YOU’RE A SWEET LITTLE ZOOKEEPER
You’re a sweet little zookeeper
but I’m not the beast
you need to fill your cage.
You’re a constellation of fireflies,
a chandelier of warm spring tears
but these burnt out eyes of mine
aren’t the reflecting mirrors
you’re trying to make them out to be
by adjusting their focus
to see you shining in the dark.
You might dance like a star
a glow worm in a Mason Jar
the chimney spark of a good fire
on a cold night
a go go dancer behind bars
enflaming the tinder of desire
in the love nest of a rising phoenix
but I’m the total eclipse of hope
seen through the wrong end of the telescope.
And even if you were to turn me upside down
and burn me like a heretic at the stake
to correct the error of my ways
I’d still be the snake on the cross
nailed to the doors of paradise
like a notice of eviction
like a warning against trespassing
and not the waterbird with folded wings
you’re trying to get a rise out of
like a moonlit lake waiting
for a footsore messiah
tired of walking on waves
whose feet you can wash with your hair.
Hic sunt dracones.
I’m not the dark window of wisdom
you want to consult like a starmap
to see if you can find in my eyes
any glimmer of insight
like a star I named after you
you can wish upon.
Go away from my window little bird.
I don’t want to see you hurt
trying to fly through your delusion of open sky
like Alice in the looking glass
when the moon is cast through it like a stone
to see the whole in every part
of a broken heart.
I am not the stem cell
of a new relationship to hell
and you are not the vital organ of the clone
that might come of it
were I to love you as my second self.
Beauty is the moonboat of the heart.
Life fill its sails with gusts of stars
when things are full
and when they’re not
takes them down like daylilies in the fall.
I am not the new moon of another beginning
and you are not the total eclipse of mine.
My sails are black and bloody.
Yours are white as waterlilies.
Sunny laundry on the line.
The shroud of Turin
with the shadow of your mother burnt into it
and you playing nearby on the lawn
as the late morning light grows too strong
to stay outside.
Go home now.
Go seek the other you’ve kept waiting.
Go follow the song
until the longing stops
and that’s where you’ll find him
waiting like a guitar
carved out of heartwood
strung with circular tree rings
keyed to the tuning forks of the rain
like all the springs he’s dreamed about you.
I’m as deep as a star receding
into the boundless darkness within me.
There are planets in my wake
that make me wish I’d been
a better gardener than they thought I was
and I don’t want you to be one of them.
Thorns lie along this path.
Long firewalks in the company of ghosts
who were once great enough to let go
of what they cherished most
like water and blue air
and nights when a single candle
lit up the whole universe
in a way that baffled the stars
when love blew it out
to make the darkness shine
with eyes everywhere
eyes in our blood
eyes in our flesh
eyes in our voices
eyes on the tines of our tongues and fingertips
like large pheromones of light
that looked into the black mirror
that made things appear
inconceivably mysterious and near.
Your way back will be strewn with flowers.
Apple bloom and asters.
Chicory and the petals of wild roses.
I could make you the high priestess of my art
but those robes of night
and snakes of insight
would weigh heavy on you.
So go home now.
Someone waits to offer you their heart.
To turn your suffering and solitude into music
and teach you how to play
all ninety-nine chords of the rain
as lucidly as the willows down by the Tay
strung out like harps on their pain.
Apprentice yourself to the light awhile
like blossoms on a windy day.
His radiance is white.
I shine by a different light
that life in time without a teacher
will pour into the fruits of your seeing
when the darkness
grows sweeter than your sadness
like wild grapes on an autumn vine
and you feel something fall from your eyes
like cataracts from a crystal skull
like winter windows from starless skies
like fountains that offer you the elixirs
you seek to drink from
like flowers and grails and wishing wells
rooted deep in their fathomless watersheds.
When the sun shines at midnight
and the hour comes round at last
like a lamp in the hands
of its own long dark radiant journey into insight
you will taste the waters of life
in the tears of the sorceress
standing in the doorway to clarity
that summons her to leave everything behind
and without hesitation or reflection
know for yourself
the dark wisdom in the heart of the light
that makes the black mirror
older and deeper than the white.
There’s nothing in this world
however far you wander from home
nothing you’ve experienced
nothing you’ve known
you can claim as your own
until a stranger comes back from the stars
with no trace of personal mythology
her hands full of the earth
she weeps upon
and shapes like starmud
until it flowers in her eyes
into a universe where poppies and wheat
see you in the same light
by which you see them.
Dreams and bread.
Opioids and magic mushrooms.
Passion and common sense.
Peasant gypsy fish
with hoops of the moon
hooked through their earlobes
and long scarlet scarves of fire
streaming from their necks
like portentous comets
that aren’t trying to scare anyone
nibbling at the broken loaves of the flesh
being distributed by a foodbank on the hillside.
Go home now.
Go dance naked and alone in the rain
whenever you feel like it.
Who needs to bind themselves to the void
when their emptiness is everywhere?
Be as kind and compassionate
toward your follies and delusions
as you are to the deepest of your insights
and one day you’ll see the crazy wisdom of it all
and be humbled like a fool in tears
by that which exalts you
like a constellation of fireflies
deep in the darkest nights of your being.
Those brief flashes of lucidity
that are half the silent rapture
of the cool bliss that blows on the fire
and half the last flaring of a call for help
when what you treasure most
sinks to the bottom like a sea chest
full of hope and desire
and comes to rest like the moon
in the breast of a big-hearted shipwreck.
Stars in the well.
Night lights in a morgue.
Candles in a coffin on nightwatch.
The sacred syllables of the fireflies
on the snake-tongues of neural lightning
witching for rain on the moon
in a sea of shadows and mirages
putting down roots in the darkness
like zodiacs along the cowpaths of the starmaps
that laid out the Milky Way
the Road of Ghosts
like the short cut of the mindstream
that follows its own inclinations
like wild flowers through the abandoned star fields
to keep the lights on in this house of life
long after nothing else will.