HEY I MISS YOU TOO
Hey I miss you too
even in the midst of my disintegration
even from here
after my phoenix went supernova
in the next galaxy over
in an amazing display of candle-power
I can hear the poignance of spring in your voice
like the greening of the sumac
from the ashs of its last cremation
or Persephone come back from the gibbering shades of hell
to gather flowers under the apple bloom in the orchard
without any fear of being bit in the heel
by a serial viper in the guise of a god.
My poetic skull may be bobbing toward Mitelyne
to compare mythologies of dismemberment
with Sappho and Terpander
and ask how long
a harp has to be dried on a windowsill
before you can break it like a wishbone
with someone you love.
But don’t look back this time like Eurydice
out of nostalgia
for the death you’re leaving behind
to pursue your love of poetry
and Orpheus will be thrice-blessed
by Hermes Tresmegistus
if you keep your face turned toward the sun
like the planet I was born under on a Wednesday.
I don’t mind losing my mind
as the understudy of a wornout poetical fashion
rehearsing the dying fall of Triassic pterodactyls
on the opening night
of a murder in the cathedral
that turned an Anglo-Saxon atheist into a Norman saint
who could take a chicken from the barnyard
and turn it into poultry on a plate
like two words for the same polyglot reality.
I can put up with that
like tongues wagging behind the back
but I wouldn’t want to go on
without hearing your voice
this far from home
singing to me in my native language
from a hidden birchgrove in
It falls like moonlight on the burnt skin
of an appreciative demon
with the afterlife of a phoenix
who’s been out of touch it seems
for longer than the light has years to go by
with the one firefly who could change
the fixed stars of his burnt out constellation
like lightbulbs in a marquee
with the eyes of a double feature
starring you and me.
Amor vincit omnia.
and Romeo sucks the poison out of Cleopatra’s tit
and we lower and raise
the same stand-in corpse
for both balcony scenes
like Lazarus in his youth
and Lazarus in late middle-age.
Two props on the same stage.
Two wings of the same lifespan
that can be measured by a lovescene
on a single page
like a purple passage
that slipped between the lines
to write a message on the mirror in the green room
meant for your eyes only.
I’m lonelier than a flowerless wind
who’s sick of scratching at leaves
that don’t know when to let go.
O Westron wind when wilt thou blow
so the small rain down can rain?
Ah, that she were in my arms
and I in my bed again.
The creative matrix of my inner space
has been so twisted by fear and pain
its got the umbilical cord
wrapped like an anaconda
around the neck of a cyanotically blue embryo
and everything it gives birth to
is a poster child for the terminally insane
with a begging bowl for a skull.
The glass isn’t half empty
or half full
it’s been smashed against the wall
for good luck
when it got hammered
on the shots it took at itself
like a sad poet
who expressed himself like a revolver
at an exuberant Russian wedding.
What are the chances of the wet dreams
of a fire hydrant
that’s fallen in love with an arsonist
ever coming true?
My love of you is phosphorus
and though I’ve been pouring myself out to you for so long
about the depths of it
even as I’m drowning
it’s grown as giganic as the squids and cucumber worms
that line up at the hydrogen sulphide foodbanks
of the volcanic fumaroles
at the bottom of the sea.
My love of you is phosphorus
nothing can put it out.
If you were to scoop up all seven seas
with a whale for a bucket
and pour them on a star
to play it safe with a campfire
and stamp on the last embers of sunset
still nothing would put it out.
It would keep on shining like Shakespeare’s star
and not bend with the remover to remove
but grow hotter and whiter in its passion
to get through your ozone
and touch you so tenderly
with days and nights
and flesh-quaking fingertips of light
so literate they can read the braille of your breasts
in five languages
and teach the princess
to kiss the cobra on the head so lightly
it would smile and mean it.
If you were to let me shine down on you
like an elemental table
eager to turn its fundamentals into forms
like a painter looking at his brushes
and tubes of brooding phthalo blue
and alizarin crimson
like a rose listening to Billy Holiday
or a poet burning with inspiration
looks at words anew
life would spring up all over you
and rocks would live and mountains walk
and the forests thrive as they used to
when there was no one there to hear them
and the sound of one hand clapping
wasn’t a snarling chainsaw
and the things that last in life
wouldn’t be set in rings
like the tears of the earth
like caged diamonds
but left to thaw
and run down your cheeks like twin rivers
glowing with bliss
like two buddhas laughing at the backdoor
to watch the leaves falling together
like the first draft of a long book
they could say in three words
to raise the dead in anybody’s language:
Amor vincit omnia.
Love conquers all.
If your earth and water
and my air and light
your spring and my autumn
ever got intimate with each other
in a commingling of the complementary colours
of the flesh and spirit
heart and mind
what can be said by day
and what must be left unspoken
until the darkness falls
when words return to their own voices like birds
and all we’ve got left to speak with are our hands.
If this were ever to pass
rainbows would break out at night
like mad impressionists with candles in their hats
and the full moon would wash providence
up on our doorstep
like someone who survived a flood of shadows
at high tide
and found themselves marooned
on an enchanted lunar island
as if they stumbled into the afterlife or
and its second innocence
was more experienced than the first
and wasn’t vulnerable
and wasn’t cursed
with fiery angels at the gate
that said You can’t come in.
It’s too late.
If you were ever to let me touch your roots
with a current of light
that surged through them like a shock of life
flowers would bloom
like bouquets of radio telescopes in the night
held up to the stars in gratitude
so exqusitely expressed
that even God would think
that she was appreciated at last
and ignorant cities all over the world
living in the darkness of their blazing
would crack their concrete koans
and be illuminated on the spot
like Hispanic shadows without any papers
suddenly given a way to live with dignity
and let everybody in
and say to the homeless stranger
you got a place to stay
for the rest of your life?
My heart’s big enough for all of us.
Amore vincit omnia.
Love conquers all.
If this were ever to happen
what worlds would begin without a word said
what a habitable planet we would make together
what a thriving tribute to our starmud
free to follow its own imagination into life
and you the muse that inspired it
and me the expressionist painter
who added a touch of genius to the light.
What an example of radiance
could be compressed out of
billions of years of black matter
and its brilliance astound the darkness
that thought it laboured like ore
in the snakepits of life
to bring forth nothing
but what it had already eaten.
What a surprise
it would never get over
and could never explain.
The birth of eyes.
The urgency of seeing.
A black mind mirror
with a creative imagination
as uninhibited as the sky
that gives birth to birds like words
just to flirt with the wind
and in its intimacy with the light
sees a whole new way of looking at the night.
Imagine what it would say to itself
about all the pain it suffered alone
trying to draw the sword of light
that kills you into life
out of the darkness of a philsopher’s stone
that kept knocking Goliath off its feet
like the meteorite that struck out the dinosaurs
with the fast ball of an astronomical catastrophe
that’s beginning to look more and more
like my personal history
playing Russian roulette
with my blindfolded species
like a firing squad
with five live and one blank round.
A sin of omission
that gives God an out
whenever she knocks me down.
And don’t think it’s the distance between us
that has preserved us
from the curse of familiarity.
Don’t think when you think of us
that all the miles between
insulate us from the mundane human details
of our mystic fallibility.
I’ve met you so many times
at the edge of the knowable multiverse face to face
in a triste of time and space
so vast and incomprehensible
there aren’t enough dimensions to describe the place
or bridges laid end to end that could walk that far
to cross over the draconian abyss
that gapes like a skull at its own immensities
without losing heart
or mindstreams that could flow past so many stars
without being tempted to stop for the night
and take it easy in a mirage of its own making
with coral-lipped celestial houris
that no man has ever touched
and whose passion is renewed
by the fulfillment of desire
instead of being exhausted by it
like ashs in the fire
as it is here on earth
but not above.
The sidereal sisters of the Hesperides
with Arabic names
beds down the caravan for another night
in a desert of stars
and the golden apple of the sun goes down
and a long-faced human
picks up a handful of sand
and sees in it an oasis
and all the Mongol fountains of
and thinks that it’s arrived in time
to hear Hafiz answer the great Khan
about the worth of the mole
on a young slave girl’s cheek
bismallah arahman arahim
and delight unequivocal death
with the poetic nuances of the answer
that saved his life with laughter.
You alone have appeared to me out here
in this available lifespan of the future
where the light can barely reach
and the darkness has nothing to teach it
about finding its way own way back to town.
It’s a long slow way up.
And it’s a short quick way down.
You can ask any apple about that.
But your epiphany and yours alone
keeps making the journey somehow
with your shadow not far behind
and everytime I look into the eyes of your apparition
I see constellations of fireflies
that you can’t see twice
like starmaps and dice.
So how could I ever grow bored
of caring for life with you?
How could any Hubble orbiting you
ever grow sick of stars
and try to rub them out of his eyes like sand?
How could the light ever say to the water it calls upon
at all hours of the day and night
I don’t want to take you by the hand
to the dance of life
like a bottle-nosed dolphin dating a sea otter
because I’m tired of listening
to the same picture-music over and over
as if all waterlilies were the same note
and still expect the flowers to greet it like a loveletter
instead of an empty lifeboat after everybody’s drowned?
I can swim through stone
and in the teeth of the storm
like a cat in the mouth of a dog
I know how to give up the wheel to its power
like a goldfish in the jaws of Moby Dick
that knows how to go as limp
as the dead bodyweight of a black dwarf
in the hands of an arresting officer breaking up a protest
and float that way like a heavy lift
until it lets me go
and drops the charges.
Every cubic centimeter of me
when I shrink back into my head like a star
weighs thirty tons
and there are no scales available
on either side of the great divide
between Pisces and Anubis
that could put a feather in the pan
to measure what goes on in my heart
when it’s a blackhole in the chest
of an unknowable human.
I take the low place.
I sit below the salt.
I take it all in like the sea
or a keyhole
and then something turns
and then something opens
like a door to a world
that no one knows anything about
and then I let it out
so everyone can see
everything that’s dangerous and strange about me
is only the background darkness of an overview
with an eye in the sky
that sees everything that’s beautiful and true about you.
My darkness urges the roots of the stars
to bloom spontaneously along the Road of Ghosts
where they can crowd the curb like childen
to watch the consellations pass by like floats
throwing comets out like candy
and argue like astrologers among themselves
about the one they loved the best
not a groomed hearse with a well-dressed corpse
in a celestial funeral procession sinking in the west.
If you never let the darkness in
how can the stars come out?
If you take the pain and decay and darkness away
how will the waterlilies ever manage
to enlighten the swamp
by what they don’t say.
How could a poet ever esteem
the face of his muse
and paint it in stars
mixed with mud for a binder
if darkness never falls?
Lost in the dark
the world sets out to find you.
At home in the world
the dark is there to remind you
it isn’t just the light
that reveals where you’re hiding
but there are coalpits too
black as night
that shine with diamonds
like starmaps for the blind
who know exactly where to find them
when they look at you.
Alysia in the sky with diamonds as big as Betelgeuse
aging in the top left hand corner of Orion
laying its card down in the west
to trump Lepus the Rabbit
who makes a clean getaway
because Orion always overbids his hand.
The club’s overdone
but it’s the sow’s ear that hangs from his belt
like a shrunken head with a wisp of hair
hanging on like a nebula
or a human souvenir from the Vietnam War
that interests me the most.
How moody hydrogen
can give birth to the stars
out of next to nothing
and making a womb of an ear
turn it into a silk purse.
That’s an art I’d like to master.
I could turn my life around.
I could be profound and listened to
at everybody’s else’s expense.
I could eat.
I could pay the rent.
I could keep a car on the road
and not worry about getting into an accident.
But you see how it goes with me?
One thing turns into another and another and another
until even the sky
trying to get a fix
on which one of all these transformations is me
which is the dragon and which is the phoenix
and who’s the firefly
looks at my reflection as my mother often did
like an exhausted mirror
or the sea
looks upon its crazy waves
and the unseatable chaos of life
that boards the schoolbuses of her lunar tides.
Who could blame her?
My maternal disclaimer.
But she was right about everything.
Paddy you’re never going to amount to anything.
There’s too much of your father in you.
Everything’s been making me up ever since then.
I was defiant enough not to be hurt at the time
but once time wheeled me out of intensive care
I became aware of how wounded I was
and as my friend Layla said
time heals nothing.
You just learn to live around it
like a boulder in a stream
that fell from space
with signs of life in it
as if the earth got in the way of your heart
when it was cast down
as it did with the demons
when it was their turn to burn
though they’ve made a bigger impact than I have.
And the weirdness of it all
what makes it all eerily true
and puts the fearful authority
of an oracle speaking through the deathmask of the moon
in her voice
as if she were totally detached
from the Platonic abstract
of the kind of person
she was certain I couldn’t grow up to be
is that I couldn’t have asked for a better mother
and I mean it.
She bared her fangs
like the first and last crescents of the moon
and bit me like someone
who had taken her by surprise from behind.
You’re bound to get bit
trying to suckle at the tit of a volcano.
It’s one of my favourite myths of origin
that ever since then
I’ve been a lunar poet
with the amorous life of lava
trying to make my own habitable moonscape
here on earth
without having to pretend I’m someone else.
A place where I can shed all my masks
like cherry blossoms and rose petals
like faces that long to be somewhere else
and let them float downstream
like loveletters and suicide notes
with life as a twelve volume prelude
like the empty lifeboats of the paper poems
that went down with the ship
I’m grateful to
for dying to come to my rescue.
I’ve gone through more transformations
than you can read about
in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
And there are changes to come
that terrify and excite me
as if I were a child
listening to adults
whispering in another room
about things I don’t want to be old enough
So if you ask me how
I’m spending my life these days
like money I don’t have
I’d say I’m wasting my time
on things that really matter.
I’ve been sitting here writing this poem
until I forget my name
for the last three nights and mornings in a row
my fingers on the keyboard
trying to keep their eighty-eights straight
listening to the picture-music
hovering over the corpse of a piano
like a departing soul
that doesn’t want to go.
And what’s so crucial about this
that other things have to wait
that are threatening to break down the door
with their demands for more
than they could possibly take?
Let them take it all.
But what’s of inestimable value to me
is that I see the morning glory’s made a trellis
of the unhinged stargate
to our garden on the moon.
And there you are like a wild rose
with indrawn thorns
admiring the weeds
for the hardiness of their flowers.
And here I come like the Kama-Sutra
with a bouquet of symbols
I’ve scattered on the wind
like seeds in the mouths of birds
to let you know
in a world where all things end in tears
like a novel that’s too heavy on itself
for its lack of compassion
toward its loss of heart
in the power of art
to form a government in exile
to keep the Pyrrhic hopes
of a lost revolution alive
like radical ghosts summoned to a seance
by an aging medium
who talks to them like refugees
in the universal language of their mother tongue.
But what really turns their heads
from the dead to the living
is you’re the only rumour I’ve heard for years
about where to begin
where to live
and how they can thrive on love
like children again
without having to stand in line
like missing links in the food chain.
I think of you as a geni in the solitude of his lamp
thinks of wishs that beggars’ would ride
if they were only horses
and my heart breaks like loaves and fishs
to feed the hungry multitudes I’ve become
living my life in arrears
to the slumlords of reality
in the name of an unheralded holy war
to liberate my imagination
like a watershed
from the dead fountainmouths of the mirrors
who talk as if they were looking forward to
the next ice age
and know even less
than the the glacial windows do
about flowing like the bloodstream of a rose
through a wounded heart
that’s haemmoraging like a watercolour in the rain
as if it were an antidote to pain.
And ass I said in a poem the other day
my art might feel as useful
as a fire hydrant on the moon
but my heart
and I’m glad
and I’ve got you to thank
when it’s inspired
by even so much
as a single firefly
of the constellation
they’ve made of you
like a chandelier in a populist hovel
to brighten the view
feels like the Milky Way
flowing through the veins of a man
who’s just given all his fixed stars
to a bloodbank
and walked away shining on the inside
because musing on the way
every ray of light he walks in
falls upon him as if it were from you
he’s not the star-crossed maniac he thought he was
but a zodiac with a good cause
and a superstition in his heart
that reason can’t detect.
A simple intuition he obeys and cherishs
higher than all the laws
he’s ever been broken on
in the name of love
above and below
to a better and more lasting effect
than anyone can know
who hasn’t been raised from the dead
by someone like you
like hidden treasure from a shipwreck.