IF I WERE TO DIE IN FRONT OF YOU PUBLICLY
If I were to die in front of you publicly
would you love me for that?
Would you appreciate how well
I could communicate my disintegration
like some ongoing experiment with death?
I always thought it was rude
to haemmorage around other people
while they’re trying to hold their shit together
their guts in
like turtles and frogs
on a highway at night
after it rains.
Should I turn my death
into some kind of performance art
that encourages audience participation?
Would you love me for that?
Would you join me in the last act
like some intimate facilitator
whispering to me in a voice
as plush as the pile of the carpets
in a funeral home
that smothers the dead in silence
like a soldier that didn’t get a letter from home?
When there’s only you and I in a room
I see the way you look at me
as if all I could be at sixty three
were a third party to the events of life.
Would you find my poetic vision more acceptable
if I turned it into a newsworthy spectacle
of what happens to a life
that took the hard high path
down into the valley below
like an avalanche trying
to pull itself up by its bootstraps
to make a gift of the gifts it had been given?
To make things instead of breaking them?
Bringing things together
in the heart the mind
and then to take the symbols of that union
and scatter them like seeds
in the available dimension of the future
knowing they will resonate in the medium
of a new reality
like stem-cells do in this.
New wildflowers along the roadside
so that our children will have something to name
that was for their mouths only.
Would it please you to know
how many times
I’ve fallen on the sword of compassion
the number of honourable suicides
just to keep one step ahead of my high ideals
shadowing me like assassins
on behalf of the Old Man of the Mountain
sitting like a dealer on a throne of hash.
No good deed will go unpunished.
If you do for anyone now
and maybe it’s always been this way
and I’m just beginning to see
you’re feeding doves to a snake
you can’t train not to bite the hand that feeds it
or chops it off
in Che Quevara’s case
for a school bus
or in Victor Jara’s
just because he had a bigger heart
and could sing better than the rest of us.
I’ve been an Orphic martyr to the cause
of cosmic integrity
as it’s manifested in everything and everyone.
I’ve been the warrior minstrel of the forlorn hope
in a holy war of one
I knew I lost way back in the late westcoast sixties.
My heart has expanded
like the crematorium of space
and I’ve felt everything I ever cherished
evaporate like snowflakes and butterflies in its fury.
Children pride wives thresholds hope sanity
and saddest of all
watched how the light died
in the eyes of ancient stars
who didn’t have the candlepower
to take the measure of the darkness
they saw in us.
You can see into the matter before you
only as far as the light
you’ve been given to go by.
The same is true for hearts and fires.
A hungry man can consume things with his eyes
that a rich man wouldn’t even try
to fit into his mouth.
And I was born with an insatiable visual appetite
and like any other blackhole
when the light runs out
and there are black dwarfs everywhere
that are all wick and no flame
you take one long deep breath
that’s good for a lifetime
and you swallow the whole of the universe
in a single gulp.
you’re either enlightened
or a star-nosed mole
chewing on roots in wormholes.
Would you take my life more seriously
if I were to make a clown of my death?
Would you think it was all rhyme and reason
at the beginning
if I were to go faithfully mad at the end
to make you feel moderately better
that you didn’t ever not once in your life
not even to know
what you’re doing
walking so successfully among the living
as if by your own cunning
you earned the right to
and the rest of us are here
by some default of anti-matter?
Would it make you less demoralized to know
my first innocence was demonized
like the scapegoat
the Jews used to drive out into the wilderness
like a garbage-barge out of a metropolitan port in May
when they cleansed the temples
and heaped their sins on the back of a goat
who was as undeserving
as they purported to be holy?
One for all
is a single shoe on a long dangerous journey.
All for one
is many feet
beating a hasty retreat
back to the screening rooms
of their epic vanity
like Napoleon’s retreat from
or the charge of the Light Brigade
once the dust had settled like spin
on the glory of their story.
You give a snake wings
and sooner or later
you’re going to get burnt by a dragon.
You heap evil on the innocent
as if you were rolling hot asphalt over a flower
and having turned the spiritual path you were on
into a parking lot
you’re going to pancake in an earthquake
like the sound of one hand clapping
in a thundercloud
when the desert turns around
like a sunami of sand
and that which was driven out
returns like the crazy wisdom of an oxymoron
empowered like a new alloy of opposites
to do better than you
what was enacted upon it
to steal a blessing
from the purse of a taboo
as if perfection could be bought
by reversing the spin of your guilt
into a curse you place upon innocence.
I have within me a Mephistophelean compassion
for the savage inanity of my own humanity
and a great disdain
for this double-headed feature
in the nature of the creature
like a scar putting a broken-hearted smile
on an open wound in the heart
that’s been cauterized in hell.
Some are driven.
Some are on the threshold.
Some are on the ladder.
Some never ask to be forgiven.
Some make a career of it.
And some just let go of their shit
the way they breathe.
They’re not ecstatic when they breathe in
and they don’t grieve when they breathe out.
There’s a dark clarity within me
well beyond the circus barkers
and camera lights
featuring the spiritual grotesqueries
on the religious midway
that often feels
the noxiousness of exhausted morality
scavenging its own remains
putrefy the clear night air
like the liquefaction of lilies in a swamp.
Would it please you to know
that there are many days
when I even commisserate with the angels
that there’s not enough human decency left
to form a firing squad
and shoot someone like me.
Would it be an uplifting literary finale
for a growlight like you
if a darkness like me
were to do it on reality tv
just to prove to all the viewers at home
that creation might begin with a Big Bang
but it ends in the detonation of a celebrity flashbulb?
It’s not the unrighteous that the righteous hate the most
it’s those who can see like me
how a wasp like you lays its cosmic egg
on the body of the living host
like a vital food supply
as it tells the caterpillar its young consume
like the second womb of a born again
from the outside in
when you die
you’ll go to heaven
and you’ll be a butterfly
If there’s anything I can find culpable at all
is that she made someone in her own image like you
and then changed her mind
and in an inspired stroke of dark genius
created someone like me
who wasn’t her clone
and gave him eyes of his own
who could see in himself how different we were.
Virtue’s the muse of mediocrity.
The morally bankrupt baking soda
the white noise
you use to buff the creativity
of what’s going on in the fridge without you
like a still life when the lights go out.
And you don’t want to know anything beyond that.
You’re a well-behaved hawk in dove’s clothing
with blinders and a tether on
sitting on the right arm of God
feeling anti-ballistic about seagulls and pigeons
and any other small bird you can come down on
like a stealth interceptor
on a congregation of unidentified angels
crossing into your spiritual space.
High in your atmosphere
when you look in the mirror
you know you’re a hole in the ozone
that’s burning everything on earth
in your electromagnetic high frequency version of hell.
I know you well.
You’re a mutant birth in the
You’re a chemical agent in the nostrils
of the children of Bopal.
You can’t see into the dark brutal mystery
of the terrible absence of beauty within you
without using someone else’s eyes.
You’re a visual abuse of the radiance.
who hates anyone who can see
and light years beyond that
the lonely freedom
and eyeless clarity
of living creatively
with the Inconceivable
like a unifying field theory
that doesn’t have to be believable to be true.