Tuesday, December 13, 2011



Having walked out of one millenium into the next,

an illegal immigrant crossing the border,

an alien wearing the desert for a watch,

the nights are no darker, the mornings no more

unforgivably beatific. As before and before

and before that the days go by,

jaded ambulances and women I will never know,

though I come on like a freshly painted crosswalk

with two virgin passports

and a green card to pick lettuce on the moon.

Eschatologically deranged,

I was prepared for a big change

that no one else would notice, not the debt-collecting goons

of Apocalypse and Armageddon

that show up at the door

to break your kneecaps like fortune-cookies

if you’re not homeless by tomorrow, not

the rotten needlepoint of those old dooms,

but something with stars and grass and wild water

a bag of pot, wine, cigarettes and a woman beside me,

midnight at noon, charging the air

with the sexual wyrd of her approaching eclipse.

I thought, what the fuck, everyone’s entitled

to a soft sundial

in the available dimension of the future

even if it’s de rigeur to cultivate the bleak,

and who knows, I might start a trend.

Let no one divulge the improbability of a dream.

Now I’m eleven years into the twenty-first century

and my heart is a nightwatchman in a morgue

looking for a flashlight in the dark,

trying to keep the light on long enough

to see if I can recognize anyone.

There are more ways than one to get home,

or so I tell myself leaving the solar system

like a space probe

into the indigo realms of the open,

packed with symbols and curios

that might pass for signs of intelligence

should I meet a sphinx.

I’m grounded in the emptiness,

a seed on the wind with nowhere to root.

And though I may have unfolded like a flower

in the radiance of the sun,

I was dropped from a bridge

into a river that has no banks

by the hand of a faithless lover.

Exiled by exiles into exploration

I keep sending back pixals and poems,

postcards from the edge of nowhere,

but I don’t know if anyone is listening

as the earth recedes

to the perfect point of a vertex

and disappears among the stars.

And it’s not that I’m running away, it’s just

that oblivion is sometimes a means

of keeping things in perspective

as I proceed deeper into these dwarfing spaces,

an ambassador with a suicide note

from a self-destructive planet

screaming out for attention. Contact.

A universe we can panic into caring,

something astounding

that knows how to love

in a way we couldn’t manage, a brilliance

that doesn’t horde armies in the shadows,

an enlightenment that isn’t a growlight in a closet.

But do forgive the voyeurism of my longing

for something better than I left,

there are no echoes here

and no one burns a candle in the window,

or slips a tormented apology under the door

to heal the wound of my departure

with the sin-eating maggots

of beautiful lies. Not to rehearse

old catastrophes on a revolving stage in modern dress,

the litany of horrors on the playbill,

or waltz with the heavy velvet

of theatre curtains at a gala of crude beginnings in a mosh-pit,

the metaphors all elbows and bullies,

and the music, the head-baning metronomic mania

of amplified crustaceans, a swan-song for Nazis,

but the history of our encyclopedic species

is still the unholy shriek

of a cosmic ape in an abbatoir and our indifference,

the universal background radio hiss

of the big bang reduced to a whimper,

the white noise that attunes this cacaphony

of crime and folly and war to our stupefied silence.

I’ve been gone for such a long time, tell me,

are the gas-chambers empty, do we still

turn humans into soap

to wash the blood from our hands, have

the concentration camps been closed in the off-season,

do the children still drink from sewers

and play hide and seek

in a garden of ripening land-mines,

the stumps of their arms and legs,

the Venus de Milos and Apollo Belevederes

of savaged dolls? Is hunger

still the direction of prayer for millions,

and disease the fly that shadows them?

How is it with the rich man and the poor?

Is the daughter of one

still the whore of the other

in charity matinees for medicated mothers?

Does dawn still prime the ghosts

in the mass graves of empty wallets?

Are the young still free

to find their way in the world like roadkill,

or has ignorance squared the circle at last

and turned the corner on depravity.?

Do the corporations still own the rain in Bolivia,

and patents pending on the genes

of hybrid animals, logos and slumlords

in the ghettoes of gravity? Tell me,

before I mistake a garbage barge

for an island in the distance,

are the budgets of small countries

still awarded to movie stars and athletes

for a trivial excellence

while seventy-five million people die of AIDS

in the next five years of global warming

and there’s a young genius

with a cure and an answer

dying of cancer in front of a firing squad?

Do the teen-agers in Bagdhad

still draw the contagion out

with a poultice of explosives

while adolescents on ecstasy in L.A.

dessicate their spinal fluids

in a Roman orgy of wheelchairs;

are the redneck rap-stars of rural Perth,

the ‘wanna be’ pimps with faces like cow-pies

still sharing infected needles

behind the empty foodbank?

Has anything been settled?

Are the generals satisfied

and the purse-snatching governments

weary of stealing from their own;

is there a school

that doesn’t drink spit from another man’s mouth

for anyone with a mind; a science

that isn’t the bitch of money and power;

a religion that doesn’t teach a child to cower;

an art that isn’t the atrocity of the hour?

Look me straight in the eye

like a satellite or the Hubble scope or Houston

and tell me has anything changed

with the falling of these first few grains,

the last eleven years of my dwindling out

in the new era of the hourglass; are the old

still wise alone behind a wasted windowpane

and experience an ore the fools cannot refine;

are children taught to crave

before they learn to give

and the trees of the city still in concrete and chains?

Are the cruel romanced

and the gentle scorned, the best

belittled, and the least exalted;

are there old men in the park

trying to stare themselves to death

and five hundred chemicals in the very next breath,

is the sky a cataract, the rain a poison tear,

the earth, contaminated real estate?

When we turned the page

of the voluminous century

to read on in search

of undoubtable proof

of our renewable virginity

were the hundred million people

we killed in the last saeculum

of our genocidal curriculum

somewhere in the footnotes?

But you needn’t answer that;

I’m only talking to myself

in this huge, mute, brutal place

where the earth isn’t even a microbe

and time is defied by the enormity of space

that lies before me like an ancient future

that has already happened here and now

faster than light

and disappeared without a trace

a waterbird, or the shadow of something in the night,

or a flame the fire gave to the wind,

or the name of someone written in sand,

who tried to understand

the long disgrace of the human race

through years of rage and tears,

and sent out like a dove to look for land,

epochs of blood in the murderous starmud,

buried his face in the valley of his hands

where he used to pray for deliverance,

and nothing to say that would make a difference

left, unmanned.



Come to me in rags of blue fire, you, muse, you,

the gardenia face on the other side of the black gate

whose ancient spears are tipped with the taste

of wounded moons and iron roses; do not be swayed

by the blossoms on the cherry bridge,

or why the shadows of the brick children

on the walls of atomic decisions

haven’t been signed by the artists; give up

your fixation for amateur comet-watching in the rain

and come to me, touch me, hold me, consume me

in the flames of your igneous dispositions,

pierce me with stars, tear me on the thorns of your light,

as you have loved me in revery, distress, and tears,

as you have loved me in horror and humiliation

and then yourself lain down with me

in the mass graves of the student guitars

that were raped and murdered in the limelights

of the show-bizz army trucks,

antidotes weeping all night from the crescent of your kinder fang

to keep my heart alive like a toad in winter,

bring me now the night fire of your tigers

and the fragrance of wild sapphires blooming on the wind

when you return like an atmosphere to find me

as only you know how to find me

listening to my scars eat through the silence of dry creekbeds

revising the flash floods of their nervous breakdowns

with the short hands and amputated fingers of cactus alphabets.

Shall I call you dark names, and season my calling

with black swans and histrionic willows;

shall I summon you by silvering the Russian olive,

or bleeding the cherry to paint a man without lips,

or will you make me labour for nothing

in the sweatshops of the underpaid cocoons

when my tongue’s already as thick as a shoulder-pad?

Come, just come, come with wings, come with fireflies

and trust I’ve always preferred you to suicide,

come with bells and starfish calendars, come with candles and cedar

and tears in the mirror that don’t belong to anyone

and remember what I’ve died for when you asked,

come with fish and peacocks and orchids,

with squandered lakes bruised by the moon,

with black roses shedding their crows like witches,

come to me like an emerald that needs healing,

come with fingertips, breasts, eyes, a windfall of soggy peaches,

and believe in the poor goat whose piety’s a broken horn,

lift him up like rain above the sphinx in a desert ripe with diamonds,

and let him know, softly remind him, caress and confine him

like a cemetery covered in a keyboard of snow

until he confesses there’s an asylum in the heart of chaos

that sings to itself like an emergency constellation,

more enthralling than all the rest, a black waterstar

you are compelled to turn the lights off everywhere to be.




I take the slag and the ore of the heart tonight

and in the igneous immensity

of country stars and fireflies

pour gold out of the dark crucible of my solitude.

Jupiter rising in the east toward zenith.

Venus blue white as a radiant snowflake

on a furnace that can’t melt it

following the sun down like a bullet

lodged in a cherry-peach flesh wound.

All my emotions, black plumes on a funeral horse.

Unhitch it from the cross and coffin and ecliptic it hauls

horizontally to the edge of the grave.

Unlatch the gate to the starfields

and let it run free

as a warm southwest wind over the wildflowers.

And make no excuse to the undertakers

and relatives of the deceased

why you quit dealing in slaves.

Tell the dead man in the coach

to stand up like a doorway

and act like a decent host to his guests.

And if anyone’s still standing there dumbfounded

with their hands in their pockets

and their feet in their mouth

asking themselves why

all these people are playing at being dead

and what kind of fun they get out of it,

remind him he’s only

the motive of the audience,

not its alibi.

And if he still persists at sticking to his story

refer him to the twisted exclamation marks

that made a big impact like dragonflies

slipped under the windshield wipers

like flyers for a Chinese restaurant buffet

or stuck like fridge magnets to a car radiator

the swallow, the sparrow, the wren

have learned to glean like a garden

in the middle of five acres of asphalt parking lot.

I won’t be cosmically interrogated

by the conventional curiosity of a death bound mind

that doesn’t know when to call it quits,

not when there’s so much to be done

like the work of the moon

to liberate the nightshift

from the sacrificial work habits of the fathers

who laboured like horses

to pull themselves up in the world

like stumps of hard candy

to hand on to their families

as their fathers did or didn’t do for them.

What difference if it’s a plough or a shovel

that digs your grave

or if a Bible or a spade packs down the dirt?

It’s all just a back-handed compliment

and left-handed warning

that you can take things too far

like most ordinary people in life

who stopped to grade and gravel the road

for others who would come behind them

but forgot where they were going themselves.

I take the slag and the ore of the heart tonight

and pour soft gold pocket watches

like the tears of time the size of pears

into new paradigms of awareness to replace

not just the broken windows

in the abandoned houses

along the old cow path of the zodiac,

but the drudgery of the view itself.

What can age if you’re time itself?

What can pass if you’re the space it flys through?

Who among the unborn

need to justify the legitimacy

of they’re not being here to answer?

And who among those who were

slapped out of a dream

their neighbour was having

in the apartment next door

can pretend to be awake

when they’re sleepwalking

down the long, dark, estranged radiant road

of one of their own going on forever

without a sign of arrival in sight

like the great night winds of being

that sweep the stars

off the stairwells of our seeing

as even the lights we used to go by

as far as they could penetrate into the darkness

all that radiance of lighthouses and fireflies

all the eclipses and comets

of prophetic afterthought,

all the oxymoronic selenehelions of insight

into the copulative engendering of opposites

from an optical illusion of consciousness

that never caught on to what not two means,

beyond conceptually,

in their hearts and human relationships.

All this transmogrifying commotion of lucidity,

this chaos of coffins and chrysalids,

this emerging cosmos

of elaborated orders of complexity,

this starmud of the mind that shines

down upon us like mirror images

of the long and short wavelengths

of mirages and oases,

enlightenment and delusion,

in all who settled on the windowsills

and helical stairwells of time,

knowing however much they wanted to stay,

in the squalls and gusts of life and death

they’d be swept away soon enough,

the trivial and sublime in the same breath,

the merest patina of radiant dust

between us and death.