Tuesday, June 21, 2011


O sweet freedom to be nothing for awhile.

To blindfold the clock

with its own shadow

like a masked bandit

and let it get away with something for a change.

I love the cheap thrill

of feeling like a thief

with an ageless sense of timing.

One tug on my serpentine spinal cord

and I unplug my electric identity

like a searchlight

that keeps its eye on me

like a blackhole it doesn’t know anything about.

I’ve stopped looking for meaning

in the flight of the doves

I release from their cages

like words stuck in the throats

of Selkirk chimneys

like harps and hearts and wishbones.

The joy of a liberated dove

I’m out!

seems to be enough of a rapture

to give meaning to the spontaneous outburst

of an enlightened universe

as if it had just broken through

to the other side

its own koan

like an iron cosmic egg.

Like a Rinzai master shouting Katsu!

and throwing down his horse-hair hossu.

Like me sitting here

in the middle of a small heritage town

without feeling I’m one of the original fieldstones

of the bank across the street.

O the sweet freedom

to let the waters of life

take great liberties with my roots

to let whatever flowers in the wild starfields

hidden in the white darkness of noon

bloom as they will

and whatever comes to fruition fall

like the stroke of midnight

beheading the clock on the wall

so Cinderella

doesn’t have to hurry home from the ball.

Not to be.

Not to see.

Not to do anything

that wasn’t already done in the first place

and all the bonds that baffled the dawn

with too many horizons to overcome

undo themselves like vapour trails in the sunset

and I’m as free as space

to be ubiquitiously anywhere at once.

I don’t need to eat through the bone of one leg

caught in a trapline

to free the other.

I don’t have to go mad

trying to kill myself

to save myself from death.

I don’t have to be shamed by mirrors

that bear false witness

against my own reflection.

I can look at my own face

and casually ruminate

about whether it matters

that either of us is here or not.

I can be lead astray by poems

that come on like gold rushs

but end in lead

like the philosopher’s stone

and still be intrigued by the passion

of getting there

without worrying about

finding my way back alone.

Inside every man of great renown

is a frustrated clown

that takes him far too seriously.

I have laboured like an ox

to keep grinding out starwheat

on the millstone of the daily grind

but comes a time

when you sit down on the ground

among the grain and the chaff

exhausted by your fruitless attempt

to turn your mind

into loaves and fishs for the multitudes

and have a good laugh

at your own expense

when you see how few people

are truly hungry enough

to eat.

How many are dying of thirst

beside a freshwater lake.

Open your mouth and eat.

Roll over and drink.

And go read Eccclesiastes

if you want to know why.

Mithras Tauroctonus the bull-killer

can put all the horns on the silo he wants

like the first and last crescents of the cornucopias

on a harvest moon.

I’m at large in the zodiac

playing with poppies

as if I were slaying matadors

that flare like scarlet capes in my blood.





The thistle bristles with swords.

Van Gogh cuts off his own ear

and gives it to a brothel rose

as if that were the only way she could hear

his endearing words

and that little gesture of the heart

were the beginning of expressionist art

or the artist as mummy

if you stretch your canvases like bandages

and mistaking yourself for a model

paint with them on

to keep your blood

from running into the colours

like a red sky in the morning

that doesn’t give you any warning

though Gaugin was sailor enough to know that

and beat a hasty retreat back to Tahiti.

O sweet freedom

not to have to whitewash

the truth of the grafitti under the bridge

with the genocidal lies of scripture

that paint in blood

with the same brush

they use to sweep whole nations

under the rug.

I kick the empty spraycan of my heart

down the road

like the hollow shell casing

of a losing revolution.

In order to establish

my vision of life

I had to overthrow my eyes

to justify the way I see things.

Been alone so long

it looks like love to me.

I don’t know how else to explain this

to the winners who doubt my word

except I’m a loser in bliss

for reasons you’d find absurd.

Not to have slammed the door in my face

just as it was opening

would have been a complete and utter disgrace

to the people who were waiting to be impressed.

My future’s just another afterlife

that hasn’t been made aware

of my arrival.

Still I have a lot more fun

getting around as a pauper

than I ever did a prince.

I have no interest at all

at dying in line

to inherit a dead man’s office.

I’ve learned to get along

on my insufficiency just fine

by mimicing the appetites

of a self-exiled poetic refugee

with the aristocratic poverty

of an intellectual past

and the emotional life

of the last dynast of my homeless ancestors

none of whom made it this far.

O sweet freedom

not to be related to anything

like the key to someone’s heart

lying in the grass at the side of a road

that no one’s taken in years.

You can answer the call.

You can respond to a summons.

But my calling’s

the falling of mirrors

that have run out of tears

like doorbells

that don’t cry hard enough to be sincere.

Some I smash like a pinata.

Al Capone with a baseball bat.

And others come crashing down like chandeliers

that thought they were better organized

than what appeared to be

a minor uprising

of disordered angry stars.

I take a broom to the cobwebs of the constellations

and sweep their reflections

like bad imitations

of outmoded myths

from the mirror.

I like to keep things clear

between me and the light

so there’s no duplicity in what I see

and no darkness in the night

that can claim to be the ancient shadow

of my spontaneous lucidity

without cooking their fire-bug phoenix

in its own flames.

The fire god comes looking for fire.

But I don’t spend much time

dwelling on the event

like a fire-hydrant in a cathedral

afraid of falling into hell.

I’ve fallen down hilariously drunk

sipping mystic elixirs

from my own skull

as if it were the holy grail

but I’ve never gotten off on

drinking from a bell

that keeps pouring me out on the ground

like bad wine

that didn’t turn into sacred blood.

O sweet freedom

what a treat

not to meet me in my solitude.

Not to lead people

like a starmap

that puts them on the wrong track

so they can learn their own way back

through all the labyrinths and lightyears

they’ve been away

and though they might recognize

the old place as home

it’s not the same threshold

the doors don’t answer

to their names anymore

and the windows have forgotten their faces

like phases of the moon

that bloomed and passed

like warm breath on cold glass.

I have looked at the stars

and sweetened the night air with wonder

that we both collaborate

in exploring the mystery of our being here

without knowing why.

The question longs

to experience the answer

the way a dancer longs for music

to go with the words

or a painter tries to explain the light

to his eyes.

But not two is the closest anyone can get

to knowing the world from the inside out

and the silence is polyglot

not a universal language

and what it can’t define

it expresses.

Seeing paints its own eyes

on the prow of a lifeboat

that’s been washed out to sea

with nobody in it

and nothing to save

but these endless waves of moonlight

swimming through stone

like ancient hieroglyphs

for water and fish

adrift in a desert of stars.

The intimate personal history

of the mystery in each one of us

the way the same moon

is cherished by every rosary

and millions of lockets of dew

as if it could only be known by you alone

like the absence of a lover far away

that brings you closer together.

Seeing doesn’t belong to the eye

anymore than a house belongs to the hammer

that built it

or the mind

to the starmud foundation stone of the brain

that laid it like a cosmic egg

in a phoenix’ nest.

There’s more to insight than meets the eye.

O sweet freedom

even one of your mirages

is more than enough

to appease the lightning with fireflies.

My feelings have never looked for sanctuary

in a safe heart

because the best place to hide

is out in the open

where the sea doesn’t run from its own weather

and the night isn’t overwhelmed

by a riot of stars

smashing every telescopic lense in sight

like the priest of a false god

with only one eye.

O sweet freedom

to be the only rodeo clown

in the annual funeral march of martyred icons

parading down Gore Street

with a police escort

and red lights screaming

like an ambulance

going through withdrawal

trying to overcome its addiction to poppies.

I breathe time

and burn my fingers in the eternal flame

of my blood playing with a fire it couldn’t put out.

God might not love me yet

not recognizing the genius

of her own work

but that doesn’t mean

I’m any less of a masterpiece

than any of these other jerks

or that I don’t know how

to conduct myself accordingly.

It’s just that you won’t find me

hanging out in a gallery

or behind the cover of a book

with my shirt off

as if that were really

all I had to say.

It’s not a sign of true freedom

if your zodiac is still under house arrest.

Or you’re still sending

that old refrain of madness to school

to learn to sing in the dulcet tones of a lucid voice

on phenobarbitol.

Success is the quickest way to underwhelm yourself.

Ripeness kicks the stool from under the apple.

Failure has more enduring effects.

A dead tree can lie down longer

like the hull of a ship

than a strong rafter

can stand up

like a mast on the bridge.

You might take matters

like the wheel of birth and death

into your firm hands

and try to weather the storm

like a feather in a hurricane

but the waters of life

still slip through your fingers

like stars and clouds and rain

and your grasp on any rival circumstance

that might threaten your survival.

The disposessed are freer than those

that are standing in line

waiting for their own arrival.

O sweet freedom

not to send my thoughts out like missionaries

to preach to the dissipated

the importance of staying in focus.

Not to go divining the source of the light

with a prism

that enshrines its Catholic colours

in see-through Protestant glass.

There are no sundogs

under my atheist eyes.

I don’t project what I believe

like an eye-beam on a dark world

and expect to be conceived

like the image of God

as if I was born

the way I appear

from a cracked mirror.

I slip through the fault-lines

on the palms of my hands

like a hero plunging

into a gaping abyss

with legendary decorum

to save Rome from an earthquake in the Forum.

And O sweet freedom

that there’s nothing sacrificial

about taking my own advice not to.

And no disappointed expectations.

Age disappears.

Origin disappears.

End disappears.

Being without disclosure.

Seeing without design.

Emptiness without intent.

No I

or its opposite.

And nowhere a sign

of what someone somewhere once meant.

Less than empty

a measure more than enough

to keep one tiny human heart

as perishable as a strawberry

full to eternity

with the sweetness of life on earth

when there’s no birth

no death

in the taste of the moment.