IT’S WRITING ME
It’s writing me.
I’m not writing it.
It’s got nothing to do with obedience
and there’s no chance of betraying it
even now that I’m three thousand miles
and forty light years away
and all the fireflies and lightning bolts
in my mystic cloud of unknowing
have turned into a frenzy of fanatical killer bees.
I’m swarmed by anxieties like mental space junk
and snakey wavelengths of yesterday
still trying to shed the sky like sunburnt skin.
Like the mythic names of old lovers
tattooed on our foreheads and firearms forever
and the obsolete starmaps in braille
that we followed like the magi
across this friendless desert of stars
as the signage of something divine.
And it isn’t the ironic sublimity
of the implacable circumstances of fate
that dictate whether the gate to the garden
is shut to me or not
that I fear the most
but the caprice of cornerstones
that turn into quicksand just to preserve the past.
I’ve grown more ruthless with my memories
over the past four decades.
I splash acid in the eyes
of those who are learning to read me like a book.
Others I send into exile
for trying to desecrate the image I have of me.
They write long sad poems
on the shores of the
Black Sea in
and they’re never coming home again.
There’s more Tristes than Amores in the depth of my pain.
The rest I keep like lighthouses and lightning rods
to remind me what it was once like
when schools of silver fish swam
like poplar leaves when the wind
turns them all in the same direction at once
through warm water on the moon
and I had an atmosphere I could rely on.
Now some days I open my third eye
to the lucidity of the morning
as if it were a security camera
that took the picture of the thief
that stole the moon from my window last night.
But here you come again this morning
despite my priestly efforts
to exorcise your ghost
like an oxymoronic fragrance
of Parisian perfume and whale vomit
or as you would say expurgated ambergris
wearing that violet orchid of a blouse
and those tight black leather pants
that used to drive me so crazy
to see what could bloom
in the shadow of an outhouse
like waterlilies in a reeking swamp.
You’re leaning over a cedar rail fence
rotten with moss and lunar lichen
up to your hourglass waist line
in the sidereal surf of New
and you’re feeding three black horses
gleaming like anthracite with sweat
and one with a star
in the middle of its forehead
that made me think
of the Great Square of Pegasus at the time
a stranger’s apples from the palm of your hand.
And the wild gypsy mane of your own black hair
in the full glare of the sunlight
that bloodies the flyaway strands
like a hairdo of oracular serpents
wounded by the Bronze Age.
I saw the innocent face of Eve
under the mask of the Medusa
and I don’t believe even now
that I try every other day not to
I could have ever loved you more
than I did in that moment.
The delusions and the deceptions
have long ago been swept off the stairs
of the whirling
in Corona Borealis
like stars that gave up their fixed places
to blossom awhile and fall
by the janitors who came after us.
And the gnostic gospels of the autumn leaves
we used to read together
when the weather got cold
have been buried in urns
deep in desert caves
like the holy books of persecuted outcasts
that had an epiphanous way of looking at things
that are hard to explain.
Very few things are things of beauty
and even fewer joys forever
but it’s ungracious to mourn
that it happens to be the way it is
but even so even so
as Basho would say.
Attachment too is a Buddha activity
and we mourn the flowers passing away.
And the rivers and the stars carry forth into themselves
like light and water and passion.
How little of what we said and did
means much now?
Two actors that have gone on to other plays.
A carnival of hearts on a road tour
with a big finale on closing night in the grave.
I remember you with much more discretion now
than I used to.
Things grow dark and clear in the winter.
The cold night air prunes your lungs with lunar scalpels
and though there’s less heat in them
than there is in the summer
the stars burn through the thinner veils of the willows
with greater insight
than they did when they shone above us.
It would have been facile and insincere
to have been embittered by the biased juries
that prosecute a broken heart
trying to apply the law to love.
And for the most part I didn’t let
what was tender and enduring about us then
turn into hard evidence
and throw live rabbits into a snake pit
hoping to appeal the sentence.
I’ve done my time standing up
with my mouth shut
and left the snakes and the rabbits
to fend for themselves
as you and I did
when the final judgment came down.
And the truth will out
I still remember you as a window
I once looked through
into the creative genius of God
when she comes down to earth
in all her radiance
to see what charms the sons of men
what lights them up
like new stars in the Pleiades
and blows them out like black dwarfs
that collapse under their own gravity
after the last ray of light
finishes shredding the secret documents
that would have incriminated us
for once having been in love
and escapes its abandoned embassy
in the Great Nebula of Orion.
And even as a muse
as this poem attests
you arise occasionally
into my field of vision
from era to era
like the ghost of a constellation
or a bird in transit across the moon
or the smoking root fires
of stars that haven’t quite gone out.
And I see in you now
as I did way back then
all aspects of lunar women
reflected in these briefly beautiful moments
that seem like notes of frozen music
at a nexus of the temporal and eternal
like jewels in the eye of a diamond cutter
who’s always grateful
for the long red wavelengths of inspiration
that come to him like retroactive love letters
as expansive with farewell
as the widening wakes of the past
but who knows a lot more about shining
than he did way back then
when the light was more obvious
than it is now.
I will always see the mystery of woman
like an ancient wine
brewed from a blood red eclipse of grapes
that ripened in the sun at
on the dark side of the moon
and as every man is bound to drink
from the cup the moon offers him
I drink down to the very last drop of night
in my crystal skull.
And I can still taste the delirium
of lightning and fireflies
all the stars and jewels and chandeliers
all the eerie flavours of your translucency
that once shuddered through me like spears of light.
I drink the wine
as I would have taken the apple years ago
from the open palm of your hand
like any one of those three black horses
and one with a star in the middle of its forehead
you were coaxing to approach you
over a cedar rail fence in the Garden of Eden.
And though it’s sad and beautiful and dangerous
to remember why we were exiled from the ode
I’ve come to see that broken taboos
are just the eggshells of hidden blessings
that take to their wings
like the silhouettes
of waterbirds in the moonlight.
And I’m a better poet now that I live on my own
with all these afterlives for company
who whisper in my ear
like the rustling of autumn calendars
let things go
let things go
like a windfall of storm-shaken apples.
And I have.
I’ve learned to let things go
like blossoms and leaves and starmaps
that used to glow in the dark
inside my head as I slept
dreaming up schemes for my enlightenment.
I take a deep delight
in the winds of transformation
that feather my dinosaurs into dragons.
I can still feel the rapture and the ecstasy
laced like silver threads of lightning
in the disappointment and despair
of watching the changes
without knowing where I’m going
this far from home
and all my starmaps obsolete.
But I’ve still got a great eye
for the mood swings of colour and light
and the subtle spiritual tones
in the emotional life of the night.
And the beauty I saw incarnated in you that day
like an epiphany that wouldn’t be denied a body
has only rooted more deeply
in my memory over the years
and grown like wild grape vines
with musically inclined tendrils
like the wine of an old theme song
so inevitably ripe with joy and sorrow
it refuses to be watered down
from the original miracle
no matter how many tears have been shed
since we left the wedding.
And it’s strange how memories
can arise more like revelations
and prophecies of yesterday
like time-delayed inspirations
when you’re living on your own.
In art and life and love
they’ve taught me
time and time again
how emotions frozen with pain
that calved icebergs like glaciers
into the shipping lanes
of the mindstream
can thaw ice-age mirrors into tears
when they lose a grip on themselves like snow.
That the reasons to stay
are no less relevant than the reasons
to go off into the unknown.
That it doesn’t matter
whether you wash your hands at home
of the things you’ve touched
and in turn have touched you
or take a bath in the stars
to wash off the ghosts that cling
to your skin and hair
like the dust of the road.
We’re all swimming
in the same water clock
against the flow of the stream
like spawning salmon
summoned out of the great sea
of urgent awareness
back to where we were born.
We’re called to love and death
sex and extinction
at the same time.
And one is not to be revered
any less than the other.
And so’s the winter.
But more than anything else
looking back over
the event horizons
of the people and things I’ve known
reflecting on the timing
of my content
like seasons of my own
nine times out of ten
I know when
to leave perfection
well enough alone.