LIFE’S NOT A STRUGGLE
Life’s not a struggle
it’s a lottery.
An improbable concourse of chance.
You can organize stars
and adorn them with myth and meaning
and teach them what laws to obey
and what superstitions to ignore
but they’re still just a roll
of the eyes of the dice.
What was so lucid
within and without once
is now so twisted
with knots of pain
in the heartwood
the tree of the body
so ruined by disease
the roots and the branches
so gored and broken
no cross is more a token of suffering
than a human that has endured everything alone
like a battered pine at the edge of a precipice
that isn’t a threshold to anywhere
with an overview of the unknown
that’s brought it down in a storm
for no reason
other than it was there
to be destroyed.
And babies die in car accidents every day.
And millions are just left to starve to death.
And there are war crimes and atrocities so hideous
afflictions and catastrophes so absurd
ideologies so cold and indifferent
frost burns the rose of flesh and blood
and abstractions coagulate in the wound
like anti-matter practising pseudomorphosis
as if we were all changelings in the womb
born to this agony
in the name of nothing
that not even God or evolution
can remotely relate to as human.
A pain so old and deep
it’s devoid of ancestors
though anyone who’s ever lived
including the animals
has felt it as up close and intimately
as a scalpel at their jugular vein
in the hands of a psychopathic barber
doing surgery in the mirror
after he lost his license to practise
for not keeping his cool in a crisis.
Blind stars that shine
without knowing it
or what it is they illuminate like braille.
Nothing but signs symbols words.
Aviomancers of hidden nightbirds
in the sacred woods
that have been clear cut
like Druids on the Isle of Mona
by superstitiously liberated Romans
bringing civilization as a consolation for their greed
like a chainsaw to the pagans.
And then those
who fleeced the lamb
like the shepherds of man
looking over the fold like wolves.
What an abomination
has been made of so many afterlives
so a few infallible liars
could thrive well here
without waiting for their lies to come true.
But there is no judgment.
There is no karmic redress.
No feather in the scales
to weigh the goodness of the heart
that’s being torn apart by the jackals of death
like a baby rhino that’s wandered away from its mother.
Breathing is believing
and the only religion I know
that doesn’t offer you airmiles to Jonestown
or turn the wine at the wedding of Canaa
into black kool-aid
in a six pack at the back of the liquor store
is the one that encourages me to abhor it.
Life’s the ultimate infidel
when you understand
that there’s nothing holy about death.
That suffering doesn’t have a purpose
for each and everyone of us
as if pain were transcendent
a work in progress.
But you don’t get over something
by going under
is the most commonly ignored advice
with their left hands cut off
and no place to be buried in the graveyard.
Things are so unbeautiful among us
that life has had to resort
to the art of horror
to keep the wonder and inspiration
of being here at all
alive in us like cattle-prods
in an abattoir.
and mermaids on the rocks
in wet suits
trying to recall something alluring
that can tie like a hook
to a catchphrase
at the end of a two minute song.
Humans are winged serpents
with fangs for claws.
If they don’t kill you with wisdom
they’ll kill you with laws.
And the cure’s just a bagman
for the original disease
putting the squeeze on your mind.
Whatever way I characterize it
what do I know
in this nanosecond of a lifespan
among the shadows of the fireflies of insight
that I could spread out like a starmap
of the master plan
that could make me say
without laughing out loud
like an angry rude Chuang Tzu
beating on mushrooms with a bamboo rod
to bring them to enlightenment
the light of life in this one
is shining the right way
and in that one it’s gone out?
War is just cosmology with a body count.
People who have more faith in their ignorance
than they do the clarity of their courage
not to make everybody try to see and be
what isn’t there to stand for
when they kill.
I make a jewel of the emptiness
and turn it in the light.
And I see fat politicians and lobbyists
as corrupt as their own interests
talking about ensuring
the future of their middle-class children
by taking food and medicine
like budgets out of the mouths of the poor.
While the chronic goldrush of Wall Street
cashes in on the problematic prosperity
of class warfare.
The rich say to the poor
though shalt not have
as if water and food and shelter and peace
and cures and antidotes
schools and vaccines
were private possessions
and someone starts handing out AK-47’s
instead of wheat
and the poor go to war against the poor
to satisfy the supply and demand
of their military manufacturers.
You can blame this shit on God
for taking both sides at once
if you want to
or you can take to the ice
with a sense of justice
like a zebra with a whistle
but I took one look
at what there was to belong to
and took the long homeless path
of a spiritual refugee
whose only sense of direction is away.
Heaven isn’t a place of rest
when you live in a world like this.
It’s a state of exile
with the blessing of the abyss.
Ah how many loveletters to oblivion
have humans written
in the blood of the dove
with their return address on them
that have waited like weathervanes
for the breathless answer
that never came?
How many prayers pleas vows entreaties pledges deals
have we sent off into outer space
like digital images broadcast of us
to let someone know we’re alive
through radio telescopes
that can speak like us through their ears
and hear with their mouths at the same time
and not so much as the whisper of a wavelength back?
And yet we go on feathering the cosmic egg
the plumed space serpent
who’ll make his blue-eyed return one day
if we crack enough skulls in his honour
bleed enough hearts
drink enough blood
eat enough death
to build an observatory on the mountain
to foretell our doom.
There wouldn’t be
a trace of life on earth
not a mammal
not a blade of grass
or even a habitable planet
if the sky hadn’t been falling into place
like a marble or a bullet
in the roulette wheel
of a navel in space
from the very beginning.
Life as we know it
owes as much to random catastrophe
as it does to the oceanic notion
of intelligent design.
What the watchmaker broke
when he wounded life with time
the watchmaker might repair
if he changes his mind
and stops acting teleologically
like a terrorist with an alarm clock.
Innocence is in a coma
and mercy can’t keep up with the shock
of revelation after revelation.
Beauty studies the aesthetics of desecration
in a cosmetic school for the liberal arts
and the inhumanity of man to man
opens a speechless university in
to study the terminal effects
of prolonged exposure
to the obscenity of bloodless politics
upholding the ancestral devotion
of fanatical houseflies and maggots
to the extermination of whole nations
because this one wears his heart on his sleeve
like the corpse of an Aryan pinwheel
washed ashore like the galactic waste
of a theosophical starfish
wearing a swastika the wrong way
to be creative
and this one a yellow star on his sleeve
like the only thing he’s got left to be true to
and wish upon
as he’s being dragged out of his doorway
in front of his children
by a frenzy of Nazi dogs
for lying about being human to his gods.
Show me something reasonable about rabies
and I’ll know you’re a life-form
that isn’t based on water.
You’ve got a silicone heart implant
like a microchip processor
with a binary pulse
that delights in flatlining
the old wavelength you shed like a snake
inching out of your humanity like a used condom
to be worthy of the obelisks
to the kind of prick you are.
Recurring nightmares of hatred and suffering
with designer logos on their arms
like Jungian symbols of their psyches
trying to express new ideas
for a unified field theory
to a corporate universe
in an executive bathroom
where trickle-down economics
is a way to relieve yourself of the poor
by letting your excretions run down your leg
until even the princes of the palace
come to your table like hunting dogs
Have you noticed in life
how the selfishly insufficient
never find sufficiency enough?
To be accurately graphic about it
they’re gnawed on by their own appetites
like tapeworms with flesh-eating disease
trying to balance the budget
by sending Chicken Little out
to convince the poor
they have to stop eating
for the good of the economy
and the future of their children’s welfare.
But you don’t have to be Merlin to see
into the available dimensions
and inconceivable abysses of what’s to be.
Want and misery and savage indignation
watching a degree of pornographic luxury
mudwrestling in the filth of their wealth
like sumo wrestlers on cable tv
that threatens to cut
the bread and circuses off
like an umbilical cord to a corpse
if they don’t keep up with the costs
of sustaining a coma.
And they see by comparative mythology
through a veil of pixels
the ruse of greed
behind the party mask
the rich wear like a mirage of water
in a desert
that wealth is just another alibi for evil
whose worst mistake
was riding in a golden chariot
through a slum
as if it forgot
it were less than human.
Why should one man’s tumour
be removed with a golden scalpel for free
and another human be cut from theirs
like a budget in the hands of a chainsaw
as if they were what was carcinogenic
about the problem?
And o come on now
who really thinks
you can live long and happy lives
yachting on the honey
in the hives of killer bees?
Or that militant materiality
flexing its influence
like a finger it gives to the mob
like a ballsy pedagogue
isn’t going to have its dick cut off
as a lesson in how to conduct yourself
when you’re in other people’s living rooms
and you don’t take your lifestyle off
as a sign of respect for the dead.
How can a fixed casino
the underlying reality
of a ripped lottery ticket
that sticks it to the poor
by giving them a chance
to become a whore in advance
of anything they could have wished for
and then laughs in their face
at what a fool they were
for playing the odds
when all the evens were missing?
Evolution didn’t hold any genes back
like a pharmaceutical company
in the growth of our species
or an ideologue cloning his image
like the racial politics of stem-cell research
in the DNA of his agenda
for a whiter tomorrow.
If you don’t want to fall victim
to the spread of your own disease
it’s obvious you share the cure with everyone.
You don’t have to apply for a research grant
to look very far for the cure.
You just have to dip the other wing of the fly
in the milk and honey
of the promised land
if you don’t want to be tainted by the side-effects
of being the bad meat
that gets thrown down the well.
How often have you said to yourself
you’ve got to keep the blackflies sweet
or they’ll turn into the erinyes of Hades
or the banshees of Celtic hell
and pursue you like ice-cream
to the ends of the earth?
When wealth puts a noose of bling
around the neck of blindfolded justice
standing on a footstool
the golden rule rises up
and murders Midas
for being a touch too much
for the unradiant ore
of the labouring poor
out of all proportion to their webs
dripping with wealth
that’s tearing like
the lifelines hanging from their necks
under the weight
of their massive corporate bodies.
Time has run out of demand
in the thorax
of the trophy hourglass
that declared this pyramid
with its gold capstone
a winner with an afterlife
and all the runner-ups
in the rest of the competitive world
losers sitting like dunces
in the corners of quicksand
doomed to be forgotten
like the lifespan of a bad movie.
The hour has well past
when the rich can sleep comfortably
with the daughters of the poor
while their mothers clean house
and feel assured
they can still afford
the same delusion they did yesterday.
Gold is purified in fire
when sunspots begin to show.
It’s poured down the throat
of the Roman billionaire
who killed Spartacus
like a vainglorious swan of a man
being waterboarded in
like the Islamic version
of anachronistic anti-matter
in the eyes of Allah
who doesn’t let a bad metaphor off the hook
all that easily.
You can bet your book on it.
You can’t talk like a peacock in a depression
and not expect the world mountain
to come down on you
like an avalanche
that walks the walk
all the way to the bottom
of the valley of death you dug for yourself
with that silver spoon of a tongue
you were born with up your ass.
Don’t piss on the sherpas
as if they were of a lower class
when you’re trying to
and the only thing you’ve got to rely on
to make it to the top
is a starmap in the wormhole
of a large intestine
to give you a sense of direction
of the final outcome of your affairs.
And if I sound prejudiced in this
then I declare
I am prejudiced against the poor
being condemned by law-abiding thieves
to endure their lives
like a minimalist painting
where less is more
except if you’re rich
like a lamp without a genie
that doesn’t want to know
once the election is over
what you wished for.
Most politicians are kites
not birds on a powerline
who run for high office
with their spinal cords
in the hands
of conglomerate oligarchs
who fly them in elections
like lost leaders
in a department store window
to get you in the door
of a political arena
where they do unto the poor
what they’ve always done for fun
to people in a Coliseum
who either fall victim
like meat to the lions
or murder their own
to win their freedom
like a wooden sword
that was too much of a heavy lift
to be crucified on.
What a squeal goes up for justice
when the rich steal from the rich
but if a rich man steals from the poor
he’s considered fit for political office.
He knows how to cause suffering.
He knows how to deny a child
a heart transplant
because he know how it feels
to grow up without one
and as hard as it is to overcome
the bloodless blackhole of a heart
that’s imploded on itself
out of the sheer moral exhaustion
of transcending your lack of humanity
by letting what isn’t in you out
to cannibalize yourself
and everyone else
look what it did for him
and then look at what he did to us.