Thursday, December 15, 2011



Poetry isn’t a talking fly

on a one way street in a lightning storm; isn’t the orchid

that issued from the sword in the snakepit

that penned whatever it saw in stone. What does this mean?

Forty-one years of trying to push

the singularity of the universe

through the eye of a needle as large as the reasons why

without twisting the thread of the original theme,

without shrinking the sky to an umbrella

in a glass skull freaked with insistent translucencies.

Poetry isn’t breast-fed by a doting Medusa

who will excuse your wailing with a pat on the back

as you try to configure your verbal relations; it’s not until

the lantern’s overturned and all the stars and fireflies go out

and your mouth is stitched shut like a wound

that will never heal, and the flowers latch their honey-gates

in a surprise eclipse, and even the worm is a lonely comet

in the eye of the rose that called for your annihilation,

that the wonder of having nothing to say for no reason

begins to gather like light in the wishbone of a harp

and sings to amuse the silence

with the posthumous profundities of its own retraction

like a drop of water crying down a mirror

that didn’t know it cared. Free yourself

of what you think you have to say about anything

to hear the urgent fountain-mouths of eyeless dawns

that write with the beaks of frenzied birds

that have absorbed the night like ink. Live

on the underside of the leaves that never fall

from the unpruned tree on the moon

if you want to know the nightmare of the spider

webbed to the morning like a poem

between two blades of stargrass.

There’s a storm with a candle in it

that isn’t a leftover star, more powerful

than the black-outs of the lightning

that seizes the heart like a hawk

and slashes it open,

a love-letter to the world with a knife,

to see what truly phrases your blood to the moon.

Do you understand, do you truly understand;

there’s a firefly in the grave,

a soft, shy light like the glow of a distant city

pearled on a blind horizon, a black mirror

that absorbs the faces it reflects like death,

so much brighter than the white hole

of all that you’ve been saying

that even the stars are maggots of light,

commas in the wake of summer swans,

compared to the oceanic radiance of that shining.

Drown your paper lifeboats in that,

add your grief like a river to the nightsea

you’ve been walking on like a messiah with a map,

and let go of yourself like an apple from a bough.

Do you see the blossoms of the orchard

swept up in the gutters of the busy world

working hard at its own extinction; those

are the withered eyelids of poems,

the useless sails of spineless foolscap

lined with blue horizons

that asked you where you were going

and because you answered like a compass

left you breathless at the equator, junk-mail

on the doorstep. The world has been discovered,

the metal capitals starred like jewels;

the real estate offices crammed with valleys and lakes.

Sink like a continent that can’t be colonized

and show me the thresholds you’ve sloughed like skin,

the footprints of your transformations

where you jumped from the tree

that swung you like a bell

and walked away deranged

by the solitude of your dangerous humanity.

Look for a door with a broken hinge and enter.

Stop carving your name on your bones

like the prows of old shipwrecks, dismiss that hareem

of painted figurines you’ve bound

to the mast of your bow like a pen

and learn what it really means

to be destroyed by a living muse,

to hear the sirens singing you to death.

There’s a ram and an altar on the world mountain

waiting for you to drag yourself up there

like an avalanche of dead meteors

and plunge the last crescent of the blood-crazed moon

through your heart like a sacrifice

in the name of nothing at all

if you want to true the wind

to the womb of your ghostly poems

with embryonic whispers of I am. I am. I am.