IF YOU NEED TO BE TOLD, YOUR PASSION’S IMPERFECT
If you need to be told, your passion’s imperfect.
You can put the wafer of the moon
like a life saver on your tongue
and swear it’s flesh and blood, but little dog,
that straw piccolo you play like a fraud to convince
the garden snakes you’re a snake charmer
is never going to make it with the wolves
in the cold night air above the timberline
when they give up their rapture and their agony
howling at the skull of the moon
and the immensity of their longing for life to the stars.
Things not to do when you’re in love
and there’s something suspiciously dysfunctional
in the way your passion
doesn’t school you spontaneously.
Don’t neglect the details. All cosmic views
are seen through local windows
and it’s as important to know the colour of their eyes
though they change like chameleons and mood rings
or sullen mud puddles into clear blue skies with clouds
as it is to spectra-analyze the galaxies.
And if you loved the cloud at sunset and moonrise
and not the shadowless noon of her eyes
you’re not much of a painter
for all that you say you can see in her
if all the rest of the indigent day
your vision of her picture-music
is just a braille postcard you’re underpainting
on the edge of nowhere
as if you’d bought time-shares
in an imagination
that was always on vacation without you.
In love and astronomy
the eye by which I see the star
is the eye by which the star sees me.
It’s the same with men and women.
It’s up to you whether you’re a solar flare
or a book of matches in your lovers’ eyes.
You say you’re a player, but little dog,
the lions don’t lie to the lambs they lie down with,
wolves mate for life, and the female leads,
and you may think you’re in the Colosseum
with real gladiators and half of Africa
but you wouldn’t act the way you do
if you’d ever been wounded
by a woman who won’t fight back
or just as lethal, one who will
like an injured predator in the tall shadows
that knows you like the smell of your clothes.
You don’t think pimps get their feelings hurt too?
Or players never get caught at the casino
and taken for everything they’ve got out back?
In love even more than content
timing is as important as a bloodstream
or a reciprocal waterclock
between the lover and the beloved
that’s at least as accurate as the moon.
If you say you’re going to call
even if it’s just another s.o.s. in a bottle. Call.
If you say you’re going to show. Show.
Don’t let the wind blow snow over your footprints
and stop just shy of the front door.
Walk in like a revelation that keeps its word
because what kind of hick
thinks he walks on the dark side
like a sin of omission
or an anti-heroic domestic tragedy at intermission?
Little dog, there are three phases of a woman
you’ve got to keep your third eye on,
nymph, wife and crone,
thesis, antithesis, synthesis,
the triune identity of the universe,
three faces the Druids carved
as one white goddess
on the cold stone of the moon.
They’d take their golden lunar sickle
and cut the mistletoe off
their sacred oak boughs
like the medicine bags
of the balls between their legs
crammed in the case of mistletoe
with a lot of little moons
or in the case of your testicles
two full moons in October,
one pale yellow ochre, and the other, blue.
And they did this because
they knew something about women
you don’t and can’t
until one of them has killed you
and another one’s brought you back from the dead.
A woman can lay a cool poultice of moonlight
on your feverish forehead
to draw the nightmares
out of your troubled sleep,
but if you can’t feel
the mystery and the healing of this
as a gesture of grace
that even the angels envy
you’re terminal for the duration.
A dead end in a bus station.
You might fancy yourself a lady-killer,
a matador doing a sword dance
with the sun and the moon,
but, little dog, you’ve never been
gored so deeply
by the horns of the moon
that your heart bled out like a rose
no scar could ever bridge
because it was as deep and wide
as it was long
and went on like a river lost on the moon
looking for the holy grail
in a sea of shadows
with no pulse, no tide.
Syrian warriors in the Middle Ages
loved Damascene steel, perfume
water, poetry, roses
and gardens with underground rivers
and the Tokugawa samurai ninjas
wrote Zen haikus about the moon in the dawn
and seeing the whole in every part
and how if the cold
doesn’t go through your bones once
there couldn’t be apricot blossoms in the spring.
Would it be risking too much
for you to be as dangerously tender?
Not to guzzle. But drink.
Not to gorge, not to glut, but eat
as if you were breaking bread with a muse
like an intelligent savage
with impeccable spiritual manners
who knows what the moon can do
if you ever break the mirror
of the spell she casts upon you
and goes into total eclipse
turning all three faces away from yours at once.
You might replicate, abide, and die
but that’s as much as you’ll know of love
when a woman comes to you
like an open gate
and you meet her like a closed door.
Like the black dove of a burning loveletter
and you treat her like junk mail
you only read when you’re bored.
Like I said, little dog, the real wolves
who’ve tasted the lunacy of their longing
like a sailor’s tasted the moonlight
on the great night seas
of the beauty and mystery of life know better.
Tom Robbins wrote years ago
the mystery of how to make love stay
is the mystery of how to make the mystery stay.
If you need to be told, your passion’s not perfect,
but if you must be,
when she lays down her soul
like poetry before you
rise higher than yourself, little dog,
like Canis Major at the heel of Orion
and be a star of the first magnitude,
the brightest in either hemisphere,
and don’t smear it with your eyes
like two slugs on a mirror
reading a piece of dirty prose.
The eyes of a woman are the windows of God
whether you’re looking at them like a boy
or through them like a man.
Or she shows you her crone face
and all you can see is the void.
And little dog, I’ve seen you do this,
and it’s one of the worst things you can do,
when you come on like a puppy wagging your tail
and you finally catch a nymph in full blossom
in the prime of her youth
and once she’s picked you up
as something cute and cuddly
you age her so radically with your bullshit
she withers prematurely
into the apple piety of your mother.
This kind of Oedipal deviation
can make you go blind and impotent
drastic, tragic, frustrated, sarcastic and mad.
A billion stars strewn across the abyss
like the Milky Way when it drifts through the darkness
like the fragrance of a longing in lingerie,
and all you want to do, little Zeus,
is get back on Mummy’s tit on a cave in Crete.
But all that’s going to come of it
in the final analysis is
your bad, bad, Daddy, Cronos,
is going to swallow you like a stone
and time’s going to stop and dry up on you.
And then you’re going to look again at the Milky Way
and all you’re going to see
are cracks in a dry creekbed,
smoke from a distant brush fire
and a lot of toads stuck in the starmud
praying for a flashflood
as the sun slowly cooks them in a clay oven
and the kid, that’s you, little brother,
gets boiled in the milk of the mother.