YOU’VE GOT TO LEARN TO LET IT GLOW
You’ve got to learn to let it glow.
Ride the dragon.
The sun god’s chariot.
Not come undone like Icarus
over-reaching everybody’s best advice.
You know how to plunge
but I can’t remember the last time
I saw you rise
or even try to hang on.
Yesterday you were gold
and today you’re the ore
and it feels as if you’ve had your heart ripped out
and there’s nothing precious about what’s left.
Take space from space it’s still space.
Who needs to put a gold ribbon around it
to prove there’s a gift inside?
Diamonds are born in the darkness
not the light.
The root’s more crucial than the blossom.
Alcohol, women, valium, sleeping pills, coke,
I know you’re a martyr to your body and your mind
and that cauldron of a heart you used to hover over
like a cloud around a visionary mountain
seeing things the rest of us could only guess at
has turned into a pharmacopoeia of sprites and goblins.
How many paths are you going to let yourself
be lead down by the nose
before you realize
they all leave you blind at a crossroads?
You’re immanentally on your own
with the rest of us here
apprenticed to the greater magic of the mind
that keeps casting spells upon us
it takes the transformative traumas of life to break.
So we can grow.
So we can get out of the egg
whether it’s a cosmic glain
a fortune cookie laid by a bird of ill omen
or the opal of a hummingbird.
So we can shed our skin our sky our myth
our preconceived attachments to a self
that promises one sip
of the snakeoils of death and desire
and you’ll fall in love forever
with wild dancing girls
swaying under their veils
like mirages on the moon.
And what a feeble affair
if life ever needed a why to live.
Who knows why?
For the fuck of it.
For the ride.
Because it’s inconceivable
that it’s being done everyday
in the most sublime and trivial ways
by people who say they can’t.
I’m not trying to scold your heart.
Or renew your burnish in an acid bath.
In Zen they say the mind is an artist.
Able to paint the worlds.
But that doesn’t mean
it just paints things you like to see.
When do the stars ever get to choose
what they shine down upon?
Stop strolling through the galleries of life
like some aesthetic voyeur
with a monolithic view of prophetic vision
discussing the relative merits of this and that.
Turn your lucidity around like an inner light
and illuminate your own masterpiece
like a work in progress you’ll never complete
because only the mediocrities
assess their successes in life as fait accomplis.
Real genius risks nothing less than everything all the time
for the unattainable
knowing that failure’s a truer measure
of the ongoing attempt to avoid
the inexpressible outcome of its creative intensity
by filling all that dark abundance up
with the bright vacancy of a shapeshifting universe
than the self-contained success
of the goose that laid the golden egg
but couldn’t peck its way out of it.
I can’t imagine a river anywhere along its flowing
whether it’s hoisting the garbage barges of a city
up on the shoulders of its waves
or sporting yachts like feathers in its cap
thinking of itself as a loser or a winner.
Rain on a garden.
Rain in the gutter.
Is this successful
and that a failure of water?
And truth to tell
even the mirages can’t be held to blame
if you fix on them like a picture-frame
or a walled garden with no gate
that anyone can enter by.
They disappear like planetary atmospheres
that didn’t want to be held that close.
Mirrors with wanderlust.
But in your disappointment with life
isn’t that water?
Aren’t those real tears?
How can anyone or anything
within the expanding precincts
of these worlds within worlds
be considered false or lost or lacking
in this space where even the lies come true
and grow and bear fruit
rooted in their homelessness
like the thresholds of stars
and the past behind
in all directions at once
as if the only future available to them
as for all of us who shine
whether we grope through the darkness
like a candle or a galaxy
a flash of lightning
or the merest hint of a firefly
is to open our eyes and see.
The drunk in the doorway is not junk mail.
And the ceo in the board room
dictating loveletters to his secretary
is not the last word in self-promotion.
If the mountain weeps
it’s not because it feels
it’s let down the ocean.PATRICK WHITE