Wednesday, November 16, 2011



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.

Just 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

chemiluminescent fish

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

and overacted

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.




The magi of crazy wisdom have delivered their gifts and separated to find their long disappointed ways back home as if it were any less amazing the star of Bethlehem in the house of bread turned out to be a supernova recorded by the Chinese or as close an approach the shepherd moons of Jupiter are ever going to get to a manger that would lead them to green pastures on high ground. Even if it didn’t before the first snowfall. A Palestinian 747 pilot for Japan airways once gave me a young ram for my birthday right out of the Koran or the Bible, and I called him Harouf Tajeen which is Arabic for Curried Lamb. I lived on a sheep farm that had gone broke because the coyotes mauled the flocks. A savage sacrifice in a rough school where hardly anything ever knocks and no one ever really graduates until they drop out. From a lamb to a butt-kicking rodeo clown of a ram I cradled Harouf in my arms like a prophet from the Old Testament or Jim Morrison in concert and instead of counting sheep I’d recite him the twenty-third psalm to get him to sleep with the dogs by the fire on extremely cold nights in the winter. And just to see him always made me feel kind of laughably holy as if my demonic gods had a divine sense of humour. Maybe holy isn’t the right word. Less damned would please a Zen master more. So less damned then, though I don’t mean that in a Byronic sense, but more in the way of being called upon to show respect for someone else’s colours though they don’t mean that much to you except as a source of danger. And here was the living word. Not the dead symbol. I could pluck the burdock out of his fleece as if I were reinventing velcro. And the dogs and I slept lightly at night with one ear cocked and our trigger finger on the crescent moon to run the coyotes off God’s little acre. We weren’t of Eden. But we were in it up to our jugulars. We were the black ops watchdogs of the Holy Land, and though my ram could, we weren’t allowed to enter the promised land armed with blood on our hands. Same god. Wrong sacrifice. Nature red in tooth and claw we were the bloods in the hoods and illegal settlements of Los Angeles and East Jerusalem. We were the Knights Templar of the pioneering communities that were settled here by temptation in the wilderness where they recorded the names of the wildlife that persisted in persecuting them like coyotes and wolves and bear and fishers in the Book of Heresies they were fond of quoting like the devil knows scripture at their revivalist prayer meetings to lift this heavy trapline off their shoulders and lay it upon another like a scourge of predators they couldn’t convert to vegetarianism. Think of the rabbits that would die for the lack of a carrot and the donkeys that wouldn’t have anything to look forward to if everyone gave up eating meat. And what was God’s original design for a trapline if not a wolf? Case closed like a koan with a crack. And it didn’t matter anyway if we shone with a deflected divinity while the angels were looking the other way distracted by the ricochets in the voice of God. We were the dragons and skeletal armies that guarded the Golden Fleece like the condottieri of late medieval Florence and the contractors of modern Iraq. But we weren’t the kind of cartel that would hold a sacrifice for ransom like a judas-goat. We’d do that for free just to prove we weren’t all mad, bad, and dangerous to know. Hells Angels sometimes stop to help people change flat tires. Farmyard dogs that have been crazed by the moon once too often after the porch lights go off sometimes look out for a member of a gullible species that they might otherwise prey upon. Who knows, maybe it was a vestigial hunting ritual to celebrate our symbolic gratitude for the generosity of what we killed to live? But we forbore until the score was Rams: one, Coyotes: none. And then the inconceivable happened like an anti-miracle drug. Harouf ate deadly nightshade and died. At least that’s what the neighbours told me it was. I had to rent a back hoe to keep the coyotes from digging him up. Put heavy stones on his grave. Said something soft and brave and open-ended about what a good ram he was. And how sorry I was we couldn’t save him from himself. And what did me and the dogs learn from all this to advance our spiritual enlightenment even so much as a shadow of what it’s supposed to be? Never run to the defence of a suicide on its way to a sacrifice without letting nature takes its course. That might sound callous. But weeping like broken-hearted blisters is worse. Sometimes the mountain just falls off the climber no matter how many sherpas he has around him to guide him up out of the valley of death one fragile foothold after another all the way up the goat path to the top of nothing with wolves to cover his ass, and when the moon asks about the horned one, mourn his passing.