Ungratified longing’s not much of a focus right now
but sometimes that’s all you’ve got to go on.
The dark energy of a few annihilated positrons.
Fossilized bones around a dead fire pit in a cave on the moon.
The ghosts of lost atmospheres.
An agony of thought and seeing
in a dispassionate waste of being.
Flat lining like the Burgess Shale.
So many lost beginnings in me.
So many aborted attempts at survival
I’m beginning to think I’m inconceivable.
How many worlds have gone extinct
failing to adapt to me?
And how many of my genes
are losing lottery tickets?
I know too much
to apotheosize random chance
and appeal for mercy
and yet I have an ignorant heart
that clings in superstitious awe
to love and compassion.
A sense of wonder that aches
to be intimate with the impersonal.
Last night I saw two full moons
one smaller one overlapping the other
and a smear of light like a snail-track
where it appeared a third one moved
reflected in the double thermal windowpanes
of the Masonic Lodge across the street
and I thought it was a visual clue
to how the infinite worlds of the multiverse
could be born of two membranes in hyperspace.
Of how a particle can replicate a wavelength.
And then I lit another cigarette.
Poured another coffee.
And watched the tail of my goldfish
shimmer in the water
as gracefully as the veils of the aurora borealis.
And then I thought of
and how no man had lifted her veils
and I checked my left hand
to see if she had tattooed a star on it
to keep me from drowning
but she hadn’t
and I was left clinging to my cigarette
in a vast night sea of awareness
where everything I feel and think
ends like the maiden voyage of a shipwreck
and smoke and breath are all I have left to hang onto.
And I feel so sad for this absence in me
I’ve failed to fulfill
like someone’s last wish
on a deathbed
however I’ve laboured like
to make it come true.
This world that’s counting on me
like the apostrophe of an embryo
to conceive it in a fire womb
of imaginative facts
that seed the abysmal emptiness
with the cosmic significance
of even the smallest creative acts.
Knocking on the front door of absurdity
you realize there’s no one home
so the message doesn’t matter at all.
But knock on the back door
and the message means more
than the person it was meant for
but you still don’t get an answer
and there’s no trades entrance for common sense.
I end up following my train of thought
like buried arrowheads
downwind of systemic herds of stars
moving on to greener fields of vision.
All my life I’ve been consumed
by the creative extremes
of the energies released
by the spontaneous reciprocity
of mutually destructive intensities.
A cataclysm of insight
that’s one part lightning
one part fireflies
one part stars
and an exponential number of eyes
expanding in all directions at once.
I focus on things like space.
I resonate with objects in a room
as if we were all subject to the same doom.
I empathise with lamps and light bulbs.
I attend the funerals of forks.
I’m as fair-minded with my desk
as I am my kitchen-table.
I’m grateful to the windows
for their translucency.
And though I pace a lot
I try not to stress out my floors.
And every chance I get
I compliment the trustworthiness
and stalwart discretion of my doors.
They’re as interior to me
as I am to them
or any mental image
of an old school delusion
I had of a self that was superior to them.
Now everything enjoys
the same parity as childhood
and we all get along
like unspeakable reflections
in the mirrors of one another.
They furnish me in my emptiness
and I people them with metaphors.
It’s an estrangement that is inclusively ours.
And I see the same arrangement
among stars and flowers.
Everything in existence
is immaterially real.
Why discriminate between one phantom and another
when a ghost of candle smoke
carries the burden of the theme
as well as a spearhead of flame
in the same dream of collaborative creation?
I sit here among things
in a small
in the early hours of the morning
realizing how ridiculous it is
to wonder what my insignificance
and whether it was more wonderful
to be a human
two centuries ago
when they drove sheep down these deserted streets
than it is now
and if so
how have we been diminished.
Whose image am I now?
Is it more devastating
to be created in the likeness of a god
than what you can discern of yourself
in a cloud of unknowing?
What branch of the tree
did this skull-nut of a mind
drop off of
to root in the starmud
like a nervous system
and blossom into thoughts and words
and worlds within worlds within worlds?
One moment the mindstream
is an ancient river system on Mars
that’s either evaporated
or gone underground
and the next
it’s the white water of stars
where eagles hunt
and swans make the sign of the cross
before they land
and there’s a harp
that isn’t so much a musical instrument
as an untested hybrid wishbone
taken from the other two.
But I don’t want to break anything
before I know what to wish for
so it’s been drying on the windowsill for years.
I expose questions
like the Gordians
showed Alexander their knots.
I’m trying to cut my way
through a hydra-headed snake pit
hoping that the word is still mightier than the sword.
I feel the lies and illusions
as profoundly as I feel the fugitive truths
or the reflections that don’t subscribe
to either point of view
as if to say
this is it
this is all there is
and this is more than enough
to keep on baffling the whizz-kids
for generations to come
with the interrogative silence that follows their answers
like a great clue to how much we don’t know
as we try to collate our faces
over a lifetime of mirrors
into a symbolic design of wavelengths and lifelines
we keep undoing like Penelope undoes the moon
like a flying carpet unravelling out from under us
exceeding his own wingspan
until it was too vast to include either him or us
and every threshold of knowledge
we’ve ever crossed since
were the event horizon of a blackhole
that isn’t big enough to contain us
as we expand like dots on a starmap
into lonelier and lonelier spaces
that can’t remember what it was like to be human
and shine until your light’s
tucked under the eyelids of the roses
like a secret love letter
written in the voices of dream figures
that sometimes wake up when you do
like a stranger knocking
on the inside of the door.
Not to be shut out.
Not to be rejected or abandoned.
Not to be ostracized and exiled.
Not to be wholly consumed on a pyre
as a last ditch effort to make it to the stars.
Not to be the collateral damage of creation.
Not to be a sentient monad in an anonymous mob.
Not to weep in empathy with the victims
and seethe in savage rage at the perpetrators
and then watch their role reversal in a morality play
then ends like the myth of Sisyphus.
Not to be misunderstood because you tried to understand.
Not to feel that life
is an averaging out of brutal crucials
and that mean-hearted cunning is the measure of a human.
Not to see that life’s inestimably precious and generous
and as rare and full of wonder
among things of radiance in a dark universe
as a jewel beyond compare
you found in the bottom of your empty pocket
standing in line at the foodbank
and that no river’s flowing the wrong way to the sea
that receives us all
like birds summoned home at nightfall
to watch the moon be born again
in the sacred groves where we began
and not be treated like a deaf-mute
because your rapture’s not two minutes with a hook.
Not to look at the picture-music of your mindstream
from an intimately cosmic point of view
like sand and stars stuck to the spiral arms
of a dead starfish
and be told you have to put out your eyes like Oedipus
if you want your dreams and visions
to have any commercial potential.
Not to suffer the pseudomorphosis of virtual reality
minerally fossilizing every soupy cell
and intuitive insight of your bodymind
with microchips that treat life
as if it were retrievable skeletal evidence
of how we’ve evolved
from stone age wisdom
into stoned age data.
Not to look upon a computer
as an advance upon women
as memory and muse.
Not to look in awe
upon the vastness and silence of the future
as if it were merely the afterbirth
of the hysterical pregnancies
that rage like the opinions and views
kicking like ghosts in the wombs
of the politicians and pundits
with the life-expectancy of a miscarriage.
Not to see a blade of grass
struggling to grow
through a crack in the concrete
as if it didn’t know
we’d imposed another ice age of cement upon it
as a punishment
for trying to grow where it wants.
Not to watch children die in their millions
of material and cultural attrition
with less chance of survival than houseflies
as see nothing accusatory in their eyes
as their bellies swell with starvation
like small disqualified planets
as if our impotence
were a greater obscenity
than their helplessness.
Not to see illegal immigrants
killed by an atlas
trying to find a place
in the shadows under the table
of the global economy
to live like ants
on the occasional crumbs
that get brushed off the corporate belly
like missing links in the food chain
that led to us.
Borealopithecus robustus Americanensis.
Like the land of the free with electrical fences.
This man’s liberty
that man’s nemesis.
And everyone decked out in chains
as a sign of status
like pimps and mayors
and forty-one percent
of the people’s representatives
ideological millionaires who believe
the poor are the reason the rich suffer.
And that the job-creators
have the same right as leeches
to bleed them for their own good.
Just to be free for a little while.
Just for a moment.
Just to find a small wormhole in the dung heap
like a caterpillar crawling into the fortune cookie
of a space-time chrysalis
to be displaced on the other side of the universe
like a butterfly with a profound effect upon physics.
Not to sit like a night watchman
on the graveyard shift
in the drab silence of a small room
wondering what things are being faithful to
and if a flashlight ever feels
like an undisciplined lighthouse
standing in the shadow of a star.
It’s not possible in a world that always in flux
to return to the way things are
because the way things are
is to never be the same thing twice
so I don’t even bother trying to find my way back
to anyone or anything
knowing they never did
and don’t now exist
except as a guess and an interpretation
of the ungratified longings
of the human imagination
dumbing time down to get a fix on things
like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.
How can you find your bearings
by doing parallax on a mirage.?
In the flash of a specious moment
it’s already light years between mirrors.
So if you were to ask me
where I’m at now
and really wanted to know
I’d say where I’ve always been:
physically intellectually emotionally and spiritually missing.
Even my most cherished memories
what they mean
and the whole of my past
in a dynamic equilibrium
with the present and the future
such that now always somehow seems
like just a long memory
of things and events that haven’t happened yet.
And I could easily believe I was prophetic
if I didn’t already know
that what starts out as my voice
invariably comes back
as somebody else’s echo.