Thursday, June 9, 2011


See you crawling along the street at night

with three coats on

like a corpse in a garbage bag

pushing another along in your shopping cart

from trash can to trash can

looking for your lost body parts.

Or you’re standing in the doorway out of the rain

in blonde army boots

with your shoelaces undone like spinal cords

and a dirty dress with big pink flowers on

that looks like it wore you to a rodeo

and you were the calf they roped.

People say you were a beauty back in the day.

That the mailman never delivered a loveletter

without a hard on

and even the local ministers

wanted to bring you to Jesus like Jonestown

and lay you down on the ground

like a triple x-rated cross

where salvation played second fiddle

to temptation and lust.

Man does not live by bread alone.

You had done nothing to anyone

but Hammurabi wanted his pound of flesh.

The small town businessmen ached

to incorporate you like a slush fund

they could dip into anytime

they needed a dirty drunken weekend

in old Montreal

with a trophy chick

to remind them how successful they were

at lying for a living.

I saw your eyes once

in passing

when the wind blew the hoody off your head.

They were blue skies without birds

but they still looked

as if they could have had a singing career

without knowing any of the words.

I wanted to say something

that wouldn’t be misunderstood

even just hello

but you’d placed

a No Man’s Land of barbed wire

between me and your solitude

and I could tell by the way

you narrowed your eyes at me

from your hiding place in the rubble

I was on a suicide mission at dawn

up against a machine-gun

in the grip of a die-hard Hun.

How much fun

had been made of you I wondered

as I walked on

down the deserted street

and how did it get to be an act of war

just to greet you.

I heard you once had a child they plucked from you

like a wild strawberry in a hospital bed.

That you loved the father with all your heart

but he loved you with his head.

He was a rich man’s son

who lived off the dead

by inheriting the harvest of their labours

and he could afford the lawyers to take custody

of the fruit of your womb

as if your last will and testimony

like a voice from the tomb

were the first of many favours

he’d do for your son on his own.

A changeling mother worthy of his future

and a good education

and summer vacations at the cottage

with yachts and canoes and inner tubes.

But no you.

I heard they wrote you a cheque

to cover the expense of his absence.

After that you sold yourself to everyone

for all that you could take.

You weren’t tempted by evil.

You were exempted by the evil

that had been done to you

and you fucked the snake

until you had taught it

to kill other men for you

that were dying to lead you astray.

You crushed their heads

under the murderous innocence of your heel.

You would not go down to death

like Persephone again.

You knew where Hades buried his jewels

and how to give blowjobs to the rubies

that dripped from your neck like blood

from the necklace of skulls of Kali.

The fools would feel your pain

as if they owned it

like a woman undressing in a window

knowing she was being watched.

A town councillor told me

that your vengeance went on for years

until one day your own son

came to you on the sly

with some highschool friends

to learn how to fornicate

to avoid being embarassed on his next hot date.

It’s said that you had everything to give

at this point in your life

but nothing to offer.

The son was revealed

but hate had concealed the mother

and it was too late in the day

for the key to find the lock.

He’d have to find another way

to pull his sword from the rock

if he wanted to be crown his pecker king.

You chased him down the stairs

back to the hilarity of the good life

that was too happy to doubt

the adventure would ever end.

Is that when you went around the bend

like six white horses

and a runaway hearse?

Three years of thirty pills a day

and a year and a half in the looney bin

where they gave you thirty more

like pieces of silver

at your own crucifixion

to betray yourself.

But I could have told you friend

demon to demon

beauty is a bigger curse than genius

because twice as obvious.

Genius is isolated

by the ignorance of the mob.

Hidden like a star at noon

in the blazing of their blindness

but beauty isn’t spared

the rapacious of their gaze

and what their eyes admire

their hands will wreck.

Ask Blake.

O rose thou art sick.

The invisible worm

that flys in the night

has found out thy crimson bed of joy

and doth they sweet short life destroy.

Your rose haemmorhaged.

You gave birth to a healthy baby boy

but it was your life that miscarried

after the fact.

A broken seal of blood on a clean white sheet.

The last loveletter you ever signed.

An ice-cream cone in a blizzard of blackflies.

And between your thighs

the Gates of Heat.

Fifty thousand Persians

and three hundred Spartans

fighting in the pass at Thermopylae.

I watch you walking up and down the street

like an old fishwife in Atlantis

and I ask myself

is that the face that launched ten thousand ships?

The rose blown

all that’s left

is that ragged star of hair on a withered rose-hip?

And I want to shout down from my window

in the thirteenth house of the zodiac

hey you there

with the broken arrow in your teeth

why don’t you come up here

where the air isn’t wounded

by your breathing?

And bring your baggage with you

and we’ll sit down together

and I’ll remove the thorns from your eyes

like slivers of stars from fallen chandeliers

and we’ll share the same madness

as if Alice had just come to take tea

with a mirror with tears in its eyes

like a sad telescope

that’s looked too long and hard and far

into the dark night of its soul

to care whether my heart is too spaced-out

and yours is in a wormhole.

Heal softly vicious one.

Thaw like an ice-age.

Let your rivers rise like an alluvial voice

to the mouths of their deltas

and let your lullaby

fill the empty cradles

of the seabeds on the moon again

with the happier fish of liberated emotions

swimming through enlightened oceans

of fathomless bliss

where laughing Zen masters

whisper in your ear like rain

and blow you kisses like flowers

and birds returning in the spring

that absolve you of all pain

with the brutal gentleness of their words.

The stone is lustrous.

But from it comes nothing.

The ore is different.

But from it comes gold.

Turn the baglady back into a bee

and reside in your hive again

like a queen enthroned in honey.

Go ask the morning glory

and the deadly nightshade

like ladies in waiting

to help you put your game-face back on again

and perfume your flesh with the elixirs

of a virgin witch

with a sunny profile

and a lunar shadow.

I’ll teach you how to drink your beauty

from a broken mirror

as if you’d just recovered the grail

and you’ll forgive me for knowing how to

eat the darkness and shit out light.

Sweet one it’s all right

to go dancing with club-footed mops

for reasons that aren’t apprenticed

to the master hand of sorcery.

No one’s lived through what you have

quite as you have before.

You’re the door the angels marked

like an emergency exit

out of Sodom and Gommorah

and you’re the original mystery

of how even a homeless refugee

following fireflies through a labyrinth

as if there were as many axes to the earth

as there are pins in the eyes of a voodoo doll

counting the angels that dance on their heads

can find her own way back

like a circuitous river

the retrograde motion of Mars

or a sexual dakini on a dark enlightenment path

that took the long lonely way home

through a dangerous valley

because she had more in common with the moon

than she did the tungsten streetlights of reality.

Funny isn’t it

how we always capitulate

to what we fear the most

like the skin of one

among myriad shadow selves

you have to die to fit into?

A snake’s wardrobe

in the closets of the moon.

Ballerina shoes that fit

like the chrysales of silk worms

working like child labour

on the nightshifts of the mulberry bushes.

Crystal slippers that can’t fake

the metamorphoses of midnight

and take to their heels with wings.

And then there’s this one unworn mask

that’s never been recognized by anyone

who hasn’t been effaced of their identity

like moonchalk on a blackboard

and it’s rumoured that anyone

who dares to wear it

will see through all delusion

that what appalled it like a self

is a dysfunction of starmud

created in its own image.

That life is a festival of spontaneous absurdities

not the occult grammar of a religious ritual

that leaves you in desolation and solitude

as if what was most sacred about you

could only last

like a mask among the Dogans of East Africa

until the rite was over

and you were discarded with indifference

like a strawdog.

Who among all sentient forms

embodies the likeness of you

that fills the void

even if you’re groping a braille starmap

of the supernovas and blackholes

of your thoughts and feelings

like the skin of elephant

in a dark room in Kansas City

where the cowboys have never seen one before?

The flowers bloom no less brightly

in a slum

than they do at the Taj Mahal.

Most people look up agape at the white one

like the full moon in daylight

and miss the black one at their feet

on the lunar side of the street

as if the shadow of perfection

were cast down in ruins

like a throw of the dice.

And do you see the beauty

that arises out of the perishing

like the dome of a budding waterlily

devoted to a loved one’s demise?

I’ll comb out all the Gordian knots

in your tangled hair

like Alexander with his sword

striking midnight

like a prophetic time-lock

on the door to Asia.

No more Medusas.

No more many-headed Hydras.

No more guillotines in a Reign of Terror

imposed by Robespierre.

Weep the acids out

of the bloodshot pearls of your eyes

and taste the antidote in your tears

to the poisons that were spit into yours

by toxocological cobras

looking for an open wound

they could target

like Zen archers

when the bow and the arrow become

one lightning strike from the ground up.

Hold your life up like a torch

to the myths in the Caves of Les Trois Freres

or like Gabriel the angel of light

reciting things that Muhammad can’t read

in the cave of Hira in the month of heat

or Jesus in Joseph of Aramithea’s tomb

before he stepped back into the light

or the Buddha cowled in the lotus

of his own unattainable emptiness

and see what’s written there

like a diary you kept

of your own eclipses and insights

into the features of the teacherless wisdom

you had to forsake to live it.

We all walk the same path you do

whether it’s strewn

with flowers stars or thorns.

We’re all shut out

by the same gates and doors as you are.

But how few are as clear

in their house

as you are in your homelessness.

You’ve dropped all pretense

of being anything more than you are

when everyone else has ceased to exist.

You take the low place

and all things flow down into you

like lost wallets and stashs of blow

and used condoms

abandoned by a snake

that got too big for its britches

like a phase of the moon

waxing and waning

above the dumpsters

in the lovesick parking lots.

And I’ve heard what

the ugly teen-age boys

who never get laid call you.

Hag and whore and plague rat

and seen how they torment you

out of their sexual frustration

after the girl they wanted

went home alone

and their little manhood

couldn’t cope with coming down

after she’d smoked all their dope.

So they stoned you like Mary Magdalene

when they called Jesus’ bluff

for not getting laid enough

to be with or without sin.

Three blind mice.

See how they run

from a righteous fist

and a white knight with a butcher’s knife.

And I remember you looking at me

after they’d gone

as if I were scarier than they were.

And nowhere in your thousand yard stare

the slightest hint of thanks

as I picked you up off the ground

and gathered your scattered treasures

your jewels of junk

and put them back in your cart.

But I could see the impact craters on your heart

and seemed to understand

why you locked all your water up like the moon

and let go of your atmosphere.

Most of us have one face

to meet other faces

and another we keep to ourselves

on the far side of our eyelids

but I paint portraits on the side

and I could see

you had turned both of yours

away from the earth

and glared out at the bleak stark stars

without blinking

as if you wanted to be the first

to outstare them.

The spider holds its dreamcatcher

like a constellation

spun out of its lifelines

like strands of silk

up to the stars

and waits like an ice-pick

holding a jewel

in its lunar pincers

in dead center

that needs a transfusion

like a junkie fixing

of butterfly juice.

And I could tell by the way

you clutched

the broken discarded things of the world

like relics the Vikings would never get hold of

you were on a grailquest

not to discover

the concealed meaning of life and love

but to recover the use of it.

You refused to hang your messiah on a false cross.

And the rest of us

would just have to get used to it.