Wednesday, June 15, 2011


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

retroactive remains.

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.

I ache

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

like poetry

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

invent agriculture.

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

reciting poetry

to the autumn crows

who don’t have the ear for it

or an eye for anything that isn’t

detachably silver.

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

at daybreak

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

like refugees

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

like stones

to seek

what abides in you

like the apple abides in the seed?

It’s clear.

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?

Not that.

Not this.

Beyond delusion and reality.

Not bound.

Not free.

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 Isis

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 midnight 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

and more.

Now I want to be

what the genie wishs for.