THE DRUNKS HAVE STOPPED SHOUTING
The last of the Saturday night drunks
have stopped shouting at each other blocks away.
A five minute interlude
and then back to the play.
The angriest of the two
is the one who’s hurt the most.
You can hear it in his voice.
He wants to freeze his pain cryonically
by killing someone
and wake up a thousand years from now
with tears in his eyes.
Not until you’ve lived long enough
to regret it
is your victory complete.
To learn from your defeat is easy
but how few can learn
from their supremacy
when things go well.
The brighter the light
the deeper the shadow.
The mountain is buried in its valley.
The knife in its wound.
The poor man digs the rich man’s grave
and doesn’t feel inferior.
The one with the most
is the one who feels
everything that’s lacking.
The one who has nothing
and gives even that away
is everywhere fulfilled.
Her life is inexhaustible
because it’s not her own.
Not a sound now.
Peace in this little room
immersed in a vast darkness
with the lights on.
A night on earth alive.
What’s that worth?
squanders the stars.
Everyone in town
has long since sunk
into their own sunsets
to go talk to the witchdoctor
about their dreams.
This must be what it’s like
to come back after you’re dead
and find everybody sleeping.
But it’s not the waste
of a good encore
because they all seem
like children somehow
to the nightwatchman
on the graveyard shift
who puts his flashlight
up to the window like the moon
and looks in on their innocence
knowing everybody will wake up from it
like the wrong dream in the morning
to live the nightmare
they think they need to be
to expect good things from life.
Even the worst of them.
How trivial it must seem
to the rest of the universe
this simple drop of time
hanging over the abyss
of a fathomless watershed
like an eye that can take it all in
and not be overwhelmed
by the dark sublimities
and cosmic distances
that don’t end in thresholds
it humanizes intimately within
as if it were throwing its arms around
What a feat of being a human is.
However they try to deny it.
Surely the stars must be impressed by now
even if we aren’t
after so many millions of years
with how much darkness
we can take in like raw ore
and finding our eyes in it
like emeralds and sapphires
like diamonds in a sample core
refine it into pure seeing
such that sight is a kind of love
and wonder never casts a shadow on anything
that isn’t spontaneously illuminated
by the sidereal depths of our awareness of it.
The terrible forges of our wounded passions
can hammer out our differences like weapons
on the anvils of our hearts day and night
and the awful pulse of martial time
turn blood into a war industry
but who among them yet
has made even so much as a dent in the light
or conquered that imperium of shadows and eclipses
that threaten to oppress them from the inside
like quislings in their own ranks
who eat from the same plate
that raised them
like assassins and parasites
mustered and mobilized for mass suicide
as if the black cool aid
they drink from their own bad wells
were enough of an elixir
in the Jonestowns of the world
to turn into the bridal wine of a happy afterlife
with the children they say they do this for
and look forward to
already dead at the foot of the wedding bed?
Who among these
who have forgotten the generosity of water
are not thieves in the night
who steal from themselves
that which was already provided?
Bad mad sad people.
How imperfectly we’re here together
and how immaculately gone.
Why not give your troubles up
like a broken clock you can’t fix
and taking time off
leave it in the hands
of eternity to work on
like a retired uncle in the backshed
who likes to tinker with modern hardware
using out of date tools
and enjoys being useful?
Why keep the galaxy awake next door
with this supernova of words and wars
even as the dawn approaches
so you can’t hear the birds singing over it?
Sweet ones ugly ones poor ones insane
I no less nor more than you
my caustic brothers
my bitter sisters
know that honey doesn’t drip from fangs
and butterflies don’t know how to talk to spiders
and the feathers of love
have evolved from the scales of pain
and the sublimity of the profoundest child
is just a bell that eats its own afterbirth
like a voice eats its echo
a buddha shy of delusion
as the emptiness of life
begins to flood his mind again
like a bad memory
of enlightened chaos and nirvanic confusion.
It’s true that no one gets out of here alive
but more to the point for the moment
no one who stays can play
without getting wounded.
We bump into things.
We scrape our knees.
We skin our elbows.
We stub our toes on foreign cornerstones
in our haste to escape each other
and pull the wings off angels
mistaking them for flies at the window.
Goliath’s got a glass eye
and David’s out of stones.
Sweet ones sleeping like new moons
in the arms of the old
I ask you
why is affliction our favourite amusement?
Why do we turn our backs
on the original light we were born into
and seeing something it falls upon
we don’t like or understand
suspend our radiance
and shrink into ourselves like black dwarfs?
Why do flowers that were asked by the stars
to open their hands to the light
to see if they’ve washed them right
when darkness comes
close up like fists
they shake in the face of the night?
What window hasn’t been broken
in the house of light?
Is it any wonder
we live like abandoned shadows
of the things we could have been
alone with what’s become of us
each in a private orphanage
with a candle in a window
that doesn’t believe anyone is coming
and muttering something in its solitude
about the emptiness of life
and its lack of breath
sucuumbs to death?
If you can read the whole history of the universe
in a single grain of sand
what can you read in a human?
Isn’t it clear by now
there’s nothing you can understand
that isn’t a womb
that’s already given birth to you
with amniotic atmospheres
and within each and every one of us
entire lifespans of aeons of stars?
We are the afterlife of the light.
We are what comes to life
when the light reflects upon itself.
Even a single thought about nothing
on a Saturday night in a small town
after the bars have closed
and the cops have taken
your keys and belt and booze
transcends all that shining
the way the mind transcends the eye
that sees it
but doesn’t know what it’s looking at.
Respect the labour of the stars
that has gone into you.
Derive your self-esteem from that.
Walk in the world
as if you were their finest achievement to date.
Be a good candle.
Illuminate things that the light can’t see.
And be grateful to the darkness within you
that deepens the night
to enhance your lucidity.
Stop painting the lense of your telescope
with what you want to see
or think ought to be there.
Stop trying to frame your mirages
and put yourself in the picture
by clarifying who you really are.
You can’t look at a tree a cloud a flower a star
or a wayward firefly
without meeting one of your ancestors.
How could you not feel you belong here?
How could you not feel at home
even in the death house
when it’s stacked
like a Mongol reason to surrender
outside the city walls
with your progenitors’ prophetic skulls?
Cosmology is the psychology of the stars.
Pisces is a mental paradigm
not just two dim fish that shine.
What you see when you look at a tree
is you standing up for yourself among others
reaching out to the light with open hands
as many as the leaves
that spring from your dendritic thoughts
about dragons that eat the moon to make it rain
and what your roots really think
about all the fruitless pain
they had to go through
all the death they had to transform
all the eras of living underground
in the name of something higher than themselves
just to raise you up out of the starmud
to greet the sun with birds
as one of its own.
No one’s born
with a silver spoon in their hand
or a horseshoe up their ass
and no one’s given a chainsaw for a teether.
The way you see the world
is the way the world sees you.
You’re living in your own painting.
You’re the monster in the dark
that stalks you like a theme park.
You’re the keeper with the keys.
And you’re the empty cages.
And if someone were to ask you
how old you really are
wondering what act it is
you’re all ages of the universe.
Even as a child
who could keep track
of how many stars
you had to blow out on your birthday
just to keep a secret to yourself?
The stars have brought themselves
like lamps to a geni.
Now make a wish
that’s worthy of your powers
and live as if
it were already true at conception.
Stop belittling yourself with your own deception
or has Gulliver lived so long among the Lilliputions
he’s come to think of a million weak threads
as one strong nose-rope in his own hands
he couldn’t get around without?
Two drunks braying like bad asses on a Saturday night.
The donkey looks into the well
and the well looks back at the donkey.
Why spit upon your own reflection?
How many mirrors
need to drown in it
before you realize
that your eyes
are the furthest that the stars have ever seen
into the amazing potential of light
and the perennial beginning
of the original insight
that has grown like the universe into you?
Can’t you feel the starless vastness
of the spaces you encompass within
like cold windows
no one’s every looked through
waiting for you to break through them
like stars with an overview?
Don’t go down to the great sea of being
with a tall ship and a star to steer her by
if your eyes are only waves and tides
washing drunken sailors up like cosmic cinders
on the shores of your eyelids in tears.
Whether you’re living in a tidal pool
or swimming through stone
or thriving under the cataracts of
or the deserts of Mars
your seeing is the water of life
the miraculous fires walk on like stars
to prove their faith in you
or the moon when she’s plumed like a Byzantine bird
in silver feathers of light
or the sun in a splendour of white gold
when it’s out in public
or slumming in its Joseph’s coat
at the bottom of a dry well
when it gets a chance to be alone.
Your seeing is the dreamwater
of the mindstream all things drink from
and see themselves in.
And there’s no more distance
between you and them
than there is the moon’s reflection
and the water it drops its blossom on.
Or as they say in cowboy Zen.
Live up to your stars not down to your spurs.
You don’t need to break Pegasus in
like a nasty jackass
when you already know how
to ride it like a constellation in the wind
with two hundred billion stars under your saddle.
Life is a fragile filament
between being and non-being
between seeing and not seeing
a shaky suspension bridge
a snakey spinal cord
plugged into the dragon fire of the stars
and yet look at the immensities it spans
and the gaping abysses it illuminates
like the eye-sockets in a skull
that went to sleep like an urnful of fireflies
with the taste of ashs in its mouth
and woke up like honey in a hiveful of stars.
The real magic of the first word wasn’t light.
It was let there be eyes
let there be grammars of seeing
that can arise out of what can’t be said
like dark matter
and express themselves so lucidly
they can summon worlds into being
even the darkness never dreamed of
just to listen to the light singing to itself
as it delights in you like a hidden secret
it wants to be known
like an enlightened way to live.
Not a will to power.
But a will to give
with more reasons to live
like fireflies and stars
dancing on the waters of life
without going out
without leaving scars
than there are
to kill your brother
in the grip
of your own fangs and claws.
Shoot your stars out like streetlights
and narrow your field of vision
like the eye of a needle
in a voodoo doll’s gaze
and the chump-change
of inflationary payback
and then say you don’t know why you did it
but you had good cause.
Maybe you didn’t get laid.
Maybe she went home with someone else.
Maybe he’s cheating on you with your sister.
Maybe you didn’t mean to hear
what he didn’t have to say
and you both walked away
Maybe you wanted what wasn’t yours
and you turned yourself loose
like killer bees
on the children of
It doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t last.
It doesn’t have a future
to remember its past.
It’s a solar flare
too weak to escape gravity
like an ingrown hair
It’s the obscenity of loveless ignorance
throwing acid in a child’s eyes
for knowing how to see
and learning to read.
It’s the jawbone of an ass
braying as if it had just seen
the holy ghost desecrating its grave
like a judas-goat making love to its prey.
The first function of the delusory ego
is to underwhelm you
with the conviction that quicksand
is a better cornerstone to build on
than the universe on which you rest.
wait for the traffic lights to turn green
but there’s a pettiness to their passion
that won’t wait for old ladies in a crosswalk.
Love isn’t a relative thing.
It gives you a rose
like a blood transfusion.
It knows what the others only suppose.
It’s bosons beyond that.
It’s the God-particle everybody’s looking at
as if dirt just got in their eyes.
Love is so relevant
it can’t be defined.
Deny it in yourself
like an unspeakable vulnerability
and you’ll wind up knocking
like a stranger with a foreign policy
at your own back door
and even your own children
won’t recognize you
as they stay bolted in their minds
and don’t answer.
You’ll end up asking flowers for a password
before you open up.
If you’ve got your hands up over your eyes
because your eyelids aren’t enough
to shut the light out
when you’re so blinded by your own blazing
you can’t see anyone else
you’ll undoubtedly think of love
as the sickly sweet sap
that gets the wasps drunk
on an over-ripe apple
that took the fall for all of us.
You’ll turn your nose up at it
as if you just got a whiff
of your own corpse.
And you’ll still be as mean
and green and bitter as you are
on a dead branch in winter
without a blossom for a shroud.
Love is more fundamental than space.
More sublime than time.
Love is rooted in the light
like a lucid intelligence
that loves at first sight
everything it’s aware of.
It’s the one wave
that’s not a condition
of the weather or the sea.
It’s the universal frequency
of creative ecstasy
not the echo of an s.o.s.
from the afterlife of the universe.
It’s the cosmic muse
that inspired energy and matter
from the very beginning
to transcend themselves
by fulfilling their unlimited potential
in actualizing me and you.
Love’s got one-way eyes.
It can take a death threat
and turn it into a love lyric
but never the other way around.
Things always look bigger
at either end of its telescope
because it looks at stars like a sky
looks in the mirror
and sees the jewels of insight
making new myths up
around fires it lit a long time ago.
Be spontaneously generous
as if everything of any true value
were free for the asking.
And when you speak the truth
and it wounds
make sure the d.n.a. on the knife
isn’t your own
when you fall upon it karmically
and your words aren’t bugged
to bear witness against you
when they turn on you
like mafia dons on the mob
who know where all the bodies are buried.
Truth is a vine that liberates
laughter and wine
among enemies and friends alike.
It doesn’t talk like barbed wire.
Love empowers its words
like the leaves of an antidote in the jungle.
Love’s never known a lost cause.
Its effects go well beyond
on starmaps for the blind.
The stars are bright in the mind mirror
because love makes them shine
by a light that’s deep within you.
Even with your eyes shut
and no moon no stars no sun no lamp
your dreamscapes are illuminated.
Light upon light.
Mind upon matter.
Love upon life.
Fire on the water.
You’re the painter and the paint.
You’re not just a survivor.
You’re not an aside to a theme
that doesn’t include you.
You’re the climax.
You’re the highlight
that goes on at the end
of a work of art
everything that went before
from the underpainting to the midtones
and all the greys and all the colours
all the stars and leaves and people and clouds
all the leptons bosons hadrons and quarks
all the starfish galaxies
the whole composition of the universe
with all its still lives
and gestural expressionists
ploughing the sky with a brush
and sowing it with stars
and the momentary tents
of the firefly zodiacs
at the lighting of the lamps
to show you whatever way you take home
you’re not alone.
You walk in the light.
And the light walks in you.
And two makes a gift of a gift to everyone.
Myriad petals open
and one flower blooms like the universe.
And the shadows of its blessings are not a curse.