SEE YOU CRAWLING ALONG THE STREET AT NIGHT
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
with a trophy chick
to remind them how successful they were
at lying for a living.
I saw your eyes once
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
the metamorphoses of
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
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
like a prophetic time-lock
on the door to
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
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
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
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.