ANOTHER DEATH IN LIFE EXPERIENCE
Another death in life experience
or just my life unravelling as so many times before
like many weak threads from one strong rope?
I’ve got a used shoelace for a spinal cord
that isn’t quite long enough to hang myself with
and all the breathable air in the house
is streaming out under the door.
I know what the moon felt like when it lost its atmosphere.
Someone’s throwing rocks through the windows from the inside
as I wait like a dinosaur for the meteor.
There’s already a taste of nuclear winter in the air
and soon the Buddha of Extinction
will be standing on the bank corner again
with a begging bowl the size of an impact crater in the
the dog is off the clothesline
and I’m not running
back and forth
back and forth
back and forth
across town anymore
delivering pizzas door to door.
The Pizza Delivery Dude of Perth is dead.
And so’s the Mutt of Pizza Hut.
With all due deference to Rimbaud
so much for my advancement into simple toil.
I’m free to be wholly me again
in the unforeseeable Open of the Great Void
alone with the mundane terrors of of my cosmic insanity
trying to hold myself up to myself
as an example of what not to do
when money’s tight
the principle you stood your ground on
is turning into quicksand
with the tears you’ve martyred to your fears
and all you’ve got to fall back upon
is the mindless life of the life of the mind
a lottery ticket
and the loaves and fishs of your art.
Still life with heretic.
Poetic salads and painterly pastas.
The muses don’t leave a lot of food
at the eastern doors of the dead in late September.
So the better angels of my nature
don’t eat a lot
and my demons are always hungry for more.
I’m not van Gogh
but I understand
why he ate
If you want to live a life of art
with a big view
you’ve got to throw your life overboard like ballast
to gain altitude.
You’ve got to learn to live with bad debts in your attitude
that would put leechs and blackholes to shame.
You’ve got to stay one nirvana ahead of Armageddon all the time.
You can run like a voodoo doll.
You can fly like the spirit of a crucified butterfly
from a dead metaphor
to escape the curse
of dancing angels sticking pins in your eyes
like burning spears of insight
but try as you might
you can’t lift it
and things only get worse
when your cornerstones
grow silver wings on their heels like mercury
and the Black Taj Mahal doesn’t like what it sees in the water
when the light turns into dark matter
and space is the only available emergency exit
for a panicked universe
to worm its way out of a bad affair with the whole of itself.
One moment you can think you’re following your life like a river
down the world mountain
like a mindstream as clear as a mirror
and the next your reading your lifelines
like cracks in the way things appear
like dry creekbeds of starmud
like fractures in a skull
and reality sheds its delusions
as if everything you held dear
were nothing but paint flaking off a mirror.
The patrician poverty of a poet
is a ghost-dance that doesn’t bring rain.
And who can explain to the undead
what it’s like to be a painter
who looks at cadmium red
and feels pain
because he can’t pay the rent
or strung out on the bolts of black lightning
the gods keep throwing at him
like hydro bills
as if he were an angry Druid in a studio
with a fragile nervous system
that’s about to burn out like a mystic filament
because he wasn’t prophet enough to keep the lights on
falls to his knees
and prays to the starless night before him
not to turn his eyes off?
Why is it this way?
Is it self-indulgence
to find your only true pleasure
in the absurdity of your work?
To intensify your labour like water
until it turns into the effortless effort
of unmastering the part
you play in your art
like a snowman in the spring?
Is there a secret libido at play in my creative aspirations
to express what’s most human about me
when I’m most alone with what isn’t
that gives offense to some Puritan work ethic
that conceives of me as a heretic
that should be burnt at the stake
like women and pearls and paintings
in Savanarola’s Bonfire of the Vanities
because work isn’t work until it’s pain?
The Upanishads claim that work is a form of worship.
I think of it as another form of sex.
But here the ocean of awareness
washs the feet of the world mountain
in material servitude
and inspiration is already history
by the time it gets here like starlight.
I see madmen looking sideways at the truth
as if it were some kind of new invention
that hurried back from the future
to save Martha and Mary
the one who listened
in rapturous contemplation
and the other who washed the floor in frustration
from having to work so hard for their own salvation.
Is it too radical to tusk up the roots of my spiritual erosion
with the ferocity of a wild white boar
in a garden on the moon
to discover for myself
is the first face
on the totem of my lunacy?
If I am nourished by the light of my own imagination
and refuse to make a living off the dead metaphors
of uninspired holy wars
between this bitter black farce and that
and call it my daily bread.
If my spiritual freedom exceeds
the constitutional niceties of my liberty
to be intimately estranged from my place in society
because I’m more at home in my homelessness
than I am standing in the doorway on the threshold of my limits
like a rocket that never took off
for fear of transcending gravity.
If I don’t exclude even the ingenuity of the rat
because of my fondness for dragons
from the cunning
of my aesthetic for survival.
If I’d rather share my fire with a phoenix
than a sword-swallower
trying to prove he’s mightier
than the ashs in the urn of a word.
If I don’t think of my life as a loop-hole
in the protocols of an honourable suicide
that’s lost face with the world
and insist on living
as if every moment
were an age of insight.
If my best feature is the crazy wisdom
of realizing my eyes are clouds
and my tongue is a leaf on the wind
and anything you can say about life
must be said playfully
for it to make any sense.
If I celebrate my mystic specificity
because I understand
that the onceness of my being here
is the lifespan of the universe I am
and this now is my age
and here is the only address
I’ve ever been able to call my own.
Tat tvam asi.
You are that.
If I refuse to cower like a nightsea
that’s afraid of its own waves and weather
and take great subjective risks
with my material well-being
because I think the sirens are worth the rocks.
If the surest sign of genius to me is a big heart.
If a single seed is my conception of life
and compassion is the fruit of thought
and beauty is the blossom
reason the leaf
and enlightenment the root.
If wonder and imagination
look at a tree
and see the history of an event
not a thing.
If I congratulate the child on giving birth to the mother
and greet everyone
as if they were the myth of origin
of the worlds within worlds they’ve living in.
If I should think that the best way
to illuminate the darkness that surrounds you
like suffering and ignorance
is not to hold the fireflies up to it like lamps
to enlighten it
but to open my own eyes wide enough
to see that it already shines.
If I can see that ugliness and beauty both
are not in the eye of the beholder
but in the choice of mirrors
I hold up to nature
like the third eye of an orbiting telescope
badly in need of corrective lenses.
If I should despair that I’m a firefly looking at the stars
when I consider what good it does
to add my small light to the shining
and then convince myself of something ironically inane
and add my wavelength to the billions of lightyears
and unfathomable night anyway
thinking the measure of my eyes
is not the size of the insight
and who knows what might come of it
if like the simulacrum of the creative ineffability
I am supposed to be made in the image of
impressed on starmud
I speak my mind in the first place.
In the beginning was the Word.
The ho logos.
More the power to imagine than a name.
Kun fia kun.
Let it be.
And even if when I’m drunk
on the mystically-spiked wine
of the dark and divine
conceiving of worlds within
that can begin like insight
with something as slight
as the touch of a butterfly on my skin
I should resonate with compassion like a tuning fork
and express it like a human.
If I do all these things as if they were
the spontaneous expression of my freeborn human nature
to see and be and feel and imagine
whatever the fuck I cosmically want
am I not still a man?
Am I not still dangerously human to the One-eyed Liar
who enslaves us in miracles that beggar the mind
like Hubble telescopes for the blind?
It is no mean achievement
of grace and inspiration
to go to the mirror in the morning
and see your original face
and not someone else’s reflection.
I don’t expect to be believed.
But if the stars ever ask me
what return they ever got back on their light
in the way of all that space and time
they laboured into life and insight
like an estranged poet down on his luck
trying to suck the venom
out of the fangmarks on the dice
I will open my mind and my eyes like a human
who has suffered creation like an afterlife
in the wake of his annihilation
like a dream within a dream of the world
and known them both to be nothing more
than two wings of the same waterbird.
Two shores of the same mindstream.
I shall rise like a mountain that has stared
into the grave of its cradle since it was born
to dig it deeper
the higher it rises
and shaking like a tectonic voice in the void
in the place of a divinity who could speak for me
I will say by my own light
to the dark mother hidden in her radiance
I have lived my life as you have
by the insights given me to go by like fireflies
and suggestive constellations
conceiving of cosmic questions
as if I were a human
but not being deceived by the earthly answers
as if I were a mortal god.
What is most perfect about me
is that which is most deeply flawed.