MY SECRET PLACE
My secret place down by the Tay River.
I deer-bed down among the autumn grasses
and last of the New England asters
half-lotus in cowboy boots
with a clear view of the stars
dancing on the water.
The waterlilies have perished.
And the moon at last crescent.
No one knows I’m here but me.
I’ve never come here with another.
A place where I talk to the universe alone
as if it existed
than the mere immensity
of a cosmic intelligence
super-saturating time and space.
Belief’s a bad habit of mine
and sometimes I want to be deceived
into believing someone’s listening
even when I know they aren’t
and that the worst always happens for the best
even though I know it doesn’t.
The sky’s a windowpane I can fly through
without breaking my neck on delusions
and the moon feels like
a cool poultice on a hot wound.
I watch a spider repair its dreamcatcher
and say good luck.
And the stars don’t really give a damn
how they shine deep in my dark inner spaces.
Everything is so perfectly entranced with being itself
I wonder what it is about a human
that has to take time out like me
to reconsider what I’m doing here
wandering around on the earth
without any certain purpose
other than the ones I make up like poems
to spin bedtime stories out of my nightmares.
A birch leans out over the water
like a woman washing her hair in the river
and I sense there’s an inevitability about a tree
that isn’t like me.
I can’t find a fixed reality
to be in harmony with.
I have no doubt the rocks along the shore
are getting it right
but with me consciousness is a light
that contradicts its own clarity
the moment it reveals itself.
There is no path to follow
no way to flow
no aspiration to fulfill
that isn’t pure folly.
Or just another way of running out of myself
like sand in an hourglass
piling up pyramids
until I’ve exhausted myself like Sisyphus
rolling stones uphill.
And then I’m overturned like an empty shotglass
to begin again
or just sit here by the river like an amphibian
and let the universe do what it wants to my brain
without assuming it wants to do anything
or that the damage hasn’t already been done.
A new way to be partially whole!
Flesh and blood with a mineral soul!
Prophetic tents full of snakeoil salesmen.
But I’ve never been tempted
by things I couldn’t give my heart to
and the curse of spiritual valium
is the same as it is on earth.
The withdrawal is as dangerous
as following the addiction
all the way through
to the emergency ward in heaven
that handed out the prescription in the first place.
It isn’t the soul of a butterfly I see
when I look the money-maggots in the mouth.
I’m not praying for an afterlife that’s worthy of me
as if anyone knew what that amounts to.
What would you suggest
for an agony of snakes in a bag of skin
that’s got nine holes in it?
The tears I’ve wept for the world
have all turned into serpents.
The tears I’ve wept for myself
watered the roots of a mirage
in a desert where the stars
burn your eyes like sand
and turn your blood to glass.
I wonder if the birch knows
what’s passing it by.
If the river is its mindstream.
And then it comes to me
like a message in a bottle.
Maybe my sole purpose on earth is passage.
Maybe I’m just time looking for a reason for itself
to go on like a season that’s known by the way it changes
by always being estranged from itself.
Maybe I’m the more-than-me I can’t conceive of.
Maybe all these things seem
self-possessed in their tranquility
because I’m a mess.
Maybe my being as screwed-up as I am
helps get them through it
and all my pain and turbulence
all my preposterous longings
to be well-meaning and beautiful
all the black elixirs of the ruthless mystery
I’ve drunk from my own skull
held up to the gods
like the begging bowl of the moon
when it’s full
just to see if the darkness tastes of light
the way a lump of coal
foreshadows diamonds to come
after aeons of excruciating transformations
and if there’s more room for chaos on a calendar
than there is space in the scheme of things for thought.
But there I go again.
You see what I mean?
Fish jumping out of the stream at the stars
that lure them up out of their depths
like low-flying insects
to take one great leap into a new medium
out of themselves
like an arrow through the back of a bulls-eye of ripples
it didn’t know it was aiming at.
But things are getting too elaborate
and at this rate I’ll soon be speaking in voices
like some right-brained polyglot in a rapture of saying
going on like the Rosetta Stone
as if I weren’t sitting here alone
like the misbegotten seventh son of zero
trying to come to terms
with a formless reality
I keep stubbing my heart on.
Great wisdom for the further shore.
Gone! Gone! Gone!
Altogether gone beyond.
Isn’t that what the Buddha said
in his secret place
when he went out of his head
trying to stare the world in the face
and all he could see was Venus in the dawn?
Desire and its afterbirth
at the beginning of nothing at all?
An insight into what’s unearthly about the eternal
or just the way the light’s bent by an atmosphere?
To those who can’t let go of things
and to those who cling to letting go
impermanence is suffering
and the only way to cure that
is to pour yourself out upon the earth
like the bitter cup of the moon
when she’s had enough of herself
and find peace
in the sweet potential of your emptiness
to be filled up again.
To sit here in a secret place
like I do
tangled in my human roots
with waterlilies on my brain
strung out all the way from earth to Venus
like a chain of thought
severed in the distant past
we had resolved would never come between us.
Where is the peace?
Where does that flower bloom
that’s rooted in blood and starmud
if not in the solitude of a human heart
that’s wandered this far from home
along the shores of its longing to return?
Why does my heart argue
against the will of the world
like a salmon swimming upstream
on the down slope of a cosmic mountain?
I’m not trying to scheme my way out of
my dream of this
like someone who turns his back on his eyes.
I’m sick of lies.
I’m sick of universal truths.
I’m sick of how blithely everything obliges death
with every second breath.
I’m sick of the grailquest.
I’m sick of the hypocritical crusades.
I’m sick of Aztecs and Christians
with the blood of gods and children on their lips.
I’m sick of atheists who claim it’s lipstick.
The lightbulb in the well on the moon
to keep the water from freezing up
has gone out
and I’m sick of the way things don’t flow anymore
like a tide in a sea of shadows
like the road of ghosts
through the cold dark vacant interstellar spaces
of an enlightened lunatic with a creative abyss for a heart.
I’m sick of the bitter black ghost bread of my art
that tastes like the futility of burnt paper.
I’m sick of trying to understand
what isn’t understandable
about my own and human nature.
I’m sick of all these long incommensurable interminable questions
I’ve walked all the way to the end of time and again
only to return with an ambiguous answer
that’s rarely communicable through form.
In all humility
take the low place like the sea
and the sewage of the world runs down into me.
Take the high like the open sky
and the mountain turns into a mudslide.
The best is to be here right now as I am
with all my dilemmas answers contradictions
insights questions and aspirations,
all the paradoxical sorrows that have come
of my physical assurance that life is joy
and ultimate unity is bliss
without the oxymorons
and love’s a deeper insight into life than death
if only by a breath
and though why we’re here in the first place
is anyone’s good guess
intelligence is not the anti-Christ of chaos
but the genius of dark matter becoming aware of itself
like a hidden secret that wished to be known.
What is dark will appear light
if you surround it with something darker
like a star shining in daylight
no one notices
until the night reveals it
like a wolf that lies down with the lamb.
And the best is to be wholly here right now as I am.