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
among wildflowers full of farewell.
To watch the moonrise glowing
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.
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
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
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
No graffiti under the bridges of PsychoBabylon.
No university students on the road to
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
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
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
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
in the stadiums of
in the Tiananmen Squares of
in the mass hysteria of the bloodbanks of
trying to assail a nest of dynastic vampires
with a silver bullet through the heart of the cloaked one
in the radical slums of
for smuggled vegetables from the
in the native reservations of the originals
like a charter of indigenous freedoms
without any concept of surveying their mother like real estate.
Outside the emergency exits and entrances of
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
Seek ye knowledge even as far as
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
You know how many soccer balls
have had their feet blown off by cluster bombs in
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
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.