Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Easy to extract oneself from the climacteric of doom

that will absolve humanity of its horrors

by placing its destiny in its own hands

like a loaded gun in the hands of a child

by taking long nocturnal walks by the Tay River

among wildflowers full of farewell.

To watch the moonrise glowing

on the Texas toes of my wet black boots

as if they’d just been spit polished by morning snails

and sense the just proportions

and inchoate eloquence of eternity

in the trivialities of sublime coincidence.

How randomly everything fits

into this urgent medium of life and death

as if it played the tailor to its own emergence seamlessly

the way the mind stream cuts a path for itself

among a bewildering array of rocks and fallen birch

or a startled rat snake adds its wavelength

like a higher frequency to the laconic water

and yet no river has ever flowed the wrong way to the sea.

Easy to step out of the polluted light of the streetlamps

into the cleaner darkness on the outskirts of town

to renew my innocence

in the macrocosmic reveries of my solitude

enchanted by the mesmerizing details

of the mystically miniscule.

How the New England asters

in the middle of September

that yesterday bloomed like stars

in happier zodiacs than this

today are watching their eyelashes fall out one by one

and the daylilies that blazed with desire

wither like the kisses of old women

when no one’s there to receive them.

Easy to accept catastrophe in nature

as the spontaneous gesture of a hidden wisdom

that our eyes are too dependent on the light to see yet.

The muskrat gutted by the cattails

by a posse of rampant coyotes

in a frenzy of panicked hunger

sensing the cold-blooded wind turn vicious.

Soon the air will bare its fangs and snarl.

Soon the earth will harden into knuckles of ice

and the raccoons semi-hibernate

and the blue jays come like thieves

to pick the time-locks on the sunflowers

and the seeds enter the cryonic comas of their afterlives

confident of their revival in a future beyond doubt

as the planet sidles up to the sun at perigee

like an old love affair gone cold

tilting its head away

to rebuff any further advances.

Easy to lose yourself in the life of the mind

and the phantasmagoria of reality

that makes you feel you’re walking with gods

you’ll never know the name of.

Turn your back on the world

and let your thoughts wander off like smoke

from the fire pits of lost caravans

that have pitched their tents

on the dark side of the moon

where they can make up their own myths

about the strange stars

that have misled them this far from home.

How the creek laps the rock

like a doe at a salt block

left out in a farmer’s field.

How the water purls over the terraced shale

that looks like a burnt book in the ashes

of a fire that’s just been put out

like the library of Alexandria.

You could do that.

And who could blame you?

You wouldn’t be wrong.

It’s hard to listen

the way you listen to a star stream

slipping through a grove of birches at night

astute to everything it’s whispering;

hard to listen to the blood

gurgling out of a wounded child

like a poppy choking to death.

Hard to fine-tune your sensibilities

to the miscreant devolution of your own species

and not be savagely appalled

into holding a mirror up to nature

that blocks the view as surely

as if you’d put your hands up over your eyes

to escape it all and wake up somewhere else

where skulls are more natural in Eden

than in the abattoirs of human carnage.

A clean life with no skidmarks of despair.

No fingernails scratching at the walls

in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

No graffiti under the bridges of PsychoBabylon.

No university students on the road to Damascus

tortured like Rosetta Stones

that have just had their tongues cut out

for not saying anything

that makes any sense

to the body language of the depraved

mutilating their flesh like slang.

Just the claw marks on the rocks

that have been sanitized by time

like the glacial striations of the last ice age

that gouged out the eyes of the lakes around here.

The bitter aesthetes of retreat run back to paradise

to study demonology by the light of fireflies

to better understand their fellow man

and live tactically out of reach

of their common inhumanity

where there’s not chance of a ricochet.

Under a locust tree in full bloom.

A fragrant cloud of honey-bees

with as many thorns as they have stingers

behind a wall of zinnias, cosmos, gladiolas

on a hill in the eye of clearing

completely surrounded by trees

sitting at a picnic table

with a black coffee, cigarette, and journal

inspired by the beauty of the morning to write

before your lover wakes up

to tend nine bean rows in Innisfree

though it’s eleven miles

and a hundred years ago

outside Westport Ontario

where you can hear the scarlet carillons

of the wild columbine in the rain

tinkling like delicate wind chimes

and modestly agitated chandeliers

plucked by the rain like the plectra

of home-made harpsichords

on the moss-pated rocks

of their composer’s skulls.

No mediocrities in nature

it’s hard not to feel like Mozart

whatever you’re listening to.

No air raid sirens, ambulances

squad cars or firetrucks

screaming like banshees

like furies and erinyes

to the scene of the tragic event.

No fractious braying of political jackasses

grinding their teeth in their sleep

like the mill wheels of the stony bread

the rich resent the poor

like loaves and fishes and mice in the silo

boat-tailed grackles and black-capped chickadees

salvaging what they can

from the dumpsters of leftover gardens.

No pathological racket of garbage cans

being tipped over in a street fight

to end all street fights

like knights in armour on their backs

in front a shield wall of local police

picking them up to hold them for ransom.

No drunks and druggies in the hallways

only bats velcroed to the burdock

blinded by the porch light

and star-nosed moles and snakes on the threshold

the cats leave like offerings

on the stairs of the temple of Bast.

So much easier to listen to the eerie wailing

of baby porcupines high in the basswood trees

than the shrieks of a family

being dragged out of their beds

by an occupation army

to see which of their daughters sisters mothers

will be raped like the Congo

whose childhood shall be pressed into murder

and who shall be bred out of existence.

Easy to buff the crack of the world with talcum powder

to spare you from getting diaper-rash of the mind

and side-track the ferocity of your insight into the horror

with lightning-rods and tuning forks

you can break with your pinky finger like wishbones

torn from the throats of children

who didn’t have time enough on earth

to learn to read the names on their own gravestones

if they’re lucky enough to have one.

Easy to have a time-share

in nature’s indifference to death

when there no place left

on the surface of a raging planet

that isn’t a dangerous vacation.

So much easier to tinker with echinacea

and smudge the bad spirits

out of the renovated farm house with sage

from home-grown herb gardens

than it is to inhale the reek of cordite

or the stench of organic decomposition

of the adolescent flesh of the festering corpse

found in a drainage ditch among the weeds

like a lily that smelled far worse than them

on the outskirts of Argentina

in the stadiums of Chile

in the Tiananmen Squares of China

in the mass hysteria of the bloodbanks of Syria

trying to assail a nest of dynastic vampires

with a silver bullet through the heart of the cloaked one

in the radical slums of Gaza

in the Warsaw ghettos of the West Bank

run by Israel searching children outside the gate

for smuggled vegetables from the Fertile Crescent

in the native reservations of the originals

who peopled Canada

like a charter of indigenous freedoms

without any concept of surveying their mother like real estate.

Outside the emergency exits and entrances of Arizona

where immigrants beaten to death

and dumped on the pavement to die

abandon all hope of ever entering there

and bullfrogs squatting on their sheriff’s badge

croak about getting tough on the mosquitoes

by hand-cuffing them to the food chain for deportation.

Flies eggs in the goat’s milk.

Spiders sucking the life out of the jewel

in the heart of the American dream catcher.

All that is hideous, grotesque, perverse,

genocidal, fratricidal, patricidal, matricidal, suicidal and worse

than acid splashed in the eyes of Afghani schoolgirls

learning to read through holes in the ozone

by flashlight under the veils of Isis.

Seek ye knowledge even as far as China.

Wheresoever ye turn is the face of God revealed

like the encaustic portrait of girl that came unglued

like a multilated candle on CNN

trying to shine a light on

nur wa nur

what’s dark and brutal

about the alif ba ta tha gim

of an alphabet in the mouth of an oral tradition

with an alchemical regime of hashashim for muscle.

You know how many dolls they collected at Dachau?

You know how many soccer balls

have had their feet blown off by cluster bombs in Gaza?

You know how many weathervanes

have stiffened their resolve

to look the other way like iron roosters

with alarmist political agendas

and industrious military complexes

as corrupted as the weather

when the wind is blowing the wrong way

like bad spin from the chimneys of Auschwitz

and Sabra and Shatila lie in the direction of prayer

like the gunsight of a Palestinian sniper?

Is this God’s ferocity

or the inconceivable atrocities of mad men

eaten alive by Herodian maggots

seeking the life of the first born of every nation

to preserve their myth of spontaneous generation.

Sweet to see the shadows of the autumn leaves

fossilized like bat wings on the sidewalk;

to notice how they turn

in the same succession of colours

from the outside in

as rainbows sunsets

and the emission spectra of nearby stars

busy on the nightshift making calcium and carbon.

Sweet to know this and to wonder at it

easy in the mystery

among the dragonflies and the blue hyacinth,

nailing bluebird boxes out of the reach of the barn cats

and egg-stealing raccoons

to play your part in it like a companionable spirit.

Asylum from the world.


Diplomatic immunity among the great blue herons

because you’ve stood there so long

without disturbing a fish

they think you’re one of them.