ONE SIDE OF MY FACE
One side of my face what the world
looks like on the inside,
a mindscape I’m walking through
that changes shape whenever I do.
And the other just a clay bust of the moon
that somebody keeps working on
like erosion in Death Valley.
But tonight I’m tired
of looking for signs of life
where there are none.
The air is as smudged with cigarette smoke
as the dirty winter windows
I’m staring numbly through are.
Infra red aura of the town lights
reflected off the big-bellied clouds
as if something were burning
across the highway as those
who are awake yet listen
to the Doppler Effect of the sirens
to know if they’re still safe or not.
A pastel green wall
through an open window
across the street from here.
But I haven’t seen anybody in it
for nearly a year since I moved in here
where every second thought
ends in so what ?
Like a cynical kind of cowboy zen
that’s had it up to the proverbial
with koans and haikus
that provide you with spurs to enlightenment
but no winged horse
that isn’t already a corpse
lying by the side of the road like roadkill.
My mind soars like a turkey-vulture
when my heart
wants to swim like a swan
down river with the stars of the Milky Way
as I did one suicidal May in a six man raft
with no rudder or guide
in the spring run off of the Ottawa River
to raise money for
the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
But the cheap thrill
of risking my life for virtue
has worn off like chalk on a pool cue
and if light is the function
of the body of the lamp
right now I feel like
a blackhole with a bad complexion
that’s gone snowblind
in the glare of a computer screen.
I figure if I stare back long enough
sooner or later
one of us is going to blink
and discover what’s on the other side
of what the other one thinks
it’s looking at
when it puts an hourglass
up to its eye like a telescope
to know what time it is
and how many light years there are
between solitude and exile.
Between staying in and going out.
The tin gas pipes crackle
like ice breaking underfoot
or a bird in the chimney
trying to peck its way out
of a black cosmic eggshell
that’s as starless as hell on the inside
and tarred and feathered on the other,
assuming, of course,
it ever does crack the koan
in the liberty bell of enlightenment
and emerge with the wingspan of a dragon
into a room full of cigarette smoke
and patchouli incense
rising like the ghost of a white horse
as if someone who just fell off
the cutting edge of the flat earth
were trying to get on again like Icarus
waning in a wax museum on the moon.