Tuesday, December 6, 2011



The cars go by my window

like the swish of arhythmic breakers

on black shores of snakey asphalt.

Dirt, cataracts, geriatric pearls

that were retrieved from the Titanic,

December windows full of grace,

I sit in my place like paperweight on a desk

like a fieldstone in a bank wall,

like a capstone on a hill of skulls,

and contemplate how it came about

that young, I could focus

like a laser beam of polarized light,

but as I’ve grown older it seems

I look at the stars at night

like a dissipated mode of time and space

and don’t so much focus anymore

on what’s in my line of sight

as embrace the atmospheric ambiance

of the hot mangers that burn within

to give birth to something unmessianic

that shines from the inside out

like the ingenuous divinity

of a fully realized human being.

One small red lamp on

like the heater of a cigarette

glowing in an ashtray,

like the traffic light of a firefly

whose green lightbulb has gone out

like do not pass go on a monopoly board,

trying to deal with things like a stop sign in winter.

Abstruse broodings at the butt end of the year,

when the trees look more like numbers than words

and everyone is so scientifically dependent

on a single thermal-paned window

or a computer screen

for their point of view

they don’t know where else to look

but at the details,

at the shabby exactitude of the facts

that fit their feet like unclipped toenails

sticking up like gravestones in the bath,

or moonrise,

once they’ve been dredged like a canal.

I don’t know for sure

but I suspect there are as many

Japanese words for grey rain

as their are Inuit words for snow

and just where the sumi ink brush

feathers out like a low hanging lenticular cloud

on the event horizon of nirvana,

like the last skidmark on samsara

that’s where you’re most likely

to find enlightenment

like the last breath of apricot season

letting go of its ghost.

And there are ghosts to let go of

like fire driven out of the sacred wood

like books from a sanctimonious library

run by a small town born again spider

trying to keep the world pure for royalist butterflies

I haven’t even begun to remember yet.

X-rated books profuse

with the purple passages of summer

that got taken down off the shelf

like a wild orchid among all these wallflowers

of common sense and uncommon practicality

that think of a Shasta daisy

as the waste of a good vegetable garden

and a star as the excess of a neighbouring farm

that keeps its porchlight on all night;

taken down like the hand

of the foxiest girl at the dance

for all the gold of India, or Samarkand

as Hafiz said it

and read so many times

the glue is cracked along the spine

of its perfect binding

and when the wind goes to exorcise them

like the petals of the flames that bloomed

like a flower of fire in the voice of a candle

speaking in tongues at a black mass

and read so many times

when the landlords of these heritage ghettoes

drive them out like crackhead prostitutes on welfare

trying to get their kids back

the same way they came in the first place,

I swear I see in the first snowflakes of the year

the pages of a tear-wrenching novel

scattered like the first draught of morning doves

who refused to be revised by an eclipse of crows

who’ve never understood how imperishable snow is

when someone writes on it in blood

like a rose listening to the death bed confession

of a wounded worm with nothing to feel sorry for

instead of pissing on it from above

when you’re feeling comparatively godlike and cruel

toward those whose love can’t help you

get out of the snake pit you’ve dug for yourself

like the crow that taught Cain how to bury Abel

by scratching a living out of the earth

like an undertaker with a back hoe

before it gets too cold to bury anyone.

Sleet, rain, snow, smothering immensities of grey,

I’m trying to jump-start a phoenix

like a heart attack in a pail of wet ashes

to get something going again

that will see me through the winter

like the box kite of a Chinese fire lantern

I hold on to like a string of smoke

that keeps me together

and prevents my wings from being iced over

like the main theme of my mindstream

the higher it gets.

A little fire

in the dark furnace

of a combustible heart

can go a long way on a day like this

without mistaking itself

for a mythically inflated extraterrestrial weather balloon

looking for a supernova of inspiration

in every sorry snowflake

it approaches like a star

going through withdrawal

after the Milky Way of human kindness froze

dead in its tracks like a creekbed in shock

at the beginning of a new ice age

and someone snorted it like the Road of Ghosts

and someone o.d.’d on the illuminated flash

ricocheting off the bling of their own exorcism

and someone looked long and hard

past the demoralized stained-glass dragonflies

that sat on the broken eggshells

of the brittle waterlilies

through the winter patina of a dirty window

and stared blankly at the grey intensities

that are about to overwhelm us

like four hundred miles of cloud cover on Venus

as any blind man will confirm

and every third eye of a crocus will deny

as much as I love it

seeing isn’t enough.

There’s the mysticism of contemplation.

And then there’s the mysticism of action.

Outdated slug lines and snippets of Shangri La

crying out like this December rain in its impotence

like a grail on the moon

that’s looking for an ailing kingdom,

if not a return to Eden,

then why not a Viagra of flowers?

Though artificial midwinter springtimes

don’t weather well in the sun

and all these artificial Christmas lights

that have ripened like a still life

of cherries, pineapples, banannas, strawberries,

and Jerusalem artichoke hearts

all mixed on the same palate

and fixed to the life lines

of the imitation grapevines

of a small Italian restaurant

in a rurally conservative Ontario town

with a northern temperament

for adapting to depression like a storm front;

for all the electrical aura

that surrounds them like holy signs

on the short-circuiting vines of life,

no one’s going to tread them into wine

without getting their own blood

all over their feet

like a Vincent Van Gogh painting

of farm girls harvesting a vineyard

as the sun slows down solsticially behind them.

Seeing isn’t enough

and tears are about as strong

as two and a half per cent American beer.

You need to learn to cry like an ambulance

on its way to give a Protestant poppy

on the lapel of an aging war vet

an Irish Catholic blood transfusion

if you want to survive winter here

like a medic in the middle of No Man’s Land

keeping your cool at an accident

that was bound to happen to everyone.