Friday, June 10, 2011


So used to this

the pain is almost normalcy.

I’m more attached now

to everything that has gone

than I ever was when it was here.

How could so much serious potential

turn into such a laughable past?

And yet what part of it don’t I cherish?

I am a Canadian poet.

Fire in a cold country.

I burn like a glacier.

I think like the Burgess Shales.

I feel like the Canadian Shield.

Snow dragon.





Baby-boomer from the sixties

that took up all the air in the room

and sucked the future out of us

though we didn’t know it at the time.

Now I’m as original

as the singularity at the topless bottom of a blackhole.

And the ashes are as fascinating as the fire.

My eyes are diamonds wishing they could cry.

I’m freezing to death in a blizzard

trying to convince myself it’s a choir.

Or the down of angels in a pillow fight.

I live in an apartment with three windows

and my goldfish Toke

where the floors are so warped by time and tonnage

you’re either wobbling like a drunk

or taking dramamine to keep from getting seasick

on your way to the kitchen.

And it smells

like someone died here before me.

Turn on a tap

and the pipes knock and groan

like an extinct species of dinosaur

coming back to life.

And yesterday the toilet

mistook itself for a fountain

and flooded the bridal store downstairs.

I try not to get too excited about things

hoping to use the unwanted wisdom

I garnered from my tragic errors

but I keep getting carried away.

Like fire in the night air

I expend myself on nothing.

But squandering it

is the only way I know how

to honour life

as if life were a beautiful woman.

Though even that might not be important.

I’m a good wolf

and know how to turn a porcupine over

without getting any quills in my nose

but I’ve never approached a woman on her back

without walking away

with icicles plunged through my heart.

It’s the discipline of this long effortless art

to learn to thaw my way out of them

but I don’t blame women for being water.

When they cry

they put the dragon out

as easily as blowing out a candle.

Now I’m a little black monk of a wick

waiting for the resurrection of wax

like a fly in amber

for the end of the last ice age

or an astronaut in suspended animation.

Fat chance.

But I keep walking

though I’ve run out of road.

I keep writing these poems.

I keep painting these pictures.

I keep hustling a buck

so I can buy a little time-share

in the eye of this hurricane of razor-blades

and shake awhile with the shock

and patch the slashes

with the Atropic threads

of my severed life-themes.

These aren’t the lines of a poem

they’re the seams of the stitches

that are sowing a wounded mouth shut

so it doesn’t bleed to death

pouring its heart out

like blood on the snow

that doesn’t turn into wine.

I’m just a man talking to himself like barbed wire.

My flesh is torn on the plinths of a star

that digs into me like a Spanish spur.

The snake bites the heel

and the heel bites back.

Not much of guide

but sometimes it’s all I’ve got to go by.

And when it’s not that

I’m all three wise men

following any firefly that blinks

in all directions at once.

But I’m sick of messiahs

that don’t come looking for me.

By the time you’re salvage

it’s too late for salvation.

I can’t remember the last time

I sang like a fountainmouth

crazy with words

washing their wings in my eloquence.

Now the poems pour out of me

like blood through my pores

and my eyes weep acid

like an antidote to the elixirs

that once tasted so sweet

when they bloomed like flowers

and perfumed the night air

with the flavour of stars.

No one to rely on but myself.

No one to suffer my downfall but me.

No one to endure my rising again

like the Summer Triangle

with more than a hundred and eighty degrees.

I’ve always pursued an earthly excellence

from as far back as I can remember

gold stars at the top of my essays in school

but perfection isn’t a direction

any fool can fake like a Japanese plum blossom.

Comes a time

when the only thing

a cosmic compass can do

to save face

like a course correction

is to gut itself on its own needle

like a spur disembowelling Pegasus.

No one to fear for me but me.

No one to hear me but this autumn wind

that keeps talking over everything I say

as if I’m not there

like a bookend to my own posthumous works.

In a world of electrical guitars

I feel I’m trying to play rock and roll

on the bagpipes

or meditative flute music

for insomniac cobras.

I’ve put sensible shoes on

and tried to walk the way other people do

but the wings on my heels don’t fit.

And whether I walked barefoot in chains

and called it liberty

or kept my boots on in bed

so I wouldn’t meet the dead unshod

I’ve never greased my feet with reality

to cheat on the long firewalks

that tested me to see if

I was worthy of my initiation

into the cosmic inflation

of my own pain thresholds.

I’ve done my time standing up.

I’ve stared at the same immensities

as my simian ancestors.

I’ve eaten my own ashes out of a silver spoon

and drunk my blood out of a cracked skull-cap.

I’ve read the linear A of my Etruscan scars

like the dead language

of the hidden thirteenth king of the zodiac

who was delegitimized like the new moon

of an unpredictable eclipse

on an ostracized lunar calendar.

I’ve broken bread with jovial evil

at a table in a snakepit

free of all mythologies

knowing neither of us would do

the other any good

and a Pyrric victory

wasn’t worth the liberty we took

to shed our skins

and spread our wings

like an old truth that didn’t fit

the cosmology of the moment anymore.

Evil bought into the legend

and I didn’t drop a dime on its farce.

When two opposites meet

in an hospitable truce

on either side of the table

they greet each other

as if they were both

dangerous and scarce

and observing a propriety

befitting the rarity of the moment

they pass the salt

both agreeing that if it spills

it’s no one’s fault.

I’m the gene for moral immunity

that separates the wolves from the sheep.

I’m so nacreously poetic

that if you put a grain of dirt

on the oyster of my tongue

I’ll expand it into the pearl of the full moon

and pointing my snout at the sky

like the holster of a gun

some lunatic ran off with

to shoot the stars out

I’ll howl like Pushkin in Last Duel Park.

You give me a spoonful of ashes

and I’ll give you back Joan of Arc.

Real means full measure

and the multiverse beside.

You study the stars

as if they weren’t part of you.

I look upon them as family.

You look for extraterrestrial life out there.

I reverse the spin of my electrons

and explore alien biology right here

in every encounter I have with myself

by the deep starwells of my own cells

where I drink the light

that turns into water blood and wine

knowing there’s nothing more alien

than this intimate life of mine

that keeps trying to prove I don’t exist.

Know thyself long enough

and you’ll eventually become

a stranger to yourself.

No I.

No You.

Soma Sema.

Phenomena noumena.

You’ll wind up sitting in a room like this one

listening to a single mother with a child

playing country music in the apartment next door

as if she were the last one on earth

to know what a broken heart means anymore

or what it’s like to be a virgin

that gave birth to her own abandonment.

And the floors are as warped

and muscled as potato chips

or the space-time continuum of starfields

in all eleven dimensions at once

by the exertions of local blackholes

that have no respect for the integrity

of the picture-plane

anymore than pain does

for the red velevet curtains

haemmorhaging like roses

on both sides of a cracked windowpane.

Or as the Sufis say

if it’s only water that falls from your eyes

when you weep

and not blood

it’s just another lover’s tale.

You haven’t failed yourself deep enough.

You’re still looking for gold

in the abandoned mines of your bones

long after the canary has died

and the wolves have lapped your marrow

like music from a flute.

All is Void.

All is Silence.

And when you speak

you’ll speak in the voices of all humans

who were born missing a root like a parent

and making a virtue of a vice

a ubiquitous absence into a god

talk to it like empty cupboard doors

that won’t stay shut.

The departed and far draw near.

The blackhole turns into a seance

and summons the star to channel

the ghost of its grievance.

And a stranger keeps arriving

like a warning that came too late

to remind you of who you are

when you’re sitting in an apartment

as old and spent as a maxed-out quasar

with Daliesque floors

and overflowing clocks

that don’t flush like toilets.

And over and over and over again

like a cliche of enlightenment

like a cosmic insight

into the orbital nature

of your own madness and pain

looping everything else in the universe

like a deerfly that flew in through

an unscreened window

expecting a different effect

from the flyswatter

of a Zen master

who rejects it

like a false interpretation of a koan

with the sound of one hand clapping.

Over and over and over again

you realize

that every moment

is a death in life experience

as immediate as the velocity of insight squared

when you’ve run out of lies of your own

sitting in the pharoanic chaos

of your pyramidal afterlife

alone with a goldfish

in the rubble of your last incarnation

your vital organs

stacked around you in cardboard boxes

as you wonder where they put the dope

so you can get philosophically stoned

on your abandonment of all hope

that there’s any pattern god reason law cause

or unifying field theory

among ten thousand theses

to the saturation bombings

that keep changing your life

like a species of warm-blooded sauropod

into these nuclear winters

of degenerate starmud

waiting like a wild Arctic strawberry

to ripen quickly in the midnight sun

like the heart of Canadian poet

in the stone dolmens

and arboreal totem-poles

that stand up to the inclemency of the weather

like a red poppy of blood

pinned to the chest of a snowman

on memorial day

like a veteran human

that will be long forgotten by the spring of the year

like tears shed in a bad dream

you never wake up from

to the way things were

before your scales turned into fur.

Before your poetry turned into a great fire

that burned the forest down

like literature.

And you sit like a phoenix

alone in a homeless apartment

as if your heart were the urn

of the ashes of the Library of Alexandria

waiting for the first green leaf

of your next poem

to prove you’re still alive.

And though every breath

that feathers it into flame

is a nameless passport

to a familiar nowhere

you thrive on the wind

like a root embedded in everywhere.

You stare out of the window

like one of the membranes of M-theory

torn like an old blind

or a ruptured hymen

that broke like a primordial bubble in hyperspace

and you wonder which is worse

to never know your place in the scheme of things

or see all the permutations and combinations

of your infinitely sad-eyed face

in the disappointed features

of the creaturely multiverse

seeking shelter from the storm

in an old circus tent

that houses more content

than it can conform to

like Homo Heidelbergensis

in a grubby apartment

he’s trying to warm to.