Thursday, May 5, 2011


Is it true

the most commpassionate people in life

are the ones in the greatest danger?

That the most generous

will lose their hands to the ones they fed?

That the bravest will be hunted down by protected cowards

and when the last of the heroes are dead

and the dragons who inspired them

are the advertising themes of amusement parks

those with the smallest balls

will give themselves the biggest awards?

Is it true

those who are creative

chafe the destroyers like anti-matter

and give the intellectuals diaper-rash of the mind?

That just to open your eyes

to watch the stars and fireflies

is enough to make other people feel blind

and insist you black them out

like pearls in an air-raid?

What’s a starmap to a mole?

What’s a lamp that shines in braille

to someone without fingerprints?

Is it true that beauty summons the worm

as a material eye-witness to its ruin?

That genius is devoured

by cannibalistic Neanderthals

into homeopathic magic

for the power of its brain

to turn thought into protein

with a high creatine content

that can make your dick strike twelve anachronistically

so you can go on knapping flint

for the next hundred thousand years?

That genius is a freak in isolation

that gets its own back

for being pecked at

like a phoenix among chickens

by opening Pandora’s box

like the atom at Los Alamos

like the geni in the lamp

and making a Trojan horse of its gifts

gives them everything they want

because anything as red

as Van Gogh’s hair and beard and ear in Arles

must be either a phoenix

or a fox with chicken-pox.

Sometimes you have more to fear

from the keys

than the locks.

Is it true

that a friend is a random event

in a space-time continuum

that’s got no room in its impersonality

for loyalty or sentiment?

That the heart has replaced the golden rule

with Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle

and everyone’s looking for love

like a Faberge easter egg

that’s already hatched its ugly duckling

sans fairytale?

Or the Czar’s family?

I asked Annie

as we were landing in Toronto

from the West Coast

like a waterbird with its wheels down

on a tarmac lake

is it true

that everything we thought sincere

has been exposed as fake?

That forever isn’t worth

the loveletter

it’s written on

for twenty minutes

because of temporal inflation?

Is it true

that all roads

that lead to Rome or Ottawa

never return the way they came

like arrows and fishooks and Vercingetorix?

That justice is a celebrity fame-game with ratings

brought in by a jury of mirrors

selected by the reflections of their peers

to convict the innocent

for their sins of omission?

That the God-particle

everyone’s looking for

like something they can’t get out of their eye

might not be

trying to make a point at all.

It’s hard to get a fix on

just how fundamental you are

in the scheme of things

when you’re stuck in the starmud

up to your knees

looking for your keys like koans

you swallow like pills to feel real

but hey

no big deal

but I was meaning to ask you

is it true

that we’re wounded by death

and life is the way we heal?

I know how you feel

about what’s real

but you can have all the money you want

and that still doesn’t mean

you’ll ever really know

what it means to be rich

without having to steal.

You’ve got the disease

but none of its symptoms.

Is it true

that the most successful grow

by never accepting a challenge

that wasn’t a bigger failure than the last

and call the summits of their Himalayan defeats

experience and progress?

Answer no.

Answer yes.

Answer yes and no.

Or just nod your head diagonally

like the sum of the squares of the opposite sides.

Because the questions were less rhetorical

than sincerity being facetious

I don’t expect people to answer the doorbell

or read every piece of spiritual junkmail

that shows up on their doorstep

like a flightfeather to paradise

on the wings of a seagull.

If you’re wounded deeply enough

there’s no resentment in the pain.

You just play with your brain

like an angry child plays with the eyes of a doll.

You control your rage like a nuclear reactor

or Chernobyl goes cosmic

and you throw a tantrum

that expands like the universe.

You can polish the mirror all you want

and call it clarity

until your sleeves are as threadbare

as the carpets under the windows

you’ve been staring through

as long as it take to turn your eyes to glass

but enlightenment’s on the dark side of the mirror

like a star is

like your eyes are.

Like waves on a lake

that takes things as they come.

Myriad deaths in a single birth.

Life on earth.

Intense heat.

Unusual sprouts.

A Zen sententium worth consideration.

But the clear light of the void

isn’t radiation.

It’s a lucidity

with nothing to illuminate.

It’s the Uncreate that plays creatively

in the absence of itself

like a child alone with its imagination

making the world up as it goes along

taking the Inconceivable

and making it believable.

Giving airy nothing

a local habitation and a name

as Shakespeare did

and danelions do in the fall.

As I am now

by asking if it’s true

you haven’t noticed yet

how it’s always the overprivileged

who send the underprivileged off to war?

Death in the hearts of the governors.

Death in the hearts of the profiteers.

Death in the hearts of the generals.

Is it true

this spider-web shines

like democracy in the morning

star-spangled with dew

but late at night under the streetlight

it’s tearing under the weight of its own greed?

That obese spiders who once pulled the strings

of a sticky mandala to eat well

ripen like the dead weight of toxic fruit

hanging from the branches of a dead tree?

This web is not a constellation.

This web is not a starmap.

This web is not a bloodstream

that gives back what it receives.

This web is not the lyre of a siren

that called people to the rocks of a new continent.

This web is not an electric guitar.

Is it true

the interminable buzzing of panicked flies

stuck to its strings

like masses of people

waiting to be consumed

is not the music of celestial spheres?

Empathic ingestion of agony over many years

like a fish trying to identify with heavy water

by adapting to it like a sick mother

who passed on her genes like Love Canal.

Is it true

you can die tending the ill in a hospital?

Carnage without redemption.


Severed feet.

Outrage imploding into black dwarfs

that warp space like a child’s mind

into believing God is best served by the blind

than those who can read for themselves

before they martyr her body like a judas-goat

to God’s great design

for the faithful dead

who expressed their gasp of divinity

in a holy war

a marketable crusade

a deniable genocide

a mass grave

a defensible border

that doesn’t know who gave the order

to drop cluster bombs

and white phos

on the hospital

when it ran out of bandaids

and watch it flower like a white dahlia

or a belly-dancing jellyfish

with poisonous tentacles

spreading out like the spokes of a beach umbrella.

The aesthetics of atrocity.

The age of desecration.

Is it true

the next best career move for evolution

like an unknown writer

listening to his legend gossip among rumours

like a suicide note without a table of contents

is unnatural extinction?

The mystery in the riddle of the sphinx

after all those years of sand and stars

is what would she have asked

if we weren’t there to answer.

Is it true

that Saturn’s shepherd moons

have turned into human coyotes

jumping borders like orbits

in the Van Allen Belt

where the asteroids are broken by drug rings

thawing rocks in a crack spoon

to defy the laws of gravity

with deified norms of depravity?

I might be a vague social democrat

walking a Zen plank

like a blindfolded political platform

who doesn’t need a party

to spell out

or sell out

what I believe

but it’s easier to write a folksong

about a successful thief

than a man or woman

for whom love was an art

that transcended its inspiration

and compassion the root of all understanding

and when death approached

because it’s hard to be alive and real

at the same time

embraced it as a great relief.

Is it true

that more similes turn into outlaws

than metaphors do?

That when Jesus asked

the little children to come unto him

he wasn’t speaking in tongues

behind sacred firewalls

for polyglot child molesters everywhere?

The pen might be mightier than the sword

like a mammal is to a dinosaur

but I have my doubts about a bullet

and electrically detonated C-4

wired to a lab rat like the black plague

and holy warriors

with the radioactive half-lives of dirty bombs.

Suras and psalms.

Gardens with underground rivers.

And fruit trees by flowing streams.






And Bethlehem the House of Bread

that breaks into peace

when it’s shared

like a common word

from the pelican fountain-mouth

of the same mother tongue.

Peace brother.

Peace sister.

May you live to be

forever young and free

of walled partitions

and the double helices

of chromosomatic razorwire

uncoiled like vines

around your secret gardens

where the waterlilies bloom in gene-pools

and the grapes are bleeding

like a miscarriage of sacred wines.

When the Great Lucidity appears

like a star of wheat in the Virgin’s hand

and shines down

on everyone’s shelter for the night alike

no mangers in the beginning

no arks at the end

may we all understand

that the blood-oaths of enemies

are not stronger than the bonds between friends.

May you know the enchantments of life

when it doesn’t belong to anyone

as well as you know the horrors

of disowning it now.

Or as I imagine they would say in Zen.

The pen is the sword.

It’s just a voice with words.

A lamp that gives its light away

like an extravagant geni

you don’t have to blow out to see

but you should

if you want to write good.

Black glee.

Bright vacancy.

Too much pain.

The agony of the seed realizing

the harvest was in vain

not worth what had to be endured

to live it all again.

Eleusinian ergot on the grain.

Is it true

heaven prefers

the hallucinogenically insane

and the sun only comes up

when a cock crows like a weathervane

or a God-struck lightning-rod?

On the return journey

which is more amazing than the first

you get to pass backwards

through all the stations of your life

you progressed forward through.

A prodigal innocence

that resonates with experience.

A dream reflected in a mirror

like a waterbird

dragging its wake through the clouds

like a knife ploughing a wound

through the envelope of a loveletter

no one can wake up from but you.

And no one can take away

because everything is trued by time

to the path you took

just by walking on the earth

alone on a dark night in the starless rain

when you removed the world like a mask

that proved false to your faceless pain

and you realized

how much closer a stranger is to you

than you are to your unrecognizable self.

Though pain may be prophetic

when your heart hangs on a hook

like bait on a question-mark

but great suffering doesn’t reveal anything

you didn’t already know.

It doesn’t stay.

It doesn’t go.

It’s a nothing that exists.

It’s an existence that’s nothing.

A gust of fireflies

from the mouth of a dragon.

But what does come as a surprise

like dusk overtaking the window

are the numberless eyes

that emerge from the depths of your darkness

like grapes ripening on the vine

like fish coming to the surface

like urgent diamonds

growing like mushrooms

in the long night of an abandoned mine.

Numberless eyes.

Myriad stars.

Light-years of memories.

And is it true

every one of them

is a myth in the making

each an enlightened Zen master

with nothing to teach

who insists

it’s not the stars that are shining

it’s your mind?

That they’re all within reach

all the time?