IT’S NOT SO MUCH
It’s not so much the darkness
that bothers me
it’s just that at these depths
the sea forgets how to dream.
And being a lamp unto yourself
where the darkness is so naive
it doesn’t run from the light
isn’t as much fun
as watching stars
try to imitate spiders
in the eleven dimensional corner
of my left eye
like cut-out constellations.
I’m not one of those who go looking for meaning
because they want to mean something themselves.
I listen to the hissing
of olaceously black rain on the asphalt
as the cars go by under my window
and the streetlights run like blood
in the gutters of their haemmorhaging swords.
The physicians must heal themselves
when the shadows of their grails fall ill.
I’m just singing
without seeking anything
like a nightbird in a secret grove
or a busker on a streetcorner
playing for nothing
because I don’t know what to ask for anymore
that isn’t just another version
of everything I’ve already had.
I’m just casting my voice like a ventriloquist
to overcome the loneliness
of the return journey home
only to discover
no one lives there anymore.
Illusory cures for illusory diseases.
Struggling not to be void-bound
is like a mastodon
trying to swim in quicksand.
You sink like the cornerstone
of a pyramid with a tilt.
You become the architect of a museum
your skeleton built
bone by bone
out of your minerally preserved
And it isn’t quite pain.
And it isn’t quite despair.
I’m wholly here and awake
but here isn’t anywhere
and there’s no road to take.
but there’s no longing
in the austere geometry of the windowpanes.
And if love were to come again
at this late date
what could that be
but more of the hysterical history
of the mystery of beauty and pain?
The moon running its tongue
along the edge of a sacrificial knife
to taste the wounded divinity
in the festive blood
of a willing victim?
That knife was long ago
blunted on me
like the moon
trying to retract its claws
like the first and last crescents
out of a stone heart
it broke its fangs on
trying to maul it like a strawberry.
I still enjoy the flesh and spirit of women
and even if love is just
the effusion of an enzyme
that weighs the dealer
in the scales of his own delusion
and finds a feather’s weight missing
from the baggie he sold his soul
I told myself lightyears ago
in a narcotic cul de sac of the sixties
when I was more radical than Mephistopheles
that if it hasn’t got a root on it
don’t do it
but women can take a weed like me home
growing wild in a roadside ditch
and burying me deep
like someone they cherished
like the king of the waxing year
embedding my body parts
in a wound in the earth
If I am to be offered up as a tribute to love
I would still rather be harvested
than preyed upon.
But I fear what’s left of the garden
is just a few sunflowers for the bluejays
and a handful of scattered seeds for the smaller birds.
A rusting scythe under a blue moon
and an inspired scarecrow
to the autumn crows
who don’t have the ear for it
or an eye for anything that isn’t
And what of fame
that dirty word in an unclean mouth
that algae bloom in a crystal ball
that clouds it like a brackish aquarium
until the prophetic fish is lost
in the smog of its own unknowing
like Venus in the soot of a factory nightshift
when she beds down with Vulcan?
Who wants to be a name
bigger than their book
laid out like a gravestone
in the literary cemetery
of store-front windowpanes
that traffic implausible afterlives
among the dead
like hyperbolic pyramids
to mummified mannequins
with hype for breath
and social fashionistas
trying to make revolutionary statements
by using cosmetic accessories
as a dietary substitute for brains?
Who wants to shine on a starmap
when they’ve got the whole sky before them?
Who would choose
to fly like a kite on a leash
when they’ve got the wings of a bird?
Fame is like trying to take
the whole alphabet for your name
but you can tell it’s just a little hell
a poppy of fire
by the way it goes out like a candle
and any gust of time
can deflower its eternal flame.
Better to let your name thrive
like alien life
on an undiscovered planet
than become a tourist attraction.
At the moment of conception
who needs an audience in the womb
and at the leaving of life
maggots in your literary corpus
even before you’re in the tomb?
Why mark your remains with a pyramid
when any blade of grass will do?
Created out of starmud
it’s natural to want to shine
like flowers stars and mirrors
to let your light wake the worlds up
like the roar of tigers in the valley
but fame is a false dawn
and an unworthy witness
to your solitude.
Better to let your legend grow
and shed its own skin
like the moon or a snake
and start again naked
than dress up for your art
in the farce of a public wardrobe.
Some shine like a phoenix of desire.
Some write their name
like the light ricocheting off of water
but who takes a star
and imprints it like a fossil in cement
and walked and spit upon underfoot
expects to be pointed out
like one of the radiant highlights
of a mythogeneric firmament?
Catch a falling star
and put it in your pocket
never let it fade away.
Two minutes with a hook
isn’t the lyric of a book
that’s much of a rocket.
I’d rather be spaced out on my own
like the wavelength of a flying carpet
swimming like a sign of serpentine intelligence
written like a hieroglyph for time
on the tides of sand
in this desert of stars
than try to live up to the afterlives
they will tell about me
like lies about a pyramid.
Excellence is a darker affair than success.
I’m as lunar as any wolf I’ve ever run with
but that doesn’t mean
I’m howling my heart out
to be the man on the moon in a spotlight.
I’m just up alone in the middle of the night
in an agony of insight
trying to keep from going mad
when the muse renews her virginity in my blood
like the craziest affair I’ve ever had
with the moon in my solitude
breaking through the clouds
as if she were rising from her bath.
Let your name be a leaf on the mindstream
of the path you’re on.
Your fame a whiff of smoke
from a fire rising among the trees
on a distant hillside.
Fame is a highway
but it’s the rivers
that will remember your name.
The life of the mind
doesn’t keep secrets from the heart
but fame will make you a stranger to your art.
It’s a new creation in every moment
flashing in and out of the abyss
like the occult semaphore
of a ghost ship in distress.
Excellence keeps success behind it
like a star keeps its light in its wake.
Everything is dark before it
and keeping up with the times
means being a day late
for your own arrival.
Yesterday can’t prophecy
what will be true about tomorrow.
Only today can lie like that.
Better the lonely bliss
of anonymous dark matter
making the world up
as it goes along
like something homeless
whistling its way through the night
like the nameless lyric
of an unknown road
it’s been following for years
than the crowded sorrows
of a mirror that weeps
unenlightened tears in a spotlight
that fall like fake jewels
from the last take of the third eye
on the opening night of a braille television.
Get behind me Satan.
Get behind me A Dajal the One-eyed Liar.
I’m not looking for distractions
and I’m not asking for the truth.
I’m not setting leghold trapline experiments
to capture the facts
or lamplighting in the groves of knowledge.
The only body of wisdom I appeal to
is my own
and I get up
and wash its face every morning.
I don’t take the high or the low place.
I take the no place
and things come to me
like poems sailing down the Yang-tze
like swans following
a trail of feathers shed by the moon
or heretical autumn leaves
washed down the world mountain
by disbelieving mindstreams
purged by the more
religiously conservative evergreens.
The truth flowers out of its own root
for each of us
like a waterlily out of a swamp
or a chandelier of columbines
out of the moss pate
on a granite skull.
The minute you go looking for it
it leaves home.
I am that I am.
Sit still and know.
So why go around
overturning everybody’s heads
what abides in you
like the apple abides in the seed?
Everyone’s a false idol
in the shrine of their mirroring consciousness.
But fear isn’t the beginning of wisdom
anymore than courage is.
Life doesn’t cast a shadow
like the terrible aftermath of the light
if you don’t get it right.
The best thing is
to sit down
on the ground of your being
in the absence of God
and have a good laugh
at finding reality up your own sleeve
when it wasn’t the answer
but the enlightened question
that set you free.
That what you find
sad mad bad about the world
is the shadow of your own lucidity.
And if God is missing from your life
what could that be
but her original refusal
to impose herself like a prison
on your liberty?
Beyond delusion and reality.
The absolute clarity of the abyss
looking into the mystery of me
with my own eyes
like someone watching me in a dream
that wakes up with me when I do.
I have given of the gifts I was given
in full measure and a bit beside.
Water back to water.
Breath back to space.
To live is to give.
It’s the nature of the place.
And you don’t need a Zen master
on a tatami mat
or a blue Sufi on a prayer rug
to understand that.
Your face is the blossom
of your body fruit
and your hands and feet
are its leaves.
You’re a rootless tree
standing in the midst
of your own luminous windfall
and the worlds are humming
with bees at your feet.
Your heart sweetens
in the ageless autumn sun
and at night
your mind is a riot of stars.
Though my life may have been broken
like a toy in the hands of an intense muse
I have lived openly in her fire
without any skin on
and walked barefoot for lightyears
with the ashes of a phoenix in an urn
to deposit on the unswept stairs
of one of her ancient shrines
all that was left of my heart.
I’ve made a firewalk of the stars.
I’ve tasted the honey of life
in her hive of bliss
and drunk the black elixirs
when she dances like a snakepit
and makes a grail of my skull
and fills it full of the abyss
and says here
drown all of this
in a single gulp.
I have kissed the serpent on the head
like the sun the green bud of a daffodil
and it was me that bloomed
like the solar flare a cobra.
I have been her lover
and she has been my will.
I have been her garden
and she has been
the secret flower
that arises from my decay.
And the only road I’ve ever taken
that lead me up to her threshold
was the one I made through the starfields
by wandering off the path.
Only the lost pilgrim can find his way to her.
He can tell by the light in her eyes
that he’s only chasing fireflies
in all directions at once
but that’s more than enough to encompass
the whole earth
and beyond the veils of
in the heavens above
feel the stars streaming through your blood
like one fix of love she knows
even in the depths
of your eyeless solitude
will keep you high forever.
I’m her fool
and she’s the muse of my folly.
Her tongue draws blood
like a thorny leaf
and I bleed beads of holly.
In her voice
I can hear the name
of every woman
I’ve ever been apprenticed to
like an echo of the sound
of one hand clapping for an encore.
She’s been the geni
and I’ve been her magic lamp.
She’s tied me to a stake
like the first rule
of an unprincipled heretic
who burns like oil
in a school
because he thinks it’s sexier
to be a taboo
than a threshold
and applied herself like fire
to my education.
She’s been my funeral pyre
but I’ve been the keeper of the flame.
She’s never given me the key to her place
but she’s never
not left the door ajar
or an open window
for me to enter
like a thief of fire
approaches a furnace
knowing he will be consumed
in the fulfillment of his own prophecy.
The washed-up starfish
turns into a galaxy.
I live to suffer
what I rejoice in the most.
So that every love poem
I ever wrote her
was a fresh wound
not an old scar.
An ageless flame on an aging lamp
I have been a traveller
and she has been the star
that has filled the field
of my enraptured vision
with worlds within worlds.
Her inspiration has not deceived me.
I have received what she has given
Now I want to be
what the genie wishs for.