Thursday, March 10, 2011


I remember the bees

moving like heavy slow notes

among the sunflower microphones

two octaves lower than the fireflies

on late August afternoons

perishing in the light.

And the irrelevant felicity of being me

with nothing to do but time.

Many roads and years away now

and this is another life

another town

and I’m staring out of a window

that’s been forgotten by the eyes

that used to look through it

at the bleak winter rain

trying to distinguish the oases

from the mirages

in this glass-blowing desert of pain.

I remember white sweet clover along the dusty roadside

overwhelming the still hot air with its sweetness

and how it grew so high and thick

in the drainage ditches

it folded it wings over the road like a swan.

I remember watching the moon

lower its hook into the lake

hoping to catch something.

And now I’m trying to get it out of my mouth

like a question I can’t answer.

I’m envious of the happiness I used to know

as if it had all happened to someone else

I could never be again

because even a river

can’t step into itself twice

and the same is true of a bloodstream.

So do we all wash ourselves clean of ourselves in the running.

It’s the mind’s way of not staining its own clarity.

You don’t need to see to shine.

There are quantum events of the mind.

There are insights and thoughts

auroral premonitions

and solar prophecies

that flare like the Medusa’s hair on fire.

There are shadows of the unforeseeable

that cast their eclipses and sunspots

like exponentially tiny black holes

that steal the seeing from the light

and make space and time gape at their own measure

in the darkness of the heart of a human.

And in the next era of a moment

terrify them with the wonder of breaking into stars.

And most strange and astonishing of all

elaborated out of a chaos of photons

emerging out of the random

like wind on water

like Penelope weaving and undoing the moon on the lake

membranous worlds in hyperspace

blowing bubbles at each other

as if the light in their eyes

were life itself

shaping the multiverse playfully

into mystic glains swallowed by cosmic serpents

and fireflies caught in the drapes

by the open window

like jewels in the net of Indra

like primordial atoms going off spontaneously

for the sheer thrill of it.

Mark one world and they’re all marked.

And there’s no end of the accounting.

That’s why the most gracious of numbers is zero

and in any world I find myself possible in

I am the spacious friend of its infinite variety.

Even in Perth on a Sunday

among the flagging ambitions of leafless backyard trees

that have given up

dreaming of the doors and arrows

the coffins and lifeboats

they could have become in the hands of a mastercraftsman

and content themselves by staying out of the way of the powerlines.

Worlds within worlds within worlds being born

under my skin

at the tip of my nose

the end of my fingertips my tongue

pouring from the precipice of my lips

like lemmings and words not afraid to take a chance

the wind might feather their falling.

If compassion is worth the weight

of one single tear

of what life suffers here

then all things must be falling toward paradise.

Even the willows with their yellow-tinged hair trapped in ice.

Even the mailman who was convicted of taking his own advice.

Even the young beauty queen whose mouth overflows with saliva

as she dreams her makeup has turned into a pillow

that’s trying to smother her like a serial killer

trying to get her attention on the news.

Do you see?

When you get right down to the point

there is no point.

Ask Heisenberg.

There’s only you and I

and what we are

embodied in this memory

is merely the shadow cast

by what we are becoming.

Ask any star.

Keep the light behind you

like a ufo file with a due date.

Make a photonic leap into space.

Jump orbitals.

Release your infinitesimal quantum of energy

into the mind-bending unforeseeable gateless expanses of space

and instead of depending

on the fossils of cyanobacteria in Martian meteors

to improve on being alone

create worlds of your own

where space isn’t time flatlining

but a field of imagination

where the absurd lets its muse run free as an enzyme.

Why do you keep coming home empty-handed

like Ponce de Leon searching

for the disabled fountains of youth

when you must know by now

it’s the questions that are the watersheds of the truth?

It’s the questions that keep you alive and searching.

It’s the looking and not knowing

that keeps the fires of life

moving and growing

one step ahead of their ashs.

It’s not the questions.

It’s the answers that are killing you.

You might seek like a phoenix

but all your lanterns are ghosts.

Your eyes might be faster than light

but you’re still blind if you can’t see

that the world is

merely the shadow of an insight

you cast behind you

like the stars

like the candles

like the fireflies in your skull.

And it’s good to know them all.

It’s good to trace the lifelines

on the palm of your hand

and follow them back to the source of the Nile.

It’s good to know the imaginary animals

that talk like your fingers

held up to the lamp

like constellations on a starmap

like zodiacs and arks

like a dog that barks

in the voice of a human.

It’s good to see your own face

in the shadowplay

of subatomic particles

and take small intimacies with the profound

as if you’d just opened your eyes

like God’s umbrella

in the spirit’s lost and found.

It’s good to stand in your own light

under the nightskies

and add your lustre to the stars.

It’s good to abide in clarity and law.

But enlightenment is a darkness that shines

beyond the reach of your eyes

and just as space is bent

by the mass of Mars

so time is as supple as water and silk

and yesterday

is just as much the future of tomorrow

as the perennial brevity of this moment now

flowing down the lifelines of the mindstream

like a wavelength of night and time

that can’t be measured in lightyears.

I reflect on everything I’m missing

and my grief turns to wine

my tears to honey.

I resonate with the forked harmonies of time

like the tremulous skin of serpentine cosines

it sheds as it moves up my spine

like a waterclock of snakefire

pouring into the watershed of my mind.

And all the threads and rivulets

of my string theory thought

and the membranous theses

that are spun from them

are gathered up

and woven into whole cloth

over the black hole

of an acoustic guitar

the shape of a universe

as if it were a loom of music.

Time is music.

Space is music.

Life is music.

And death isn’t where the music stops.

When you listen to it

not just with your ears

but with your eyes your heart your mind your blood your skin.

When you let it come empty-handed

and go empty-handed

without trying to grasp it like a thing

you realize that everything is singing

about what it is to be a human.

And you must be a human to hear it as such

because you can never understand

more than what you are

out to and beyond the youngest stars

that are the oldest of your insights

into the birth of the universe.

Time is music

and neither time nor music

leave anything behind.

Here once

here for good.

Though time has a past and future

a coming and going

a lament and a longing fulfilled

reflected like opposites on the watermirrors of the mind

it’s still the same waterbird

cosmic note

first word

from the void in the mouth of now

waking itself up from a dark dream

with the sound of our voices

arriving in joy

and crying with relief when we leave.

I can hear the locust tree in spring

even with snow on the ground

and this hopeless duty

of a bleak window before me

singing in my ear

like the slow whisper

the murmurous humming

of an intimate voice full of bees.

Time is music.

Life is music.

Death is music.

All the syllables colours notes thoughts feelings images and symbols

all the doubts and half-lives of the certainties

all the ardency of our holiest guesses

and starless inspirations

all the brutal black lightning insights

and firefly epiphanies

that have ever expressed the hearts and minds of humans

all the homeless clarities

and godless vagrancies

of what we’re doing in the world

feeling lost in the doorways of our own thresholds

where every step we take is arrival and departure.

They’re all the picture-music of us

and we’re as indelible

as the moon dropping her petals and feathers

her hooks and thorns

her horns and claws and surgical fangs

like white swans and peonies on the river

like the eyelids of a mask she takes off

a drowned nurse

to remember whose face she’s looking at.

And you can’t remove a quaver of it.

Not the slightest detail.

Not one black swan.

Not the swerve of a single photon

with an identity crisis

striking the lightning rod of a nerve

that runs it to ground

and roots it in the body

until the mind opens

like the eye of a flower

a New England aster

that can see from the inside out

that life is a phoenix

in the ashs of a blue guitar

with the wingspan

of a locust tree in the spring

and the afterlife of a star.

Light flows through the roots

of my dendritic lifelines

like a zodiac of fireflies

streaming through space

for a place in the sun

and I can remember the bees

before the arising of signs.

I can hear them with my eyes.

I can see them with my tongue.

And I might not know

all the words to the song

or even what the lyrics

are all about

but that’s never kept me

from singing my heart out.