Saturday, March 3, 2012



If the night were to remember me
among all these shadows of lucidity,
for the firefly I burned to become,
for the corpse of the candle I am,

By the scars on the window I swear
By these constellations on my arm
I’m still learning to wear
as if I deserved them,

I always kept faith with the wonder;
even if I took the river
and left the road I was on
to go the rest of the way alone

as if it were better off without me
and fire on the water in fall
enraptured by the mystery
I was nothing at all

but the shadows of objects in a mirror
that taught me how to disappear,
a phoenix among the waterbirds,
a breathless secret in a gust of words.

Even the diamonds grow old.
And the light that shines through them.
And the eye that stares and beholds
the message that answers the medium

like the future ghost of tomorrow
of why joy thrives on sorrow
and our deathmasks hide our happiness
where we’d never think to guess

here arrayed before us
this unseen paradise
everywhere just as it is
in all its wretched blessedness.

I’ve looked for grace in the curse.
I’ve eaten the afterbirth of the worst
Taken sanctuary in the shadows
of abandoned embassy windows

keeping an eye on me in the dark.
Smothered in the ghost dust of stars
trying to make a fresh start
I’ve exchanged old wounds for new scars

just to blow on the fire a bit
to gratify the heretic
his penchant for martyrdom
and mine for creative delirium.

Ask me why and I’d say
that was my nature back then.
I didn’t know any other way
to avoid being Zen about Zen.

Now I don’t give a damn.
A true human is not human.
Better to avoid both
as pirated copies of the same truth.

Let go, give up, bye bye,
or cling to the dream in the doorway,
and nothing is purged or clarified.
Words are born with nothing to say.

Insight doesn’t condition chaos.
Seeking a way out of the cosmos
is just another way of finding
a new way to stay that’s binding.




If only there were one word I could say
that could reach out and touch your sorrow,
a cool kiss of moonlight on the eyelid of a widowed rose.
If there were a way to make it better,
to wake you up from the pain you are living,
a dream of rain on a kinder windowpane in the morning.
If I could mend what was broken
beyond feeling and thought and goodness
how could I not feel the piercings of the wounded voodoo doll
victimized by her own mortality
as I am by my own
and pull the pins out of her butterflies
as readily as I would pull the quills out of a dog’s nose?
Accustomed to grief, accustomed to hearing
someone crying in the backyard of the house next door,
at three in the morning, accustomed to observing
the angry solitude of the skate-boarder
always out alone on the abandoned street
as if that were his lonely girlfriend,
trying to figure out why the embittered old woman
never smiles back, or a child will sometimes look at you
as if it were a vicious heart attack
that wanted you to feel as paralysed as it does.
Accustomed to the skin that grows over our eyes
like mother-of-pearl cataracts
so we can fake something beautiful of our indifference
because how much helplessness in the face of pain
and complicit suffering can one person take
before they go mad walking in a world of nettles
with no skin on, no atmosphere to burn
the meteoritic slag of incoming
astronomical catastrophes off before they hit ground zero?
Accustomed to the agony of enduring innocence
inspiring the genius of the malignant
to greater atrocities than anyone’s even aware of,
accustomed to the shock of depravity
leaving a more indelible impression upon my blood
than the acts of the heroes who show up
in desolate dangerous places with tents and oxygen
to stay longer than the news, whose life
isn’t half a sin of omission, and the other half
constrained by a straitjacket for their own good?
If there were a way to imagine pain away
as easily as we imagine it into being,
and have the work of one be the healing of the other,
before sitting here in silence as my only bedside manner
before the dying and the dead
painting death masks for the living
that might make them feel like children in disguise again,
I’d greet them at the happy gates of hell
like some spiritual good guess of an earthly intuition
that a liberated imagination isn’t just
the placebo of another culpable superstition,
but a way to reverse the curse we’ve laid upon ourselves
like a sacred syllable of innocence
said backwards in the mirror
without slandering our own human divinity
by denouncing our delusion at the expense of the real.
It’s been well said that the mind is an artist,
able to paint the worlds, and I would add,
for the slow and thorough like me,
it’s also a carpenter, able to build them
and that’s how you understand the world
from the ground up as if everything had to be on the level,
or the healing herb of a nurse, the first
to arrive like spring with a white flower on her head.
Or a lumbering bell of wisdom and seasoned sorrow
sees the world as a tortoise that’s been asked to dance
at its own funeral as if there were no more weddings to celebrate.
The same eye by which you see it
is not the floodgate between imagination and reality
as if one were the shipwreck of the other,
as if the mountain were separate from the avalanche,
but the way you’ll live to be it after awhile.
A tear can no more be distinguished from the rain
than the light can be from flowers,
than eternity can be from time
or you from the mysterious powers of mind
that are living through you
in a creative turmoil of absolute freedom
that isn’t second-guessing what kind of universe
you want to live in, if you were to live in it alone.
If the stones to you are merely dead languages
that have had their say, having said nothing
for millions of years, if you can’t see
your home constellations
gleaming in the starmud all over your feet,
whose skull, other than yours, rolled the bones
and came up snake-eyes in your vision of life
as ritually unluckier than death, if not yours, you, who else?
If there were one mondo, shibboleth, mantra, or blessing
I could say that would show you
just as a mirage is a near relative of water,
the dream of what the desert’s longing for,
the memory of what it used to know,
so delusion is just as much a friend of reality
as the left hand is to the right hand of the wheelwright.
Nor pain the enemy of joy, nor winter, spring.
No more than the silence of the dead is hostile
to those who would sing, nor the helplessness of who you were
a hurtle in the way of the sufficiency you’ve become.
Out of its dark abundance the inconceivable illuminates the flower
as well as the star, the mind, the heart, the tree, the rock, the river,
and the candles cry along with the abandoned lover
as once they lit up like fireflies in an ecstasy of insight
that made them wholly, solely, hopelessly the other
in a union of one revealed by the bonds of separation.
If only I could speak one improbable word of truth
that might absolve you of seeking irresolute resolutions
for the empty grails and fables of pain
you left like the skulls of milestones
and wounded roadsigns along the way.
It wouldn’t matter at all to me
whether your chains were iron or gold,
or you were snared by the crescent thorns
of the birdnets and dreamcatchers
that slipped like fireflies between the lines
like insights into time and space
that couldn’t be grasped until
it was well understood and forgotten
the life isn’t solid, it’s real.
If only there were one word I could say
one sound, sign, star, drop of water
I could offer you in the goblet of a flower
that only blooms an hour in the morning
like the tear of a distant ocean of time,
that would lay a kiss upon your heavy eyelids,
or that stone of a forehead you’ve dreamed upon
so long now like the pillow of a sleeping mountain
that circles it like a cloud that refuses
to believe it hasn’t already risen from the dead
and leaves an unsigned loveletter from a shy star
just like you who are learning to shine underwater
as if there were no end of the message or the messenger.