NOT MYSELF AND NOT OTHERWISE
Not myself and not otherwise
I endure this discipline of emptiness
into the black hole singularities of my heartfelt extremes.
Rimbaud may have called out for
a rational dissociation of the sensibilities
but that’s just a Maenadic rerun
of an orthodox Orphic dismemberment.
Anti-self on the backside of the cross
asking us all to die
like an alibi
to forgive its sins.
And there are stone calendars
in the Ye Olde Cemetery
who’ve realized like Mayans
since they died out
that we all start raising the dead
the moment life begins.
The star of
that lifted like rain.
The face of the Queen of Heaven
stapling posters of the missing
on telephone poles all over town
looking for her lost lover’s body parts
in the Cubist deserts of the Jack of Hearts.
But ask any asteroid or dinosaur
any hitch-hiker or tractor trailer
or the hadron particle accelerator
you’ve got to bring things together
before you can make a collision
that will tear them apart.
Like koans and yokes and handcuffs
the oxymorons of the future
will be enslaved
by their reciprocal attempts
to escape the chain-gangs
of their tyrannical freedom.
The moon leaves out a saucer of milk
for a stray cat
wandering among the vandalized graves
like a leftover from Halloween.
The darkness is human and cruel.
The unliving molest the dead.
The air is charged with a significance
that doesn’t mean anything
though it expects to be fully understood.
There’s nothing very happy about the sin
of taking an approach toward life
as if it were a curse
you felt compelled to be grateful for.
There’s a white styrofoam cup
bobbing in the reflection of the moon on the
as if it were trying to raise some carbonized elixir
up to its cracked and dessicated lips.
Hell has its grails too.
Its next eclipse.
I look at the brick chimney
of the Old Brown Shoe Factory
and the smokeless urn
of its towering shadow
reflected upside down in the water
and I feel like the ghost of a nightwatchman
still making the rounds.
The butterflies of early nineteenth century industrial
adapted to the soot that left
the patina of an eclipse on the trunks of the trees
and on the souls of men and women
like the mascara of despair.
Taking evolution to heart
I’ve tried to evolve in the very same way
so that my species can survive me.
One man’s furnace
is another man’s chrysalis.
All the loveletters to the earth that I used to write
and burned on the nightshift
are scattered on the wind
like the ashes of black butterflies
and there’s no honey in the hive
of a bitter urn.
The song birds are all writing elegies
to make a big hit
with the turkey-vultures and the crows.
And a poet no more needs an audience
than roadkill needs an undertaker.
I’ve adapted to the way things are
but the night is a lot dirtier
and I’m further from the stars
than I used to be.