And relieved to be vast again, stepping through the backdoor
of the murdered house where I left my heart
inscribed on the studio floor
in a rosary of chalk, martyr to a rage of freedom,
I fathered a gentle nation in the eyes of bellicose stars
humbled by the failures of the wise.
Venus in Virgo and eras of birds in the trees, my blood
proclaimed propitious omens of a thriving solitude
to the knife of light that candled in my hand.
The ghosts of dead wolves padded through me like a pulse
and as far as the night could see into the blind water
of the flowing clock that aged like the moon
on a pilgrimage of tears, I was saved by the bleeding bell
of my own sorrow, a lifeboat in the desert,
the colossus of the sky bridge in my brain
that spanned two hemispheres with owls of inquisitive light.
And though I’ve agreed to disagree with fate
and account my eloquent wounds
the restless graves of dark angels buried in sacred mirrors,
there’s no point in desecrating the obvious,
I enflamed the insurrection of lost keys
that clamoured for sanctuary at the cemetery gate
with radical slogans of bones and ultimatums of flesh
demanding passion or death for the squalls of sparrows
that kept arriving like refugees, relics of the true cross.
And I have been liberated by so many things,
science, art, religion, history, politics and love,
struggled and died in the name of so many opening doors
that every thought is a transgression of thresholds,
every morning, one link less of the chain,
the victorious entrance of rebel birds into an abandoned capital.
I’ve lost count of the nights, furious with stars
that have overthrown the masters of precision,
and the soft blue skies charmed by the eyes of elegant women
that have run up my spine like makeshift flags
they’ve suppled from their urgent blood,
everyone a comet, an evangel of leaves, fire-bloom
on the dead branch of long, imperial winters.
How could I not be grateful
to the underground cabals of the rising spring
that has purged my house of fanatics and spies
who watched me out of the corner of their eyes
with the cunning of shattered windows? All praise
to the uprising of the wind and the revolutionary rain
and the sun that comes beaming like a general
dressed in his workday shadows without his medals on
in a coup of transcendent water that has moved my roots to light.
And in the night, when I drink and laugh with the stars,
among philosophers and mystic poets stashed away like wines
against a day of celebration, what a joy
to throw off the ruse of my heart
and turn my tongue loose like a slut,
no more informers at the table. Who cares
if I am famous for falling down
among the lighthouses and watchtowers of sober cities,
or if I’ve got my life on inside out?
What road doesn’t follow me home to my last address
like a star that wants to get lucky or a crutch
that doesn’t want to enter heaven limping?
How can I be lost among the last minute godsends
and landmark suicides that have put an end to the firing squads
and their chronic executions of ice and snow;
even my glasses have emerged from their chrysalis
like a dragonfly with wings, and I am inconsolably happy
among the water hyacinth and clefs of fiddleheads
tuning up like heretics to all that whispers of change
between the parentheses of the moon that enfolds me in her arms.
And that is a mighty charm in the marrow of the matter,
that is much and more than enough to believe
that today is a literate beast that will confide in me tomorrow
the cryptic source of the star-flavoured rivers of life
and that now is the seed of being where all these rivers end.
And there is no doubt of the wonder that enraptures the radiance
of simply being here at all to enhance the shining
with wheels of rain and the light upon light of a mind
that was born to see things in a very human way. I am
so brief and little among the magnificent planets,
the whole universe out to the most ancient galaxy
acquainted with the void, no more in my deepening ignorance
than the smeared mirage of the seductively unattainable
on the tinest shrine of insight and water
that hangs from a blade of stargrass in the morning like a world.
When the seeing is all there is everything lives
as if it were entirely the wealth of an empty hand.
And I have squandered myself lavishly
on teachers that were never home until I discovered
where I live and who reveals the wells they drink from.
My death is behind me like the history of everyone
who’s ever walked upon the earth
welded like a fossil by the lightning
to the heartwood of their own mortality; and my afterlife
is affluent with cradles that only the moon can fill
with the dark fires of the new in the glowing arms of the old.
And never let it be said that I have not been intimate
with the indiscretions of the divine, not heard
the whisper in the background at the other end of time.
Despite the bleach of platitudes and the phantom auroras
that leech the colour from the truth like ions and sunspots
the lighter elements at the core of my burning,
the beautiful hydrogens, the heliums of spring
fused into iron and calcium, earth, blood, and bone,
and the watersheds of the shining almost
a ghost sea of the moon fed by rivers of dry shadows,
the dust of the road is under the feet
of the dust that walks upon it
like an old teacher who has known all along
what the white, sweet clover knows
and red-winged blackbird won’t deny.
The sweetest songs of the spring are robbed from the dead
who live on in the silence of exhausted chains,
the used umbilical cords of windless weathervanes
keyed to the lightning like keepers and clocks
and miraculous swords drawn from the stone
of the darkest prisons that ever gave birth
to this last, most terrifying metal of the disenfranchised,
this final embryo of liberty hidden in the rocks,
this incredible last stance of a defiant planet
that even in the confines of the grave
tools the crowns of its afterlife
from an ore without locks.