Monday, May 2, 2011


Up late again watching the stars settle like dew on the grass.

I must have been a lamplighter in another life.

Or a firefly in an observatory.

All the windows have gone out but one or two.

The Perth watertower looks like the ghost

of a Daddy Longlegs in the distance

and the tardy townhall clock

is still trying to reset the moon to full.

The gram-masters on the corner

of Gore and the universe

are too drunk and overly curious

for their own good.

There are some dark corners

you should leave to their solitude.

If you’ve met and killed the Buddha in the road

it won’t diminish your enlightenment

by so much as a shadow

to step on the occasional toad.

Delirious with clarity

is still only one side of the mirror.

When you’ve broken the spell of its mesmerism

it isn’t as if another world view comes rushing in

it’s just that another eye opens

and you’re clear about your delirium.

My thoughts are too much of a heavy lift for a coma

and I don’t dream much on the nightshift

and there’s a starless space within me

that keeps blowing all the candles out

everytime the power goes off

so I can learn to see in the dark

where I’m going

and where I’ve been

without carrying the light on my back

like vagrant insights on a midnight mindstream on the move.

Alone in the world

but I never lack company

because the world’s simultaneously alone with me

but we’re both a little nervous

like a seasoned sailor alone with the sea

or a reunion of lovers with what used to be.

I’ve been watching the spring willows

dye their hair blonde in the Tay all day

and now their roots are showing silvergray

in the pewter moonlight.

I like to go down and sit by the water

whenever I forget how to live.

I like the way the willows

pour themselves back into the river

like fountains of lemonade

and at this time of the year

they’re wearing see-through veils

like negligees of Isis

made of spiderwebs

and fishing nets

like the star-crossed wedding laces

of their greatgrandmother’s constellations

passed down through the generations

for special occasions such as this.

And if they weep now

like young women in the spring

it’s only a light rain

but when they’re fully greened by the summer

it’ll be a waterfall.

But the world’s a snapping turtle

that won’t stay submerged for the night

like the id of the subconcious mind

and there are feathers of moonlight all over the water

where someone who felt

under-rated as a god

just raped a swan on drugs to prove it.

A serpent bites Persephone in the heel

and the spring is black with her absence

and death isn’t a crack in the void

you can easily heal

by sowing seeds

of Virgoan starwheat in the wound.

My prophetic skull bobs

like a horse chestnut

surfing its thoughtwaves

all the way to Lesbos

but I’d rather be a cherry blossom

or the empty lifeboat of an origami poem

drifting down the Yellow River

like a homeless loveletter

with nothing but

mystic black waterstars on my mind

instead of being blind-sided

by my last Maenadic dismemberment.

It’s not easy to get a gig

as a singer

or a stand-up comedian in hell

and even harder to make it big

as a court jester

when everyone’s into mimes.

You don’t raise the dead up to your lips

as if you were raising a bucket

from a wishing well

or your voice an octave higher.

Even if the music’s true

the lyrics can still prove you’re a liar.

And the Lord of Jewels isn’t a pimp

you can readily inspire

to sing along

with Sioux deathsongs at karaoke.

So down I go again.

Orpheus descending

with a wishbone harp

stuck in his throat

like a bird in a chimney

to see if I can charm death into letting you go

even if like the last time

you do look back in disbelief

at what you’re leaving behind

like a deathwish that came true.

River of fire.

River of darkness.

River of forgetfulness.

Lethe Styx and Phlegathon

running backwards in reverse order upstream

because this is hell with hope

Hades of the gibbering shades

and pre-Socratic philosophers

in the thought-fields of Elysium

standing like Druids and wandering scholars

on a sacred hill overlooking their holy wars like referees.

And all the mirrors

write left-handed in invisible ink

like the smile of the Mona Lisa

to keep the living from knowing what they think.

Sisyphus got used to rolling

his heart like a rock up a hill

only to watch it roll down again in vain

but you were an avalanche in the Rockies

and now I’m trying to excavate

a blackhole in the Old Perth Cemetery

beside Last Duel Park

like a backhoe deprived of ls

to sing you back into the light

like a vernal equinox

among the daffodils and bluebells

that keep attending your funeral

over and over and over again

like friends of the family

meant to mourn your disappearance

by showing up early

to avoid the crowds.

A last warm kiss on a cold forehead

or a cold tear on a hot stove

and I can hear the cosmic hiss of the background dead

like the afterbirth of a foregone beginning

thanking me for not trying

to extinguish their fires

like torch bearing Roman dadaphores

in the waters of a Christian life.

My fingertips burned like ashes and urns

putting them to my lips then yours

as I turned sublimely

and walked away into the immense solitude

that followed me like the echo of your name.

Thereafter I could always hear you

as I do now late into the night

sitting by this snakey water

whispering dark insights into the black mirror

that keeps its reflections to itself

like a shadow with the voice of a nightbird

bleeding in a hidden grove.

No man is an island.

John Donne.

Dean of St. Paul’s.

He’s a peninsula.

Marty Balin.

Guitarist for the Jefferson Airplane.

But one wave of you

washing up on the shores of my skin

and I can feel your breath and fingertips all over again

and the urgent way you used to kiss me

as if I were an emergency exit for pain

and my heart turns over like a full lifeboat

far out at sea among the icebergs

that float by like corpses in the Ganges.

Blood-roses for the crocodiles.

Swans for the snapping turtles.

It’s not just the nave

of the wheel of birth and death

that keeps a person centered

but the rim and the spokes as well

so when the dead come knocking

I’m a good host

and let them in

like strangers on the Road of Ghosts

or leaves on the bamboo branch

of a sumi ink painting.

Guests of my heart and art

I don’t enshrine them

in the beatitudes of oblivion

but my house is their house

my life is their life

and what I see they see

on the same side of my eyes as me

because I don’t greet them

like the black sheep of the family

who were determined to go their own way

like a prison break on the outside.

I don’t play shepherd to the dead

and though I sometimes feel like a lightning rod

I’m not a cattle-prod in a hospital morgue

and they’re not Giovanni Volta’s frogs.

Some are true as worms to the dead.

And some are not.

But if you’re a spiritual fraud

the Zen thing to do

is not get caught

fencing hot gravegoods

in the living rooms of your friends.

When you’re walking with the dead

your means don’t justify their ends

and their space doesn’t bend to your thought

even if the likeness is remarkable.

Eidolon spirit wraith

waif on the wind

your simulacrum possesses me

like a bird possesses a rootless tree

that follows it around.

Water and moon.

And this incredible longing

that makes an eye in the moonlight

inseparable from what it reflects.

Let Rhandamanthus recoil in judgment of the dead

or Anubis awake from a nightmare in a feather bed

to weigh the worth of this afterlife

I’ve spent with you

like a grail I poured back into the watershed

I took it from

like life from the womb of the dark mother

who gives birth to all of us

in secret on the far side of the moon.

Inseperable one.

Lost doll.

Sacred whore by the virgin spring

in the temples of the Iseum

sphinx and incubus

whatever sites I open

whatever windows I stare out of

however I channel the remote like a medium

you’re the banshee

the crone face of queen Mab of the Fey

the white goddess on the dark side of Kali

drinking blood libations

to each other’s spiritual health

from the skulls of their devotees

that comes in like a late-breaking wavelength

that jams the news of your unending death

on all two hundred stations.

I’m a creature of flesh and blood

and you’re into Platonic necrophilia.

Get thee to a nunnery

and I’ll sprinkle rue on the river

in our secret meeting place

where time was no friend to space

when the strong rope of our continuum unravelled

into tiny weak threads of fate

with severed Atropic filaments

for spinal cords and lifelines.

I’ve met you where the rivers meet

at every fork in the road

between your legs

at the junction

of wishbones

witching wands

lightning bolts

and snakes-tongues

anywhere one face

could speak to the dead

through the mask of the other

without feeling estranged by their violet eyes

like a blacklight on the wedding dress

that drowned Ophelia in flowers

when they recovered your body

like a blameless sacrifice to an unknown river

I’ve been sitting by for hours

like the white nights

of a winter Saturnalian

or a lovelorn dragonslayer

wan and palely loitering

waiting for his lamia to show up

late to the seance.

You’re the python priestess

in a prophetic trance of magic mushrooms

that fills my Orphic skull

like a message in a bottle from the future

with inspired oracles of oxymoronic wisdom.

You’re the divine coincidence

of my contradictories

karmic redressal

for the dress rehearsal

of my favourite incarnations.

Apollo will keep chasing Daphne

on the winds of time forever

but every moment’s a crossroads

where the dead intersect the living

like time and the eternal

like the mortal and the praeternatural

like the celestial equator with the ecliptic

at the equinoctial colure of spring

pouring out of Pisces into Aquarius

like the sea into a waterclock on the moon

where time stands still

and the midnight sun beds down with Virgo.

But this time around

you ditched the laurels

and turned into a willow

so I could run my fingers through your hair

in a whirlwind of lovers

like Sufi poets

and Paolo and Francesca

under the demotic breath of Dante in a dark wood

lost for good in his vision of Beatrice

like the ashes from the urn of a moth

caught in the updraft of a candle.

But then again

alive or dead

when were you ever not an inspiration?

Muse and atmosphere

for years

I have breathed you in

like a fragrance of light

from an intimate eye

in a private garden

passing the time

flower by flower.

And I’ve blooded every breath

deep in this heart of mine

where the vine bloods

the darkest grapes with wine

and myriad meanings make one sign

of the two of us

like many streams flowing

under the name of one river.

I have lived with you for lightyears

in a house of the zodiac

the sun never enters

because it has no fixed address

and no one looks out through any windows

that don’t belong to the neighbourhood watch.

It has no thresholds

or doors to open and close.

There are no walls

no floors no roofs or cornerstones

no living rooms and long halls

where the mirrors sleepwalk at night

no stairs to climb

no skeletons in the closet

to remind us of better times

just you and I

urgent with life and longing

listening to the watercharms of the willows

rinsing their roots in the river.

You’ve been dead for many years

but you’re not a watercolour

washed out by the rain

or stained by human tears.

You’re not a ghost

that came back to haunt a tent

like a painter you once sat for

who’s packed up his canvas and easel

and moved on like a one man caravan

to the next well of the closest mirage

that wants its portrait done.

Death is undying.

And life is unborn.

So they’re both as ageless

as ashes and fire

and what was lost in the autumn

is found in the spring

and everything that seemed

voiceless mute remote

cold as the stars

shining down on the snow

suddenly begins to sing.

And though different birds different words

might change the lyrics and intonation

from generation to generation

once a muse always a muse

and there’s no expiry date

on the inspiration

that keeps me up this late at night

like an empty grave that can’t contain

the life that stirs within it.

Everything’s that gone gone gone beyond

like Venus over the horizon of a sunset

meditating on life and death

like Buddha under the Bodhi tree

or you and I under the willows

enlightened by the morning star

returns to a dawn without limits

not a blackhole in space with its grave-face on

like the unscalable summit

of the world mountain

founded on the back of a snapping turtle

with its eye on the moon like a swan.

It’s the silence within

that shapes the word without.

It’s the fish that jumps spontaneously

that articulates the stillness of the water.

The branch that interesects

the circumference of the moon

that amplifies its roundness.

And just as you have

these many years

it’s the dead

that intensify our lives

with the intimate absence

of everything that was near to us.

Voice within my voice.

Mindstream flowing into mindstream

though we think we drink alone from our skulls

it is not true

it is not true

that we don’t pass the cup to the dead

and say as we do to one another here

like a prophet in a bottle

or a message in a whale

drink up

drink up

drink the whole river in a single gulp

because sweeter than the waters of life

from the watersheds of the dead

are the tears we shed with them

and that delirium of awareness

that is neither spiritual nor material

neither now nor hereafter

neither then nor yet to come

that we share with them like crazy laughter.

Under the willows together

at this time of night

as the wind combs out their hair

and a snapping turtle

tries to bury the moon

like a cosmic egg in a sandbank of stars

as proof that it’s really a dragon

who can bring the rain.

No world other than this one

that includes all the others

like the boundless eye includes the stars.

The way I am included in your death

like an intimate familiar

from no other side than this

we’re all on

like our eyes are

and the stars in all directions

neither near nor far

but here

where you are

and nothing’s ever missing

because now has never heard of life

and forever isn’t convinced it’s death

and you sweet one

nectar of grief

elixir of joy

honey alloy

that pours like gold and willows

from the pollen and ore of my soul

you are the belief that I’ve forsaken

as nothing more

than the schoolproof signage of fools

and you are the dream that wakes up in me

and keeps me from my bed

life after life after life

like the death in every breath I’ve ever taken.