Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Dirty winter windows

smudged by fingerprints and nicotine

the dawn looks like an old water-blotched sepia-tinged photograph

of someone’s fiance from nineteen-seventeen.

The shadow of a crow in a dolorous pine.

Sky the colour of apricots and opals.

Shades of Keats looking at it like a sick eagle.

No sleep

I’m exhausted in the new light of day.

Vampiric blood too long out of the grave.

My heart Vesuvius

and my body Pompey

my mind the halflife

of some unknown element’s radioactive decay.

My life is a brown star setting in the east.

Too tired to shine.

Too forsaken to dream.

A wavelength shy of the light.

Too high frequency to sing.

I may be a synchronous happening

in a charged particle field

but nothing I do reverses my spin.

I suffer who I am

and the conditions of my life

as karmic retribution

for not being someone else.

I can hear the sound

of one hand clapping

like a koan slapping the wind in the face.

A heartbeat without a pulse.

Other people live

but I endure.

Other people care

but I’m the extinct species

of a unknown cure

in the slashed ashes of a burnt jungle.

Other people are happy

to throw a few coins into a wishing-well

but I’m a stem cell

for Promethean body parts

that grow back like salamanders

caught stealing fire red-handed from hell.

Other people are as clear and definitive

as copulative metaphors

but I’m haunted by

the more accurate simulacra

that approximate my likeness in similes

that suggest and enhance

but don’t make a stance

of the probable concourse of things.

My kind of clarity includes the clouds.

Metaphors don’t leave much room for individuality

and people and things are more like one another


than they specifically pretend to be.

Similes put out feelers

like dragonflies and witching wands

lightning tines and serpent tongues

to taste the atmosphere for signs

of what they’re looking for.

Metaphors are an imperialist kind of identity

that lays its eggs like wasps

to feast

on the forehead of the living host

until nothing’s left but the guest.

They enslave the brain like a foodchain.

So I live similically

like the missing link

among so many evolving likenesses

of the way I think

you won’t find anybody behind the masks

you could identify with.

I burn like a first magnitude star

not to be affixed to any constellation

not to be gilled or gulled

like the Circlet of the Western Fish

like a butterfly in a spider-web

to any compliant paradigm.

The quickest way to make a mess of your life

is to look for a design in it

you can stick to.

I don’t impose my mind

upon the creative chaos

of my changing nature

by overstaying my welcome.

Others are calm and serene

but I hurry on

like a tour bus

from Kitimat to Prince Rupert

between an avalance

and icebergs in the Skeena River.

And if you were to ask my blood

what colour it is

it would say it was

a union of contradictories

between a rose and an ambulance

and show you the genome to prove it.

This morning’s it’s more like lava

coagulating into bloodclots

like islands in the stream.

Mu and Atlantis

submerging like submarines

with nothing but the daffodils coming up

like periscopes

to check the horizon for lifeboats and bees.

Space feels as heavy as a black dwarf

with its fist in my face.

And there’s no continuum to time

that isn’t T-boned

by the abruptness of eternity

at the intersection of now and then.

If space is curved

then time must be random.

I want to live longer tomorrows

and shorter yesterdays


I don’t want to wait

like cold dice

for seven come eleven

on a snake-eyed clock.

I want to strike twelve now

like a sword on an anvil

my heart can fall upon quietly

like an apple

when the time is ripe

not an alarm bell at midnight.

You can’t steal your way into a dream.

And you can’t lie your way into the truth.

Reality isn’t a room in a house

someone you loved died in

where things are kept for years

like combs and mirrors

behind closed doors

just as they are.

It’s not a scar.

It’s not a fixed star.

Unrelentingly brutal

as Antarctica or a mountaintop

and yet look how lightly

it settles like a waterbird on the waters.

There’s not much difference

between a wave and a feather to the moon.

Or the Byzantine leaf of a silver Russian olive

doing oldworld metalwork on mechanical birds

and watchs with dead mainsprings

that have passed on

beside the Rideau Canal.

Reality doesn’t put the is in existence

like a lithium battery into a camera body

just to get a few shots of you

for the family album in the funeral home.

Reality isn’t the stuffing in a teddy bear.

The inflammable substance of being.

You can’t grow towers of radio dishes like hollyhocks

and stuff the secrets of the Inconceivable

like cosmic gossip into your ear

and swear that it’s unrepeatable.

Once the primordial atom showed up

in its own good space and time

like the tree in the seed

the universe wasn’t inevitable

It didn’t look for a motivation

to express itself in stars and trees and birds.

It was inspired.

It didn’t choose its words sparingly

like a sparrow in the leftovers of a garden

It squandered them like a blizzard

where every single snowflake

is as original in the seed of the atom

as it is in the fruit.

Inside time

everything looks like a beginning.

When there’s no outside to space

every grain of sand

is the cornerstone of a cosmos.

If you want to know the origins of life on earth

where are you going to find them

if not in yourself first?

In your own birth?

The peduncle may be lost in the ensuing phylum

but that doesn’t mean it disappeared.

If you want to know yourself as you really are

get rid of the mirror

you’ve been hiding behind for light-years

and all things will become as clear as the stars

to those who can feel them shining

in the nucleus of every cell of their eyes

like the sunrise of their own seeing.

And diving even deeper into your birthwaters

you’ll discover

the new moon

of the black pearl

in an endless night

of nacreous and nebular beginnings

that sleeps in the abyss of your being

like an unborn primordial atom

and dreams that you’re awake.

As Chardin said

union differentiates.

That’s why lovers are anti-social

when they first meet

and people feel alone

in their own mystic specificity

like a house-guest without a host


when they’re dying.

Chromatic aberrations of consciousness

around the rim of the mirror

where the stars step off into eternity.

As my dead friend Willie P. Bennet once sang

I wouldn’t be in this mess

if I could take my own advice

and I mosaically returned

the only vice I’ve ever avoided

is advice

so we’re here together alone again

trying to avoid rehab.


has to put the pieces back together by himself.

Union is Separation.

Separation is Union.

On the great journey of life

pilgrims on the winds of the starstreams

like doves released from sacred shines

not knowing what they’re the signs of

except that they’ve escaped being sacrificed

to the meaning of love once again

one foot’s always leaving

the other one behind.

But the same can’t be said for wings

when they sprout from your heels

and you’ve got a hermetic message

in an alchemical bottle

full of the eyeless wisdom

of the dark blessing

that lies deep in the heart of everything

like a compassionate answer

to its own wounded s.o.s.

The iceberg goes to the rescue of the Titanic.

When you can see the toxin and the antidote

in the one snake

striking at your heel

and not crush its skull

you see the lowest in the highest

and the highest in the lowest

you become a real dragon spontaneously

with the wingspan of the universe

breathing serpent-fire

into the ashes and urns of an old cold furnace

as big as the abyss

where big is as small as something that doesn’t exist.

And you can stand forever

in the flames of illusion

like a prophet in the lion’s den

the belly of the whale

the candle of a moth

or be tied at the stake

like a hapless heretic

in Bonfire of the Inanities

and nothing burns.

But you can hear in the words

that flower from your mouth

like poppies with solar flare

returning to the silence of their source

the unborn longing for the undying

as if one eye were seperated from the other

into the subject and object

of consciousness

and there were untraversible eras of light

between them.

Running Bear and Little White Dove

Hero and Leander

on opposite shores of the mindstream.

The extinctions and distinctions

of prehistoric hunter-gatherers

on the trail of themselves

leaving empty impressions

of their hands and feet in the starmud

they keep doubling back on themselves

like the retrograde motion of Mars

to follow later.

And you want to explain the optics of thought

and the cosmic dream-grammar

of PsychoBabylonic verbal expressions

to those who mistake words for thoughts

and talk in tongues in their sleep

like conceptual polyglots.

I’m not trying to give anyone anything

that isn’t already theirs

and I’m not trying to take anything away

that no one could possibly own.

I’m just trying to undo their locks

with a hairpin

as if my own escape depended upon it.

Rapunzel lets her hair down

like a navy seal

all the way to the ground.

But I’m not kidding myself about anything.

My third eye’s so wide open

most of the time

I feel like a Cyclops with nightvision

on a covert black ops mission.

And ambassadors martyred in chains

like St. Paul

or barbecued by the Iroquois

like Brebeuf and his brethren

get better spin in this life at least

than the great heretics

who suffered the same agony

as they did

were immolated in the same flames

felt the same claws and fangs

tear their flesh

in the same ecstasy

the same mysterium

of orgasmic excruciations

like the eye of a hurricane

a boy with a telescope

hoping the clouds will clear long enough

to get a good look at the stars.

No difference between a sage and an ignorant man

except the sage knows how

to free you of his foolishness

and approach God

without losing your sense of humour

whereas the ignorant man

expects you to change into him.

Like the pseudo-morphosis of native children

press-ganged into Catholic reformatories in Ontario

or house-slaves in confederate Louisiana

or refugees who change the names of their children

like chameleons in an alien country

to gratify the cauliflower ears of tongue-tied bigots

who approach every new sound

they can’t say

as if it were Etruscan linear A.


not Ted.


that wasn’t so hard afterall was it?

It’s not like you had to tell anyone

the secret name of your God now

was it?

And tomorrow we’ll work on your taste buds.


It’s the heretics

not the saints

the exiled and the demonized

the broken and unrepentant

the abandoned and hunted

the condemned and stigmatized

the victimized

before they become next year’s perpetrators

and the great fools

with tears running down their face

to mask their laughter

who best express our human affinity

for a divinity that doesn’t malign us

with the unattainable slyness of its expectations.

If all else fails

you can always whip the horse’s eyes.

What you can’t do

though it’s been tried

is make a mule of Pegasus

and harness inspiration

to the death cart of your heart.

It’s hard to lay rubber in a hearse.

And all the phosphorescent algae in a red tide

shine though it might like a living galaxy

can’t do any good

for a dead starfish.

Inspiration grazes on a free range.

Even if you don’t burr stars in its mane and tail

or under its girth

and refuse to wear spurs

you can’t throw a saddle-shaped universe on it

and not expect it

to cast you back down to earth.

Heretics aren’t anti-orthodox

anymore than keys are against locks.

They just know how to open them

when opportunity knocks.

They know where the loose threads are

on the straitjacket

and how irresistible it is not to pull them

like a ripcord on a parachute

of someone standing in the doorway of a plane

when things that were looking up

seem a long way down

and they’re afraid to jump.

Their brains scream at the abysmal lack of solidity

though its clear to anyone who’s been there

the cornerstone of the atmosphere

is obviously the earth.

You can stub your heart

and fist-bump your forehead on it

like the kissing stone in the Kaaba

or the meaning of Peter’s name

they built the Vatican on

if you don’t think it’s solid enough.

Or you can jump as if your life depended on it.

In any case.

Things aren’t solid.

They’re real.

Not fight or flight.

But fly or die.

Without knowing

before the fact

whether you’ve got a parachute on or not.

Some fish one day bluffed its way out of the sea

without knowing

whether it had a leg to stand on or not.

Are we so much less

we won’t even linger in the doorway

of a dangerous medium

that adapts to us as intimately

as our next breath?

Daring said feathers and falling took flight.

How did you learn to walk

if not by falling forward

and learning how to catch yourself

with the next step.


There’s more dignity in jumping

than there is in falling

or being driven out of paradise.

The first time I did I liked it so much

I did it twice.

Now I’m addicted like an Olympic gymnast

or Hart Crane off the coast of Cuba

after a change of heart about sex

to swan-diving off the back of the Titanic

as if I were the constellation Cygnus

plunging into the Milky Way

with style and grace

and a touch of demonic glee

just to add a little shadow to all this lucidity.