Thursday, December 8, 2011



Expecting the worst because it is always now

and now is always the downfall of time,

the doomstroke of the present pulse

that goes off like an alarm clock in the grave

that no one will wake up to

but a lonely few raving in their sleep

feverish with dream, I look upon

the tribulation of the willow beyond tears,

the fury of the flagellant pines

that thrash the troubled air to keep from breaking,

the garbled flight plans of the veering birds,

and, prophet of the obvious, presage

the coming of a storm to break you

like a mirror of stagnant water

on the meteoritic thrones

of your igneous foundation stones.

Were you elected by the stars

to skull the earth with bombs,

to crater, gouge and scorch the playgrounds

of the obsolete children

waiting in their makeshift hospitals

for arms you tore from them like daisies; “she

loves me; she loves me not,” until

the night pours metal in their eyes

to seed the fire-fruits of their flowering

that has suddenly matured

in front of the guns and cameras

into a windfall of silent, acrid hearts

buried like landmines in the dazzling road

of their scorned flesh?

And they die for oil, they die

for the corporate spiders pulling the strings

of the Punch and Judy puppet governments

that tour the morgues like spring;

for bridges and contractors, power-lines

and power lunches, foreign policies

that brain them like the jawbone of an ass

they die, in their pyjamas, in their beds,

a kiss goodnight, and their prayers

imploring the disconnected dark to enlarge

the acceptable quotas of civilian dead

like the posters of the martyrs

on the walls of their rooms

shaken by the distant thunder

of computer-guided patriots and prophets

cooking their cities like God. And tomorrow

and tomorrow and tomorrow they die

in twisted, tormented convulsions

of agony and baffled blood they die and die,

learning to read and count

the names and years of their relatives

in the liberated souks of democratic cemeteries, alif

beh teh theh jim, F-l8, they master their lessons

and die in their thousands

because an executive cabal of miserable old men

with platitudes and prosthetic missiles for dicks

are into kiddie-porn snuff flicks

and biblical memoirs of all they begot

for the providence and profits

that redress the way they rot.

Acknowledging that this is not a hallmark greeting card,

I put it to you in the name

of your own enlightened self-interest,

in the name of a heart that isn’t

congested with a fashionable indifference,

in the name of a natural decency

that doesn’t need a teacher, in the name

of the families you came from

and the families you work for,

the daughter that falls asleep with you on the couch

like an island in the eye of a hurricane, the son

who listens to everything you say

as if he were kicking through bushels of autumn leaves

and then steals your car keys,

and your half-estranged wife, hoping

you’ll notice her hair-do at dinner, your mother,

the evangelist of baby pictures, and your father

softly overgrown like an old stone wall;

in the name of teen-age lovers

and their sophomoric glues, in the name

of calcium postal-clerks who smile

like Easter seals; in the name of iron men

with empty wallets, in the name

of the huge, lonely roses in all night bars

that bloom like scabs on the moon and know

they’re not pretty, in the name of physicists

and cabdrivers with chunks of quantum hash,

in the name of the angry crossroads in the singer’s voice,

in the name of the name of the insecure poet

whose last word fell like a drop of water

from a trembling blade of stargrass, I put it to you

because you are not a toad in front of a football game,

because you are not

a pebble-minded cosmetician in a delirium of pink, because

even in a shopping-mall you can feel and bleed and think,

and though you may be slow, you’re thorough

when it comes to putting on new brakes,

and though I know you don’t know what I mean

when I tell you that even the rocks, even

the rarest of ores we draw from the earth

like secret kings and artificial hearts

are freaked with seams of mystic gangrene

that will sever us like bells of blood

from the gardens of the gods we hope for,

rotten hinges from the gates,

bad meat from the starwells; you’re seer enough

to intuit the theme. It’s not about honey,

it’s about lies and death and money

devouring families like yours; it’s about

rich men gigantic with greed

and nations of thugs and thieves

infesting the earth like maggots in an abattoir,

manipulating what everyone believes,

defaming the weak and the poor, war after war,

to glut themselves on more and more and more

until all of life is nothing but a toxic insight,

and there are children everywhere tonight

making the news, hoping

they’ll need their shoes in the morning,

bleeding through their bandages like dawn.

Famine, disease, war, poverty and ignorance,

under what sign was this planet born

that this should be the birthmark of black stars

that forsake the constellation

burning like a kite

tangled in the powerlines?

And do not tell me these abominations, these

ominous eclipses of the heart

that fit the skull with lichens and cataracts

sunspots, polar caps and death shroud victory flags

are the labour of mineral casinos

playing the sluts and slots of chance

for a material immortality composing sexual requiems

on the keyboards of our genes. These

are the smiles of old scythes,

rusted and bloody,

that reap what they do not sow,

the chronic harvest of blood, bone, tears and flesh

threshed by the rotating blades of the moon;

these are the wounds and gashes,

the indecipherable science and scripture of scars

that stroke the lunar fury of the wild boars who plough with tusks,

the salt and lime and ashes that spice

the tasteless, eyeless, childless grave

with famous reasons for murder. These

are the ballroom courtesies of dancing cannibals,

these are the mothering headphones

of a twenty year old tank commander

who smothers the screams of casual children

in his video line of fire

with the curative gasolines of American rock and roll.

These are the occult imperatives

of cosmic ghouls whose mouths

are roses of blood, whose idols and ethics

are praying mantises dismembering the world,

tent-caterpillars and locusts

blighting the leaf and the grain

with the eggs and afterlives of imperial insects.

These are the arcane scales

of old serpents sloughing skins

like epochs and empires and straitjackets

that couldn’t contain the life within

the market gardens of original sin, these

are the hinges of its gaping jaws

and these the fangs and poisons

of its septic laws undone like lynch pins

to take the whole world in, disgorging again

the used condoms, the withered shells

of the nations and nests they’ve plundered.

Let the blind ambassador

whose morals are as breezy as his teeth

number the spoon-fed nightmares

propped up like dolls in unnegotiated corners,

their glass eyes open for keeps

like guide dogs at the fatal intersections

of dark, delinquent streets

that only the children cross,

hysterical in sleep. Let him explain

to the pillows of the children in the furnace

why their feathers will never make a bird that flys;

let him explain to the bracelets and bells,

the twilight of hair in the comb,

the glacial sages preserved in the cracks of the mirror,

the drowned lumber of mothers

dismantled by violent coasts, their children

snagged like cod in the purses of political fishing nets,

why death is the only guarantor of human liberty,

let him choose his words carefully

as if he were loading a gun with birthday candles,

let him drop seedlings in the bullet holes

and talk of future forests gleefully

to the press corps generals

spewing pulp fiction like chainsaws in a feeding frenzy.

Let him mark well the small graves in the footnotes

of his text, the fragile starmaps of braille

that will later come forward like witnesses

to accuse his sterling composition

of the mountainous corals of the dead,

all the polyp people that he brained into stone bread.

And when like death he’s out of a job,

let him run eagerly door to door

delivering newspapers to the mob

like personal resumes, or let him carve gravestones

for unofficial children

on the dead letterhead of his own.

Then take the presidents, the bankers,

the ministers, executives, and pimps

equipped with the long spoons and supple shovels

of their death-divining tongues

and let them dig like star-nosed moles

deep holes in the earth for the corpses of the young,

black poppies in the shadow of a white-washed bloodhouse

enthroned on a summit of dung.




Softly, softly, now; here there is no beneath or above, no hell

for miscreant flowers opening for the moon, no ghosts

who can’t find their way back to the grave. No one

is unacceptable in this place where even the dead dig

for the blue bones of heaven, cracking

them open like fortune-cookies

to taste the light gold of the marrow. This is the kingdom

of empty cups waiting to be filled

by the black wine of union that ripened

in the skull-shrines

of a thousand drunken buddhas

begging outside a brothel door

for the same holy candle to show them the way home. People

are seldom grateful for what they don’t know

and thought is only the dog of reality

if you can catch my drift in this back-alley

where I’m dancing with a gust of wind. How lightly

you step off my tongue into your veils and shadows

dropping your masks like petals all over the asphalt

until you can’t be seen. Is that freedom or death; do you

bathe in your grave or your heart

when you remember the sorrows you’ve buried like daggers

in the wounds that widowed you.? Do you tremble

like a kite at the end of your own life-line

waiting to be found by the witching-wands of the lightning;

or have you forgotten your madness, the dark jewels

in which you took sanctuary for the night

like an orphan in her longing, the crazy wisdom

that put on the costume of a dead clown

and offered herself to the blind and humourless

like a chessboard. Do you still swim naked in sapphires, raise

gardens of fish on the moon, perform

open-heart surgery on paralyzed serpents

that wake up from the anaesthetic between your legs

like a spring thaw, believing they can walk and then

come crawling back, veteran amputees

demanding crutches? Wild moon on a lonely river, night-lotus,

flesh and stars, every moment of you is origin; why doubt

your own reflection in the mirror of my voice? I’m

not selling snake-oil on the midways of eternity, filling the sails

of a slave-ship and calling it the love-boat; this is not

a wardrobe of auroras I buy up cheap in Montreal

and hawk from the back of a truck in Sunday parking lots. If the words

dance, if the wind plays lightly in the leaves, if the fire sings

and the diamonds flow and the rain falls musically

like phantom fingers on the spotted touch-me-nots, should I impugn

the graces of perception that sing, unseen, in the deep woods

because they fly without a limp, praise without a stutter?

I see in whispers; I hear in glimpses. Nameless affinities rooted in silence

bloom in the saying and fall back into themselves,

fountains within fountains, pursing their waters

to kiss the light as it breaks like glee against them. Fountains,

not pedestals. Deep sky-dwellers ride the helix of their own thermals,

their wings spread from dawn to dawn, and if they build,

they build from the sky down, not footstools, scaffoldings, and temples,

not ladders of bone at the bottom of dry wells, but tents of light

in the secret grottoes of space, supple as life.

Up is not up nor down, down, when you dream in the seed, neither

born nor unborn, yet nothing missing; creation within the Uncreate,

the intimately impersonal holy mother that is born and perishes

with us. I walk this vastness alone; who, then, to impress or pedestal

in this empty, pathless, mouthless, dark bliss of a world

where even the silence is speechless before it? If

the ignorant see the world as an open hat on a lonely streetcorner

begging for change and prizes; let them. That is their hour,

their seeing, their word. All seeing is a kind of love.

Orchids and dandelions alike. All that is loved is seen to be beautiful

but not all that is beautiful is seen to be loved. I see

a blue rose, shedding lives like petals and skies,

night skies, freaked by stars tatooed on heavy eyelids, falling

into dream and destiny. Graffiti Mona Lisa mother Bacchanal,

mad, menstruating, moon-dump bag-lady, I see you

vaulting topless over the horns of lunar bulls in ancient Crete,

or lady of the lake, royal witch-bride, bored with weddings

and vase-tamed bouquets, waiting to grasp the hilt

of magic swords whose power is older than the stones

from which they’re drawn. And there, in the window

of the thirteenth house of the zodiac, isn’t that you

plucking dead leaves off the herbs you grow on the sill, hanging curtains

you’ve pirated thread by thread from old mythologies

and woven again like the moon into light? Crow-weaver,

tell me, have you ever stolen silver from the mirror to heal a wounded vision,

or known an appetite so great, so incomprehensible

it consumed the galaxies like krill? Death is the dark inspiration,

pure energy, radiant and whole, the mute mirror that reflects nothing

that stands before it in an arrogance of forms; the face you wore

before the beginning of faces. Already achieved,

not something up ahead, a black star on a white night, the dark mother

who fills the wombs with gestures of light. Death is the ancient future

that passes instantaneously, the crone-nymph, oyster and pearl,

the miner in the ore that releases the child like a bell. The dream that wakes you

from a dream, the dead tree that gives birth to a bird. Death is

the terrifying abundance, the terrible joy of perfection falling

into perfection, the honey and the horror of the sacrificial wound. The child

that carries her mother in her womb. Death is no less life, no less us,

than a wave is water. Death has no beginning so life is never

finished. One afternoon, in an autumn garden, the air shuddered with mine

and I knew that it was already done like the stars above the flowers

of gardens to come. What death, then, to stare into

that isn’t already under your feet? Wombs, waterclocks, and coffins;

can you tell me the difference? Here’s my skull. Break it.

The bird’s already out singing you like a handful of joy

hurled well beyond itself into the dawn, and in the morning market

among laughter and apples

the phantoms array their illusions.