Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Darker than this never before.

Brain-damaged memories

beyond the infra-red.

Too much metaphoric mileage on the moon.

No solace in the long seance of the dreams

that woke me from my grave

to ask me why they call

and I don’t answer them.

3:43 a.m.

Drunken lovers in the hall

punching out plaster

and threatening to call the police

as if that were the worst they could do to each other.

One door slammed.

One door kicked off its hinges.

Welfare week.

Love binges.

Hearts and bones break

when everyone gets so drunk

they’re frustrated

they can’t make a happy mistake

to compensate for the rest of their tragic lives.

Better to smear shit on the screen

like an Andy Warhol movie

than stare into the blankness

of a bankrupt imagination.

Better the running sore

of a small town soap opera

that never heals.

Better to be wounded grievously

and have something to fight about

for a thousand years.

Better tears and rage and violence

and the dramatic recalls and ricochets of love

than the resolutions of silence

that end it all.

Good fences might make good neighbours

but even an old man

with an ax in his hand

standing in his underpants

in an open doorway

after three in the morning

telling you to shut the fuck up

or he’ll bury it in your skull

like an alternative to Cupid and his arrow

is enough of a red sky in the morning

for anyone to take warning

and fake being a little less anti-social

by putting an end to their marital squall

as the less insane of two immediate dangers.

Good fences might make good neighbours

but if you’re living next to strangers

in a rundown apartment block

who don’t mind their spiritual manners

like well-defined property lines

convincing them there’s a serial killer

living next door

with nothing but time on his hands

is a better form of behaviour modification

than a fence in New Hampshire.

And I could show you far worse things

than your father sees Willy

far worse things.

Time be kind to Kenneth Patchen

wherever he wanders in the abyss tonight

and give him back his legs.

I return to my living room

and listen to them dragging furniture

up against a newly resurrected door

as if Jesus would rather be dead in his tomb

than face a demon in underpants

that gets his imagination flowing like blood.

Everyone clamours for a freedom

that would scare them to death to live

but I can see a day not so far off

when the pursuit of happiness won’t be enough

and they’ll demand the right to solitude

to forget they never caught up to it.

I exhale a cigarette

like a genie from a lamp

that hasn’t wished for anything in years

since the nightmares proved their magic

was stronger than prayers

when desperation overcomes the doubt

that anyone demonic human or divine cares.

I stare the dragon in the eye

like a coffin in a funeral home

that would rather be scattered in ashes on the wind

than turned to stone

like the first impression

bones make on the Burgess Shale.

Make me a pyre of fireflies.

Bring scrolls of sacred birch

like inflammatory holy books

written by great heretics

who found the quickest exit to the stars

was through the flames of the church

that baptizes their arsonists in water

like doves of white phosphorus

in a fountain never quite pure enough

to put their root-fires out.

Hell has better taste in discomfited humans

than heaven has room for comfy cliches.

If you won’t risk condemnation

what could your salvation mean

except something just as cowardly?

The maggots might inherit the eagles

like road kill

and the weatherless windows

might wait for supremacy over the sky

in a conspiracy of weathervanes

but that still doesn’t mean

they’ll know much about shining

and even less

about how to fly.

If you want to enhance the radiance

of whatever star

you’re going by

it’s better to intensify the darkness

than it is to wash it out of your eye.

Not a peep out of the pimp next door

or his air raid siren of a whore.

Chastened by time and suffering

or chastised into a vow of silence out of fear

sometimes the nightmares

come like broken mirrors

that can still see the whole in every part

but the worst still whisper old dreams

as if they were pouring the night

like the picture-music of a clamorous art

into an ear that’s heard more than enough

to break its heart like a lifeboat

on the rocks of cacophonous mermaids

that couldn’t hold a whole note

longer than it would take me to spit

if my life depended on it.

And it does.