THE NIGHT INTENSIFIES ITS DARKNESS
The night intensifies its darkness
and exaggerates me like a lamp in a window
not waiting for anyone to come home.
The train whistle insists it’s a train
as it diesels past the hospital
but methinks it doth protest too much.
I can feel the turmoil of the town
settling down within me
like emotions you can’t do anything about.
Like loveletters slipped back into their envelopes
the houses close their doors
not really knowing what it is they’re keeping out
beyond the usual thief and made-for-movie nightmare.
I’m blooming in a black fire of radical shadows
and flexible heresies
that burn like intransigent thrones
I’ve learned to abdicate
as if I were in the wrong place at the table
that keeps moving the salt
like a standard of living I can’t keep up with.
I consult a candle that says
it was the guru to a great chandelier once.
I don’t really think it’s enlightened
but I go along with the delusion anyways.
There’s only so much that compassion can’t refuse
and I give my assent to everything
with a slightly beleaquered sense of gratitude
that it exists at all
to enchant depress or ignore me.
Thirty years ago I would have tried to understand
the wounded otherness of life
in myself and others
as if I could prevent it
from happening to somebody else.
For all my labours
I feel about as useful
as a fire hydrant on the moon.
My intent was unintentionally good
but as the world mountain
gets steeper and meaner toward the top
Sisyphus is finding it harder and harder
to believe his rock
is the philosopher’s stone
he desparately needs it to be.
So much base metal
so little light
so little gold
to come out of it
compared to the raw ore
left to be transformed.
It’s clear I’ve been developing eclipses
in a photo lab with a red lightbulb on
above the emergency exit
that imposes itself like a koan
that hasn’t cracked me yet
and let the light out
to fall where it may
on the brutal and tender
the positive and negative alike.
I’m a guest speaker on an exorcist’s agenda.
Time to leave.
But you can’t pour
the universe out of the universe
and that doesn’t give me a lot of places to go.
So I’m here and now tonight as I have always been
enjoying the deeper freedom
instead of out
that comes like a birthright
when I liberate them from myself.
My whole life is one long good-bye note
I write to myself and tape to the mirror
in case my reflection
ever shows up here again
it’ll feel free to move on.
Ever since I started remembering
how many afterlives it took the stars
to achieve this sentient measure of me
by letting their light ripen into mind
I’ve been hung up about shining.
I’ve been awed by the dark.
I’ve been stealing fire from Prometheus
to warm things up in the glacial heart of things.
More words listen to a bird that sings
than a muse that talks.
So I write poetry
the way a Siberian tiger walks
among English larks.
Or I listen to the sirens
and dash my skull on the rocks.
I keep trying like rainbows
to come to some kind of peace with my tears
but they insist I get the taste of fire
out of the mouth of my dragon
and this argument’s gone on for years.
Is this or is this not me
that none of you recognize
by comparison with yourselves?
And it’s not unusual for me to ask
at this time of night
when there’s nothing but my window on
to throw a little light on the trees
whose prophetic presence saturates
the visionary air with their rootless wisdom
how has it come about
that my unlikeness has evolved a self
it has in common with everything?
Why do humans getting off their thought trains
at the various stations
of life and love along the way
hasten to embrace their rejection
by excluding everyone else?
The object and its subject.
The slayer and the slain.
The lover and his life.
And conciousness the knife
that skins the moon alive
for the value of its reflection
on the black market of a species exchange.
If you see nothing but strangers on the outside
and you don’t recognize any of them
maybe it’s because
you’re not looking deeply enough
into the eyes of your own reflection on the inside.
Don’t judge me by the mark on my forehead
as if it were the only letter
in an incommensurable alphabet
until you read what’s been written on yours
in glyphs and riffs and runes
of Medusan stone
and snakes like dangling participles
in need of a good conditioner
that lisp as if their tongues were split infinitives.
But don’t mind me too much
I’m just working this hard this way for nothing
duct-taping feathers to Apollo Thirteen
to avoid disintegration
passing through the eye of the needle
into my own homegrown upper atmosphere
and having that slash of light
be the only prophetic mark I made on life.
But what’s a scar without a knife
to know how to make a lasting impression?
Here lies one whose name was writ in water.
He sat under a hawthorn tree
and wrote an ode to autumn
and then stuck it in a mailman’s book
to preserve the last of the flowers
as his roses were coughing up blood.
I am disposessed of my will to endure
by the excruciating sadness of it all.
How suffering clings like skin
to the baby girl
the baby boy
who grow up to see
the joy of being alive
when life is free for children
shake them out of the apple tree
like an autumn windfall
and blunt them on the human condition
as if every post-umbilical encounter
they’ve had with life on earth
were either a coma or a concussion.
And sometimes it’s hard to know
which is the worst of dreamfevers.
Life when it’s here
or life when it’s in remission.
But cynics aren’t absurd enough for their own good
and if I’m bitter
The glass may be empty
but nature abhors a vacuum
and it’ll soon be filled
with the urgency of new wine
But don’t despise life
because the darkness is rife
with the energy of your delusions.
They’re the dragons and bluebirds of the mind.
They’re engines of light.
They do things that otherwise wouldn’t get done.
Even when I’m voidbound.
A singularity at the bottom of a blackhole.
A gravitational eye
badly in need of corrective lenses.
They keep things in focus
like a billion drops of water
going over the falls at night.
It’s the crazy wisdom of the fireflies
that you follow here and there
like a gold rush
panning for nuggets of enlightenment
from their mindstreams
looking for true north
as if everybody were given
the same axial alignment to know where they’re at
and one was supposed to be good for a lifetime.
It’s the spontaneity of the fireflies
who are the true masters of ignition.
Multiple enlightenment experiences
orgasmic with bliss
will liberate you from your lighthouse
faster than the light
can point to Polaris.
So don’t fall for that.
One size doesn’t fit all
anymore than a straitjacket
or a standard issue snakeskin.
Ask any river where it’s going
and it will answer outright.
Water my destination.
Water my guide.
My flowing pours into the cup
it empties like the moon
and I am everywhere fulfilled.
It’s the same with the mindstream
the Milky Way
the Road of Ghosts
or the waywardness of Zen.
You can run from things all your life
or you can run to them.
It’s all the same.
And one mile lost is one mile found
and even if you’ve wandered alone
far from home on a long starwalk
or just dressed up
to go to the corner grocery store
every step you take
illuminates your path
like the brilliant algae of a red tide
in the fathomless dark
painting your radiant feet in stars
on a deserted B.C. island beach
to teach you how to dance with the sea
and not feel like driftwood
when you bow to the water and light
at a crossroads of luminous covenants
with infinite thresholds
that are the true shores of life
we’re always being washed up on
into ever subtler
ever more creative mediums
that urge us like stranded fish
to take a deep breath
and transcend death
by stepping lightly
into the available dimension of the future
in astonishment and delight
that you’re the first rainbow
to ever shine at night.