MEDITATIONS IN A SNAKE PIT OF DISSONANT WAVELENGTHS
Meditations in a snake pit of dissonant wavelengths.
An anti-Zen photo-op of enlightened dark energy.
Does a clean slate mean
there’s no starlight in the windows,
no fossils in the Burgess Shale,
no kings with any grave goods in any of these hills?
And I suppose I forgave you some time ago
but if I did
you’ll forgive me if I forgot.
Things have been intense over the past few years.
I’ve been living secretly underground like a nail
driven into the heartwood of an old growth forest
I don’t want them to cut down
whether it’s the tree on the moon
or Clayquot Sound.
Most people’s relationships
are mediocre books with purple passages.
Ours was a purple book with all the pictures torn out.
And that’s o.k. too, and that’s o.k. too,
and that’s o.k. too
I keep repeating like a mantra to myself
trying to zone out into a trance
that helps me feel as numb as a frozen gum
whenever I remember you in moonlight
with my eyes half shut
and my heart not as wide open as it used to be.
My eyes focus on a memory but it seems
they’re just seeing for show
and there’s no insight in it
neither they nor I want the courage to know.
And I guess it’s you I’m talking to here
or this simulacrum of what I remember of you
that’s kept on growing inside me
like a ghost that hasn’t made its peace with me yet
or maybe just this void I imagine
among billions of eyes
has yours in it too
and the way things are inchoately connected
somehow resonates vestigially
on the same wavelength you and I used to.
But even if nothing and no one are there anymore
that’s o.k., that’s o.k., that’s o.k., too.
I’m not going to break my teeth on a koan with a time-lock
I’m not going to give myself a concussion
knocking on a door from the inside
to get someone to open it and let me out.
The last time I did that
you were the storm that took me in again.
You were the third eye of the hurricane
and I was the star you washed out of it
because you couldn’t make it fit
that cocaine constellation
you liked to buff with fairy dust
before you took it to the streets
to find a black market for inspiration.
I was never desperate enough in those days
to keep up with you in your moodswings
so I tried to get behind you and push
your voice out onto a stage equal to your talent
and you wowed them. You did.
You had them standing up on the tables
and afraid to come out of the green room.
And I especially liked it when you dedicated
Walking in the Rain to me
and ever since I’ve listened to it
like a gnostic gospel I buried in the desert
to keep from using it like a sacred text to start a fire.
Hey, but two days later you turned from a hit
into an atomic albino Queen Cobra Apache-Aztec witch
with your fangs stuck like a wishbone
in the throat of your voice coach
for not singing as well as he listens
to what the lyrics of your raving hysterics meant
between the lines when you were coming down
like a junkie in a decaying orbit
that didn’t make it all the way to the moon.
Living with you then
once you got back on the blow
was like walking across a mine field
covered in blood-stained snow.
A black rose with the bite of a rattlesnake.
The thorns of a Yaqui mesquite cactus
like the tongue piercings of a prophetic skull
trying to make itself known
like a hidden secret in a savage language
written on flesh and bone.
Remember that night you slashed my sportsjacket
down the spine with one eagle-feathered swoop of the knife
for doing the dishes that had sat
growing green mould like alien life
in a junkyard of contaminated space parts
because you didn’t want to be taxed like a dealer
with the same chores as everyone else?
I liked painting all night at the kitchen table
with you watching me
like a kataba worm at the bottom of a bottle of tequila
wondering whether I was toxic to eat or not.
I painted you four by six foot love notes
on square-riggers of canvas that ran before the wind
like the skull and crossbones from the slower angel fleets
trying to regain command of their own lifeboats
to rescue our relationship.
But that’s o.k. that’s o.k., that’s o.k., too.
I’ve deepened my perspective
like a shipwreck on the moon
inundated by shadows below deck
with none of my water gates and fire walls in tact.
It took more light years traversing the void
without a point of origin or destination
to ever make me feel off course
because in any dimension
and every direction
one move was as good as another
before the cosmic mystery
dwindled into the mundane fact
of the aerial perspective I put behind me
when I painted time blue to keep it in the distance.
Just as I was happy you were gone with our son
like d.n.a. evidence
we did have something to say to each other once
before the house burned down with me in it
spitting into the ashes of a demonic failure
to immolate me at the stake of a familial heresy
while the birds were dropping in mid flight
at forty below outside.
I was far from a daycare father
but I hoisted him up on my shoulders in pride
as if the weight of the world were nothing
but the bubble of a laughing boy
goading an elephant with no sense of gravity
into a full gallop before he starts flapping his ears.
But that’s o.k., that’s o.k., that’s o.k. too.
If you walk it long enough alone
you’ll find there’s more dust on the road
than you’ve got tears to keep it down.
People might want to cling to your skin like cornerstones
and you might rather want to be keel-hauled on the moon
than wash your hands of them.
Sometimes the heart thinks it’s indelible.
The stars have fixed the tats for life
and all you’ve got to do is connect the dots
to see what constellations have been revealed
as signs of love’s misplaced centricity.
And then one day gone.
Who knows where?
There was a bubble, a gravitational eye,
A birthday balloon full of laughing gas,
a shepherd moon with an oceanic vision of life,
the impression of scarlet lipstick
like rose petals on a white kleenex
beside a make-up mirror
that managed your campaign of faces
like a drug cartel running for mayor of Shangrila.
Glacial ages of archival snowfall
sublimate like dry ice into thin air
like dreamers at their own exorcism
like the ghosts of wild swans
evaporating off the Rideau in the morning
without warning, one moment there, incredibly
the waterbirds, the light, the shapeshifting clouds,
the pudgy hands of a child
that hasn’t yet learned to make a fist
and the body of a woman with a taped wrist.
A fish jumps and disappears like a comet
back into a starmap of black holes
that plumbs the depths of your soul
from top to bottom
like skin-divers dragging the river
for the corpses of nightclub owners in Hull.
Forgiven, forgotten, foretold and fulfilled,
no more bones to make of it,
when you weren’t the blue lapis lazuli mask
of a jaguar goddess in heat
you prowled nocturnally like a smile
through shady emotions on the bestial floor
and you killed, not so much out of appetite
or to propitiate some ancient instinct in blood
but for the thrill of it, the rush, the ride
because you could, just because you could.
And no divinity was served.
You didn’t sleep with men.
You dragged them off into the bushes by their necks.
And that’s o.k., that’s o.k., that’s o.k. too.
The last time I saw you
you were draping yourself like an oilslick
over the shoulders of a bad movie
who was trying to man up among coke dealers
in a nightclub where people danced out of desperation
because everyone there had the lifespan
of a photo-op in the fast lane.
You wanted me to see
though I thought you overstated it a bit
how wonderful it was to be free of me
and spend the rest of your afterlife in theatre.
You couldn’t have been pleased
to see me with another woman
though I swear I didn’t know
you were going to be there.
I made a cold truce with the world’s brutality
and moved deep into the country
to mime the moonlight on the winter snow
where fate ran a cleaner casino than destiny.
At least the mouse knew
when it was being torn into pieces of Orphic meat
as the fragrance of hot blood steamed starward
it wasn’t being consumed by a coke rage
and the owl needed to eat.
A thousand re runs of that night
have tempted me to say something magnanimous
and make a gracious bow from the audience
as I headed for the emergency exit
knowing that was it for good between us
and what was left could only get worse.
Time is a stem cell in a shopping mall
that waits like a terrorist in all of us
outside an abortion clinic
for the right opportunity
to replicate the lack of heart
that just couldn’t go through with it.
Born in fire eventually
the salamander grows back its tail
to keep the phoenix intrigued
with the resurrection of its body parts.
No need to talk of a soul.
The fire-pits are full of bloodless abstractions
that burn without smoke or flame
like the jinn in the Koran
some good some bad
some grant wishes like new lamps for old
and some are weaving snakey emeralds
into the imageless wavelengths of their flying carpets
to tie up loose ends in their threadbare snake pits
by looking for live embers
in the ashes of a long firewalk
and more in the way of a Zen mondo
than a black mass in the way I put them out
to see more clearly what I’m stepping on in the dark
than I used to give a second thought to
and be able to say with genuine conviction
even if I do by some mistake
that’s o.k., that’s o.k., that’s o.k. too.
Namu amida butsu.
Given all I lived through with you
it’s easy for a retroactively enlightened man
to understand why you had to lie to stay true to your public.
You had the radioactive charisma
of a terrorist movie star up for an Oscar.
And I was the donkey you wanted to smuggle your amps in.
I may be slow, but I’m as thorough as a fuse-box
when it comes to snake charming circuit-breakers
so that the lights go out
long before the music’s over
and the real stars emerge from hiding
from the aftermath of your blazing
with google maps and cellphones.
There are darker intensities
and gentler lucidities
wired in parallel to the universe
like black matter to our synaptic neurons.
I snapped out of you like a lightning bolt
but it hurt to wake up from a coma and learn
you’d gone off like an i.e.d. after the big event.
Things that shine for themselves
like the light of a dream
in the sunless depths of the sea
or the T Tauri stars in the Pleiades
are better seen with the spotlight off than on.
And I don’t know why.
Maybe you suffered from stagefright
but you always killed the messenger
by sending a lighthouse
to do the job of a firefly
when a blasting cap in a beaver dam
would have done the same collateral damage.
But that’s o.k., that’s o.k., that’s o.k. too.
Two fools saw their names in light.
The bright one reached up for stardom.
The dark one looked down for insight.
The donkey looks into the well.
The well looks back at the donkey.
And things just go off by themselves.