Monday, July 25, 2011


I remember loving you.

You turned my heart into a koan I haven’t cracked yet.

You were a muse of dark matter.

A Mayan phase of the moon

that kept your predictions to yourself.

You were the unified field theory

that made me feel I knew why I was here.

That my abysmal ignorance

was the ore

of infinite enlightenments to come

each one a world of its own

we were free to start with each other.

I remember touching your skin

as if I were reaching out to a ghost

to see if it was real.

Even now after all these years

I can recall the sensation

as if I were holding

a first folio edition of Shakespeare

that no one knew anything about.

A kind of preternatural reverence

for the profound and rare

so intense that whenever we were together

I was always in the presence

of something more than real.

I saw extraordinary beauty and power

in the most ordinary things you said and did.

My will wasn’t so much

bent to yours

by force desire or cupidity

as made irrelevant.

And I remember being astonished

to see how little effect

gravity had around you.

How I bounced around

like a helium balloon

on the ceiling of any room you’d walk into.

How every time I saw you

I could feel my eyes evolve

to accommodate the vision

and see deeper into the dark.

You were such an intriguing planet

if I’d been Jupiter before I met you

I still would have gladly

abdicated from the solar system

just to be your orbiting telescope.

You were all those species of life

the Amazon keeps a secret.

Cures for diseases

I didn’t even know I suffered from

until I met you.

You were the mystery made tangible.

You were the lightning insight that cracked the mirror.

You were the perennial avatar of woman

in every universe

that was worth returning to.

I remember seeing you in the late sixties

sitting in a windowsill

with nothing but a gun and slip on

as the song Spoonful by the Cream

blared out from the heavy hippie drug house

at the top of the hill

over the whole despairing neighbourhood

like an anthem and a challenge all in one.

You smiled like the Mona Lisa

with a midnight special

enigmatically bored with the adoration

you commanded from the blind

who’d never seen anyone like you before.

You looked at me like a silver bullet

but the silence was crucial

and I knew it wasn’t time to go off.

Someone told me your name

as if they were trying to frame

a dangerous alias

but I knew you knew way back then

I could see through them

and the best way to be your friend

was to stay a stranger to the end.

Eight years later in the mid-seventies

I was invited to a field-party

that turned out to be

a snakekpit of holy rollers

baptizing the faithful with a dirty syringe

as they tied you naked to a stake

to burn you like a witch

because you were the most flammable woman in the room.

But I knew you were safe

because fire doesn’t burn fire

water doesn’t drown fire

and danger isn’t afraid of itself

but I broke a few glass fangs

like toxic chandeliers

that had gone into a trance

just in case of an emergency

to cover your back

as the whole place went up in flames.

You said I guess you expect me to say thanks?

And I said no

I don’t run trap lines

to lure my friends

into cages of gratitude.

Put your clothes back on.

I’ve got nothing you want right now.

And it was three years until I saw you again.

And it was then we connected like stars

in an occult constellation of two

and I made love to you

as if we were both on death row

for the same heresy at last.

You were the first

to reverse my spin

in a charged particle field

and show me that love isn’t perfect

until the annihilation is rapturous.

And look at me now

wherever you are

laughing or in tears.

I’ve been singing in those flames for light years

and I haven’t recanted yet.



Waiting for a thunderstorm

just me and the moon

and these deserted streets with their heritage lamps

and tungsten suns

swarming with frenzied insects

like the brain of the occasional crackhead

who’s made a hoody of the night

and pulls it down tighter as he passes

wondering whether he should have asked me for a cigarette.

Lines from sad songs like lingering smoke

from distant fires

curl through my head

like the ghosts of roads I once walked

then break off like old shoelaces.

O and the faces

like blossoms from a tree

hidden deep in the night

suddenly crossing the moon

like birds with messages and destinations

not meant for me anymore.

Kids wives lovers friends.

Imperatives of tenderness

like the first sight of her

shy and naked

and the first angry word

from his mouth

that ever passed between us

as we both stood in silence

knowing the weld

would be stronger than the original bond.

The first scar to ever write alif on my daughter’s skin

like a tiny sabre of Kufic script

you could touch

only if you were very very careful

it was so sacred

she revered it like a holy book.

The first time I ever realized

making my son breakfast in the morning

as he usurped my chair like a throne

and shrieked with laughter

daring me to uproot him

like a baby tooth

that he was fathering me

as much as I was fathering him.

And we could both feel the new ones growing in.

Evanescence of time

releasing the flavours and fragrances

of wounded flowers like cultish elixirs

into the humid night air.

Auroral phantoms of past raptures

gather and disperse

and gather again

like radiance and rain

like carnal intensities

red-shifting into the spiritual immensities

of an aging star.

A squad car slows down to check me out

and I expect any moment

to be talking to a cop

like a fast food attendant

at a drive-through window

but he decides I’m not a threat to the food chain

and cruises off.

And what could I have said to him

if he had asked me

what I’m doing out so late and alone

if I’d been in the mood to be accurate.

I’m watching water lilies

banked along the star streams

bloom and perish like Cepheid variables.

I’m remembering all the women

I’ve ever loved

teach the green phoenix

how to burn in the autumn like sumac.

And then eat my own ashes

like honey from an urn

without getting them all over my heart.

The uncontained contents

of an intimate stranger

passing the closed gates

of a more habitable solitude than mine

listening to the picture-music of his past lives

brighten the wind with fireflies

with the spearheads of weeping candles

guarding the entrance to Eden

as if there were no return address

on the uncensored love letters

that expressed the innocence

of our tragic insight

into the mutability of love.

A furtive young man bobs up

like an apple in a dumpster

in the grocery store parking lot

and stares at me

as if the whole world had root rot.

I make myself as inconsequential as I can

and pass on

wishing I had enough

to take him to Mac’s Milk

and buy him some pizza pockets

that four and twenty blackbirds

don’t fly out of

like a nursery rhyme

that’s as real to him

as the seagulls and crows

he shoos away from his garbage-can

like fierce competitors

for a place in the ark

of his peerless lifeboat.

Humans live to eat to be hungry.

Life eats life to live.

It’s incestuously symbiotic.

It’s cannibalistically psychotic.

It’s a perpetual agony machine.

The big fish eat the little fish

and the little fish have to be smart.

This one swallows like a silo.

This one steals food

from the begging bowls of children’s mouths.

And that one

makes you think

he’s as sweet as St. Francis of Assisi in poverty

as he brushes the flies off a butter tart

and smiles like grace

over something he found half-eaten

and cast away as he is.

Sweet mother of God

have your breasts withered

like the collapsed parachutes of emergency airlifts?

No more manna?

No more locusts and honey in the wilderness?

No more milk of human kindness?

No more galaxies at the spigots of your tits?

Just this ferocious squall of hot toxic vipers

falling like acid rain

down a dry wishing well

that ran out of holy water

like a gnostic mirage

in a hermetic desert of stars?

Are you past the age of child-bearing.

Are you laughing with Sarah

at the very idea of giving birth again.

Have you come to the end of your rope

like the bloodlines of great nations

in the loins of hapless prophets

sacrificing their sons to you

even though you asked for goat

in a holy war of sibling chromosomes?

Are you finished for good

with morning sickness and messiahs?

Have you had enough of immaculate miscarriages

that rise from the tomb

like a man not born of a woman?

No more loaves and fishes?

There’s a genie.

There’s a lamp.

But no more wishes?

There’s a prayer mat.

There’s an oilwell.

But no more flying carpets?

There’s a fortune cookie.

There’s a message in a bottle.

But only this afterlife of lottery tickets

and instant wins

that rip the wings off the heels

of mercurial chance

and alchemical hopes

of turning base metal into gold

with instant defeats

that are as quick on their feet

as turtles and hares on steroids?

The fruitless anomalies of a complex man

bewildered by his own helplessness

not knowing whether he should

insist on the birthright of food with a fist

or open his heart and his hand

and give everything he’s got to give

though there’s as little protein

in the names of his mythic ideals

as there is among the hungry ghosts of fame.

Estrangement and outrage.

The savaged dignity of the cornered

eating their own hearts for the courage

to face their sacrificial lives again another day

like the strategic retreat of an ice age

trying not to do any damage

as they gouge their eyes out in their dreams

and silence the birds with their screams.

Sometimes I think the radiance

I see in the stars and people’s eyes

whatever they’re looking at inside themselves

isn’t so much a function of light

as the shriek of murdered mirrors.

But way leads on to way

and by the time I get down

to the willows on the bank of the Tay

I’m alone again in my own agony

and the willows sway

and the river flows

and the eternal sky

does not inhibit the flight of the white clouds

everything in passage

a water snake riding

the wavelengths of the moon

like a mirage of dead seas in a desert.

And the deep unsayable sadness returns

to pervade and saturate the mind

with ephemerids of the heart

that resonate in time

like the last flowers of the summer.

Translucent simulacra of past familiars

who once possessed me

like occult seasons of the soul

that scattered like leaves and water birds

but made such an impression

upon the waters of my life

they’re indelible reflections

left untouched

by the summons and imperatives

of the long seances of the heart

and quick exorcisms of the mind

cooling the swords and grails of their passions

in star streams exalted beyond thought.

Focused like a drone strike

hunting frogs among the irises

a wild cat disregards me.

A fish jumps at a mosquito.

A flash of long distant lightning.

The shorter circuits of the fireflies.

Headlights slashing through the dark groves

beyond the train tracks

that intersect the road by the cemetery.

Elephantine clouds labour for a mouse of rain.

But every drop a star globe

and the whole of the moon and the sky

in each little tear of a world.

Beauty in the pain of departure

comes like a consolation

and leaves like an alibi.

The willows have lost their flowers

and soon enough their birds.

Some people are buried deeper than others.

And some are at a loss for words.

And some rely on bells

to temper the severity

of their disciplined farewells.

Each of us reaches out for the other

as if we could touch time itself

and gentle it

like a feather of a breath upon our skin

that for a few unborn moments

that last longer than life

makes light of death

for not knowing where to begin.