Monday, October 24, 2011



High in the Y shaped boughs

of the nude wrecked marsh wood

a gathering of abandoned herons’ nests

that look like a colony of lonely vaginae

that have done their work

and were put aside

when everything went south.

Crowns of thorns

on the heads of crucified saviours

no one ever bothered to take down.

Or you could see in them

the beginnings of new fires

the tinder and the kindling

waiting for someone to strike a match

or come down like a bolt of lightning

on a tuning fork

and burn the witch at the stake

for heresies of love she won’t forsake

and a vow of silence she took before the mystery

of her own dark science that she won’t revoke.

Pyres and sky burials and begging bowls

as if they were orphans asking for more

or humbled celebrants beseeching the stars

to receive the little they have left to give

and add their nothing to the nothing that is.

To judge from the number of taboos at the gate

shrunken heads atop the lodge poles

of an Ojibway village that abandoned its gods

and moved on when the river began to rise

and left it to the sky

to cover their nakedness with the whole cloth

of a tent that doesn’t keep the wind or the cold out

like the unpetalled stems of the black-eyed Susans

spreading like a cult along the banks;

to judge from the apprehensive signage of my instincts

that it isn’t death but life

that’s as dangerous and near

as my next step is to falling in

this must be a sacred place

the animals come down to

like totems at night

to revel in their starmud

and give thanks

the stars were brilliant enough

to root their pure radiance

in the mutability and muck of decay.

The wombs of the milkweed

have exorcised their ghosts

and the paint brushes of the wild irises

are no longer loaded with violet

and stand uninspired in a blue canning jar

in the corner of the deserted studio

of an artist who just woke up one day

and disappeared without a word of a lie

like a crow into his own mindscape

as if he had finally achieved what he was looking at.

But if the moon doesn’t fear walking here

nor while I.

Startled wavelength of a black watersnake

fleeing like dark energy

across a supple mirror of stars

and there on the withered eyelids

of the lily pads

the hold out bullfrogs

disgruntled in the aftermath of their boom times

by the lack of insects

and their loss of sexual appetite

like the mythically inflated rhetoric

of bellows that can’t get the fire to light.

The Clovis point arrowhead of a jumping trout

hits its own bullseye from the inside out

and embeds itself in a flank of wounded water.

Among so many nemetic affinities

you could lose your heart

like a waterbird

that nests in its own reflection

to a snapping turtle around here

where the swans of moonlight

for all their enchantment

hold no more sway

over what’s beautiful and not

than this parliament of necrophiliacs in the dark

ready to pull them down

with their parrot beak vise-grips

into the carrion beds of the house rules

that say even the Taj Mahals must rot

and Leda’s just meat to the gods.

Forty-three years later feels strangely

like I’m back in my old neighbourhood

and this marsh is its emotional life.

Peacock blue green sky closing its eyes

to see the stars better in the dark

Taurus and Gemini up

and Cygnus a lost crucifix in the west.

I step on the trunk of a fallen birch.

It gives way like a leper whose flesh

is as dozy as a bowl of wet cornflakes.

My foot slips down into the ooze

as if a hand had reached out

and grabbed me by the ankle.

And then lets go with the pop of a suction cup.

Right idea.

Wrong sex.

And besides among shipwrecks

I’m just a birch bark canoe not an ark

and this is not Atlantis or Mt. Ararat.

This is the low spot.

This is the drainage ditch of afterlives.

This is the boiling pot

that everything runs down into

like the effluvium duff and detritus of the mindstream.

This is the meditation of a Zen master

who isn’t appalled by anything

and embraces all as it is

with indiscriminate compassion.

This is the scum and the froth

and the fizz and festering of creation

in the Vas Hermeticum

of a biodegradable alchemist

throwing flower seeds on the shit

like tiny chips of a the philosopher’s stone

to turn the shit of base metal

into the golden petals of the elecampane.

Four amino acids open

and one protein molecule blooms.

This is the catacomb and bone box

of an early Christian buried next

to the Via Cloaca of Rome

waiting to rise like an enamel-painted buttercup

or nuns of the wild columbine

meek among the towers of the common mullein

the Algonquin used to use

to line their moccasins in winter.

This is the matrix of the dark mother

fouling the waters of her womb with life.

This is the cauldron.

This is the crock pot

that simmers the flesh off the bones

of the deer and the fox and the rat together

with an eye of bat and the briny legs of the frog

and reeks like a corpse flower

in the bridal bouquet

of a wedding party of Elizabethan witches.

This is the dismembered body of Kingu and Tiamat.

This is the consecration of the desecration of the flesh

made whole again like the wafer

of the rising moon

that’s waxing to full on my tongue again

as if it hadn’t learned by now what a pagan I am.

This is the filth we were born from

to serve the gods

if you’re Sumerian enough to believe it.

This is the one-finger salute of the staghorn sumac

to the October wind that plucked it like a phoenix

after showing up

to blow its green wood into flames

like a flight path for the fires of resurrection.

This is the primordial id.

Cannibal stew made into a soup for leftovers.

And no one not invited to the table

above or below the salt.

No one’s fault.

Not a moral issue.

Just the way it is.

Starmud and cell tissue.

As above so below.

Heron’s nests in the crotches of dead trees.

Mermaids that ran before the prow of the ship like dolphins

and wooden figureheads parting the waves

like the cleavage of their breasts

now in slingshot bikinis high in the crow’s nests

among the masts of a sunken navy

on the lookout for a northwest passage.

But I’m not fooled.

I’d be a drunken sailor

on this or any other ocean

from here to the moon and beyond.

On the great radiant sea of awareness

on the third watch of the night

I’d drink stars from my skull

until I slumped down in a coma of insight

that showed me my way through here

like a life boat through a northwest passage

with an oceanic view of things

even when it’s scuttled in a swamp.

Goblet cup or cranium

It’s the heart you pour the wine of life into

that determines whether

it’s a poison or a love potion.

Death might be the medium

and this swamp the rite of passage

of a drunk through his delirium.

But whether it’s full or empty

a loveletter or an s.o.s.

life is still the message.