THE ULTIMATE ANGLE IN LIFE
The ultimate angle in life
is to be real
whatever that means.
so you don’t end up being confused
by anyone else’s lies
but your own
and Caesar doesn’t melt in the sun.
This is my voice
not the distant echo
of a truth in disguise
with the stage-life
of radioactive carbon
trying to keep up to date
with its own decay.
for the reality behind the art these days
but I keep my third eye
on the art behind the reality
as if security cameras
hadn’t been invented yet
and the one-eyed liars
hadn’t made a two-eyed God
look like the fraud
they were sick
of staring back at
from the blind side of the mirror.
Bread and circuses
but who watches the watchers
who are making the whole thing up
to keep your eyes off of them?
I’m more than a little middle-aged
but my passions swear
they’re still nineteen
waiting to come down
from the bad acid trip
of the last forty-three years.
It’s nineteen sixty six six six again
and I still get my kicks
out of the most serious things in life.
Like what the fuck am I doing here?
And am I going to wake up in time
to see how it ends?
And did I fulfil my life’s dream
of ruining myself on poetry
so I could make some meaning
out of the absurdity
of never having found one
that wasn’t round
and I had to roll up a hill
to prove to the people who had none
that I had the gravitas
and staying power
of a cornerstone
who was able to pull himself up
by the bootstraps
trying to make something of itself.
But I got tired
of designing pyramids
like works of art
with their vital organs
in the urns and embalming jars
of other people’s afterlives
and struck out for Orion on my own
to perfect my solitude
like Plotinus walking alone with the Alone
among billions of stars
without an interpreter.
I stopped talking to myself
like someone I didn’t want to hear from anymore
and started listening
to the anonymous picture-music
that expressed me
like something hidden
that would remain unknown.
like a nightbird in a dark wood
that my eyes and my mind
couldn’t quite make out
but my heart fully understood.
How deeply everything hurts to be real
in this agony of existence
where sentience would hurt a lot worse
if it weren’t for the occult arts
of spontaneous compassion
that can take a gaping wound in hell
and turn it into a celestial wishing well
that sometimes make things ring true
like lies that heal.
And as Dogen Zenji commented
if the medicine doesn’t make you dizzy
it’s not strong enough.
It isn’t poetry.
And that’s a lie
I keep repeating over and over and over again
like the mantra
of an incommensurable decimal point
of an insight into enlightenment
that can’t be realized fraction by fraction
as if you were picking up the pieces
of a shattered mirror
and trying to put them back together
to make things whole and clear again
when you come face to face with yourself
like an illusory cure for an illusory disease
in real pain.
And you put your fist
through your reflection in the mirror
like an antidote
to wake the others up
from these private nightmares
in public snakepits
but most of them
aren’t looking for an emergency exit
from the toxic delirium
of being stoned on reality
the way a cobra
holds the attention of a bird.
They’d rather be swallowed
like a cosmic egg
by a serpent they know
and live in a cozy eclipse
than break through to the other side
and leave the nest
to cross the event horizon
of their own wingspan.
And that’s ok too
because all the flowers
don’t bloom at once
and it’s wrong to try and pry them open
before it’s time.
Even when they’re disgorged like a collapsed parachute.
And it’s the snake that flys away
like an early oxymoron of God
in the form of a dragon.
But how can I be created
in the image of God
if God is unknowable
and unbounded by metaphors?
So I say
the ultimate angle in life
is to be real enough
not to conceive of a self
you can pin up on your bedroom wall
like a poster of who you’ll be
by the time you’re discovered.
Just because you’re holding on
to a starmap
like the birth certificate
of a myth of origin
with your name on it
like a number in the NGC catalogue
doesn’t make you a galaxy.
Doesn’t mean you’re shining.
Doesn’t mean you’re throwing a light on anything
and even if you’re convinced you are
but old advice from an aging star
that’s moved on to other things lightyears ago?
The point is
not to let the road behind you
define the available omnidirectional dimensions
of the road ahead of you
as if you could only walk one road at a time
to get to where you’re going.
Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo
that some people walk some people fly
and some people take a train to the stars
when they die
but if you live in a starless darkness long enough
like a god without a similitude
they’ll come to you
and let you see through their eyes
what it’s like to be so full of light
and never seen.
The angels might keep their ancient places
under the sticks and stones
of warring cosmologies
but whatever was holy about
is a crusade in a bone-box of relics
that can’t hold a candle to the Burgess Shale
and one little fish with a spine
that threaded the eye of the needle
and made a rosary of its vertebrae
to count the names of God
like qualities it had in common
until it got to ninety-nine
and had to stop
because it couldn’t define the last one
like a skull of starmud
with an inexplicable brain at the top.
How could anyone ever hope
to understand a mystery
they’re too confused to accept
because they think it means
you amount to nothing
if it can’t be reflected in a mirror?
But an exemption from lenses
doesn’t mean you disappear
or that you’re everywhere at once
the way most people think
in the presence of God
they’re being ignored by their lover.
You don’t need to make up a myth
as a cover story
to corroborate an alibi
for not being here in the first place
if you realize your mind
is as innocent as space
of anything you might experience
that becomes attached
to a likeness of you in time
you keep passing around
to see if anyone can recognize you
at the scene of the crime.
Dispense with all that nonsense.
You can’t get an insight into the outside
without turning the light around
like a shadow of dark energy at high noon
so the sun shines at
and the mirrors have no way
of telling the time
because there is no lost watch of a face
to show them how they’re aging.
Be sentient space
without a notion of being
in an ocean of seeing
that the life that is happening in you
is not happening to you
as if awareness were merely there
to witness its own downfall
and space got caught the act
of trying to hide the fact.
The metal petals of a radio dish
are just flowers waiting
for the buzzing of bees
in an exchange of honey and seeds
you can make of what you wish
like emission spectra you can read
like the genomes of meiotic galaxies
and their embryonic quasars
a star that drowned itself in a well
when it heard what you wanted
or a genie in a lamp
that thought it was haunted
but whatever way you look at it
whatever wavelengths you weave
on the loom of this space-time continuum
like the moon unrolling itself
like a flying carpet of white feathers on the lake
you’re the space it all happens in
and life is living itself through you
like water lives in a fish
like the sky lives in a bird
like darkness lives in the stars
like the universe lives in the life of the mind
without a mouth
without a voice
without a word
without a grammar
for the expressions of time
that space lives in
like unconditional existence
without a sign of resistance.