LIGHTNING HITS THE HORNS OF THE MORNING SNAIL
Lightning hits the horns of the morning snail
like the tines of a tuning fork
and the larkspur sees in the ashes of the holy one,
a tiny urn, no bigger than a cigar butt,
a deep connection to the stars
at the root of its ultramarine towers,
the ugly and despised become luminously beautiful
by what they’ve been touched by. Same
with candles, night, the human spirit, a poem
and the stars and planets
that ride the film of our eyes across the sky
or slide across the poppies of blood that bloom
on the other side of our eyelids in the sunshine
like blue sunspots and serpentine rainbows
on the deft wings of the houseflies aspiring
to penetrate the heights and mysteries of being
as if they approached God like an ineffable windowpane,
and the black mirrors of the oil slicks
that eclipse our faith in our transformative power
to change things. Two petals of violet cosmos,
two eyelids of a new way of looking at things,
swaying ethereally in the wind
as if they were keeping time
to a faint music they can hear
way back somewhere in their mind’s eye, fall
and stick themselves to the back of a snail
inching its way along a garden path in metric
through a crosswalk of rococo shadows,
and who would have believed
something so low and slow could fly
if they hadn’t seen it with their own eyes?
Show me anything your eyes have ever been deprived of,
however ugly, however visually tantalizing,
inside our out, even if you can count more than the usual three,
and I’ll show you someone who hasn’t learned
how to be grateful for the generosity
of the black hole they’re living in
like one of the darlings of light.
Clarity isn’t just a matter
of straightening out the wavelengths in your line of sight
and then looking upon everything you see
as if it were flatlining in parallel event horizons
everywhere you looked for signs of life
and came upon death, and mistook it for peace.
It isn’t just a matter of contemplating sundials
in erratically disciplined Zen gardens
until you come to understand how to use the shadows
on behalf of your own spiritual insight
as readily as you’ve mastered your weapons of light.
No one’s ever been purified by a holy war.
Not even the warrior minstrel of the forlorn hope.
You can exhaust a whole new generation of third eyes
trying to make it all one out of a lot of little separate pieces
that reflect the whole in every part
of your shattered chandeliers and mirrors,
that long pilgrimage, that fire walk of shining splinters
that dazzle you into believing it’s skip to my lou my darling
all the way down a Milky Way of stars
from here like a fingerling of light
to there like a wild salmon of oceanic enlightenment.
Beauty isn’t an essence you can extract from the ore
of who you are as a human like an existential alchemist
trying to distill the stars from the medium they’re shining in
as if you were pulling a sword from a philosopher’s stone.
All the shining spiritual metals, copper, silver, mercury, gold,
unless they’re alloyed with the darker elements of earth,
are too soft for combat. Merlin relies
on the iron forge in his own blood to work his magic.
He knows a holy war is just an exorcism
on crusade against a seance. A calling
of the dead to the dead. Not the work
of the living spirit that resides
in the human divinity of everyone of us
like a birthright of shining
that’s as indefensible and unassailable
as time and space. Clarity doesn’t try to part the heavens
like a mansion into single rooms for every afterlife
that goes into exile looking for an excellence within itself
that knows how to keep a promise to the earth.
Knowing how to fall is half the art of rising.
Learning how to get up off
your knees, your prayer rugs, tatami mats
and all those flying carpets
that don’t fly straight in any direction
with compassion for the human being you are
as you see yourself looking at you
through everyone else’s eyes,
and hear creation being said within you
like the fleeting meanings of life
that shadow the life of meaning
as fast as it’s being spoken
in the mother-tongue of everyone
who can look upon a morning snail
and hear how a grubby little buddha
of a sticky sacred syllable
that crosses your path in the morning
is saying you into existence twenty four seven
the way everything else is each other
in the wholly imaginable beauty
of a creative language that isn’t
a tongue-tied stranger to anyone.
Look at any grain of dirt on whatever path you’re on
and light it up with the shining
from the oil lamps of your own eyes
and you’ll see how easy it is to enlighten
what’s under your feet like the billions of stars
that spontaneously followed suit like wildflowers
once you got the first one lit and realized
in whatever direction you search and seek
the spirit isn’t looking for the right road of thorns
to cut its feet on, or lacerate its knees on a holy stairwell.
Put a pair of cosmic wings on a morning snail
and the whole earth turns into a landing strip
of green boughs in blossom, even
when the fireflies take over the nightshift
like microcosmic demonic nightwatchmen.
Go ask the bees if you don’t believe me.
They can read the petals of the secret starmaps
that bloom like love notes and shared recipes
for honey that tastes like a solar flare
transformed by the transactions of a spiritual atmosphere
that pearls this grain of nacreous earth
as surely as the air that breathes us does,
into auroral arrays of beauty and compassion.
If you can’t love the veils, how are you ever
going to learn to love the face behind them
that smiles back at you in a likeness of yourself,
all eyes, and stars, flowers and nocturnal metaphors
for what you’re looking at?
A morning snail with two petals of cosmos for wings,
with flashy grains of dirt on its back, each
a world within a world in its own right,
rising chromatically over their event horizons
as a sign of a significance of their own
as poignant as the silicates and stars they’re reborn from,
delivering the mail at its own pace
as if its wings were two loveletters
addressed to itself by the wind personally
each sealed with a kiss
like two complementary eyes
you must look into deeply if you want to see
how the hourglass flowers in your gazing
like larkspur and shapeshifting desert stars.
If you don’t want to live your whole life
like a scar looking for a wound you can believe in.
Even a morning snail, if you’ve got the eyes for it,
can make a trail of the silver veil it leaves in its wake
like a smeared mirror on the path to enlightenment.
If you only love the light at moonrise,
and despise what’s fallen into the dirt
like so many windfalls of
demons, stars, snails, angels, apples and humans before it,
your life is not adjusted to the time-zone you’re living in
and your heart keeps missing a beat
you go endlessly wandering over the earth to look for
through the gardens on the moon
and the starfields above
when everywhere and always
it’s been right under your feet all the time
like a snail path shining like the Milky Way
on the garden walkway through
the blue and white stars of the larkspur
like lightning in the morning
that flashes from your own eyes.