Sunday, November 27, 2011



I see you little brother, little asp, little junkie-adder.


You slide silently and slyly through the grass.

A single wavelength

but with just enough sting

to burn somebody’s ass,

nip them in the heel

and drag somebody down

into the underworld with you.

Compassion makes me look like a fool to you.

People feel sorry for you

and then you twist it like a blade

you think of as your edgy intelligence

and they end up feeling

like the dupe of their own best ideals.

And yet your power base,

that little charge you give your ego

as if you just hit the enemy submarine

and you were exalting

in that mean little smirk of glee

that squirts out from the corners of your eyes

while you’re machine-gunning the survivors,

that kind of power is strategically weak

because it depends upon

the approbation of its inferiors

for a mythically inflated estimation of itself.

You shouldn’t underestimate your enemies

but you shouldn’t overestimate yourself either.

What you lack, little brother, is clarity, accuracy.

You hide behind those heavy eyelids of yours

as if you were competing with rose-petals

and there’s an ambivalent scent

of patchouli oil in the air

mingled with just a touch of agent orange

to begin defoliating the rain forests in the room

to prove you know where everybody’s at

better than they do

but they can’t know you because you’re so deep

your mystic cloud of unknowing

has turned into mustard gas

the wind can only come near at its own peril.

Are you some kind of black hole

that’s got to suck the light out of the hearts

of the people around you

as if it were a privilege you accorded them

to let them care

you found a new way to degrade the darkness

by what you’re doing to yourself?

Every friend you’ve got

feels like collateral damage

because they loved you at one time or another

well enough in the midst

of their own frailties and catastrophes

to want to see better things for you than you do.

But what’s the point of all these oases

holding out real water to you

while you wallow in that mirage of star mud

like a dry wishing well

looking for something to drink on the moon

that tastes like nectar

in the land of the lotus-eaters in pill form?

You want to drink stars

out of your own hands

and blood out of everybody else’s skulls.

Little brother, there you are again

sitting on my couch pendulously

going through one of your famous

retrograde Martian mood swings

trying to give that grandfather clock face of yours

that went geriatric before you were forty

a face-lift by insinuating

anyone that finds the least fault in you

because you won’t do the job for yourself

is as hopeless and pathetic as you are

and when you shift it into second

on your mountain gears

when you really get going, worse.

But I’m not going to

exorcise, curse, demonize, pariah, or cast you out,

or try not to understand you

because the one thing about love

that’s impervious to someone like you

is that it’s got more antidotes on hand

than you’ve got poison

whether you bite them in the heart

or release it drop by drop into their ears

from one of your fangs like a morphine drip

beside that hospital bed

we’re always adjusting for you

so you can see yourself from another angle,

or dew from the last crescent of the moon

from the tiny tusk of that spider

that sits in the middle of your dream catcher

and puts you into a coma

where you hallucinate

you’re drinking soma in the company

of Indo-Iranian gods

as it sups on your body fluids

like an oil rig over the amphora of a fly.




Always this great knot of sadness,

this wounded bird inside

that beats its wings against my rib cage

like one woman did once on my chest in tears

many manic years ago

to be let out to fly back

to whatever chimney she thought she came from.

And I said here is the live green bough

and there the dead branch

but the song’s the same on both

and I’ve been listening for her voice

especially when it starts to get dark

early on a winter evening

when the kitchen lights go on

and glow on the snow

like the warmth of generous windows

stretching their light out like a cat full length ever since.

Dead air in my studio.

The two big twin master easels

I’ve been apprenticed to for the last half century

have turned into praying mantises

and started practising censorship.

The imageless air.

The hiss of traffic.

No bird tracks in the snow on my windowsill

where the golden seeds of summer

wonder what kind of soil it is

they’ve been planted in

and what’s expected of them now.

Not a wavelength of picture-music in my head.

There’s been an exorcism while I slept

that’s taken the changelings from the orphanage stairs

but has put nothing back

except this sadness in my heart

that isn’t mine alone to suffer

but share empathetically

even with the agony of my tormented paintbrushes

and the life I’ve crushed out of

these tortured tubes of paint

as weird as that sounds

as if I were quietly weeping

for everything else that couldn’t.

Lachrymae rerum. Tears

deep down in the very substance of things

as if suffering were the afterbirth of existence

the background cosmic hiss

of greater things to come

and the universe isn’t big enough yet to bury it.

This might be why

my heartwood gets choked up

every time I look at what’s happening to the trees

and why I want to cry

when I see an old man with white hair

swipe a wedge of snow off the ledge

of a cement garbage can for the publicly disposable

across the street in front of the bank one story below

and make a quick snowball of it

as if it’s something he’s being doing

every first snowfall of the year

like some superstitious ritualistic initiation

into the marvellous fact that, yeah, it’s here again

and so is he

and then just throw it away like a casual aside

not at anyone

but just away

as if to say

that’s that. It’s done.

Now I can take on anything that comes.

And sometimes it hurts so bad

when the colour of life goes south

with the Monarch butterflies

and the wet snow is effacing

the garish red logo on the bank

that affronts my studio window

like a commercial form of graffiti,

I’ve got to turn to words

like burgundy ground willow

in a bleak windswept winter landscape

and try to write myself to death

to keep from going mad

on behalf of people I haven’t even met.

That’s how sad it gets.