Monday, August 1, 2011


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.

With her

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 Clovis point of a viper

deep in the deserts of Arizona

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 Texas textbook

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

at St. Denys Boulevard

lit up like a Nazdac landing strip

in the middle of the starscape

that bloomed like Montreal.

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 cherished.

And when she perished

only strangers could have guessed why I wept.