SITTING IN THE DARK
Sitting in the dark
being who I am by acclamation.
The solitude half memory, half exorcism.
No one else ran for the position
so I’ve settled on trying to live up empathetically
to this person that’s tried for so long to be me.
The sound of the occasional car on Highway 7
six blocks away
puts its hand over its mouth.
Everything’s a secret at this time of the night.
And it occurs to me
I’ve always been a stranger to myself.
The enigma in the doorway across the street.
My windows. My keys. My locks.
But always looking up at my own place
as if someone else lived there instead of me.
A man with no return address on his homelessness.
As if I were always catching a glimpse of myself
going around the next corner
and I’m the tail I’m trying to lose.
Or giving the occasional mirror
caught totally off guard
cold chills in passing
like a ghost with unknown enterprises of its own.
My freedom enclosed
within the sum of its limits
I live in an elsewhere zone
where the mystery of what I’m doing here
goes to extremes
like a tent city outside
the vacancy of an unoccupied metropolis
of anti-social landlords
to prove I have a right
to the portable threshold of my homelessness.
I’m beached like a birch bark canoe
that isn’t going anywhere
on the shoals of my stream of consciousness
trying to figure out who’s doing the saying
and who’s doing the listening.
Though most people think
one is the spitting image of the other’s reflection
verbal expression is not thought
and you can’t hear it before you say it.
Even too late for the drunks to be out
I like the way the half-hearted moonlight
interprets my face through its fingertips
as if I were having my portrait done in Braille.
What could that look like
when you’ve connected all the dots
if not an eclipse or a new moon?
Take your pick.
And I may be somewhat out of touch
with how dark things have become
but I know this much
this much at least I know.
Worse than despair
is learning how not to care.
I mean what have you got left
when all’s been said and done and gone
if not for a few old reflexive delusions
in a holy war of tribal mirages
that have made a habit of your heart
just as drugs become the cosmology of junkies.
It’s no more absurd
to be left standing like an echo in a doorway
long after the house has been torn down
than it is to paint realistic watercolours in the rain
en plein air.
I thought I had a message once
worthy of descending doves.
I could feel the wind under the dragon’s wings
open like the firedoor to a furnace full of prophets.
And the words were mine true enough
until I realized how much life like art
is totally plagiarized from the medium it creates in
and how imperative it was
to be reborn from your mother-tongue
like a whole new language of evolving memes
if you want to be taken at your word
even in hell as in heaven
you know how to speak for yourself
without resorting to paracletes
even when you’re persuasively certain
no one can understand you.
Every word might contain a dead metaphor
but when mine aren’t demonically possessed
and speaking in tongues
they’re buzzing around the azaleas
like hummingbirds and bees
sipping black kool-aid in Jonestown.
I start out writing like a new moon
but by the time it’s done with me
I’m a total eclipse in an ink pot,
That’s why I’m sitting here in the dark
trying not to adulterate the light
with cosmic thoughts of all night streetlamps
in an empty parking lot
where everyone overpays a price
for their little square of time and space.
I’ve got a digital alarm clock
with three and a half numbers that glow in the dark
like an informant trying to warn me
before it’s way too late for all of us
to adjust my time-zone and dial it back.
To when it was a better world?
To when I was a better man?
To the last chance I had to become one?