Monday, May 9, 2011


O sweetness

you’ll make as good a poet one day

as you already are

but the things I’m really interested in

no one can say.

No one can think.

No one can see.

No one can feel.

A painting that’s more real than the model

who paints herself sitting there

like a palette of flesh-tones.

An interactive mirror

she holds up to nature

so nature can fix her hair.

It’s not that I don’t care about your writing career

or I’m not listening.

Attachment too is a Buddha activity.

It’s just that in the shadow of so much significance

swaying like a cobra to a flute

or a river-reed

like a semi-quaver in the current of the music

I’ve learned to kiss it lightly on the head

as a sign of respect for the dead

who didn’t.

You want to get inside poetry

as if it were some kind of scene

featured in a Jenson highgloss art magazine.

You’re a sphinx in the kelp-gardens of a seawitch

but a riddle isn’t a mystery

even if you can’t answer it

and poetry isn’t a cadaver in a surgical theatre

someone stole from Leonard da Vinci.

Poetry makes an unfashionable entrance

but by the time it leaves the party

it can fake a real cool exit.

What fool sends the wind to dancing school

to learn how to move?

Poetry is your own human nature

not Jovian thunder above a tin roof

with a butterfly’s antenna

tuned into haiku like a lightning-rod.

You don’t want to tempt God

into meeting you unprepared.

It would be rude to meet your worst fear

and not be scared.

Poetry is a power node of sublime insanity.

Crazy wisdom.

What life’s got to say to you at the back door

that it can’t tell you at the front

because all the neighbours

have installed listening devices in their telescopes.

And when I do answer you

if I seem light-years away

it’s just that I’m letting someone

I haven’t been in a long time

answer for me

as if I were twenty again

coming down the world mountain

like a mindstream clarifying itself in the darkness like stars

so the late frost of what I know now

doesn’t scorch the orchard.

Timing is as important as content

in the conduct of life.

I’m not going to hang a green apple

on a dead branch in winter.

Or tear a page off a lunar calendar

and tell the moon

when to bloom

and when to ripen.

And what can you say about the Unsayable

that isn’t two minutes of a lie with a hook?

Just because it’s playable

doesn’t make it a good book

even if you’re gossiping

with back-stabbing gods

who treat every tidbit of information

like a muck-raking revelation.

Imagistic reportage

is only the skin of the vision

the snake sheds

when it feathers its scales like wings

and the highest and the lowest meet

like a frenzy of gnats

and oxymoronic dragon stars

in the jubilant night air.

There are cave paintings

on the backs of your eyes

that have been there for thousands of years

like shadows dreaming in the darkness

of what they’ve seen and been

to the fossils of the generations

that painted them there

in ashes red ochre soot and silence.

Dream-catchers with the eyes of arachnid mandalas

webbing the threads of your lifelines

into powergrids

and table lace

that doesn’t say grace over dinner.

Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico

with a pen in his hand

by a man with an icepick in his.

The pen isn’t mightier than the sword

the moment it takes the sword for granted

or revolutionarily inevitable.

Don’t hang a pen over your head

like the sword of Damocles

and expect to write the truth

as if you had just submitted to a polygraph test.

At best all it will prove

is that you’re a good liar.

There are no border guards

or burning angels with swords in their hands

acting as if they were the hinges

of the gateless gate

that no one can enter

and no one can leave

that leaves nothing out

and keeps everything in

because it’s all around you

like the pathless space of the mind.

But don’t waste your time

trying to look into the future

of what I’m saying to you now

because however long and far you look

into the meaning of these words

you’ll never find the womb of the Unborn

until it kicks you in the belly from the inside.

I know someone raised on a diet of clocks

finds it hard to believe

but you’re the winged mother of time

with the seven ages of man

coiled around you like a helical snake

with the pit of its head above yours like a cowled chakra

or the pschent of an Egyptian pharoah

that unites within himself

the two genders of time

the past and the future

in the specious present

of this ageless moment now

this endless creative insight

this shy voiceless voice

that is always trying

to communicate you to you

as I’m trying to do collaboratively

in the panavision of a blind seer

with a child’s eyes.

Shakespeare wrote

by indirections we find directions out

so it’s okay to wander around

bumping into things

like dead ends on desolation row

or stubbing your head like a toe

on the rock of the world.

Poetry is a thoroughfare

in a labyrinth of cul de sacs.

It makes an emergency exit sign

of its inert passions

and passing a current of life through them

makes them glow in the dark

like fireflies in the mason jars

of Nikola Tesla’s lab.

Sometimes it’s God that says let there be light.

And other times

as the night comes on

and the stars are beginning to appear

it’s Lucifer the light-bringer who says

trying to get past his days as the morning star


Las Vegas.

Sight is a kind of love

but blazing is an eyeless man

acting out against his blindness.

The sun shines at midnight

but it doesn’t put the stars out.

And at noon

in the clear light of the void

you can still see the shadows.

God has two eyes

the same colour as yours

but the liars only one

like the singularity

at the bottom of a blackhole

or a shark without an iris.

The light crosses the event horizon

and goes in

as if it were being summoned to a seance

but only the random halo

of the occasional ghost

shines out like a candle at a black mass

and nothing is revealed.

I’m writing this to you late at night

so the darkness can intensify my seeing

placed next to these highlights

I’m painting in the air

to show you the stars in your eyes

are a constellation all of your own

waiting for you to come up with a good myth

that can embody all that shining

without asking someone like me

to draw you a starmap.

There’s no doorman

on the thirteenth house of the zodiac

no lamp in the window

to guide the moths

and no phoenix in the ashes of their afterlife

to teach them how to grow new wings.

But if you think of words

as the gravegoods of the great dead

who once spoke them in their sleep

as if they were channeling metaphors

and not living creatures

as integral to your mind

as cells are to your body

or the thousands of tiny animalcules

that graze on your eyelashes like cattle

you’re just another mummy

who hasn’t come out of the closet yet

waiting like a old shoe

you had to take off

at the threshold of a stargate

to relive the same journey

that brought you here in the first place.

Better to walk barefoot the rest of the way

whether you’re walking on stars or water

quicksand or earth

than cure your body like leather

and wait under the weight of a literary pyramid

like a post-mature embryo gummy with its afterbirth.

Unborn undying

who needs to worry about living forever?

Carrying a candle through a hurricane

isn’t going to improve the weather

or impress the sun.

Poetry isn’t a nightlight you turn on

in a total eclipse

to keep the dragons at bay.

If the light weren’t alive

how could it have grown eyes?

If words weren’t living creatures

with our features

how could they express

the estranged voices

of so many different children

in the Babylonic intimacy

of their mother-tongue?

Language can be a whore

but she always acknowledges her children

by giving them a name

they can carry into exile.

And like the affable familiar

of this absurd harmony

I’m whispering in your ear

like the nightsea in a conch shell

with one earring dangling like Venus

from your lobe

I seed the wind

like a blue Sufi with an empty hand

giving generic names to the stars

in Arabic.

And these are the oghams

on the breath of the last Druid

left alive in the sacred groves of Mona.

The mystery of grammar

magically speaking

about the roots of words

is not the abracadabra of a linguistic cult

exhuming dead metaphors

like the photogenic fingerprints of ghosts

through a new medium

of necrophilic forensics.

Reality tv is just a lie

you overhear in the hall.

Like a bird that can’t peck out of its shell

what most people call reality

is just another kind of coma

that can’t break the spell of its own magic

when it backfires in the faces of the liars

by coming true.

Don’t try to take the measure

of the wingspan of a cosmic egg

or the size of the sky in your third eye

until you’ve broken out of one yourself

smashed the mirror

dispelled the mesmerism of the self

with its own awareness

and disappeared out into the open

like the last bird of the dying day.

Money talks

and bullshit walks

but money isn’t the root of all evil.

By their fruits ye shall know them

and money’s just a tree

that never comes to fruition

counting its leaves like cash

until the fall

when there’s no seed

no room in the lifeboat

no ladders at the windows of a burning house

to take all of you with it.

Money isn’t evil.

Words are

in the mouths of little magicians

when they stick like polyps and cists

to the vocal cords

of those who think they speak for God

barely an octave lower than she does.

Cast a great spell

like a fishing net out over the stars

without getting caught up in it

by expecting to catch anything

that wasn’t yours from the very beginning.

And the golden fish that swims from shore to shore

that eludes your grasp of enlightenment

will jump into the boat spontaneously

all by itself.

The heron is the second oldest symbol of a poet

but you’ll never see it out spearfishing at night

with a lamp in its hand

choosing its words as carefully

as a needle practising a cross-stitch.

Poetry is as easy as breathing

when you’re listening to the picture-music

like a submotif of its theme song

swept along like a leaf on the stream in the fall.

You only have to sweat the details

when your little mind’s lying

like a wave about the sea

to your big mind

and your big mind knows it

and cuts you off from your own depths

like the Burgess Shales.

And the rest is pre-Cambrian history.

The little mysteries might inspire you

to start looking for an answer right away

but the greatest mysteries of life

leave you so indelibly clarified by wonder

there’s nothing to ask

that doesn’t make a lie of the question

that isn’t amazed enough

to know immediately for itself

that when you perceive the whole in every part

like the reflections in the broken shards of a mirror

down to the smallest photon of a firefly

the entire sky and all of its stars

fit into it like the Andromeda Galaxy fits into an eye.

So here you are like an early spring

seeking advice from a late frost like me

and all I can do is throw myself like salt in the fire

and say

do you see?

Green flames.

The moon blossoms on a dead branch.

And there’s an echo in the valley

but no voice.

When I was young

my teachers told me

I had to find my own voice

as if there were only one among myriads

that could fit my foot to my mouth like a glass slipper.

So I went looking for it

like a Martian chondrite in Antarctica

trying to detect signs of life

like the amino acids

and fossilized proteins

of a dead language

as universal as Panspermia

in my own homegrown genome.

But I soon discovered

the little I had to say

was crowded out of the way

by the voiceless living and the vociferous dead

trying to express

their more urgent intensities through me

and if I had a voice of my own

like a brass doorknocker on the inside

how could they speak for themselves

if I were always at home in their space?

Which of all the breaths you’ve taken

and given back like water to the river

like migratory thoughts to the mindstream

wasn’t the last of the dying woman before you

and the first of the new moon in the arms of the old

that came after

through the same door

the last one left by?

And what of all you’ve heard

and will hear

wasn’t said first

by the prophetic dead

and the only distinction

between you and them

a thin skin pulled down over a hard head

like a spiritual prophylactic?

Soma Sema.

Be fruitful and multiply

like the lost tribe of a dandelion on the wind.

The seed sacrifices itself to the tree

and the tree makes a sacrifice of its apple.

Revere and praise the earth you walk upon

and the wild irises that bloom beside the starstreams

like fortune-telling gypsies in their purple tents

reading lifelines like loveletters

that haven’t been sent yet.

Be grateful for the generosity of the void

that gives you an insight

into the black matter of the dark abundance

that fills the negative space of your skull with light enough

to find your own way through the night

whenever you open your eyes

like jewels that lay hidden in eras of ore

suddenly discovering the shadows they cast

like thoughts in a mindscape

were born of their own shining.

In any direction

in every direction

there’s a star that’s following you

as sign of where it’s going.

But you don’t have to worry your maps to death

because true north is ominidirectional

and who needs a compass for that?

Poetry is the enlightened awareness

that’s endowed upon everybody at birth

by the illumination of a world of things.

Teacherless teachings.

No need to sit at the feet of your own wisdom

to master what you already know.

Open your hand

and let the wind take it

like a gust of dust and ashes and stars.

Take the lids off your mason-jars

and let the fireflies go free.

Overturn the urns of your cosmic theories

and instead of asking the world what it is

let it tell you who you are

and listen with your life.

The universe is a polyglot ventriloquist

that throws its voice into everything

as if it were talking in its sleep

to you alone

and you were listening to it

like a conversation you were having with yourself

in the next room.

Poetry hears with its mouth

and speaks through its ears.

It isn’t a way of expressing

what you’ve got to say.

It’s the way

the listening expresses you.