Friday, December 2, 2011



There was nothing ever to forgive you for

I’d say to you now if you were still alive.

Pain doesn’t maintain an agent,

though as many who have lived

have been named as perpetrators;

it just occurs

like happiness just happens

like a stroke of luck, a touch of grace

in an astronomical lottery of famished chances.

Voices arise in my head to address you

in the immensities of time and sorrow

like spokesmen for my heart

and another part of me

listens from the audience to this play

that’s been going on for light years without you.

I suspect I’m still trying to perfect the way I loved you

out of force of habit, knowing how

redundant and absurd that is

long after the play closed

and the plaster cherubs

on the Ionian cornices of the theatre

were buried in the rubble

along with the comic and tragic masks

that shed their petals when the lights went off

and everyone was left face to face with themselves.

You have drifted in and out of my poems for years

like a curtain at an open window

in an abandoned house,

like blue smoke from an autumn fire,

the fragrance of the bath you draw from the stars

and sweeten with the salts of lunar wildflowers

whenever you want to renew your virginity

like the kings’ mistress

stepping out of the sea

like some Renaissance Venus

covering her sex up with a serpentine lock of hair.

You’re the sparrow on the finger of Catullus’ lover

except now you can only make it as far

as my windowsill

though I leave everything open to you

to come and go as you please and must.

No illusory skies. No broken necks.

No more finger-stroking the soft walnut of a bird’s head

like a lost locket full of grief,

like a small lamp that can’t grant anymore wishes

however you caress it.

Ah, the genie’s out mingling with the Milky Way

like all unencompassed spirits of the night,

like dead souls in the bodies of Canada geese

heading southwest

though their echoes are veering northeast

as if their homeless ghosts

had a place and mind of their own,

an airy nothingness

without a local habitation or a name.

In my view of the world as picture-music

in an expanding universe with its foot to the floor

on a pedal of dark energy

the vision’s always too big

for any frame or stage or star map

you bring to it to try and express

where things are improbably at now.

We were young together for awhile

and we sought to embrace the world

and everything in it

even if it meant kissing the dead on the forehead

to wake them up gently from their long dream

of flying in formation with Canada geese,

though it never did.

I tried it on you more than once.

I kissed every bead on a rosary of prophetic skulls.

And still to this day no one answers, no one hears.

I tried to scry the future

in the crystal balls of my tears

but all I ever saw was the same old moon,

the same old stars that crossed us off

their birthday guest list

like a calendar of total eclipses

that had already taken place.

And I knew the future was far behind us.

And your early death could only make you more beautiful

as the years wore out their threadbare flying carpets

and those rare bright nocturnal spirits of life

you were meant to meet and fall in love with

like the heart loves its bloodstream

like a waterclock loves the passage of time

when it’s full to overbrimming

with water on the moon

grow rarer and further apart

like stars on the skin of our cosmic enlargements.

Just like this open window

that never lets eternity become a barrier to the dead.

I’ve never closed the curtains on the play.

I’ve never drawn a veil over

the fountains and the waterfalls

the wetlands and rapids of my mindstream

and said to the lady of the lake

in her garment of mist

this is live water

and that water’s dead

as if there were a wave of difference

between the one that carries forth

and the one that carries away.

The cloud and the snow on the mountaintop

both speak the same language,

share the same mother-tongue

as does the fog in the valley

the ice, the rain, the dew,

as if what’s false about the living

were true of the dead as well,

everything sublime, everything trivial.

Hydra-headed water shapeshifting

through our hands

like the desert sands of an hourglass

that dump the pyramid

and finally get out of the box.

Lunar landscapes

with transmogrifying mindstreams

that apply themselves like water

to mending gardens on the moon

while death waits like a stranger at the gate

to commend you on the green thumb

that’s apparent in your choice of wildflowers.

I can still feel you bend time

like the body of a guitar

when you’re around me

trying to tune the spider webs

in the corner of the room I write in

to your cosmic whole note of silence.

And just as you were a muse of mine in life

and I drew your intoxicating waters

deeply from the well

and we walked under the stars awhile

without caring where we were going

so even in death

I can feel you come to the dead branch sometimes

like inspiration to a night bird’s heart

when it doesn’t really matter

if anyone answers or not

because you flower like longing

in the roots of my solitude

and the moon blossoms

and my poems unfold like leaves.




Full moon behind the broken femur of a jack pine

shattered by the wind on the ridge of the hill,

its pagoda of boughs, nothing but a lean-to now

for deer mice, fox, rabbit, groundhogs.

Old manuscripts of rock striated and stacked

by retreating glaciers

washing their hands of themselves.

The hill has never known a messiah

and the glaciers wrote for themselves.

The mast of the moon boat wrecked,

The rectal stake of Vlad the Impaler.

The axis of the world for the auto de fe

of some future heretic

with a penchant for the tragic.

No culpability in the event.

Hawk with an injured wing,

molar, stalagmite, Cinderella

sweeping up the pieces of a broken chandelier

so she won’t cut her feet on the stars.

This tree talked to God.

This tree broke like an arrow

to make a truce with the wind.

Detonations of juniper and red ground willow,

splashes of tears and blood

going off like improvised explosive devices

in a mine-field covered in snow.

This tree was caught in a war-zone.

This tree is trying to flag a fighter back on deck.

This tree sailed out and met the French at Trafalgar.

This tree is a seasoned cannoneer

without a leg to stand on.

This tree is the capital A of a sacred alphabet.

The moon rises and shrinks from apricot

to blue-white toward zenith

and somehow metaphors

run off the back of the silence here

like water off a water bird

as a fractured pine

puts its finger up to my lips

and says shhhhhhh

there’s nothing that can be said

that’s going to make me whole again.

It’s not me that you’re trying to mend.

The wind shudders

with a bleak chill it doesn’t recognize

like a power surge up its spine

as a cult of bats sweep the air helter skelter

like lunar butterflies with teeth.

The brutal clarity of broken things in the wild,

beautiful beyond compare

with anyone’s reflexive remedies,

a wound more sublime

than the whole and the healed

among these groves that surround the hill

like devotees at Stonehenge

pouring blood libations

over the dolmen of a Druid

talking in tree language to the full moon

about things that haven’t happened yet

and the things that have.