THIS PROPHET SWALLOWED THE WHALE
This prophet swallowed the whale
and there’s a sorrow that haunts me inside
like a heavy bell that’s already written the music
but hasn’t caught up to the lyrics yet.
I’m riding a wave of tears like a dolphin
nudging a drowned man toward a shore
that keeps disappearing over the horizon
like an island that’s afraid of the dead.
I am encumbered by a grief that weeps glass
and moves like a python of lava
a wavelength of life
that’s a path unto itself.
An old unknown sorrow
an ancient ore of suffering
that hasn’t ripened into gold yet.
The empty wombs of the hydrogen clouds
that were the first to give birth to the stars.
The echo of exhausted siloes
that finally found their voice
when there was nothing left to say.
Something I can’t see
but I seem to understand.
And sometimes I even think
the rocks feel it and the trees
and it’s rooted in the very heart of things
like our veins and arteries are.
Not a longing for anything that exists
but an absence that’s been waiting
to be fulfilled by someone.
An incomprehensible sadness
that probes the disposition of humans
to determine the fate of a star.
And yet it has the wisdom of a mountain
and the weight of the sea about it
and in its heart
a thorn like the crescent moon
and the blood of a million roses
that didn’t end in love.
Sometimes it’s so intense
I think I can hear far back in the cave
a wounded Medusa crying alone
that even her tears turn to stone
when she looks at herself in a mirror.
I know the drunks feel it
especially at night
after they’ve fallen down
for the last time
before the morning light
and they look up at the stars
that don’t mind where they sleep it off.
Sometimes it seeps into my dreams
like the taste of saltwater mingling with sweet
and there’s a plea in its presence
as if it were asking me to bury
the afterbirth of death
so it can rest easy in oblivion
knowing the right thing was done at last.
One moment it’s the wasteland
of a lunar watershed
resigned to its lost opportunity
like a widow at a window
making love to the rain
and the next
it’s an unborn child
that’s been wounded by its future
in the womb of now
and knows more about abominations to come
than even the most inhuman of us do.
Your sadness is a strange elixir
on a poet’s tongue
a fragrance of pines in the shadows
their resins sticky with moonlight
like slow emotions that keep to themselves.
I experience you like a mysterious symbol
of all that is injured and broken by life
of all the struggle and agony
of those the mountains cast down
like the bodies that lie frozen
with their mouths open
on the unapproachable slopes of heaven.
You are the old woman
who comes late to the battlefield with the crows
looking for her son
like a ring that slipped from her finger
knowing the real devastation
doesn’t start until the war is over.
Not even a maggot has ever fouled the light
that shone upon it
but I can feel the silence of your compassion
for all those who have been deluded
into thinking they do
and pass judgment on themselves
like an eclipse upon their shining.
You are the custodian of prophetic skulls
and I sense the great tenderness
in the way you caress them like ancestors
who are grateful to have someone like you
to talk to.
What secret graces
do you whisper to them
to leave such silly grins on their faces
long after their faces have gone?
What do you say
that makes them gape?
If I were to ask them
would they break salt and bread and words with me?
Would they predict the past
turning their zodiacs in reverse
like deep sky objects
ahead of time and space?
what woes do you embody
what unspoken despair seals your lips
what unfinished lives
what green works
what blossoming passions that never guessed
by late spring
among ubiquitous beginnings
they were already past their prime
Is it your voice or theirs
that summons me to listen
to the abandoned picture-music
of these icons in exile
no one reclaims
from the spirit’s lost and found?
The undiscovered genius
who lived too long
to be a tragic loss
and the child prodigy
who died too young
to sacrifice her facility
on the altars of her art.
Do they find salons for the rejected
like eyes that weren’t acceptable
in the open abyss of your embrace
hanging their works
like constellations in the sky
so no can miss
what’s obvious about the night
and singularly rare?
I can feel the desolation in your sorrow
like an elephant in a graveyard
who can’t forget anything.
And what is this buoyant heaviness
but the perennial testamonial
of the leviathan within me
remote and deep
that never comes up for air
but what the sea feels
after so many millions of years of giving life
to plankton and whales
who took what they knew
about being wolves
and turned back to the water
like prodigal sons and daughters
with stories from foreign lands
and extra-uterine worlds?
Lonelier than the small self-effacing smile
of the Mona Lisa
resigned to the truth
she couldn’t share with anyone
that she would give birth
and die young
I sense in you as well
the same ambivalent incomprehension
that stills the wind
and leaves the tides flatlining
to see the number of needles
piercing the eyes of the voodoo doll
you played innocently with as a child
like harpoons in the side of the moon.
As if the only food
that could be tasted anymore
in this feeding frenzy of appetities
the only things worth ordering
on this menu of an abbatoir
were all taboo.
Blood in the water.
and butterfly antennae
the livers of black bears
and tiger dicks
and rhino horns
and the hands of silver-backed gorillas
and whales in the morning
running from slaughter in pods
beached and dying
under their own weight
all along the beach
like a miscarriage of faith in life in Jonestown
because there’s nowhere left to swim
where the sea hasn’t turned into black kool-aid.
All the lifeboats returning like surgical barges
full of body parts
torn from your womb
as if it were the backdoor of a hospital
without a crematorium.
I wait like hieroglyphics
in this desert of stars
with long afterlives
and no islands
for you to open your mouth
like a Rosetta Stone of scars
and speak to me in the native tongue of your sorrows.
My gumboots are stuck in the starmud
like words that weren’t invited to the dance
and the guitar in my voice
is that dunce in the corner
waiting for new strings
like a puppetmaster
who can pick it up and play the blues
for a lady of the lake who’s worth more
than the dues she’s paid
to keep it all in
like wounded water
in a lunar womb
that never breaks.
What spirit of sad wine
are you trying to mature to birth in me
like autumn in the grape?
Have I not already thrown
the ceremonious sword of my lunar art
like a sacred blade
that was raised on my blood
from the rainbow arc of the bridge
as a tribute to your river
that it might be washed clean of me
without profaning the mindstream?
Young moon in the arms of an old light
it’s well past last crescent
and I still don’t know
if it’s a lover or a crone
that’s opening the gate
this late at night.
But I’ve left the door ajar
and a candle burning in the hall
for you to find your way
across the threshold of my homelessness.
I have established peace
among the duelling keys
that kill one another
to be privvy to the secrets of my heart
by taking off all the locks.
And every breath I take in the dark
is the atmosphere of an unknown planet
looking for signs of life
when it opens its eyes to see you.
or are you the star on the left-handed sailor
that will keeping me from drowning
in the great resevoir of northwest passages
you keep like a private library in Atlantis?
How long must I wait
like a dead seabed of shadows on the moon
for your ancient ice palace to thaw underfoot
for you to lift your own veils
and throw off
this dark pall that shrouds me
in your carboniferous wisdom
like the cube of the Kaaba in imageless black
and offer me your longing and your lips
like the cornerstone of a meteorite
putting my forehead to the ground
I can bow down
And if I’m done.
If I’m finished.
If you’re the crone
who knows where I am buried
and you’ve come back for me
like a widow I am married to in the future.
Take the blinders off the falcon of the sun
like bandages off the new faces
of the mummies and plastic surgeons
and let him make whole
that which is partial and scattered.
Gather me up like wheat you’ve sown
within the compass of your blade
under the second full moon in October
and let the wounded bull of my heart
ensure the fertility of next year’s siloes
by pouring the mystic bounty of my blood
the dark abundance
of my life and art
like the high tide of a libation
over the skull of the moon
so that I can feel you flooding in on me at last
through the trees
through broken windows
through the mirrors that fear
they’ve lost their beauty
through the hidden jewels
in the ores of illusion
through the eyes of hurt children
and the adolescent lenses
of moody telescopes
projecting their passions on the heavens
through the cataracts of aging visions
that have let the clouds
overgrow their gardens in the sky
like weeds they can’t keep up with
through the damaged hearts of irreparable mailmen
who shut the moon out
like lunaphobic loveletters they never send
imagining somehow someone might actually answer
even the damned
who live in fear of miracles.
Inundate me like Noah
Atlantis Mu Dilmun
Let me drown like a lover
outside on a rainy night
when the streetlamps are smeared
like lipstick on a mirror
with a painting knife
and no one’s coming to meet me but you.
I picture you as the view
that all windows aspire to
and you as the janitor of lost causes
that sweeps the stairs of stars
like discarded lottery tickets
and scars on the cards and dice
that could have cut either way
but didn’t win.
Seven came and passed
but eleven was too much to ask.
To begin is to risk
and no one risked beginning again after that
because they had nothing left to lose
and you took them in
like a condemned hotel
on the wrong side of the tracks
of the high-flying zodiacs
and gave them a place for the night
where not to have any luck
was still o.k.
Just because you’re a black hole
still doesn’t mean
you can’t be starstruck.
The ravens haven’t stopped stealing the silver.
And the fish still rise to the lure
like city pimps to something pure.
But I sense you’ve always known this.
That you’ve always been the best of healers
because you don’t apply
the moon like a poultice
to draw the infection out.
You don’t attach leeches like eclipses
to bleed the fever
and treat the mind
by putting blinds on its delirium.
You are the mysterium tremendum et fascinans
and your eyes are more potent
than the laying on of hands.
You let the dead summon their own saviours
from the grave.
You let the cowards walk with the brave
so the heroes can deepen their courage and heart
by learning what it means to be afraid.
And for those who think
that timing is the content of life
you’re the bus that’s late.
Everyone’s a perennial in your presence
even the weeds and the wildflowers
and the hopeless bouquets
with expiry dates
arranged like Zen gardens in garbage cans
by desperately improbable humans
hanging on by a hinge
the slumlords won’t fix
like the quantum gate
to your infinitely expanding starfields.
Sex is an expression of love.
Love is an expression of sex.
And the word fuck
the English stole from the Dutch
when their fleets fleeced the golden ram
means to batter someone.
Do violence to their person.
As in I’m going to fuck you up.
Not let’s make the beast with two backs
in an alchemical connubium
of Hermetic transformation
and turn all this base flesh
into a gold rush.
But word on the street is
they’re both mafia rats
in a two way mirror
burning saints in the palms of their hands
making deals to open their mouths
taking vows to keep them shut.
An etymological confusion of sex and destruction
eros and thanatos
an alloy of breath and death.
Venus might hang on the arm of Vulcan
but she smells like the sweat of Apollo.
And you might be life
you might be death
you might be light and love
or the Babylonian Harlot
or none and all of the above
but my heart tells me
you’re the crazy wisdom
that blossoms like deadly nightshade
in the lonely recesses of an enlightened brain
where great pain speaks to itself
like the hard rock on the mountain
or a dry well to the rain.
Being and nothingness are not peers.
They’re not cloned from the stem cells of mirrors
and replication might be a material form of immortality.
Everybody’s eyes are black and blue
But reflection is the half-life of a cosmic radiance
that doesn’t see things with the same eyes
in the same light most people do
because when you blow it out
like a candle at the end of its wick
it enlightens the room for billions of years.
The moon jumps over the cow
and compassion transcends its tears
and even the tragic deliberations
of the most serious-minded fools
are the spontaneous schools of the buddhas.
keeps it secrets
like seekers to itself.
And it’s easy to mistake the truth
for that crumb of a dream
in the corner of your eye
when you lie to fake reality
but it’s not proof of anything
except that you’re not awake yet
to your own lucidity.
Your seeing maligns what shines
by not being it.
It’s your own blood
you’re wiping off the blade with your tongue
when the truth wounds.
Lies that heal are wiser than hurtful facts.
And even the midnight sun
that has nothing to do with flowers
when all is said and done
is not the sum of its acts.
is like trying to fix the stars to your eyes
It’s not the stuff that myths are made of.
The moon doesn’t ride Zeus like a white bull
and Zeus doesn’t fuck swans
with a condom on
because all gods at heart
are socially transmitted diseases
that weaken the immunity
of your own human divinity
to keep them apart
like the sea from sweet water.
And I think that’s what makes you so sad about us.
Like a mother resigned
to the children who doomed
the dreams she had of them
like a miscarriage of life
long after it’s left her womb.
We’re fallible fire-gods looking for fire
among the shadows we cast
like the writing on the wall
in a dangerous neighbourhood.
The gods never ask about the divine
because it’s always
a human that answers.
The gods water the wine
of earthly compassion
that sweetens the bitter truth
like fruit on the vine
with our own tears.
But I’m only guessing
you’re the forlorn muse of the expired hope
that inspires the dead and the living alike
You’re as aloof as the rumours of truth
that disappear into the distance
like prayers and birds
and the smoke of burning heretics
purged of their humanity
at auto de fes
held in public squares
for private control
to remind the crowds
how dangerous it can be
to be who
to be who you are.
To be the thesis
of your own triune identity.
The three in one version
not one in three perversion
of your own faceless trinity.
And as for me and my house
my spirit moved and bruised
by these suggestions
of who you might be afterall
following me through the shadows
of this temple wilderness
ever since I was a kid
growing up in the logging camps of B.C.
like a big cat
half hunting half playing with me
where parallel paths converge
on the periphery of prophetic vision
I choose the sanctity of a profane woman
to the profanity of a holy ghost.
Your blood is wine.
Your flesh is bread.
You breathe in the last breath of the dead
and you give it life again.
It blooms in you like a flower
and if it’s only for now an hour or eternity
it will still live as outrageously as life on earth
agelessly giving birth
to hearts and minds
that don’t need to waste their time
defending their humanity
against the blind groping for the blind
to put out the eyes
of what’s spontaneously divine
and earthbound about us.
And I suspect prophetically it’s you.
Or maybe I’m just a Sufi weathervane
that’s come to a crossroads in life
and falling to earth from sidereal spaces
like some panspermic meteorite
high on amino acids
I’m elaborating into protein
like the beginning of a new life
I’m finally getting up on my feet
and all this is just a mystic delirium
of prophetic vertigo
to let me know
which direction should take me
to go where I go.
And it’s hard to tell
by the calm of my awareness
whether you’re near
or I’m caught in the third eye
of a spiritual hurricane
like a bird on the wing
but I feel no fear
and I’m used to the pain
and whenever I see you
out of the corner of my eye
and glimpse the beauty of your compassion
and sense there’s nothing about being a human
in the way you look upon people and things
with the emotional wisdom
of your sad-eyed night vision
with all its stars and fireflies
lit up like candles and tears
in the chandeliers of the constellations
writing earthly myths for unearthly lamps
I know there’s nothing about being a human
by the way you love them
not just for who they are
but who they wanted to be
that was ever a condition of anything.
Infinite in your intimacy
you might be the morning star
shining alone in the sunset
of an estranged way of life
that accepts humanity as it is.
Holy water without the fizz.
Nothing to unmask
Nothing to reveal.
No grave to rise from
that isn’t the cradle of a prophecy
that’s already been fulfilled.
The whole shoreless sea
of enlightened awareness
in every wavelength of insight
that illuminates and adumbrates the mind
whatever the weather
and everyone mystically specific
and indiscriminately alone together
in the same lifeboat
rowing with every pulse of their hearts
to the rescue of the illusory bubbles
they wear like lifejackets
to keep them afloat.
And though every glimpse I have of you
is the merest suggestion of a flightfeather
from a nightbird folding its wings
on the waters of life within me
I can intuit from the way I feel
the Y of the witching wand
twitching in my hands
like the cross of a human
with uplifted arms
that you’re near
that you’re real
that you’re the muse
and the inspiration
that raises this goblet
and rises like a living fountainmouth
to speak for the great watershed of the dead
you carry in your womb.
That you’re the void in the voice
that engenders these worlds
within worlds within words
that fit the forms of things like skin
eye to eye
inside and out
with faceless space
where all things end
is precisely where they begin
and the less I know about nothing
the more reason I have to sing.