Friday, September 2, 2011


And the voices come. Some with bouquets of razorblades. And some with white Russian irises. They gather like smoke and Milky Ways and born again pilgrims on the Road of Ghosts. Water snakes in the moonlight. They come the way my last lover’s voice would sound now. And I can hear the thunder of the blue stones and the sarsens walking all the way from southwest Wales to Stonehenge just to make a new religion out of the way farmers look at the sky. Sad voices like dolorous iron bells swaying like women heavy with child. And those incomprehensible voices that are still looking for their Rosetta Stone that just stare at you blankly and say more about the meaning of loss with their eyes than they do with their mouths. Like children starving to death in East Africa.
            I listen without judgment or distinction for the living word or the dead. I listen as if I were listening to a grove of nightbirds on the outskirts of Babylon. I hear the turkey vultures shuffling like undertakers at the sky burials of random road kill. And I hear the nightingales. I hear the anthracite crow on the dead branch of featherless sumac mocking my diamond insights like a chunk of coal. A great nebula of voices ingathering out of the void. And I wait. I wait to see which of all these in this cloud of unknowing will be the first to precipitate into stars.  Rain. Myths of shining. Alcyone in the Pleiades. And I never know whether I’m going to be dancing on water with fireflies or waltzing with despair under a chandelier of black holes. Or wheeling up and down the stairwells of helical thermals under my wings like a red-tailed hawk until the sun goes down on a long lazy August afternoon with the moon coming up in the west. And it doesn’t matter if the mirror on the wall is white or black or pthalo blue. White and light or dark and deep. Weeping or giddy with delight when I tell her that she’s obviously a more beautiful similitude than I am. I listen to what the rich pleonast appeals for like more and more and more of the same thing. Kingfishers and halcyon seas. And I hear the poor man pleading for a lifeboat like an echo drowned out by the sound of one hand clapping in a thunderstorm. I hear the voices of the dead trying to unsay things through me. Things they said and did not mean. Or should have said in tears. I try to undo the silence as much as I can for them and set them free. But whose seance I answer isn’t up to me. Out of the polyglot chaos of insights and words I let spontaneity emerge into a choir of picture-music like schools of excitable fish in the moonlight turning all the same way at once or flocks of Canada geese colliding with one another as they rise from the autumn cornfield and slowly begin to string themselves together into a flying necklace. And I’m wholly possessed at the first advance of the mermaids who’ve come to sing to me. I place myself in their hands like the scratched guitar they learned to play on and for all the time it was treated like luggage on tour has kept its voice like karaoke night and stayed in tune for years.
            It’s easier to raise a corpse from its grave like a potato or a tuber than it is to raise a fire brigade or an air-raid siren in Atlantis. But some voices sound like that. Boys who cry wolf and Mayan chicken-littles trying to decipher their own calendars in a multiverse of worlds within worlds one no worse than another breaking like bubbles in their ears at all times of the year. In this matrix of interdependent origination when has one moment of life here and now not been the sum of all the death in the infinite permutations and combinations of worlds thriving like a phoenix in the ashes of their own extinction? Cosmic calamities breed comical mammals anticipating apocalypse like karma and blood guilt. If catastrophe can happen in favour of you at the expense of another species like a woman you seduced away from your best friend. You know how it’s done. You grow paranoid thinking it could happen to you. And thus the voices that try to possess the whole of your soul but never find it enough though no part’s left out like water on the moon to bind it to their own. Water in a state of grace flows. But water in a state of vice turns to ice and doesn’t listen to anyone’s advice that isn’t at least as cold and brittle as it is. The mirror never thaws. Eyes frozen in time. Three pounds of starmud. The brain. Five million years in the making. One hundred billion neurons with fifty thousand neuronic connections each to other brain cells just so it can conceive of its disconnection to the multiverse as if it were just a plug with a spinal cord. As they have been from the very beginning the intelligentsia of today are the lab rats space monkeys and guinea pigs of tomorrow. Evolution is a screening myth for murder. And we all advance in sorrow for the end of things every step of the way. Yesterday’s achievement is the hurdle in the way of today. Get over it. War is twice the genius that peace ever was. Medicine’s learned more from body parts than it ever did the whole ones. Just as there seems to be more love in a broken heart than there is in a full one without cracks. One voice suggests I imagine a baby tortoise in the Galapagos descended from the one that is supposed to be holding up the world mountain on its back pecking its way out of its cosmic egg suddenly start to cry out as it breaks open the sky is falling the sky is falling! Everybody into their tortoise shells! And another spreads its wings like a water bird and takes a run at flying. But the one I like the best crawls out of its chrysalis in the morning like a butterfly that can’t tell whether it dreamed it was a wise word of wisdom in a fortune-cookie or a replica of the Cutty Sark under full sail that someone folded up and slipped like a love note into a bottle pleading for help like the ghost of a shipwrecked anachronism.
            I listen to a Friday night voice on the sidewalk below my second-storey window. I’m a bad ass muthafucka. Expressive but not too cogent. And the drunk girlfriend with a peal of laughter to put him in his place without taste or subtlety like a lower caste of sexual society. You wish. And then a voice says as if it were panning for gold nuggets of meaning. There’s no significance in this. And another that counters this is the triviality that history and archaeology will come looking for like the intimate jubilation of their own profound inebriation with the mystery of the dead that trembles over our bones like a divining rod over a watershed. The mystery of what we’re doing here on Foster Street on a Friday night in Perth as if it were a stage with streetlamps whether we’re drunk on whiskey drunk on stars drunk on the prospect of getting laid drunk on rage and humiliation drunk on our solitude or cooking up moon rocks in a tinfoil lily drunk on meanings colours words or what grows along the banks of the Tay River like teenagers and wildflowers along the meandering mind. Our life here on earth is expressive not definitive. The function of meaning is just the easel. The provisional scaffolding. Not the paint. The function of picture-music in the empty shrines of the mind is the singing not the saint. They’re both free. As I am. As anyone is. Of delusion and reality. And what’s absurd and what’s profound in the spirit’s lost and found is of no relevance whatsoever in a world where everything seems so brutally playful or playfully brutal while up above in the radiant expansiveness of time and space the stars are putting as much distance between themselves and us as they can as if they didn’t like what they see when they look at themselves through our eyes. And then a voice of assent that comes like the soft syllable yes of a blessing in disguise. This is the way it is. The way it expresses itself with nothing intervening. But the moment you set out to seek the meaning of it all you will see how ever long you search is not what it was meant to be. You won’t hear the drunken voices of the bad muthafuckas and their tougher girlfriends trying to shoot the stars out like road signs and mail boxes on a Friday night. You won’t hear the unvoiced watersheds of despair in the noisy fountains of their joy.