LADY NIGHTSHADE’S SUICIDE WASN’T VAIN ENOUGH
Lady Nightshade’s suicide wasn’t vain enough.
She insisted on dying for the world.
She finally stepped through the black door.
She took all that splendour of mind and flesh
and instead of going supernova to make a statement
let it shrink down into
the single snowflake of a white dwarf
in a spring thaw.
She died as unobtrusively as a wild flower perishes.
Lady Nightshade died like a whisper in a hurricane of razorblades
a candle flame
a toy in the corner
that knows when it’s time to let the child go.
She knew her greatest claim to fame
was perpetual silence.
There are some eyes so clear and radiant
the light’s too shy to enter.
There are some mirrors
that have to turn their backs on you
to show you what you’re looking at.
Lady Nightshade died like a black mass at the eclipse of a water lily
and then blew out the flames
on a skeletal replica
of the extinct candelabra
she made of her fossil remains.
It was hard to keep up with the half-life of some of her lies
but she could tell time radioactively
like numbers on a watch that glow in the dark
while the rest of us had to rely on a water clock.
She could see things coming
from the asteroid’s point of view
and when you heard her speak
of what she thought it was you should seek
among all those invisible things
we make visible through our lives
even if you only had a rag of blood
snagged on a thorn of what’s left of a heart in your body
she made a deep and lasting impact.
You looked at her
and you knew the time of night
and the weather.
In her nuclear winter
you were either a species of delusion
that went extinct
or you changed the way she did
and she was a legend among chameleons.
She was a rainbow’s worst nightmare.
you weren’t deep enough into anything
until you’d dug your own grave.
She could hold your spirit up to your face
like a mirror one moment
and in the next
tear it off like a bandage on a deep wound
as if she were unmasking a new scar on the dark side of the moon.
She could make you smile like a face-painted clown
who just had his smile widened
from cheek to cheek
by a scalpel.
She was the daughter of intensity
but god help the snake
who tried to ride the dragon
by hanging on with its fangs
as if those were any kind of match
for her crescents and claws.
She could weld a forked tongue
back into a spear head
and bury it like the
deep in the deserts of
where it would take twelve thousand years
for someone to find it
like a flint knapped skull with lockjaw.
With her it was ok to be the universe
as long as she were its physical laws
and they were at all times and everywhere
applicable and true.
And god what a body.
You took one look at her
and you knew already
you’d been sexually bruised.
She was living proof
that on the Day of Creation
when God made woman
he had a muse
and the rest of us were plagiarized
from an overdue
that denied evolution
was creatively collaborative and true.
The immutable faithful still profaning existence
where everything is the genome of the many
and all are the chosen few.
But Lady Nightshade was more amused by
than convinced of her own beauty.
She was too intelligent
not to use it as an index
of male cupidity
twisting their inflated multiverse
like birthday balloons in hyperspace
into her favourite kind of lapdog
as Leonard Cohen sang in the background
no man ever got a woman back
by begging on his knees.
She was the kind of hunger
that could teach a rude man to say please
and a wiser one
who’s been seasoned by the sea
under full sail
like an orchard in a storm
She could roll men’s skulls like dice
that always came up snake-eyes
because she could see how clearly
they were estranged from their own reflections
like telescopes that can see everything but themselves
bring the far near
shorten the mile
be the last day of the thirteenth month
in a leaping light year
that stays one step ahead of itself
like a thief of the moon
coming in through the back door
of someone else’s homelessness.
She loved to give performance poetry readings
where she’d scream at the featured guests
molesting the microphone with their monogamous poems
like the accused at the accuser
like an oracular snake pit from the audience
or a banshee at the window
Do you know how many muses
you blind assholes
have turned into social workers?
And in the barefoot silence that ensued
no one dropped the other shoe
and you just knew
those on stage
felt like the cutting edge of a new ice age
that would be the crib-death of inspiration
and thousands of baby mammoths
that would be clutched by dozy glaciers
like stuffed teddy-bears for security and warmth
for the next twenty-five thousand years
of black ice a mile high
trying to transcend itself
like a recurring nightmare.
Lady Nightshade wasn’t the kind of revolutionary
that showed her face to the world
like a mask turned inside out.
She never let her certainty get in the way of her doubt.
I remember watching her one night
after we’d made love
look out from the fourteenth floor
of the Hotel des Governeurs
lit up like a Nazdac landing strip
in the middle of the starscape
that bloomed like
She was naked.
She was vulnerable.
But I could see a bridge in the far distance
on her right shoulder
like a threshold that was all
exit and entrance
at the extreme ends of things
always at right angles to the direction of the flow.
It arched over the river
like the Egyptian sky goddess Nut
her body night-blue with white stars
that lined the bridge like streetlamps
as fragile and delicate in the aerial atmospherics
as the eyelashes of nocturnal humming birds.
And I saw right then and there
how vastly she longed for her ghost
to ready her for death
like a lover from another lifetime
when suffering wasn’t
the only natural renewable resource
you could rely on to make a living.
A wounded hawk never asks for pity
and she didn’t ask for mine.
She was the key
that left everything open
and for awhile
we were inseparably alone
because I was the lock
that couldn’t keep anything in.
She jumped from her bridge
into the lifeboat of a coffin
and left a farewell on the mirror
written by a bleeding snail of scarlet lipstick.
I don’t know what star she was following
but back here on earth
there’s a black hole that eats its own shadow
and chandeliers of firelies
that keep putting themselves out in their tears.
Lady Nightshade never cheated her solitude
by buffing it with love.
Lady Nightshade played solitaire
with a Tarot pack of mirrors.
She saw what turned up.
Lady Nightshade followed the Queen of Cups to the block.
She said a few words
that ransomed her life with a candle.
She blew it out.
She swanned like a summer constellation
on the smoke of a distant fire.
She drowned her silver sword in the star stream
like a barrette she took out of her hair
to let it blow away like the fragrance
of something beautiful hidden somewhere
like a secret that was meant to be kept.
Lady Nightshade bloomed like a bruise.
A blue rose.
A new moon.
And when she perished
only strangers could have guessed why I wept.