Monday, October 17, 2011



And the willows down by the banks of the Tay

whisper through their veils

like ladies of the lake

where autumn walks like fire on the water

or the marriage bed of a Viking funeral ship

as the sun goes down like a ferry

into the underworld of the west

and all these words of passage I say like birds flying

high over head with the souls of the dead

I lay down like swords in tribute to the river

as if I were returning tears to the mirrors they came from.

Maple leaves scratch like the quills of bat-winged scholars

at the parched manuscripts

lying everywhere at my feet

trying to trace their ancestral bloodlines

back through a lineage of zodiacal kings

while the Library of Alexandria burns.

All scholars are arsonists at heart

as flammable as naphtha in birch bark.

If God were to talk to anyone now

right here in Perth Ontario Canada

it would still be through a burning bush

that would sound like the voice

of the phoenix in the sumac.

Mystic immolations of an Arab spring

spreading its wings for a poet or a prophet

to jump up on Pegasus or Buraq

and fly as if you had a star under your saddle

and not a spur or burr of discontent

that makes you feel tongue-twisted and petty

beside abject comparisons with Icarus and Aaron.

Stars soon to add some glamour to the sky

as the willows turn their weeping veils

into the shawls of grieving widows.

I’ve got nothing in particular to cry for

but I admire the eloquence of those

who’ve still got something to lose

like daylilies that can’t afford a face-lift

or the shell of the baby turtle on its back

like the sun disc of a Mayan calendar

that was destroyed by boyish malice

before it could live long enough

to be old enough to be doomed

by its own self-fulfilling prophecy.

Autumn is a seance of long-forgotten fragrances.

Oceanic elixirs and and sad sad wines

trying to keep their chin up

like wild grape vines against the weather

that sends their bruised amphorae to the bottom

with heavy eyelids and tunnel vision.

The air is sweet and thick and pendulous

as a bell in a burning church

that’s been to one too many funerals.

Bring on the night

like the deepest inspiration of the light

in the nightbird’s breast

and let the lost harvests and unfulfilled longings

that stretch for light years out over the abyss

like the strings of a cosmic guitar

or the harp I made from the wishbone

stuck in my throat like a sacred syllable

that goes witching for water on the moon

in the watersheds of my voice.

Bring tears of blood to my eyes

raised up out of the well of my being

and holding my horned skull up to Jupiter in Aries

let me drink to the hidden beauty of the singing

and all those oceanic veils of seeing

that fall away like the eyelids of roses

the starmaps of asters

from a beautiful woman’s face.

Old enough now to celebrate

things I know I’ll never know again.

Young lovers jay walking across a busy street

hand in hand as if

the other were the other’s missing link.

The wide-eyed stargazers

with no scars or bruises on their telescopes

elevated now by their amazement to sidereal heights

who will later be deepened by it

as the darkness grows more sublime than the light

and radiance sways into ripeness

and the candles go out one by one

to clarify the long autumnal way home

like nightwatchmen just before the break of dawn

having done their rounds

sit down at the crossroads

where the celestial equator

intersects the ecliptic at the equinoctial colure

and opening the gates of their lanterns

let the stars and fireflies out of the mason jars

that were the only light they had to go by

that kept the others lit.

Even as the utilitarian chandeliers

of the streetlamps come on

like a constellation of runway suns

that light up in unison at midnight

to give our long departed gods somewhere to land.




And should you think I never think of you

out here like a space probe

in the great indivisibility of the abyss

sending post cards back from the edge of nowhere

to no one in particular

you’d be as wrong as you usually were.

I think of you. I remember. I recall.

You were the chandelier of the unattainable

and I was the flying carpet in the hall.

Intimately specific images of unassuming moments

Watching you slip off one your heels

with your arm braced against a brick wall

to check for pebbles.

Or that time after another fight

you stopped the car at the end of the dirt driveway

and got out to pull up your t-shirt

to show me your breasts like a superlative

you knew would keep my attention

until you came home from work that night.

Not the big things you’d think I’d remember.

Not the great revelatory enlightenments

of the dark matter at hand

when everything was either perfectly tragic

or tragically perfect between us

under the stars in the frosty hay fields

reverting to the wild by acclamation;

but little flakes of snow and ashes

or moonlight flint knapped off

the blue anthracite of a midnight lake

trying to shape a spearhead of insight

into the Clovis point of a diamond.

Feathers and petals and leaves of things

that were hardly noticed when they fell.

The feeble shadows cast by Venus

across the snow on a moonless night

when nobody was looking

because they were all inside

huddled around a fire

like blazing mesmerized by its own blindness.

Breathless shadows born of Venus.

You don’t even need to have your third eye open

to know how beautiful and rare that is.

Things on the wind that blow up like leaves

scratching at the door like cats

to be let in out of the cold.

Memories that suddenly fly into my field of vision

like bats out of the dark baffled by the porchlight

only to end up stuck on the burdock

like martyrs to the cause

and birds that break their necks

against the false skies in my eyes

with the dull thud of softballs

thrown against the wall of a house

and fall to earth like ricochets

off knightly suits of body armour

forged out of old shell casings

to hide the evidence of my vulnerability.

At least from me for a while.

And I’ve got wounds that are deeper than that

I know will never heal

and moments of vital bliss

I’m living on like a ghost in a lighthouse

that didn’t take its own advice

when it put its lantern out

like a candle beside the bed

to go all the way with a mermaid

and not get burnt.

Now I’m a nightwatchman of the stars

with a big enough flashlight

its eyebeam reaches all the way to Mars

to make sure there are bars on the windows

and locks on all the doors.