YOU LIED TO ME ONCE
You lied to me once
and then you lied again about why you lied.
And I couldn’t tell if you were a hall of mirrors
who thought you could warp the truth like space
and bend the light to your way of shining
or just liked talking out of your ears
like the sea in a seashell
with multiple piercings along its nacreous lobes
you kept like a calendar
to mark the best night of the year
to start planting things
in the hearts of the lovers
whose flesh you turned over like soil.
You said you were a witch
and I was your broomstick
but you didn’t mind
if I came along for the ride.
And though it felt foolish
to fancy myself a warlock
by the cosmology of dark matter
and alien planets with exotic atmospheres
I could explore like a runaway space probe
for signs of my own kind of life
and ok when in
do as the Romans don’t
and throwing the stars over my left shoulder
like the spilled salt of an older radiance
wrapped your night around me
like the cloak and chrysalis of a warlock
and hoped I wasn’t defaming anyone
in the name of what you wanted me to be.
Your body was a unified field theory
and when I first lay down beside it
there was nothing in the universe
it couldn’t explain
and in that menacing shrine
of frankincense and black candles
you called a bedroom
we broke the oaths we’d made
to the thousand swords
that came between us like reasons not to.
And when I kissed your emergency mouth
I could taste the earthly taboo
on the lips
of your celestial fortune-cookie
like a full eclipse of the harvest moon.
We sowed the dragon’s teeth
and renewed the flesh of the skeletons
that arose from the dead.
And in front of the fireplace
where we made love on the Golden Fleece
I remember how you used to burn the prophets
who came dressed up in our feathers
as if we were waterbirds
and not the spawn of a phoenix
on the pyres of our ancestral demons
our mouths speaking in tongues
to our bodies
as if they’d just been discovered
like the native language of all Rosetta Stones
in a desert of bewildered stars
urgently trying to tell us something
for our ears only.
Dark raptures that didn’t sweat the details
of the unreal mirages we exorcised
through the pores of our skin
like the hot tears of lesser elixirs
that tried to palm themselves off
like snakeoil antidotes
to the serpentine love potions of original sin
though the consequences be damned for it ever after amen.
We knew a wonder that’s older than God
and deeper than night.
And I swear there were times I couldn’t tell
if I were shagging a witch
or in mystic connubium
with the eclipse of a hidden dakini
on the other side of the black mirror
of the mind I left behind me
like a note to reality
to go looking for itself without me.
And apparently it did
for the thirteen lunar months
I was with you at least.
And that’s not to say I have any regrets.
I can’t remember you
for the dark fruit of the dead
you arrayed like the feast of your body
out on black satin sheets
that glistened like the skin of a snake pit
to summon Orpheus down into the underworld
like an oracular succubus
that liked to be possessed
by the picture-music of prophetic skulls
in the same key as her G-spot.
I was Hermes Trismegistus the Thrice Blessed
and you were all the occult sciences of the flesh.
Your esoteric eroticism
isn’t the kind of spell
you can cast off all that easily
or pass on to a willing novitiate
uprooting weeds in a herb garden
of untried remedies.
And lust has always been harder to heal than love.
The warlock thing wore off like a cult
once you started
handing out black kool-aid
from the fountain of youth.
I never really understood
why you thought
there was a lock on my heart
when I’ve always thought of it
as the missing link in the food chain
but you did
and it’s still oxymoronic as hell to me
to remember you sitting
in a rhombus of sunlight
on the hardwood floor of the living room
reciting an imported mantra
like a repeating decimal
that would eventually crack the code
to the vault where death kept its darkest jewels.
I used to watch you grind your teeth
like kernels of corn
on the lingam and yoni
of the stone age cosmic eggs
you tried to break like koans.
I still don’t know what it was
you were looking for
and I still deny
I was Ali Baba or anyone
of the forty-thieves
and there was no Open Sesame
that could have opened the cave any wider
than I’d already opened it to you.
And though I don’t mind
taking a bath in my own grave once in a while
to rinse the dirt of life off me
I told you from the very beginning
the tomb was empty
and I didn’t know who it belonged to
but if you wanted to believe you were Mary Magdalene
I’d try to relate.
But you let an open gate come between us
and the mirages evaporated
and the oases returned to their watersheds
the wishing wells dried up
and though I know you wanted
to breach the ultimate taboo with Jesus
and all I could manage to do
was get it up like Lazarus
I knew it was time
to add a little more sweetgrass
to the medicine bags of the scapegoat
and drive myself out into the wilderness
like an unwilling ascetic
to avoid being tempted by Jesus.
It gets lonely out here
but I still have dirty dreams of you
that puts the religious pornography
of St. Anthony’s hard drive to shame.
I’ve been the scapegoat for a lot of things
not of my doing but who knows
maybe not undeservedly
but I do know
when you place the burden of your own sins
like a lot of heavy judgment
on the backs of the irrelevantly innocent
they take their ostrakons out into the desert
like pieces of a broken urn
and in the vas hermeticum of their ashes
into Renaissance masters of all evil.
The bestial becomes personified
by the sophisticated features and dark clarity
of intriguing familiars like Azazel
flying the Satanic banner of his bloodstream
from the horned crescents of the moon.
And the payback can be more illuminating
in its own dark way
than a mystic black hole in a hood
on the via negativa to enlightenment
or anyone of those myopic jewels you were looking for
like eyes that could see better in the dark than you could
even when the sun shone at .
I’ve heard it said
that the devil’s last trick
is to prove that she doesn’t exist.
And it’s hard to imagine
a darkness deeper than that.
And though we’re overly discrete
when we encounter each other these days
as the Quran says
evil is separation
and knowing what I know of you
how could I doubt it?
Just the same
given you can only see
as far into the dark
as the light you’ve been given to go by.
You into burning your bridges behind you
and me into crossing the ones I see ahead.
The way we were in bed together.
For every demon that jumped from heaven
an angel rose from hell.
The zeniths and nadirs
the apogees and perigees of the bodymind
the spirit that knows the darkness in the fire
the shadow in the lamp
that like everything else in this looping universe
so as many good things come of the darkness
as bad things do in the day.
Nothing sits above or below the salt
at a circular table
and even that thirteenth house of the zodiac
the others signs used to peck at
for getting around like the warped ellipsoid
of a waterclock with its own tail in its mouth
instead of the precision cogwork
they were wasting their time on
finds a place for its homelessness.
And a sword they pull out of their hearts
like iron from a star
like a king from a stone
like a thorn from the lion’s paw.
And even if you could prove to me
you don’t exist
trying to pull the wool
over the sacrificial sheep’s eyes
like a Klingon cloak of invisibility
like Cat Woman at a bat rave
I wouldn’t believe you anyway.
Ten virtuous scars in a choir of bleeders
couldn’t hold a black candle
up to one of your wounds
or six exorcisms
and nine lost holy wars
or the decretal of a curse
stuck like a rolling paper
to the pope’s lips
ever make me forget
the human divinity
that conceals its sensual blessings
like hidden jewels
in the depths of a spiritual eclipse
I still walk in the shadow of even today
like the dead seas
of those long lunar wavelengths
redshifting in your bedroom
like the lost atmosphere
of a young igneous moon
lying in the arms of the old.
Water might grow bald
as a polar ice cap
and stellar passion
shrink to a black dwarf
and even when entropy
sinks into the rapture of oblivion
in the sexual narcosis
of its fourth level of dreamless gratified sleep
at minus 273 degrees Kelvin
you’ll never grow cold or inert.
In a cemetery of dead stars
that have relinquished their haloes
like the heavy metals of excruciations
too heavy to bear
one atom among
the dead starfish
of billions upon billions of galaxies
Will run like tears of gold
out of the dark ores of time and space.
One small unspent firefly of desire
one chimney spark
in the mouth of the dark cosmic furnace
ignite the creative lightning of lust
that gives the universe its thrust
and gets the whole show
on the pilgrim road to radiance again
by deepening the darkness
that makes the night bird sing in extasis
like an inextinguishable candle
at one of those black masses
that tried to scandalize me
for being able to embrace
so much that was dark about you