EVERYBODY LOOKING FOR SUBSTITUTE STATES OF MIND
Everybody looking for substitute states of mind. Trying to change the veils and myths they’re looking through, the blood-stained glass of their last full eclipse, the rainbow windows that can’t look the light clearly in the eye without dissembling like a chameleon. False prophets and snake-oil salesmen selling digestible fountains of youth to love-struck lightning rods that don’t conduct as well as they used to when they once could thread the eye of the storm like a bird on the wing. Now the shamans sit on cosmic eggs in nests of pubic hair waiting for a crack of dawn that’s long gone. And there are teenagers so far out of it they’re living their youth at the wrong end of the telescope like star clusters of displaced persons who don’t trust anything that isn’t as aloof and alien as the pharmaceutical fire-proofing they crawl into like a chrysalis of stillborn butterflies. True love is a junkie hanging by his neck in the deep woods because he lost his trophy girlfriend who keeps cutting her flesh as if she were inventing the first calendar by nicking and gnawing on herself like a bone. People fuck like pre-nuptials that took a contract out on themselves for vendettas that haven’t even crossed the threshold yet. Future crimes with present punishments. Abattoirs before mangers. The point of the pencil stabs the eraser in the heart. Voodoo as a wedding vow. The aftermath of Armageddon before the four horsemen of the apocalypse have had a chance to saddle up or the Mayan calendar strike twelve midnight. Root rot on the moon. Everyone without a leg to stand on trying to get a leg up on doom. Everyone drowned before the Titanic went down. Sending death threats to the future as a way of trying to survive their own paranoia. Real, imagined, or drug-induced. Terms of endearment dropped like mice into a snakepit. Mirages extolling the illusory nature of this desert of stars. Appearances inveighing against a clarity that can’t be trusted to be on your side like your eyes are when they’re open to whatever comes. Possession by a drug, a demon, an ideal, a political platform, rabies, religion, money, sex, the cult of the body, exotic states of mind with a surrealistic sense of black humour. Genies granting death wishes like urns of losing lottery tickets to Luna moths in despair.
Deranged. Everyone trying to put a happy face on a death mask. An artificial paradise in real hell. And it scares me sometimes. And other times it makes me want to weep. So many fish dying of thirst beside a freshwater lake. So many fish drowning in the dry creekbeds of mirages swimming in hallucinogenic waters. Toxic liars polluting the wellsprings of life like corporate impersonators with the souls of oilslicks. What shit haven’t we tracked into the house? We defecate in our own wombs. What jackal, what wolf, what caste of animal ever fouled its own crib the way we do? We eat everyday like a plague of locusts in the company of children’s corpses. And we call it a standard of living we’re prepared to kill or die for though it cost us the planet and every sentient life form on it. As long as the path is clearly laid out and strewn with rose petals and eyelids just for us, everything else is roadkill. A goatpath of thorns. Ghoulish the uncanny similitudes. All this just for us? Just us? Who die like flies do? This body bag of water with nine holes in it that is always leaking radioactively out of itself as if it were watering something it wouldn’t get a chance to see bloom like a magic mushroom. I remember a madman when I lived alone on a big isolated farm, trying to shoot the stars out all night, night after night, with an M-16 that ricocheted out over the lakes and hills like the echoes of ululating loons changing clips. Cops told me not to stand in the window with a twinkle in my eye. Might get mistaken for alpha Cassiopeiae. But I was so crazed myself at the time, I rose up like Regulus in Leo in a rage of the first magnitude and said like an enlightened sky to someone who is not. Take your best shot. I’m mythically inflated. The bullets go right through me. Though I don’t see what’s so urgently cosmic about this we’ve got to take it out on each other like eye witnesses. To what? How worthy of death everyone else in the world is because of a fucked-up relationship with our own hormones? Mommy beat you with a vacuum cleaner pipe because you tracked your life all over her flying carpet one day when you got home late in a hurry from school. Boo hoo. That doesn’t make you an Ethiopian. A cold sore isn’t Chernobyl. What sorry night scope declares a holy war against the stars in its cross hairs? The way I see it in my skull bound island fortress with emotional moats, the world is a couple of angstroms short of a wavelength to make anything bloom these days. The asylum is prying the petals of a crocus open with a crowbar. But the timing’s off. And not all the flowers open at once like banks and store-fronts with regular hours. And there are people who also serve by standing and waiting like fire-hydrants to be called upon to put Dresden out in a fire-storm. Someone garotted all the swans like prostitutes along the Rideau River as if they were cutting an artery off to staunch the flow of blood. What kind of a wound is that? Is your god a pimp pigfarmer that he should demand the blood sacrifice of the renewable innocence of a sacred whore? Are you the self-appointed proxy of a god who can’t speak for himself any other way than to send the likes of you to express your true feelings? To appall the world with another nightmare of what it’s capable of. See what I mean? Strange, strange dream. Elixirs and lictors of love potions addicted to solipsistic oil slicks. And the Sphinx not a snitch that’s apt to question anyone. The butchers go to sleep and wake up smelling as sweet as little Bo Peep in wolf’s clothing. Atrocity has become an unnewsworthy cliche to a nation of sensation seekers numbed by consumerism marketing alternative lifestyles to the skeletons in the closets they sold you last week. Everyone’s trying to sweat deodorant out of their pores. And when we open our mouths to speak when is anything heard like the word from the man that isn’t a mouthwash of lies? Kids take this in like smallpox among the natives and the next thing you know someone murders a highschool and some genocidal patriot is practising germ warfare by coming out with a new celebrity line of infected blankets. You can’t help ingesting the psychological pollution of whatever medium you’re swimming in. And there’s a critical mass to every tumour beyond which you can’t put the garbage can lid back on the nuclear waste like Pandora’s box or the Fukishima reactor. Or propose amendments to the constitution of a caste system that would help it digress peacefully into the middle ages possessed by the few miserable acres of a feudal land grant mortgaged and bundled by a baronial bank. You get the picture? You see the corpses in the Ganges flowing along with the pop cans to the sea like your mindstream sickened by what it discards the deeper and wider it gets? When do we all stand up and walk out of this snuff movie in disgust? When do we let our sons and daughters see us set fire to the movie house on you tube and go viral?
High-tech viciousness. Killer bees and nano chip parasites. Eleven dimensions and a shapeshifting multiverse with as many cosmologies going on all at once like feature movies ahead of the cartoons. And we’ve got this one, starring us as both the hero and the villain of a black morality farce. The Arabs say if you can’t help a situation with your hand, then use your mouth, if not, your mind, and if not that, keep a kind thought in your heart. And I used to think even growing up under the street here, you can get fat on the garbage of the promised land and rolling all your deprivations up into one massive black hole, still be looked upon justifiably by the rest of the world as a glutton. Rich people feel they deserve to be spoilt. So do most of the poor. And I’d seen enough shit by the time I was seven to make me want to write about roses for the rest of my life. But there’s the blood of children caked all over their eyelids like make-up. And being the Canadian poet I wanted to be at the time expiating my guilt for a crime I didn’t commit, I thought counter-intuitively maybe the word is mightier than the sword, though less succinct and to the point, if I were to scream murder when I saw murder being done upon the innocents, maybe the unwitting complicity of an eye witness might get off with a lighter sentence for being a dependable air raid siren. I went to boot camp to wage peace. I declared a holy war upon myself. I learned how to put root fires out with gasoline. I protested against my own seeing in the name of the inalienable rights of the blind. But savage indignation is no more protein rich than fame and flattery and going to war with a plough in your hands feeds about as many people as ploughing the moon with a sword does. So I met in the middle just a little to the left of Canada, and retrained them as shovels to dig their own graves given they weren’t all that good at gardens. Which left me as defenseless as Baffin Island wearing the scars of other people’s wounds. Quicksilver dolphins ran aground in mercurial bays due to a lack of tunnel vision. Driven exponentially by dark energy things began to expand in the aftermath of that insight until the stars grew so far apart I was compelled to make do with fireflies as an alternative state of mind. A little radiance for the blind. What did Robert Lowell say? We’re all here for such a short time we might as well be kind to one another? Before he died of a heart attack in a New York airport. And if he were alive today? I’d put these words into his mouth. If you won’t throw your pearls before swine, why sacrifice another messiah to a snake pit when no good comes of it? When in Rome do as the asylums do and wait for the sane to come to you pleading to be enlightened by the crazy wisdom of your daily meds. Learn to give your futility a purpose in life. Your absurdity a reason to live. Stop trying to get a grip on your mind by believing everything is out of control. Regard the extreme chaos of conditioned consciousness, yes. But don’t pollute the drinking water in a mirage by throwing a goatshead into it to deprive others from finding the holy grail. Where the delusion of power rules compassion is not well served by a crueller truth. Being is highlighted by the void with a magic marker. And if your myth fits your demonic origins wear it like a housefly that’s proud of its shit, but doesn’t take it out on other people because maggots don’t turn into butterflies. Drink deep from the dark elixirs that pours excruciating transformations into the chalice of your skull like spiritual exiles sweetening the hemlock with artificial flavours of black kool aid. Taste life right down to the last tea leaf of despair. Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood, bone of my bone, suffering is a stronger bond than love if you’re not used to it. If you haven’t lost your appetite for eating your own. If you haven’t stopped cherishing your misery like a voodoo Barbie doll in military fatigues. If you haven’t stopped taking a bite out of your heart like a noble enemy who gives you the homoeopathic courage to carry on without one. Don’t shun the black mirror to keep up with appearances and plead you haven’t got time for reflection because nothing’s indelible in a world that keeps changing your mind like a watercolour that didn’t get it right the first time. Don’t suckle your sour grapes on acid rain. There are no substitute states of mind that are fool proof. Everybody answers after their own kind whether they’re on the road to paradise, Damascus, Pandemonium, purgatorial Perth, aligning compass needles in the direction of prayer, or drawing up starmaps like emergency escape routes out of here. As if here and now weren’t the precise space and time of what their own minds are trying to run to and from like the long odds of dark horses running back into a burning barn you can only enter through the emergency exits like a substitute state of mind gone critical on an artificial life support machine.
And, hey, who has the right to say, who can blame them? And expect an intelligible answer. Trying to open your third eye isn’t the same thing as trying to launch a spy satellite in Kazakhstan. Life isn’t a dirty movie your wife made behind your back you’re compelled to live frame by frame like a director’s cut. The triune identity of triple XXX isn’t restricted to sex alone. There are substitute states of mind just as guilty of identity theft that don’t leave any fingerprints at the scene of the crime because when you mark one you mark them all like plague doors and ostrakons and jewels in the net of Indra. Data is power when there are bugs in the tree of knowledge. Telescopic keyholes in the gravitational eyes of dark matter. The bituminous clarity of deep space washes its hands of the matter in fire. Which makes fire out to be just as big a liar as the hot water we’re all up to our necks in watching our lives flash before our eyes like post cards from an acid trip we haven’t come back down from yet because we’ve been down so long it looks like up on our passports. Born in the thirteenth house of a raving zodiac, it’s your front door, and there’s no doubt it’s your sign, but the junkmail accumulates on the inside like substitute states of mind without a point of reference or a reliable address. Life after life passes you by like a loveletter with return to sender as the final resting place of your name. As the windows frisk the light for concealed weapons and liberation armies addicted to dope. If the doors of perception were open, and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds thawed into a Hard Rain That’s Gonna Fall without the carbon emissions of an exhausted life committing vehicular suicide in the garage by breathing in the expired atmosphere of a tired planet, if the cataracts in your eye were to disappear like ice off your mindstream by noon, and the mud and clouds in your puddle were allowed to settle and clear like Soto Zen, and you didn’t rely on substitute states of mind like simultaneous translators trying to express your mirror image in your native language without a Rosetta Stone, all things would appear as they are. Boundlessly finite. And homelessly out of reach. Whether you’re wishing upon, or trying to shoot out the stars.