LISTEN WELL IN THE DARK MORNING
Listen well in the dark morning
before the honey bell calls your name
to what the silence means
when there’s nothing at all
not a bird not a voice
no syllabaries of bees in a Mason Jar
no drunks on the street
no tuning forks amending the frosty flowers
just dirty windows
trying to believe in stars.
O my poor wretched culpable humanity
my complicit familiar
the holy infidel of my lonely crusade of one
how often has time bruised our hearts
like a still life on the moon
with burnt loaves
and laurel-edged bread knives
sword dancing on a testy precipice
thorns on the tips of our tongues
like two leeches overwhelmed
by a miscarriage of haemorrhaging roses?
I sit across from you now
no salt on the table
an ambiguity facing a paradox
and say grace over our poverty and hunger
for what we have not received
asking only this of the mirage
we share with one another
that the clarity of the silence
that reveals us to each other
not be smudged by the usual obscurities.
The sky is pouring blue wine
into the tear-stained goblets of the windows.
But you and I will pop the cork
on all those messages of help we sent out
like ice-bergs in a bottle
that came back unanswered
with no forwarding address
by some anonymous water clock.
Here’s to you my fumarole, my watershed
my empty wishing well full of hopeless blue moons
that blighted the sheaf of wheat in the hand of the virgin.
Here’s to all the nice-trys you made
tilting at me quixotically
like the dragon-slayer you are not.
We grow old together stranded
on this most inhospitable of planets,
two halves of the same hourglass
that’s keeping us afloat like a pair of lungs
or waterwings in a desert of stars
fatal as quicksand.
I’m the timing
and you’re the content
and though we share the same medium
you seem more of a message than I am.
I have to wash my brain in antiseptic lizard blood
at least twice a day
just to stay sane in a world
I can only look upon in demonic disgust.
I look at the stars of the Milky Way
streaming across the night
and all I can see is a radioactive leak
flowing down into the Sharbot Lake watershed
or a snail smearing the black purity of an occult mirror
with its nose.
The sewage of the world
runs down into me in this low place
but more of a beknighted hypocrite than I am
you’re the fulcrum of the spring and autumn equinox
and I’m the solsticial extreme.
The same pair of blue eyes
but you’re the dextrous one
that’s kept busy by hope
and I’m the left hand of everything
that’s clear and sinister.
I haven’t made my peace with you yet
but we’ve managed to maintain a truce awhile.
We’ve got a pipe line in common.
Blue Flower. Black Dog.
Can’t say what I’d do
if I ever got off this food chain.
But you’ve got a star map in your hope chest
gleaming with first magnitude ideals
and a heart like a broken toe in a cast
you keep stubbing on the rock of the world.
You think the mind made the body
and the whole thing is just one vast intelligence
that we’re all amazed to be part of
like a neuron with fifty million connections to the brain.
But I know whose belly you came out of
slippery with birth
and where you see a social democratic cosmology
bright with happy stars
I spy with my little eye
a splitting migraine.
I’m the vehicle
and you’re the ghost in the machine.
I’m the engine
and you’re the destination
with both hands on the wheel
that keeps pushing you around
like an upturned planet in an aberrant orbit.
You look for fireflies of mystic insight in your vertigo.
But I’m the thermal under your wings
and the cold star in the hawk’s eye
scanning the ice-caked fields
for anything that moves.
You see signs of growth under the snow.
For you something’s always about to happen.
I shine down on the Stone Age
and there’s nothing new under the sun.
The simians are still flint knapping ballistic missiles.
An aristocracy of trees
has been replaced by a democracy of grass.
Of the two of us you’re the more lunar.
A moon of cool bliss.
I’m the black sun that shines at midnight
intense as global warming when I’m up,
detached as the dawn of a nuclear winter
when I’m down.
But lately I’ve noticed
how I’m softening into you
and you’re hardening into me
and maybe together we’ll make a stronger alloy
of this two-edged sword between us
than all that voodoo alchemy
you used to practise could have achieved
by casting all those philosopher’s stones
like he who is without sin
at the reticence of my base metal
to be anything other than what it is
refusing to be turned like a rat
as you’ve been trying for years now
into your motherlode of gold.
Maybe we’ll learn to get along like hinges
or a pair of wings
or a centipede of Viking oars.
Who can say?
Sooner or later everything turns into its opposite.
Every genius must sometime or other
get feet of clay
and embrace kind of polymorphous cliche
as if he were laying his head down
on the breast of his mother
like a son who’s come home at last.
Life’s funny that way.
The good are cursed as messiahs
and the bad are martyrs to the cause
and the rest of everyone else
dogpaddling in their blow holes in purgatory
are the slaughter of the innocents at a seal hunt.
And, hey, it isn’t as if it hasn’t occurred to me more than once
how cool it would be by contrast
to lay my head down
like a freshly baked homemade loaf of bread
on a September country windowsill.
There are nights when even dark matter
smitten by their radiance though it might be
finds the stars a bit tedious
in the way they keep breaking their light up
like loaves and fishes on a hillside
until we’re both left sitting here in the dark
with the hydro turned off
and you with your energy saving halo on
still trying to save the planet from itself
and me with my horns fully extended like lightning rods
trying to hook a ride out of here
on a black flash of serpent fire
that runs like an open highway
all the way up my spine
and out of the top of my skull
like the exorcism of one too many cosmic insights
into the pettiness of things
that are vacantly bright and darkly full
like a black mirror endlessly reflected in a white.
Blue Flower. Black Dog.
the ghost of a dying swan in the fog
trying not to cast a shadow
on its own reflection in a cloud of unknowing
and the inextinguishable other
smoke from a smouldering phoenix
with a chip on its shoulder the size
of an eclipse with a bad attitude
that doesn’t care whose eyes it gets in.
Butterfly in a dragon’s mouth.
Goldfish in a shark bowl.
It’s gone well beyond crying
because tears don’t have much
of a sense of curiosity
and the blood that’s been spilled between brothers
has sealed two polarized halves of the same heart
into an oxymoronic concordat
like dead air in the eye of a hurricane
in the womb of the same dark mother.
the dragon slayers are dying to know
what those they’ve slain are laughing at like crows.