Friday, August 12, 2011


Not anger not sorrow

but the stillness of things enduring along with me

as if there were nothing single-minded about purpose.

Use is another matter.

I see my illuminated star globe

reflected in the open thermal-paned window

and I feel just like that reflection.

Uselessly redundant.

The understudy of the Milky Way.

A street cleaner hisses and swishes by

clearing the gutter of the long weekend.

Forty-seven years of writing poetry

and I still feel like a chandelier in a meteor shower.

The Alpha Aquarids.

I’ve been painting most of the day.

Making lewd decisions about colour

that are mystically suggestive

to a potential audience of holy men.

Now the night is hot and humid

and I’m sitting here in the glare

of my computer screen’s one-eyed page

trying to come to terms with my age

like a bad burn that left a scar

in the likeness of an affable death-mask

inside the urn of my heart I scatter like ashes on the wind

to keep things perfectly clear and empty.

Ready for what comes.

I haven’t heard a car for hours.

I don’t wish to be young again.

With all I’ve learned about burning

I don’t think I could survive

the acid rain

that scorched like tears

a second time.

Once was enough of a bad neighbourhood

where I wore my starmaps

like prison tats on my sleeves

so no one would fuck with my solitude

as I reached for stars nobody had ever touched.

I hear from the philosophers

that a lot of bad breaks can make you stronger

if you know how to weld them back together again

but just as often

as the angel in the way let’s you go

to transcend your character like the Ubermensch

it can leave you crippled for life.

I know people who didn’t get up after the first blow

and maybe it was stupid of me

not to squat on a comfortable footstool

in the corner of my coma

but I didn’t want to throw the fight

win lose or draw.

I didn’t want to make a career of betting on the wrong man.

Now its all dirty windows and deserted streets

and watching the daffodil lamp posts

shine as they might

trying to open their buds like love letters

that never come to full bloom.

Well past midnight as Mayakovsky would say

for nine lines more

before he picked up the revolver

and declared the Russian Revolution dead

in keeping with the kind of heretic he was

and the reactionary nature of love.

Lost on the vast night sea

without the blessing of Isis

after your ship’s gone down

it isn’t the flare that comes to your rescue.

It isn’t the darkness that blows it out.

It isn’t the depths that drown the captain.

Things just happen

when you strategically retreat

and turn the wheel over to the storm.

God bless you Mayakovsky.

I cry a watershed of mirrors

that don’t break when they fall.

And there are birds dropping seeds

like poetic airlifts

on the new islands of life

you left like afterthoughts

in the widening wake of your volcano.

But you knew as well as I do now

that things just take their course in life

like skulls and rivers and revolutions

and if you live them out to the bitter end

everything you ever dreamed of

that was beautiful and luminous and free

turns into the black farce

of a prophetic heretic

burning at the stake

in no one’s name but his own.

Nine lines of poetry past midnight

and it wasn’t as if you’d run out of things to say

you just realized

as we all have since

that no one was listening from the very beginning.


A bullet hole.

Poppies of blood spatter

spreading like gypsy wildfire

among the Queen Anne’s Lace of the curtains.

It’s not the windows

but our eyes that thaw like glass

in the intensity of the clear light of the void.

Any welder will tell you

the hotter the flame

the lower the candlepower.

When you’re burning perfectly

you’re invisible.

You become a black mirror of dark energy.


Indelibly invisible ink

you have to hold up

to the stars to read.

Some people look into it

and don’t see anything.

Nothing but lamp black.

Others tremble like divining rods

above the watershed

of its dark abundance

and feel free to be what they want.

Appearances are only deceptive

because of what you believe.

They’re the fall guys of the truth.

They’re the scapegoats of what you conceive.

They’re the illegitimate children of reality.

They’re the martyrs of a misspent youth.

They’re scarecrows on a makeshift crucifix

that shoot themselves in the head

with snub-nosed words

to scare away the birds

who think they don’t mean it.

It takes the spunk of a drunk poet

with a downed powerline

and a short circuit

to shoot out the stars.

I’ve heard it said

that poets love the pain.

That it’s the wound

that drives us insane.

But I don’t think it’s that way.

We hate the scars

that make child’s play of our nightmares.

We hate the clock on the wall

and its whirlwind of scalpels

that tells us all things are healed in time

like those old one-eyed one-armed house wells

we used to draw from

for inspiration

until they were capped

and taken out of circulation like a tree-stump.

The betterment of human kind.

Rimbaud said be thoroughly modern.

You agreed like a locomotive of poetry

on the wrong gauge of track

and died for the oldest of reasons.

A change of heart.

Deeper reasons the party would disavow.

But when and what did they know about you anyhow?

A revolutionary can’t afford

to have an identity of his own.

Wasn’t that the point all along?

All for one.

One for all.

But millions of people

can’t fill the absence that one can.

You lent them your emptiness

and they filled it like a hall

with politics and poetry.

Eventually the people

will make holy relics

of the hands they cut off

for the usual reasons.

Someone tried to help them too seriously.

The wolves are tolerated among the flock

as useful sheepdogs for a while.

But wolves don’t pant for praise

from their master’s hand

and sheepdogs that want to run with wolves

don’t last very long.

Well past midnight

and I can hear you up above the timberline

howling like a mountain at the moon.

But I don’t think it was love that killed you.

You were thoroughly modern.

It was getting late

and you didn’t die a moment too soon.

You weren’t the content of the revolution.

You were the timing.



Consolations of darkness and solitude.

No stars.

No fireflies.

Just the low sound of the town

breathing like an air conditioner in its sleep.

The trains are silent.

The highway is empty.

The streetlamps

haven’t found anybody

they can show the way home.

The stores are as despondent as sunflowers at midnight.

Consolations of darkness and solitude

I attend upon my body

like a ghost at a seance

I keep being called back to

when I wake up from the dead

and come back to my senses

like the road less travelled by

to its old neighbourhood.

Where are the stars?

Where are the fireflies?

I’ve been gone so long

I don’t expect to be recognized

by my own windows and mirrors.

When I’m shining

I’m the kind of moonlight

that comes in through the backdoor

while everyone else

is being interrogated by their paranoia

through a two way mirror in a dream

that doubles as a movie screen.

If truth’s a test

than let’s see

if a polygraph can pass me

when I’m the only one I answer to

dogpaddling in this vast night sea

like a message in a bottle

that isn’t meant for anyone

that isn’t on the same wavelength.

And if not

there’s always the cosmic resonance

of my own sentience

to fall back on for strange company.

The voices of all the afterlives

that haunted me before I was born.

The hearts of the people are martyred by survival.

The heretics are arguing over how big the tent has to be

for a spiritual revival.

And the revolutionaries

are showing off their guns to little girls.

The dealers keep their secrets to themselves like pit bulls.

None of it makes for much of a conversation.

You can pick up a seashell and put it up to your ear

anytime of the day or night

but you can’t hear the ocean

and none of the mermaids know how to hold a tune

worth dying for.

The roar of a lone skate-boarder

on a deserted street.

Me whistling to myself on a dark road.

And now an approaching train

mourning its own passage

before it’s arrived.

I am reminded of all the teenagers and drunks

it’s already killed

but there’s art on the sides of the boxcars

all the way from North Carolina

like prehistoric studio caves on tour

that gives me an uncanny sense of what age this is.

Where are the stars?

Where are the fireflies?

Why do I feel I’ve accomplished something significant

when I jump the crossbars and stop lights at the railway track

and really give the train something to scream about?

And it occurs to me

maybe as a tribute to their ghosts

waving their lanterns

far down the tracks for me to step back

that a suicide is just someone

who didn’t get out of the way

the way they were told to.

They bit the bullet

instead of dodging it

wounded less by its exit

than its entrance.

There was a picture here for awhile

and a toppled vase of flowers

to commemorate a young man

who was killed on these tracks

when he slipped into a drunken coma

on his way home from a party.

What can you say to anyone about death

when someone loves you like that?

Consolations of darkness and solitude.

Sky-blue chicory along the roadside

blooming eerily in the streetlights

as if the colour had gone out of its eyes.

No stars.

No fireflies.