or a crone

that’s opening the gate

this late at night.

But I’ve left the door ajar

and a candle burning in the hall

for you to find your way

across the threshold of my homelessness.

I have established peace

among the duelling keys

that kill one another

to be privvy to the secrets of my heart

by taking off all the locks.

And every breath I take in the dark

is the atmosphere of an unknown planet

looking for signs of life

when it opens its eyes to see you.

Is Isis in mourning over my dismemberment

or are you the star on the left-handed sailor

that will keeping me from drowning

in the great resevoir of northwest passages

you keep like a private library in Atlantis?

How long must I wait

like a dead seabed of shadows on the moon

for your ancient ice palace to thaw underfoot

for you to lift your own veils

and throw off

this dark pall that shrouds me

in your carboniferous wisdom

like the cube of the Kaaba in imageless black

and offer me your longing and your lips

like the cornerstone of a meteorite

putting my forehead to the ground

I can bow down

and kiss?

And if I’m done.

If I’m finished.

If you’re the crone

who knows where I am buried

and you’ve come back for me

like a widow I am married to in the future.

Unhood Horus.

Take the blinders off the falcon of the sun

like bandages off the new faces

of the mummies and plastic surgeons

and let him make whole

that which is partial and scattered.

Gather me up like wheat you’ve sown

within the compass of your blade

under the second full moon in October

and let the wounded bull of my heart

ensure the fertility of next year’s siloes

by pouring the mystic bounty of my blood

the dark abundance

bright vacancy

of my life and art

like the high tide of a libation

over the skull of the moon

so that I can feel you flooding in on me at last

through the trees

through broken windows

through the mirrors that fear

they’ve lost their beauty

through the hidden jewels

in the ores of illusion

through the eyes of hurt children

and the adolescent lenses

of moody telescopes

projecting their passions on the heavens

through the cataracts of aging visions

that have let the clouds

overgrow their gardens in the sky

like weeds they can’t keep up with

through the damaged hearts of irreparable mailmen

who shut the moon out

like lunaphobic loveletters they never send

imagining somehow someone might actually answer

even the damned

who live in fear of miracles.

Inundate me like Noah

Atlantis Mu Dilmun

The Bay of Fundy at high tide.

Let me drown like a lover

outside on a rainy night

when the streetlamps are smeared

like lipstick on a mirror

with a painting knife

and no one’s coming to meet me but you.

I picture you as the view

that all windows aspire to

and you as the janitor of lost causes

that sweeps the stairs of stars

like discarded lottery tickets

and scars on the cards and dice

that could have cut either way

but didn’t win.

Seven came and passed

but eleven was too much to ask.

To begin is to risk

and no one risked beginning again after that

because they had nothing left to lose

except you

and you took them in

like a condemned hotel

on the wrong side of the tracks

of the high-flying zodiacs

and gave them a place for the night

where not to have any luck

was still o.k.

Just because you’re a black hole

still doesn’t mean

you can’t be starstruck.

The ravens haven’t stopped stealing the silver.

And the fish still rise to the lure

like city pimps to something pure.

But I sense you’ve always known this.

That you’ve always been the best of healers

because you don’t apply

the moon like a poultice

to lepers

to draw the infection out.

You don’t attach leeches like eclipses

to bleed the fever

and treat the mind

by putting blinds on its delirium.

You are the mysterium tremendum et fascinans

and your eyes are more potent

than the laying on of hands.

You let the dead summon their own saviours

from the grave.

You let the cowards walk with the brave

so the heroes can deepen their courage and heart

by learning what it means to be afraid.

And for those who think

that timing is the content of life

you’re the bus that’s late.

Everyone’s a perennial in your presence

even the weeds and the wildflowers

and the hopeless bouquets

with expiry dates

arranged like Zen gardens in garbage cans

by desperately improbable humans

hanging on by a hinge

the slumlords won’t fix

like the quantum gate

to your infinitely expanding starfields.

Sex is an expression of love.

Love is an expression of sex.

And the word fuck

the English stole from the Dutch

when their fleets fleeced the golden ram

means to batter someone.

Do violence to their person.

As in I’m going to fuck you up.

Not let’s make the beast with two backs

in an alchemical connubium

of Hermetic transformation

and turn all this base flesh

into a gold rush.

But word on the street is

they’re both mafia rats

in a two way mirror

burning saints in the palms of their hands

making deals to open their mouths

taking vows to keep them shut.

An etymological confusion of sex and destruction

eros and thanatos

an alloy of breath and death.

Venus might hang on the arm of Vulcan

but she smells like the sweat of Apollo.

And you might be life

you might be death

you might be light and love

or the Babylonian Harlot

or none and all of the above

but my heart tells me

you’re the crazy wisdom

that blossoms like deadly nightshade

in the lonely recesses of an enlightened brain

where great pain speaks to itself

like the hard rock on the mountain

or a dry well to the rain.

Being and nothingness are not peers.

They’re not cloned from the stem cells of mirrors

and replication might be a material form of immortality.

Everybody’s eyes are black and blue

But reflection is the half-life of a cosmic radiance

that doesn’t see things with the same eyes

in the same light most people do

because when you blow it out

like a candle at the end of its wick

it enlightens the room for billions of years.

The moon jumps over the cow

and compassion transcends its tears

and even the tragic deliberations

of the most serious-minded fools

are the spontaneous schools of the buddhas.

Great illumination

keeps it secrets

like seekers to itself.

And it’s easy to mistake the truth

for that crumb of a dream

in the corner of your eye

when you lie to fake reality

but it’s not proof of anything

except that you’re not awake yet

to your own lucidity.

Your seeing maligns what shines

by not being it.

It’s your own blood

you’re wiping off the blade with your tongue

when the truth wounds.

Lies that heal are wiser than hurtful facts.

And even the midnight sun

that has nothing to do with flowers

when all is said and done

is not the sum of its acts.

Conceptual thinking

is like trying to fix the stars to your eyes

with thumb-tacks.

It’s not the stuff that myths are made of.

The moon doesn’t ride Zeus like a white bull

and Zeus doesn’t fuck swans

with a condom on

because all gods at heart

are socially transmitted diseases

that weaken the immunity

of your own human divinity

to keep them apart

like the sea from sweet water.

And I think that’s what makes you so sad about us.

Like a mother resigned

to the children who doomed

the dreams she had of them

like a miscarriage of life

long after it’s left her womb.

We’re fallible fire-gods looking for fire

among the shadows we cast

like the writing on the wall

in a dangerous neighbourhood.

The gods never ask about the divine

because it’s always

a human that answers.

The gods water the wine

of earthly compassion

that sweetens the bitter truth

like fruit on the vine

with our own tears.

But I’m only guessing

you’re the forlorn muse of the expired hope

that inspires the dead and the living alike

You’re as aloof as the rumours of truth

that disappear into the distance

like prayers and birds

and the smoke of burning heretics

purged of their humanity

at auto de fes

held in public squares

for private control

to remind the crowds

how dangerous it can be

to be

to be who

to be who you are.

To be the thesis



of your own triune identity.

The three in one version

not one in three perversion

of your own faceless trinity.

And as for me and my house

my spirit moved and bruised

by these suggestions

of who you might be afterall

following me through the shadows

of this temple wilderness

ever since I was a kid

growing up in the logging camps of B.C.

like a big cat

half hunting half playing with me

where parallel paths converge

on the periphery of prophetic vision

I choose the sanctity of a profane woman

to the profanity of a holy ghost.

Your blood is wine.

Your flesh is bread.

You breathe in the last breath of the dead

and you give it life again.

It blooms in you like a flower

and if it’s only for now an hour or eternity

it will still live as outrageously as life on earth

agelessly giving birth

to hearts and minds

that don’t need to waste their time

defending their humanity

against the blind groping for the blind

to put out the eyes

of what’s spontaneously divine

and earthbound about us.

And I suspect prophetically it’s you.

Or maybe I’m just a Sufi weathervane

that’s come to a crossroads in life

and falling to earth from sidereal spaces

like some panspermic meteorite

high on amino acids

I’m elaborating into protein

like the beginning of a new life

I’m finally getting up on my feet

and all this is just a mystic delirium

of prophetic vertigo

to let me know

which direction should take me

to go where I go.

And it’s hard to tell

by the calm of my awareness

whether you’re near

or I’m caught in the third eye

of a spiritual hurricane

like a bird on the wing

but I feel no fear

and I’m used to the pain

and whenever I see you

out of the corner of my eye

and glimpse the beauty of your compassion

and sense there’s nothing about being a human

in the way you look upon people and things

with the emotional wisdom

of your sad-eyed night vision

with all its stars and fireflies

lit up like candles and tears

in the chandeliers of the constellations

writing earthly myths for unearthly lamps

I know there’s nothing about being a human

by the way you love them

not just for who they are

but who they wanted to be

that was ever a condition of anything.

Infinite in your intimacy

you might be the morning star

shining alone in the sunset

of an estranged way of life

that accepts humanity as it is.

Holy water without the fizz.

Nothing to unmask

Nothing to reveal.

No grave to rise from

that isn’t the cradle of a prophecy

that’s already been fulfilled.

The whole shoreless sea

of enlightened awareness

in every wavelength of insight

that illuminates and adumbrates the mind

whatever the weather

and everyone mystically specific

and indiscriminately alone together

in the same lifeboat

rowing with every pulse of their hearts

to the rescue of the illusory bubbles

they wear like lifejackets

to keep them afloat.

And though every glimpse I have of you

is the merest suggestion of a flightfeather

from a nightbird folding its wings

on the waters of life within me

I can intuit from the way I feel

the Y of the witching wand

twitching in my hands

like the cross of a human

with uplifted arms

that you’re near

that you’re real

that you’re the muse

and the inspiration

that raises this goblet

and rises like a living fountainmouth

to speak for the great watershed of the dead

you carry in your womb.

That you’re the void in the voice

that engenders these worlds

within worlds within words

that fit the forms of things like skin

such that

eye to eye

inside and out

with faceless space

where all things end

is precisely where they begin

and the less I know about nothing

the more reason I have to sing.


Sunday, April 24, 2011


Does the eye of the rain know it’s a tear?

Does that ray of light know

that even at night

it’s a revolutionary among flowers?

Between the giver and the given

between a human and his god

between a human and her void

the gift of a gift of a gift.

And the gifts aren’t hidden

even when you cover your eyes.

I saw a baglady the other day

who hadn’t given it all away yet

who was positively beatific

in an atmosphere

that only she could breathe

but the shining under her rags

told me she lived on light.

She was a waterlily in a swamp.

And I wondered if she knew it.

What I don’t know I intuit

so even if she did

how could that add

one drop of bliss

to an abyss that was already full?

Experience makes a gift of a school.

The blossom grants the apple its absence.

The wind is Johnny Appleseed.

Or the mad old farmer at the end of his life

that was seen hanging on to the tail

of a black bull

in the backwoods of Westport

sowing the groves with grain.

So the birches had bread

he gave aways his brain.

So the dead know

we haven’t departed

we leave them our pain

in the company of flowers.

Things don’t have origins.

They have givers.

Even in math

giving is an axiomatic fact.

Does the sumac know it’s a phoenix in the fall?

The lifework of a universe

in every eyelash

in every bud on the locust tree

in every branch of coral on the moon

in every pimple on your ass.

If the all were not whole in the least of us

all things would cease to exist.

Life wouldn’t be possible

if it ever short-changed itself

watered a gram

diluted the whiskey

thinned our blood like a mosquito.

Life would be an also-ran

that didn’t quite make it to the moon.

Does the stone

that forged it out of fire and iron

know it’s giving Excalibur

back to the water?

Or the magician his wand?

The diviner his witching rod?

The poet his computer?

Giving isn’t a moral vow

you make to the universe.

It’s the way we survive.

Say one word truly in any language

and you’ve endowed the gift of speech

on inanimate things that were mute

about all the things they had to tell you

in your own voice.

This is not mysticism.

This is not science.

This is not the Uncertainty Principle

of some random atomic spiritual life.

I’m not drinking my reflection

from the wellspring of a mirror.

It’s as clear as a chandelier.

You can’t keep

what you won’t give away.

And it isn’t the giver.

It isn’t the given.

It’s the giving that’s crucial.

The Buddha gave Ananda a rose.

I don’t know what kind of flower it was for sure

but let’s suppose.

It isn’t the rose that’s famous

it’s the giving that has come down to us

through the years

thorns and all

heart to heart

hand to hand

human to human

rose petals on the mindstream.

The enlightened dreams

of an unttainable man.

If you’re ice

absolute Kelvin

dispassionate as entropy

profound as blue glass to an ancient Roman

you’re still not sublime

until you learn to give it all away.

Empty the urns of the fireflies

like the ghosts of earthbound insights

and scatter their ashs on the wind

and they’ll tell you how

to light the night up

and play like water

that doesn’t know how to live any other way.

Giving took water for a body

as soon as it saw how beautiful

the wild iris and blue narcissus were.

Wisdom is water.

Compassion is water.

And there’s no end of the modes of it.

Water is the light’s favourite mirror.

And the most fun.

And what are we

if not clouds

if not wombs

cut off from the sea like kites

if not sacks of water

fruit that leaks like a crucified pear

hoping if we’ve got to be poured out of ourselves

like pitchers

it’s over a garden.

Chandeliers of rain when we cry

even the windows have learned

to weep along with us

glaciers and glass

slow inexorable tears

that like to linger on the past

as if there future weren’t full of it.

Like a garden in the fall

that gives what it’s got left to the birds

however you think you’ve emptied the cup

such is the generosity of water

there’s always one last

unfathomable watershed of a drop left

to give back to the water-giver.

And when you do

pour it away from you

like Dogen Zenji

as a sign of respect for the river.



If you don’t want a pulse

I’m not going to force one on you.

If you want to hold your breath on the moon

as if you were protecting the last flag

of its lost atmosphere

as your face turns blue as a moodring

I’m not going to show up like a gust of wind

and blow stars in your face

like the playful ghost

of a dandelion gone to seed.

The stars don’t twinkle in the eyes of the dead.

And when they cry in the mirror

their tears don’t make ripples.

The trees take their engagement rings off

and the mystic specificity of every snowflake

is banked like a fingerprint

someone forgot to wash off

when they thawed like a serial killer

in the warmth of an artificial heart

in a glacial interrogation room

with two-faced mirrors

sporting a camera

that cuddles like a recording device.

Clarity doesn’t mean

that everytime something shines

your mind jumps in front of your eyes

to make a point of the light.

If making a tent of a mental starmap

is enough of a sky for you

I’m not going to expose you to the radiance.

If your idea of extending your senses

is mirrors and lenses

I’m not going to make Spinoza

grind them all over again in his garret.

No donkey.

No stick.

No carrot.

I don’t need to make scaffoldings of thought

to climb up and paint the overview

in Botticellian blue

when I know it’s where it’s always been

right under my feet.

I starwalk on the things I’ve seen

and deepen my shadows

to inspire the light to burn hotter and brighter.

But fear of the dark

makes you lower your voice

everytime you hear a bird in a hidden grove

singing its heart out to the night

as if no one else were listening

and whisper

What was that?

I’m afraid.

But I can’t hear it for you

like an old Druid

divining in a sacred wood

and give you an interpretation

that would do your listening any good.

I’m not into cutting the balls off oaks

like mistletoe

or the mountain oysters of rams in the Rockies

or the figs of goats

with the sickle of the moon

to keep them from running amok with desire.

It’s the nature of fire

to always get out of hand.

Ask that red-tailed hawk of a heart

with blinders on

like an executioner’s hood

you keep tethered by a leg to your arm

what it’s like to get high

on your own thermals

alone on a late August afternoon

wheeling through double helices

like the spark of a planet in the sun

with the wingspan of an uninhibited sky.

But I’m not out to hunt your morning doves

like bloodless loveletters.

I admire the sails

but where’s the lifeboat.?

Where are the oars the feathers the wings?

I don’t want to waste a good star

on someone who isn’t rowing.

Row row row your boat

gently down the stream.

Merrily merrily merrily merrily

life is but a dream.

But even if you’re sleepwalking

you can still stub your heart on a rock

and find yourself caught in an earthquake.

If you don’t want to wake up

from the inside out

what good would it do to knock?

I’m not going to brainwash my ghost

into being ashamed it had a body once.

And who’s to say

that haunting isn’t just another way

of advancing your senses

into mediums they’ve never worked with before

like the seedbeds of new internal worlds

rooted in our starmud

like waterlilies anchored in a swamp

waiting for the wind to fill their sails

and drive them down the mindstream

to brighten the nightlife

in their ports of call?

One of the liberal graces of an enlightened life

is that you suffer fewer deaths

than you have afterlives.

And if you hear someone calling

it isn’t a summons to a seance.

How do I know this?

Because all of those who don’t.

The tree is made from the crutch

just as much as the crutch is made from the tree.

Two acts of compassion from the same heartwood.

Even the dead branch is delirious with fruit

that has ripened in the midnight sun

of an unexpected insight.

Birth doesn’t start the work

and death doesn’t finish it.

When opposites

look at each other in the mind mirror

one isn’t far

and the other near.

One isn’t love

and the other hate.

They copulate like sacred snakes

like the bannisters on the stairwells

of our dna

like wavelengths of life

from the same radiant source

long before forms and shadows

and when they meet eye to eye

it isn’t Hammurabi and Odeipus

it isn’t Lear and the wanton gods

it isn’t Tiresius being led around

like a blind old woman by a child for seven years.

It’s a union

a coincidence of the contradictories

a synthesis of opposites

that differentiates identities

like the names that we choose for our children.

A rainbow isn’t the optical illusion of a raindrop

anymore than your face

is a delusion of the mirror

or the moon’s reflection on water is.

The water can’t grasp it

or reject it.

And if water can’t wash it off

maybe it’s not a stain.

Graffitti under the bridge

or writing on the wall

maybe they’re not watercolours in the rain.

Maybe when I lay my head down to sleep

on the hard rock of my brain

my dreams are the grass and saxifrage

that cracks it open like a fortune-cookie

or a message in a bottle

to read it like a genome.

Why run around like hieroglyphics

looking for a Rosetta stone

so you can understand yourself?

Why put a gate on your homelessness

to keep the wind and the weeds out?

Nothing’s empty.

Nothings’s real.

Everything has a creative feel about it.

Absurdity isn’t the black sheep of meaning.

Innocence isn’t driven out into the wilderness

like the scapegoat for a guilty world

to return like a prodigal tiger of karmic wrath.

Temples to chaos

are built in the ruins of perennial philosophies

that keep popping up like flowers

that don’t know when to quit.

Water air life fire light

all make better cornerstones

than Carrara marble or quicksand.

Because there’s nothing immaterial about the mind

it can grow a body out of nothing

like a tree grows an apple out of bees.

Delusion is the ore of enlightenment

It will weep gold

if you turn up the heat

to the cosmic intensity

of any one of an infinity

of transformative universes.

But the clarity of the mind

isn’t fixed like a mirror.

The mind has ripples in it.

It moves.

It grows.

It lives like a lake

Like a watersnake dripping with moonlight

as it swims to the further shore.

It’s always moving to keep its balance

like a stream does

or a fish

or blood.

The more people come together

they deeper they feel their solitude.

The deeper the grave that’s dug in the valley

the closer the mountain is to stars.

One mile east is one mile west

so that far is this close.

The candle doesn’t enflame the lover

but blow it out

and you set him ablaze.

All things are like that.

The ones you miss the most

are the ones you hold most near.

That’s what these words do.

They span the polarities

like migrating birds

habitable planets


and Monarch butterflies.

Life changes to stay the same.

Life’s changing all the time

to sustain its original harmony.

At one and the same moment

the whole of the universe

and everyone in it

is both the afterlife

and future of a single atom

that’s been exploding into existence

wavelength after wavelength

insight after insight

like an enlightenment experience

that’s never complete

because the more it understands

the less it grasps.

It returns home

without ever having left the place

with empty hands

and nothing to say

that could possibly explain its absence

though Wednesday’s child is full of grace.

In a field of vision deeper than seeing

the eye is a mere toy of insight

and feeling and thought

a soft alloy of body and mind

blood starmud and water.

Not readiness.

Not ripeness.

But awareness is all.

Beyond being and non-being

there are no guides.

There are no teachers.

There are no mirrors.

There are no more Dantes to mislead Virgil.

When everything is missing

what is there about life

that isn’t already fulfilled?


Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Ambition and aspiration.

Ambition is running around looking for votes.

Aspiration is a glottal fricative.

A breathing out.


Aspiration gets more things done

because it’s got a verb.

You can ambire in Latin

but you can’t ambish in English.

Ambition is an accountant

who cooks the books

for money power wealth fame

and tracks the harvest from grain to bread

as if its head were an oven

trying to keep one step ahead

of the rise in inflation.

To ask someone what they aspire to

as if it were the same as winning an election

is like asking the wind what it wants to be

or where it’s going.

The wind is its own destiny.

As are we.

And just like the wind

we’re always looking for the easy way around.

But when you aspire

you grow like fire.

You’ve got one aim.

To set everything aflame

and let everything out

as if you were an emergency exit in hell.

The cure is in the heart of the disease.

Forgiveness is the consummate genius

that masters the art of hate.

Wind and fire creatively conspire

to keep the candles burning

on Van Gogh’s scarecrow straw hat

until he finishes painting La nuit etoilee

or three cowpaths in a cornfield with crows.

A crossroads

but no gate.

He aspired

but he wasn’t ambitious.

He didn’t assign a destination to his fate.

It’s like the stars

that burn themselves out

without knowing what it is they illuminate.

Ambition wants to put a bit in the mouth of the mindstream

and ride it like a waterclock

at a brisk trot.

Aspiration lets things flow their own way.

Ambition hasn’t got any time for music

unless it pays

but aspiration knows how to play like a lark

for the sheer love of it.

Ambition gnaws like a star-nosed mole

at the roots of the covert truth

underneath the beauty of the word

because it’s flower-blind in the light.

Aspiration doesn’t know what to say

when the stars take its breath away

and a cosmic silence

enthralls the night

with a small inner voice

that’s only got one word ah for radiance

and the rest of its vocabulary

amounts to forty thousand ways

of being left speechless in the light.

As an enlightened man once said.

Intense heat.

Unusual sprouts.

I was germinated in fire

in the West Coast creative seed-bed of the sixties

like the broom pods everybody tried to smoke

to get high

just before grass showed up from Mexico

and the angels and the demons

both turned to dealing in spiritual elation.

As an ignorant man once said.

Let it all hang out

and what don’t hang


Buttons replaced zippers

and I dropped out of astronomy

to get deeper into the stars

than the eye of a telescope

that had lost its passion

for what it was looking at.

The only way to embrace the night

is with wonder.

The only way to add your shining to the light

is with a creative insight into the mystery

without expecting it to explain itself.

I followed my heart.

I didn’t abandon my mind.

I aspired to paint and write poetry

and left my astronomical ambitions behind.

I aspired to an earthly excellence

that would expand the spiritual dimensions of space

like inspiration going supernova.

Success if it came at all

could follow me like a seagull in my wake.

Or the crumb of an old dream in the corner of my eye.

Everything was poetry.

Everything was metaphor.

Everything was images converging

like the wavelengths of endless lifelines

into the radiance of sidereal symbols.

Sunsets moonrises and roadsides

taught me how to paint the picture-music

that haunted me day and night

like the ghost of a lost moodring

it used like a palette

on the other side of the mirror

to contact me in colours

that expressed its mixed emotions.

I practised a revolutionary discipline

as a way of life

a do

an enlightenment path

and I stopped listening to the light

like a radio telescope listens to the stars

and started hearing what a sunflower hears

when it turns its ear toward the sun.

Sight is not seeing

just as life is not living

knowledge isn’t knowing

and art isn’t beauty.

I stopped treating my thoughts

and feelings

as if they were my personal possessions.

You can take notes in a dream

but that’s not the same thing

as understanding the music

like daylilies and wild irises

growing along the mindstream

like the treble clefs and semiquavers

of a visionary symphony of stars

with the wind as first violin

fireflies on timpani

and the moon booming out tides

like a gigantic pulse of light

on the hide of a kettledrum.

It’s harder to make something

out of your own inner resources

than it is to break it.

It’s easier to do what you’re told

than it is to do it for yourself.

People too lazy to work get jobs.

Their conscience adjusts to a paycheck

like a standard of living

they’ll kill to sustain

like a tapeworm

in the bellies of the poor

for more and more and more and more.

Indifference is fossilized innocence

and their innocence was only following orders.

Millions die.

Children lose their eyes.

And the poor live like asterisks

and wry asides among movie stars.

But the double helix of my chromosome

is a stairwell with bannisters you can slide down

two snakes copulating

not an anaconda crushing my lungs like accordians.

Nietzsche wrote

that you’re not really working

until you’re working with the same intensity and focus

as a child when it plays.

I’ve written and painted that way for years.

Ambition arrives.

But aspiration leads on to aspiration

and creative fulfillment is never complete.

I have an appetite for that kind of hunger.

I have a longing to be consumed by life

without being mistaken for food.

If my life has been a demonic love affair

with the earth

it’s only because angels don’t eat.

But the dark abundance of a full silo

is as good

as the bright vacancy of an empty cupboard to me.

New moon.

Blue moon.

What’s the difference?

The reality remains the same

though interpretations change with circumstance.

The void looks upon the plenum

the way a poor man looks upon the rich.

If I weren’t hungry you wouldn’t eat.

If I weren’t a sinner you couldn’t be a saint.

If there weren’t confused losers like me

how could you be the clear winner?

See what I mean?


I set the table like a canvas for mine

and sing as I paint on the table-cloth

knowing it’s worth the same cup of coffee now

as it will be later

though the world thinks of value

as a function of time

and makes much of nothing

that can’t be assessed.

Everything’s as up to date as space.

Like a mirror is

or the features of your face.

You sit down like a market share

with a stock portfolio for a napkin

and wait for the waiter to attend to you.

A hungry man breaks bread with friends.

You break yours like dividends

and leave the crumbs for the poor

espousing trickle-down economics

as if you stepped out of a public john

where you shook your peg

but the last little drop

when has it ever not

went down your leg.

Aspiration moves on like a homeless threshold.

Ambition hangs on like a door.

Aspiration is objective about its subjectivity.

Ambition thinks of its ego as a logo

and stamps it like a trademark on everything.

That’s how the identity of objects

is verified.

Bona fide.

But I’m not trying to shove

a polluted atmosphere up anybody’s nose.

You don’t have to huff the air

to be a rose of blood that blooms

with swords for thorns

in a dying bull’s nostrils

as the sunlight wounds the moon

because you always kill the thing you love

the way a matador murders

then makes a bow

and throws a rose and an ear

like Van Gogh in the brothel to a lady.

There will always be suffering.

Bad news for the Buddha.

Worse for the bull.

I’m just trying to clear things up

by letting the light fall where it may

Aspiration is into wildflowers.

Ambition likes a bouquet.

But I don’t think a ray of light

that falls on the pate of St. Peters

or the Dome on the Rock

or the Temple funds that were ripped off

to build the Colesseum

is any more divine

than the ray that illuminates a fly’s wings

with olaceous rainbows.

Sometimes you just need

to try and get a fix on yourself

like an atom of anti-matter

to remind yourself it can’t be done.

I take Picasso at his word

that art is a sum of creative destructions

but nature does that better than anyone

and there’s no artifice in it.

Nature isn’t a cubist mirror.

In nature as in the mind

nothing that appears is deceptive.

Nature doesn’t lie to itself.

Just as it hasn’t lied to me once

in all the lightyears I’ve been writing poetry

about what’s human

and what can’t be otherwise.

You can see it in your own eyes.

And that’s what my life’s work amounts to.



And be happy and sad as you like.

Be a fool.

Be deluded.

Be a black lightning bolt with bad wiring.

Be a fat buddha denuded of existence.

Be a good nun that holds God up to your head

like a handgun

with her finger on the trigger

of your spiritual G-spot.

Be the anti-climax of an aging poet

who found his voice

in the mouth of a consumer society.

Nothing that appears in nature or the mind is deceptive.

Consummate clarity

doesn’t stand on the far side

of what’s divine and mundane

what’s petty and profound

about this human love affair

with the multiuniverse

that’s been going on a lot longer

than the stars have been keeping journals.

Enlightenment isn’t grain.

Ignorance isn’t chaff.

Ambition might be a baker.

But aspiration isn’t a wind

that sorts things out.

I’ve seen it drive

as many loveletters

down the gutter-grate

as it has cherry blossoms

and lottery tickets.

Wisdom takes the low place

like the sea below the salt

and everything runs down into it

like a river in its own way

in its own good time.

The clarity of an enlightened insight

into its mysterious affinity with us

is a space that doesn’t try

to put corrective lenses on the light.

And the creative genius of it all

is that all its works

without exception

are an ageless rite of passage.

Nothing that appears

in nature or the mind

is deceptive.

Not the blind.

Not the window.

Not the ego.

Not the enlightened tiger in the zendo.

In everything you do

and everywhere you go

nothing’s true.

Nothing’s deceptive.

Just be honest with your own face once

and it’s easy to realize

the full potential

of the presence behind it.

Just to show up with eyes is enough.

Like the geni that lights the lamps.

Three wishes.

Ambition and aspiration are two.

Even when you get everything you want

nothing’s come true

nothing proves false

because nothing was ever missing.

As it is now

so it will be then.

It’s all you

from the unborn beginning

to the undying end.

And time may well be

the death lyric

the rhapsodic aubade

of an enlightened inspiration

with eternal overviews

that makes each of us in turn its muse

and being a poet

I’d be tempted to ask for that.

But the last wish has got to count

or you’ll be eating

your face with your eggs in the morning.

So all aspirations and ambitions aside.

I choose space.

It isn’t selective.

It embraces everyone alike.

And of all the things I’ve come to know

in a long creative life

before and after everything else

this jewel of an insight

like a star from the ore of the night

within and without

if you feel the need to put a gate on it.

You don’t need to defend it

because it’s at peace with everyone.

It doesn’t need to be healed

because you can’t wound it.

You can’t lose it.

And you can’t win it.

And whatever path you walk in life

your always in its presence.

It can’t be disowned.

It can’t be possessed.

It doesn’t try to perfect

or reject anyone

because it isn’t selective.

Space is love.

And everything I know

and am ignorant of

everywhere I go

above or below

all that I’ve ever experienced

because space is as effortless as love

and just as spontaneously unselective

is intimately impersonal

and generously receptive.