Monday, March 14, 2011


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 Gulf of Mexico.

But hey

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

chromium yellow.

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.

In Japan it’s an enlightenment path.

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

why self

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

about trying

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.