JUST WANT TO WRITE
Just want to write. Just want to paint. Just want to eat and drink and sleep and defecate and dream and meet the occasional woman who can turn my crank. Just want to drift like blue smoke from a distant fire on an autumn hillside off into the distance like the human smell of time. Don’t want to worry about publishing or selling, just want to walk by myself through the high starfields wondering what to call the flowers. Let things make me up as they go. I don’t care what kind of spin they put on it. Just want to blow gusts of stars in the eyes of the dandelions. Want to beat things like bushes and stumps with an old crooked stick and not have to care what jumps out. I want to be startled by quail and not suffer a heart attack. I want to be alarmed by the four-stroke Harley engine of a wild partridge revving up to explode in my face, and not have anything to be frightened of. You hear me out there? You hear me, you prophetic skulls of my poetic ancestors? I just want to kick dirt down a long country road late at night and feel the wonder and eeriness of being alive to ask myself what the fuck I’m doing here trying to put down roots in a tent city. And you, if any, who overlook the wanderings and circuitous blossomings of the poets who have trued your heretical madness into riverine sponsors of life they had to give up their own direction of prayer to live. Instead of buying property along the highway. Just let go of my spine awhile and let me feel what’s it’s like when a kite’s as free as a waterbird to land where it wants on any one of ten thousand lakes that can still remember the original taste of the moon. Let me stand like an abandoned farmhouse somewhere and try to see eyebrow to eyebrow through the eyes and the windows of those who once lived here long enough to leave a wild orchard and a couple of kids in the ground to carry on without them. I want to weep like a November windowpane for the cruel sorrows that embittered them. I want to stack field stones into Great Barrier Reefs encyclopedic with life and not on top of freshly dug graves with the few words of a twitter account to say what the children died of. I want to take all the scarlet letters, the scarlet fevers, the scarlet tunics, the scarlet pimpernels and boil them all down into a dye I can slash across the sky like a sabre of cadmium red in a wet summer sunset. O you who preside over my origins like the executors of my afterlife, leave me alone with my metaphors to follow wherever it may lead the spoor of mythical beasts that have never experienced what it’s like to be helicoptered out of extinction by a dragonfly playing stork to a black rhino. I need space. I need enlargement. I need time itself to just hang around like a bed sheet pegged to a clothesline between two polarities of life, one, deciduous, and the other, evergreen, so when I take it down again like a membrane of M-theory, I don’t have to shake the smell of the wind and the sun out of it. Enough of good reasons like sensible shoes with arch supports trying to indoctrinate my irrational creative motives for wearing black cowboy boots without spurs. I want to reconfigure my fireflies into more original constellations adapted to the imaginations of wolves and Canada geese rather than shepherds awake all night guarding their sheep from the coyotes that have been driving them off the farms around here for the last century and a half. And even if nothing is improved advanced or progressed, no contribution made to anything, no purpose served, no function discerned, I want to go sit by the skeleton of the white-tailed buck that bled out with a hunter’s bullet in its flank, by itself, just itself dying, being death, the whole of death, no part left out, as if nothing in that animal’s entire life had ever happened to it from the outside. And this so alone, while the frogs and the damselflies and the boat-tailed grackles went about their business as if nothing ever happened of any consequence, even the death of large mammal. I want to return to the secret I’ve kept all to myself all these years, and listen to those bones whisper to me again that learning how to live fully is no different than learning how to die into life abundantly. I want to see the wild columbine and plush green moss growing through its ribs and the wild grape vines coiling up its horns. I want to go talk to the shaman in a trance of dancing totems and feel his old presence empower me and the deer to understand one another as if we were both collaborating in each other’s silence and solitude. And even that’s saying a little too much.
Just want to write. Just want to paint. Just want to go stargazing late at night up on Heartbreak Hill and think of all those women I fought the Last Duel in the Heatscore Hotel over without a second to die in the arms of. And wonder whose honour it was I lived as if it were worthy of dying for. And why no one’s ever come back to put flowers on my grave. And if the theme bores me like a road that’s sticking to its narrative, don’t want to justify anything to anyone least of all myself, if I wander off the beaten path like a man who doesn’t have to answer to anyone, happy to be lost if he’s lost to himself. Just want to look at the moon in peace and see the tree the Japanese see, or the medicine woman of the Algonquin healing their wounded canoes with wild rice. Don’t want to be nice, or brave, or emphatically sincere. Want to sit on a rock, my chin on my knees, surrounded by waterlilies at moonrise and think of a woman with similar skin emerging from the ghost light and kissing me on the forehead tenderly, say like Sedna, the caribou mother of the Inuit, you can trust the universe completely even when someone who loved you like the best yesterday she ever had on earth, leaves a suicide note on the mirror, as if sorrow had no tomorrow and joy had the rest of her death ahead of it. I want to reassure myself in the crisp coniferous atmosphere of the dolorous pines standing on a pyre of rusty eyelashes and confiscated compass needles, there are some questions that earn a living complicity, and others that go begging door to door for answers. I want to feel the exquisite eloquence of her absence turning like a knife into a skeleton key in my heart that might unlock it. I want to know if the shallowness of her victory over death were worth the depth of its defeat. Or maybe it was a truce, a stalemate, suspended animation, a lapwing to draw death away from something she cherished more than the hurt she nursed as a distraction from a greater pain. Like I said, chin on my knees, like the dolmen of a thinking man who knows his sadness would not be alleviated by the answers anymore than a wound is cured by carbon-dating the arrowhead that made it. Mournful the loons. Baleful ululations reverberating across the lake like Arabic women grieving the dead with their tongues. Her absence lives in me like the mystery of an empty room in a palatial universe I never enter out of respect for who isn’t there. And all I want her to do, if she can do anything to make a difference to the way she left me to explain, is not come back the way she came. O you who have used me like a medium for years in a conversation of voices that didn’t involve me to whisper into your own ear as if you were talking to the dead, leave a message, and let me return to my native tongue without being summoned by anyone who doesn’t know how to read or speak for themselves, on this, or the far side of any other river whether it flows out of Eden, or procrastinates in the roadside ditches of hell boiling with thermophilic life. Let the glaciers pass over me as they did this landscape twenty thousand years ago and leave me as they did these lake beds in their wake ready to receive the rain like billions of tears from everywhere and everyone until all that grief is quickened into life by our eyes. Just want to write. Just want to paint. Don’t want to hold a mirror up to nature wrong-side up. Don’t want to care if I do. Don’t want to take a guided bus tour through the famous flashbacks of a bad acid trip that even the sixties wouldn’t do. Just want to sit somewhere on the trunk of a fallen birch sodden as salmon, chin on my knees, beside a deer’s skeleton, waiting for the next rainbow trout to jump like my heartbeat. And watch the ripples raise their eyebrows in amazement.