BARLEY MOON, TONIGHT
Barley moon, tonight. Hurt deeply but don’t know why.
The threshers and the raccoons and soon the Canada geese
have already done their work, so there’s nothing to harvest
but a few cobs and kernels of cattle corn that look like
they have bad teeth. Pale yellow ochre ribbons of the moon
that flake like the acephalic pages of old holy books.
Something unknown is trying to be born of my emptiness.
My heart and my body strain to sustain sufficient gravity
to hold it in its orbit long enough to attain fruition
and hopefully, then, we can both let go of the labour
of trying not to let go of the climber that fell over the cliff
tied to our spinal cord like a burning box-kite
or the arrested development of a corpse past its prime.
For all the fury of their clarity in the cold air,
the stars seem more distant, aloof enough to be cruel,
almost savage like these fields returning to their own agendas,
purple loosestrife and mustard, and the hopeless green
of stunted plants trying to get their time in before the first snow.
I’ve walked these meandering dirt roads before,
but now everything’s gone inside, except for a few dogs,
and there are no lights on at the farm. I don’t care
where I’m going. I just walk. I just look. Exiled by the outside
of what’s sleeping in the hearts of the farmers
and raccoons alike, as the nights grow colder and longer
and the grave stars seem to shine brighter
the fewer there are eyes to see how radiant they are on their own.
Burridge up ahead, a gas pump, a grocery store,
a hippie who makes brooms. Think I’ll just keep on walking
until I run out of road, and after that, have to make
my own path through the woods to sit beside
a small unnamed lake with the wisdom of a sage
that’s got nothing to impart to me but what I came with.
And I can nurse the subliminal agony of a poet on the Milky Way,
bemused by the passage of all things around me
as if they too were walking the same Road of Ghosts I am.
I see the beauty. I see the bat flash across the moon.
I feel the mythically inflated sublimity
of my comparative inconsequence. I lament
the rubbish of the last flowers of the season,
the trashing of the wild irises as if they were all wrapping
with no gifts inside. I wonder what death is. What purpose,
if any, life serves, if it isn’t just here to serve itself.