Saturday, March 31, 2012



Spots on a paint rag trying to figure out
if they’re part of a larger picture.
Daubs and smudges and smears of black and red.
Topographies of dry thick ridges of blue acrylic,
peach-coloured mesas bruised
by the encroaching violets of dusk in a painted desert.
Are these the wanna-be windows of life
who failed to achieve a whole and harmonious view
of what they’re doing here swiping off knives
thick with the gore of cadmium red,
cleaning off brushes that get to go out
on the field to caress and poke
stars and trees into being? Waterboys, not players.
I say the word, life, and I feel tonight like
the heaviness of a bell that’s supplanted my heart.
The right root, but the wrong blossom.
Even though I’d melt that bell
back down into raucous cannon
to defend the concept to my very last breath.
But tonight I’m tunnelling under the foundations
of the cornerstones of life to bring
the walls down on top of my head,
like an avalanche of prophetic skulls
to just get a peek inside the grand paradigm,
the white light of the gessoed underpainting.
The secret garden with low-hanging fruit
on easy street with the sacred whores of Babylon.

An existential sadness, deep as a death-wound,
as if I’d just been stabbed in the heart
by the hands of a clock that mistook me for an intruder,
undermines me from below, a pyramid built on quicksand.
As if all those who had drowned in life
like fish up over their gills in water
were swimming in the watershed of every tear
that almost makes it up over the top of the dam
I try to throw up like a manly front to what
I know I won’t be able to hold back for long.

And there go the villages in the flooded valley
I tried to live among like a neighbourly mountain
come to Muhammad on the way up and down.
It’s cold and lonely and the air is thin
at the peaks of experience, with only
a star and a cloud for company.
The hard diamond in the rough I used to be
has grown mushy over the years. Tears.
Imagine that. Warm, salt seas with undulant tides
of emotion coursing in and out,
the way we breathe, the way we live and die,
unite and separate, pour our shining
down an inexhaustible black hole
like Parthian gold into Crassus’ mouth
in the hope of efflorescing like the bird fountain
of a better world on the other side of hyperspace.

Armed with some decent human attitudes,
and a few that are wholly out of bounds,
no reason my mind can catalyse out of chaos
that I should feel the sorrows of the discarded colours
on a paint rag like the afterbirth of the universe
that’s gone on to greater things than road kill.
I feel the deep grief of widowed eclipses
and the creeping shame of sunspots
that were born into a maculate caste
of estranged birthmarks on the forehead of a lighthouse.
Space is warped like water by some unknown
disturbance in the pond. And I can’t discern from here
whether it’s a crack in the dam
or a birth sac ripe enough for its waters to break
and wash me out to sea like
the flotsam and jetsam of a shipwrecked lifeboat.

I hear the lilac whispering into blossom.
I see the starlings building their nests
in the corners of my third eye and the spiders
weaving mandalas between the witching wands
of the aspen saplings trying to transcend their roots.
Still, time seems studiously impersonal
and more matter-of-fact about suffering
than perhaps it really is. The mind is an artist.
Able to paint the worlds. As they say in Zen.
And I can see so clearly even through this cloud of unknowing
the kind of world I’d love to live in,
giving it my full assent in peace and contentment,
as long as I never lost the hunger that desires these things
and no one else had to live like a ratty old towel
abused as a paint rag by the shroud of Tourin.

Yet I can’t help feeling I’ve spent
my whole life trying to piece a lost constellation
back together again from leftover stars
that don’t have a clue what they’re shining amounts to.
In the stained, marked for life, castaway things of the world,
in the eyeless dreams of aborted inspirations,
in the twenty million dollars an hour we waste on war,
in the eyes of the twenty-five million children a year
who are starving to death globally in civilizations
based upon agriculture, I’m looking
for the trashed masterpiece of a paint rag
soaked in the blood of hemorrhaging roses
that might have parted our eyelids like the Red Sea
or a gallery on opening night to a vision
of what they might have done had they lived
to do things differently and their genius and beauty
not been squandered like blood for oil
or the waters of life learned to mingle more olaceously
with oil slicks in the womb of the dark mother
like an alternate medium of creative expression
that wasn’t shunned like the evil skin of a shedding rat snake.

There’s an expanding emptiness in my heart,
a vacuum nature abhors like a miscarriage
of what I hoped to wake up to the day after tomorrow
like the smile of an enigmatic Mona Lisa
that didn’t die in childbirth married to a banker.
What faces reside in a paint rag
I might have fallen in love with at first sight,
what mind, moon, sea, sky and landscapes
might have sat on my easel like windows in space
that might have shown me a way out of here
like the eye of a hurricane at the end of a telescope
that made things at a great distance appear
larger and more astronomically intimate than they seem
when no one’s trying to paint the other end of the lens
by wiping their glass slippers off on the grass
as if the princess just stepped into a mess of Hooker’s green.

Disoriented hues of colour blind rainbows, who knows
how many faces have been wiped off on a towel
with the big, sad, musing eyes of luminous gazelles?
How many cardinals nesting in red cedar trees
were wiped off the canvas like lipstick on the moon
when the sun went Puritan, midnight at noon,
and scourged the scarlet letter of the kissing stone
until nothing was left of humanity
but the purged shadows of an abstract divinity
that burned a hundred thousand women
foxed out like witch hunts in the seventeenth century
at the stake of a principle that stood up to the flames
like the backbone of a heretic
with a streak of Payne’s Grey in her nature
slashing at the orange sunset
with a painting knife in her hands
at those who resented the concupiscence
and dark innocence of her sacred body and soul
and saw her go up in flames
like a bouquet of sable paintbrushes
stacked at her feet like the pyre of the phoenix to come.

Sooner transform the emptiness into something
as absurd as it is meaningful, than ponder the waste
of a good mirage trying to look
for real water down a wishing well.
Sooner try to patch the tear in the sky
that rips me open under full sail running before the wind
and lets all the stars come pouring out
I was saving for a rainy day, with a paint rag,
a discarded face towel sadder
than viridian pine trees in the distance
with an aerial perspective of pthalo blue
gentled and blanched by the intervening atmosphere.
That said and done until the sky drys
I’d rather wear the patches of a compassionate clown
like paint rags on the Sufi blue of my cerulean robes.
I’d rather walk in a pauper’s clothes to show
my solidarity with the cast offs of creation,
not just finished canvases with artsy attitudes
in stiff upper collars and colours
that match the wallpaper like seasonal mood swings.

Sometimes it breaks my heart from the inside out,
it guts me like a tube of alizarin crimson
to see all these fledglings strewn at the foot of my easel,
my tree, my loom, my lean to, like the paint rags
of crumpled, ruined, leftover lives
that couldn’t quite make it as flying carpets.
But I’m not going to forget the ashen sorrows
and habitable earth-tones of starmud
under the winged heels of inspiration.
As for me and my zodiacal house of ill-repute,
my renegade observatory on the wrong side of the tracks,
I’m going to ride this wavelength of light out to the very end
where the wildflowers open
like the complementary loveletters
of a colour wheel, a rainbow come full circle,
unbroken just for them.
The donkey looks into the well.
The well looks back at the donkey.
Art. Life. Zen.
When the line turns round
the donkey at the end is in the lead.
Yesterday’s bleeding paint rag.
Tomorrow’s aesthetic creed.




I gently took the strawberry heart
of the bird with the broken neck
and buried it in a shrine of leaves and grass.
And in a low voice, whispered a blessing.

Under the window of an illusion
like a song you can only hear once
and it’s good for a lifetime of listening,
I buried you with your wings together in prayer.

And I prayed to know what to pray for.
I prayed to know what to ask that could ease
the burden of the earth on a nightbird’s journey
flying solo deeper into the dark

than even the stars or these eyeless words can go.
And I know death returns even the worst of us
to our innocence again, though our bones
come crashing down like childhood kites around us.

And the flight feathers of the aerial acrobatics
of our love lyrics run out of ink
when there’s no one in the dark
to sing for anymore, no stars

to chart where you’ve gone,
no sign from the heavens you’re not alone,
no ghost of smoke from a distant fire
I can summon to a seance of lingering desire

that would console you in the flesh again
like a candle in your solitude reaching out
to the pain of a stranger in the shadows
to make your wound cry out in bliss

as you once did from a greener bough
than this dead branch I sing from now
when we thought blossoms were the answer
to everything we didn’t understand at the time

that could befall us like fledglings in the spring
who didn’t know what autumn would bring
like an ice-storm in its wake
to things that break against the sky
like the cold-hearted lie of a window
that wasn’t open and didn’t go on forever.
And though I ask the weather for news of you,
if the wind might have heard
a word or two in passing, all
the silence does is deepen your absence
and teach me not to cling to things
like birds and flowers on the wing.

But if grief is all I can know of you now
I’ll console myself with sorrow.
I’ll hold onto it like the string of a kite
soaring among the constellations.

I won’t let go. I’ll play the line out
like a flying fish I caught in Pisces
and hauling it into a lifeboat with a net
I’ll take the hook of the moon out of your mouth

and throw you back into the depths like a muse
swimming among the stars like a siren
that keeps calling me to the rocks
like an astronaut to these mountains on the moon

I keep hurling through this earthly view
of a window from the inside out
that breaks just like the shell of a cosmic egg
unfolding a loveletter with a wingspan of light

that penetrates this dark forever
like the third eye of a needle in a haystack
of begging bowls I won’t abandon like the nests
of nightbirds with flightplans

that feather our falling into the abyss
of the unbelievable with starmaps
and the beacons of homing metaphors
that make our disappearance inconceivable.

I’ll live like the return address on an envelope
with a mouthful of silence for a voice
and wait for you to answer me again
like a songbird at the spring equinox

through a broken window in a house of pain.
And though it hurts worse when the candles go out
I’ll refuse to turn my heart away
from your reflection in everything I see.

Everything I hear and do and say.
Everything that was as true as a night sky about you.


Friday, March 30, 2012



Don’t know where I’m going.
Don’t care who I am.
No place I need to be.
No face I’ve got to see.
Don’t care if I’m loved.
Don’t care if I’m not.
What arises arises mindlessly.
What business has it with me?
Imagination’s just another word for free.
Free, free, free at last
I’ve let my people go.
I walk without a shadow.
There’s nothing about tomorrow
that hasn’t already passed
and yesterday’s a prophecy
of what isn’t waiting to come.
One thing suggests another
and worlds are arrayed before me
like the stillness
of the lost feather of the moon
on running water.
I endure my own weather like the sea.
The lightning strikes itself like a match
to take a look
but there’s no one to witness the clarity.
I don’t taunt my ghost like a man
who’s going to live forever.
If I flower I flower.
If I shine I shine.
Whatever appears
in the black and white mirrors
of the infernal or divine
may or may not be
the meaning of my roots.
My affirmation refutes
what my denial ordains
and the cause doesn’t
account for its effects.
I am the perfection of all my defects
so enlightenment and ignorance
are two waves of the same awareness in me.
The fool and the sage speak with the same voice.
Desire beatifies my heretics
like lies I’ve told to the stars
but their election was never a choice
and my wounds don’t seek the truth
in the afterlife of my scars.
The old man does not say I am old
nor I am young, the youth.
Autumn is not older than spring
and spring isn’t apprenticed to fall.
I can hear my own footsteps
coming down the hall like time
to meet me after all these years of looking
through everyone else’s eyes
but even when I take my face off
at the end of the day
like a tired sky
and point to the stars the light concealed
my self-portrait is always a disguise.
And nothing is revealed.




Lighting it up and blowing it out
I try to make my way through the dark
by beginning at the end
as if the coming and the going
were the same door
or good-bye were the first thing
you would say to a friend.
I approach things like a night stream
as if my death were already achieved
and behind me.
And all the atoms of my being
dancing like frenzied gnats
in the sunset glow of a last eye-beam
are certifiably primordial
and any one of them
when they lose it in the light
could begin a world.
And what can you say more of a life
that dreams of what it is
than it’s the taste of the same wine
in many different cups?
And as any fox knows
the grape is always sweetest
when you can taste it with your eyes.
Though why foxes eat grapes is anyone’s guess
but life makes itself up as it goes
like music in a fish’s earlobes.
It feathers its themes in fire and light
and goes up in smoke
like the ghost of a tree
looking for habitable planets among the stars.
New wounds with innocent root-room for old scars.
Chalking the cue to bank the long shot
you’re trying to spin off into
the deep, dark pockets
of your game-winning afterlife.
And I don’t believe in much anymore
though that hasn’t stopped me from crying
like a slow window trying to keep
the stars from leaking out of me
as if there were a black hole
somewhere in my heart
waiting for an iris to make it an eye
whose seeing might be a new way of healing
what can’t be healed.
Once here. Here forever.
But whether we’re the eternal children of forever
or just another breath on the night air
that doesn’t even know we live,
even death is just another way of killing time here.
When everywhere’s the center of everything else,
the centre holds,
things don’t fall apart.
They disappear.
And that’s the mystic art
of knowing how to make the most out of existence
by offering no resistance
to the rocks in your own mindstream
that part the waters like the thoughts
of an exile in the promised land
who can’t go back the way she came.
The river can’t step into the same you twice.
And in every direction
your eyes have ever burned like stars
you can see the dark jewel of your own life
from the inside
before it breaks into light.
Sometimes I’m the lonely sign
on the only path to nowhere
and others I’m positively amniotic
with the schools of my blue lucidity
the albino dolphins of the moon leap through
without a chance of changing their colour.
A flower of prophetic blood bleaches my skull.
I swallow the snakefire of my last eclipse
like a lump of coal
I’m trying to turn into a diamond
that doesn’t burn
and never sloughs its skin.
Reality isn’t a religion or a science,
or the back and front of a mirror
that doesn’t know whose eyes its looking through.
Religion: how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
Science: how many pins can dance on the head of an angel?
Totem poles on a telephone booth where no one ever picks up.
Voodoo dolls that hex the cause of their effects.
The apple bloom on the tree of knowledge
lets go of its flightless wings
and follows the wind
like the eyelids of unfeathered angels
who opened their eyes like flawless fruit
as they fell toward paradise
without a parachute of smokey virtue
or the scale of a snake for a vice.
Emergence into the open
like a hidden secret revealed
is the engine of evolution
that empowers the dark matter
of this incorporeal starmud
to arise like the high note of a bird
that’s flown beyond the night in its voice
like light beyond its myth of origin.
And the peduncle is lost in the ensuing phylum
as a madman is lost in the scream
that woke up the asylum,
or a god is lost in his own creation.
And the mountains listen
to the holy voices
in the valleys of their shadows
they deepen as they arise
like the guests of an echoless calling
to greet the unknown host.
It’s what the moon feels
when she fondles her locket of water
and memories pull at her heartstrings
like tides on earth
and music is the way she recalls
the sirens that used to sing
like the brides of empty lifeboats
that prayed like smashed guitars
for the night to sow the seedless sea with stars.
And in every fish that swims through fire
like the sacred response of life
to the longing in its own desire
she knows they got their wish.
Fireflies in the ashes of the phoenix tree.
And the eggs of cosmic words
like serpents in a bird’s nest
learning to fly like dragons
that have just swallowed the moon.
And it’s one thing to pull the sword from the stone
but it’s a greater power than magic and proof
with no urge to rule
that summons the butterfly from its cocoon
by giving the fool who inches toward the truth
along the green branch toward the apple-bloom
that already tastes like the forbidden fruit
of some radical insight
the whole orchard in a pair of wings
and more than enough night and light on its palette
to start a revolution in seeing among the flowers
who still labour in the chains of their roots
to turn their earthbound lucidities into stars
who might look back for a change
with eyes that have gathered like water out of the shining
and taste the light in the honey
that kissed their eyelids into gold
long before the night was old
and it wasn’t enough just to see them.
When you opened your eyes
in the burning clarity of your lone vision
before this matrix of space and time
gave birth to the world
you were free to be whatever you could see.
That’s when the light first spoke to you
in the mother-tongue of your seeing
and your voice broke
like a secret name in the mirror
that didn’t know who you were
and the moon on nightwater
the thief at the window
your breath like stars on the cold, night air
summoned the whole of being
in every particulate shard
and radiant plinth of the mirror
to drive your shining into the shadows
so myriad things can appear as they are.
Many eyes open. Night. An eclipse. One star.
And the darkness an anti-romantic
in love with the moon from afar.


Thursday, March 29, 2012



Flowers adrift on the fragrance of their own foregoing.
In the night that takes me under its wing
to shelter me from myself, arrival and passage of spring.

Fish nibble at the wafer of the moon on the tongue of the lake.
The wind bitter as a green apple with an innocent cruel side.
Saturn at dawn,Venus at dusk, things abide in their own good time

without knowing for whose sake they shine until the mind
can’t keep a secret anymore and let’s the heart know
what the heart has always known. Reason is colour blind.

Everything that’s hidden out in the open isn’t invisibly camouflaged
to look like God at a quick glance. Flowers don’t dance
with their deathmasks on. Things may have changed

since I last walked here, but they haven’t aged. Autumn
not an older season than spring, spring not younger than yesterday.
Water’s never heard of a virgin birth that ends in a real death.

Silence of time as it appears to the spirit in a deepening sea of awareness.
Nothing disfigured. Nothing restored. Nothing scarred.
Nothing wounded in the moonlight, pleading to be healed.

Earth pungent with the expectations of urgent ghosts.
And dust in the eyes of the stars, the cries of Canada geese
with more longing in their voices than celebration

like the wailing of a train disappearing like smoke in the distance
from a sad fire in danger of going out. Exits and entrances galore
there are as many ways out of here as there is space and time to stay.

Bush wolves on a far hill agonizing over something in the night
like blues harps of blood. And in the heartwood of every leafing tree
I can hear the first violins of a symphony tuning up to the light

as if something sublime were about to begin with the first drop of rain
pinging like a tintinnabulum beside the kettledrum of thunder at the back.
To speak now would be to conceal what I really feel in words.

Lavish with life, I reveal my voice in a rush of waterbirds
startled off the lake like a mantra of sacred syllables
that nuance the ripples they leave in their wake

with a whole new way of phrasing the light with eyes
that see things musically as they fall away from their wings
like the meaning of things when meaning isn’t necessary.




Amazing as the stars in the darkness, my eyes,
though I’ve never seen them directly, only
as a reflection I take at its word they’re blue.
And when I look a little deeper, there’s
no part of me that isn’t eventually invisible.
Everything’s like that, the seer and the seen,
so wholly absorbed in each other,
there’s no sign of either of them, just the seeing,
the heart and its feeling, the mind and its thought,
the flower and the eye, crocus, turk’s cap, tiger lily, lilac
all one spontaneous happening without distinction,
one infinitely collaborative creative event flashing
out of the dark resources of the plenum-void
to give it a name for the sake of rendering experience
communicable through a delirium of form.

If you’ve ever walked by a mirror and the mirror’s disappeared,
mercury into mercury, water into water, fire into fire,
a mother into her child, an unsuccessful lover into his longing,
that’s something like it. You’re everything
and in that everything you’re nothing, you’re selfless
to the point of not even knowing what that means anymore
except it’s of no significance whatsoever. There’s just
this star flashing out of a night it’s surrounded by,
just these dark hills where the dead buried themselves
as they did their children, as they had lived, secretly
under the leaves that covered their gravestones,
lichens, moss, growing hundreds of wild columbine
on a modest rock of ages with the sensibilities of a butterfly.

If you stand by a gate that doesn’t latch by itself anymore,
and the garden’s been left to its own inner resources,
because no one lives there any longer, as, perhaps, even you once did,
o in a dream, how long ago was that? And watch the moon rise,
as if the healer and the wound were remembering
an old love affair that’s gone well beyond the inseparable
because there never was a time, a prelude to seeing,
they were ever apart. You’ll understand passing
as a perpetually new approach to things, you’ll see birth in why
the flowers fall, and death, in why they rise again.
The simultaneity of the life and death of all things.
How present you are in the midst of your longing.
How clear in the absence of everything you’re missing.

I’ve spent much of my life preparing gardens for planting.
Shaking out roots, rocking fields. Wondering
whose house of life the bones I dig up once belonged to,
cornerstones and rafters in arrears
to the temples they once upheld to themselves.
And come nightfall, my work finished for the day,
I’ve paused and looked to see if I could identify
through the trees, the whole of a constellation
from a single star. As if gazing in wonder at it
in the mutual solitude and hugeness
of the unknown immmensities that surround us both,
and bind us to a weary body and a still heart
leaning on a shovel in a garden, as if the silence
could look up or down, either way, were made sacred
by the poignancy of a momentary insight
that penetrated both our hearts as if time and space
were mere bubbles of awareness in a dream.
And in a differentiated union of not-two,
I saw myself shining through the eyes of a star
as it laboured over what flowers it intended to grow.

Without a thought or a feeling I could call my own
I was a desert of stars without a mirage
to keep up appearances. I was a single point of light
with infinite distances in it, and even the word, one,
had gaps in it I learned to jump like a star.
And I saw with the certainty of water, that
when one was a wave, the other was an ocean
and separation was simply the blindfold we put on
at midnight in front of an imaginary firing squad,
as if our whole life depended upon it, to watch
the stars shoot flowers at the sun like blanks
I seeded the garden with like constellations
breaking ground through the tree tops like Vega in Lyra.
Astro-flowers. The Pleiades approaching
the larkspur like bees. Honey in a new hive.

Light years of perceptions in a garden of starmud
encompassing strangers only an insight away from home.
It’s an immensely intimate universe. Go out.
Get down on your knees in the soil. Plant flowers.
And when you go in look at your hands, at the stars
shining under your fingernails as a sign
of some honest cosmic work well done.




Not less aware in the dark
than I am in the light
though it’s my blood
that sees better than my eyes,
I listen to my own breathing
and my heart banging
like a storm shutter in the wind,
and I wonder who it’s all for, if anyone,
and if there were stars in my seeing
before I walked myself like a telescope up to the roof
to get a better view
and if all these leafy yesterdays
that look so much like the tomorrows they proposed to be
that I’ve shed like thoughts and birds for years
to reveal the tree that follows itself like a map
into its own flourishing
were not already memories in the world
before I mistook this mind for my own
by giving it a name.
Nothing before, nothing after this night,
worlds within worlds, and light upon light,
I wipe myself away like the carcinogenic smear
of a sunspot in the mirror
tear my face down like an old campaign poster
to better elect the immaculate by acclamation
and step down from all these vacant offices of me
like spent cartridges
from the judicial chambers of an empty gun.
It’s not suicide if you kill yourself into life,
if the pharaoh’s ka makes it all the way to Orion
and there’s more delight in heaven than relief.
It may well be wrong and perverse on my part
but I refuse to sugar the rim of a black hole with belief
and live on the crumbs of someone else’s dream
in the corner of an eye
that looks down upon me
like a black lightning bolt an erratic firefly.
And I’m not saying once you’re nothing being turns divine.
I’ve always been too restless
to lie down for long with the mystics
sipping nectar from the moonlit goblets on the vine.
Life’s not a drunk or a hangover.
And I love to paint, it’s true,
but I won’t paint my window over to improve the view,
nor add my little bloodstain like a dye to the seeing
to make the poppy burn blue
just because I can’t take it anymore.
And it may be a long, hard, dirty, demonic coal road
lined with ditchwater and dutiful corpses all the way
to the diamond lucidity of an illuminated human being
but I still stop sometimes, alone with the stars
and listen to the cry of a bird in the night
unspeakably shake the darkness
with the vastness and agony of its life
as if it were a human heart in a rootless tree
whose solitude, like seeing, exceeded the expanse of its being.