TO SEE THE GLEE IN YOUR EYES AT EIGHTY
To see the glee in your eyes at eighty
as if you were about to achieve something as big
as you did at three.
And you, there, shy one, freaky adolescent
day after day in the same corner of the restaurant
like a bruised mermaid
riding the clock out like a sea turtle
until it’s time to go home again and face the music;
you who drive your pen so deeply
into the fleshy paper
of your black arts journal
as if you were carving up a body
or intensely wedging the tiny bird tracks
of your hieroglyphic footnotes
like some bitter aside
into the shin of that Ramsean gigantism
you’re standing in the shadow of
waiting for it to get dark enough
the fireflies might come out.
To see you light up like a rainbow at a black mass
when I ask if I can look
and you turn your book over like a leaf
and show me a breakthrough masterpiece
that’s good enough to start a school of crocuses
with no instruction from anyone.
To see you afraid to believe in your own excellence
the juno of your aristos
yet risking the possibility it might be a fact
you’re the mysterious matrix
of a genuinely creative act;
that you might feel
like you’ve got a lump of coal for a heart
and a La Brea tar pit for a mind
but when the mascara comes off
like a Gothic eclipse
you’re a new moon
and you’re starting to shine like a diamond.
To see the black dove in your eyes
liberated from the cages of disapproval
imposed on you by white crows in disguise
is to know
what human beings are doing on earth.
To see what softens the angry blue eyes
of the next generation
of gram masters of Gore Street
with their heads shaved like Auschwitz
or the Stalinesque inmates of the Thief’s World
with its rock pile laws
trying to stay true to the Rosetta Stone
of their prison tatToos
like the sacred syllables
of the mother tongue of darkness.
To see in the glee in their eyes
when their girlfriends take them back
that their hearts are not hard enough yet
to be immune to alienation
and for all the rocks that blister in spoons
the occasional angel still keeps its place
as Francis Thompson knew better than these
under the stones that love turns over
like eclipses of the moon
that weren’t indelible enough to last.
To see the glee in the eyes of a child
when it looks at an animal
and sees the same instinctive innocence
that’s just as wild as it is
and watch their minds go crazy
trying to give their tongues
a jump up on their amazement
at meeting a senient life form
that speaks the same language they do
and shares in the original parity
of the undifferentiated freedom
they still enraptures them in Dilmun
and the Garden of Eden.
To see such ecstasy in their eyes
is to know how much wonder is lost
how much joy in just being here with everything else
is driven out of us
as we age our way into separation
deluded by the truth
that perfects our isolation
from the small and big furry things with startling eyes
and the Bolshoi Ballet of fins and veils
that makes my gold fish Toke a dancer
or an underwater comet
high above Atlantis
like a good omen on the eve
of some catastrophic decision
to rise again with more imagination to live
than the dead have reason not to.
To see the glee in the eyes of a friend in winter
like the bouquet of good brandy
beside a warm fire mythologizing
the first drafts of the stories
that are being told and retold
by the blind poets of an oral tradition
sipping red gold
from the snifters of inspiration
they swirl like the whirlpools of the muses
warming to their palms like the head of a glass rose
with its stem between their fingers.
To see in their eyes how good it is
to recognize we’re all linked like tree rings
to the same heartwood
through all four seasons of our lives
is to make a friend of your own human nature
by remembering even in the midst
of this blitz of blazing that blinds the world
on the frantic midways of its cheap thrills
like a heart under a roof heavy with snow
the best things in life
like fires and friends
and goblets of auburn Courvoisier
still glow without diminishment.
To see the glee in the eyes of the rain
that they can behold the whole of the sky again
and all its stars
in the single drop of a tear
though the rain doesn’t know who it’s crying for
is to understand in a flash of insight
even though you fall
like the small flower at the tip of a blade of stargrass
like a grain of sand down the slopes
of the oxymoronic mountains in an hourglass
you contain it all within yourself
and you can’t pour the universe out of the universe
anymore than you can be driven out of paradise
or be obliterated out of existence
whether humanity immolates itself
or dark energy accelerates us
into an entropy of starless ice.
To perceive the stars and the fireflies in the eyes of the rain
is to comprehend that your mystic specificity
is so unique and broad-shouldered
that down to the slightest detail
what makes you so crucially you
is that it upholds the whole of the rest of the world
in every cell and grain of gold and dirt
like a mountain of a cornerstone
that’s as boundless and high
as its bottomless valley is deep.
To look into the eyes of the stranger
the child the friend the lover the corpse
the eye of the hurricane the enemy the Medusa
the wounded white tail buck in the barbed wire fence
the black-eyed Susans the English ox-eyed daisies
or the yellow suns in the hydrogen clouds
of the New England asters
or the white eclipse of the black holes
in the eyes of the shark as it rolls to kill
or to attune the expression
to the sensibilities of the moment
as a fourteenth century German mystic once wrote
the same eye by which I see the multiverse
are all the eyes by which the multiverse sees me.
What you see
When you understand
Lost causes flaws and imperfections.
The lamp the road the night the light the journey.
You can ask the fireflies.
You can ask the galaxies.
But when you’ve exhausted all your cul de sacs
it’s going to be your own seeing
that gives you the right directions
like true north on the inside
and then reminds you in a gentle aside
that it’s impossible to be off the path
because it’s as wide as your field of vision.
When you see for yourself
who’s watching you in this dream of life
even the blind are enlightened
and as many as the ways
and as myriad as the eyes there are
to see in and through your mind
like a jewel turning in the light
it reveals like infinite insight
from the dark source of its own radiance
we rejoice in the genius
of compassion and courage
who took a Pax gene and a moonbeam
and in a moment of omnidirectional inspiration
that included all points of view at once
made it the muse of our eyes.
When you realize
that sight is a kind of love
as I once read on a poster in the sixties
when you open your eyes
like an expanding universe
even our imperfections shine
in the available dimensions of the darkness before us
and born from the very beginning of everything else
to see and be happy
eye to eye with your own vision of things
as they appear and disappear
like thorns and roses from your heart
like leptons axions and quarks
like the stem cells of your own creative potential
to enter the dark spaces of your own imageless realms
and revel like a child in the art
of making worlds within worlds
like an opening night that everyone’s invited to.
Comets bombarded the earth
and the waters of life
broke from their fire wombs
and for the children of that union
there’s never been a way
to look into the eyes of their opposite
without seeing themselves.
Whether in sorrow or joy
whether in love despair ignorance or wisdom
out of our minds
or biding our time within them
like a flower that knows when to bloom
our shadows cast on a winter night
by the approaching light of Venus
or exalted by the crazy wisdom of life
in the thriving tides of the moon
eyes in the sky
like spy satellites extraterrestrials
and Hubble telescopes
eyes in the water
eyes in the blood
eyes in the wine
eyes in the wheat the apple the pomegranate
eyes in the forbidden fruits
that make all things believable
two eyes and a third
in the word for imagination
to conceive of the inconceivable.
When you see this
through your own eyes
even the mirages the delusions the lies
confess to themselves creatively.
Don’t judge the immensity of the world within
by the grain of sand it comes in
or the density of the pyramid
by what the thieves left of its grave goods.
Imagination is a dragon fly
that can take the fallen and broken
the duff and decay
the twig the leaf the petal
and glue it into a small house of transformation
so the worm comes out breathing fire
like a burnt matchstick with wings.
Don’t waste the creative potential
of your own imperfections.
You can find holy water in a tainted well
if you know how to look for it.
The moon dips her cup
in the waters of life
because she has none
and as she raises it to her lips
what looked like a skull
turns into a long-stemmed goblet.
Doorways of light.
Doorways of night.
We open them both alike.
We part the veils of space
to see who’s wearing our face
like a mask in the guise of a universe.
When you understand
We weep rivers of stars
into our own hands
to drink from our own reflections
just to taste the light and the life
of the mysterious insight
that burns within us
when the sun shines at midnight.