Wednesday, April 11, 2012



Someone lingers in your absence like an icon, a gate
to an open field where the white horse
that stood in the tall grass, grazing on its solitude
like a phase of the moon come to earth
is gone. A bird, a purple martin with so much
distance and disappearance in it wings
and the open vastness of the skies it was absorbed by
I can barely hear you singing from here
over the raving of an unkempt wind on a crazy night
when the ghosts are rioting in their graves
like old leaves without attachments at the feet of the new
and gravity receives the grave goods of the tree
as do I these strange epiphanies of you
that haunt me retroactively like apple-bloom.

And the depth of the emptiness that informs
the substance of my imaginings, devastates me
like an eclipse slowly swallowing my heart
like a black cataract of snake skin I keep
trying to shake like a cosmic egg without much luck.
As if I were bleeding out like a rose after
the green thorns have hardened into fangs
that are killing and curing me at the same time.
Some nights I just want to join my emptiness to yours
and be done with it, no more of this, no more.

No more of watching the beauty of the world
burn out into a dark radiance that makes me
want to gouge my eyes out so I can see it without wincing.
Without feeling so wounded by the abundance of the rose
that blooms and disappears like the auroral apparitions
of a widow in veils of spider webs and black lightning,
thinking it might be you under there somewhere I can’t go
without losing you again. Check-mate. Pain.
And it isn’t anything either of us can do anything about.

It just goes down that way. The absence of your shining,
small nonrenewable gestures of your heart and hands
vividly recalled like modest butterfly volumes of poetry
blowing down an abandoned street at night in the rain, you
sewing a patch on my heart with the delicacy of a needle
mending a flying carpet grounded like a wavelength of light.

As I am now that you’ve become that rip in my heart
all the stars are pouring out of like a puncture wound
I let go right through me like needles and gamma rays
piercing the heart of a voodoo doll of dark matter
that makes me feel like wooden puppet of light
carved out of one of these black walnut trees.

Endure. Participate. See. Wonder.
Praise. Celebrate. Mourn. Do the next best thing.
And when you’re hurting your worst, sing.
And even when I’m soldiering my way through stone
like a flying fish in the wrong medium,
or walking alone with the Alone through the woods,
just to meet you where you ask me to when you call
and I come like a burning bridge down to the river,
wondering if I might have lived here once in another lifetime,
I do say these things to myself like medicinal chants
and preventative medicine, healing totems with benign effect
hung in the medicine bag slung around my neck.
Sweet grass and a pinch of sacred earth, just in case
I forget how to dance on my own grave
with grace and flare and style and an enigmatic smile
that really means it if it really means anything at all.

Or not succumb to this ice-age of a bell
my tongue is stuck to like a child’s to a wire fence,
or this black diamond nightbird
that cuts my darkness to the quick
because it’s got nothing to sing about
that can answer the call of the living for someone
on a foggy hill to come to the rescue of the empty lifeboat
drifting like the corpse of a dead swan downriver,
except the dead air of this strange place
where space is indelibly bruised by the passing
of the beauty it once contained like stars in a Mason jar.
Like a candle in the lantern of a skull
I’ve carried before me like a nightwatchman
on the edge of a dangerous precipice for lightyears
until I lost my footing and fell in one night,
as I once did into love, and learned to see in the dark
I was growing wings where I had none before
and looking up from the bottom of an empty wishing well
noticed the dead still blooming like stars
in the white shadows of the sun at midnight.

And out of the corners of my eyes
when what I can’t see what need to know about being alive
comes looking for me like the sacred syllable
on the lips of a pearl diver on the moon in total eclipse
like a kiss out of nowhere, comes like the singing bird
to the dead branch in my heart
that’s having trouble remembering how to blossom
after a long winter, as if you’d summoned me to the trees
like a purple passage in the Book of the Dead,
to teach me how to take the pain
and through the alchemy of the grief
that flows through my heartwood like light and rain
turn it into life again, as if every leaf
were a new loveletter from the dead
I’ve been saving for years like expurgated starmaps
illustrated by exiled constellations in Braille
to a spiritual lost and found at my fingertips
where they know who you are, and they’ve seen you
like a soft moonrise glowing through the willows
down by the river that weeps like a black mirror
for the stars and waterbirds in passing
that appear and disappear each in its time
and you wait for me like the longing of the dead
to make some kind of sign, however simple and austere,
the withered star of a wild rose without a flower,
that let’s me know you’re near, you’re here
rooted in me on earth where we’ve both come
to renew our shining from the bottom up to the blossom.




The earth hides nothing from you
when its time comes to be revealed.
Not the bones of the dead, not the green wind
blowing on the young leaves of the maple
to see if it still remembers how to break into flame
or the loaded horse-hair brushes of the flowers
trying to decide what colours to apply first
to the blue-toned underpainting of the sky on their easel.

And this is the essential freedom of information act.
Walking with a thoughtful, cooly blissful, festive spirit
on a windy night by a spring lake trying on stars
like earrings to go with the season like crocuses
realizing, as if you weren’t there alone, though you are,
how inestimably unique and precious it seems
just to be aware of this lake in the moonlight
trying to grow waterlilies in her Mars black hair
and one wild iris, because she’s obviously French.

And I can tell by the way the eddies and ripples
circle and tendril the sensuous undulance
of her dark depths, and the way she’s eyeing me
as I toe my way along the path I’m making up on the go,
she’s intrigued and modestly threatened
or she’s got other things on her mind
if I’m meant to know, I’ll know, in her good time, not mine
because there is no birth or death in the present moment,
it doesn’t have a future, it doesn’t have a past,
and it flashes by so fast, it hasn’t even happened yet
so everything is still and silent and timeless
and yet nothing is hidden, nothing held back.
Everything’s shining out like a star
that can’t keep what it knows to itself.
And any lingering question
of who you might have been is everywhere
reflected in the universe like a face in a mirror
with no one standing in front of it.

Something deep within and without me seems
to humanize the lake in my mother-tongue
and how astoundingly wonderful just to listen
to the lake’s accent when she answers back
in a language I can fully understand is universal,
rich with metaphors and similitudes that are the bloodlines
of everything in existence rooted in a grammar of dark matter
that can be as eloquent as the stars
when it waxes lyrical in spring, its uncontainable heart
overbrimming with joy at the return of the nightbirds.
The great, blue, lunar heron and the solar ray of the osprey
returning after long absence to their nests,
like lost jewels to a ring, eyes to the skull of a blind seer,
high in the Ys of the dead trees that look like harpoons
and dangerous tuning forks and witching wands
out whaling for water, stuck in the flukes of the lake.

Evanescent shape-shifters in the vagrant emptiness
learning to read each other like a star group,
say, the Pleiades, the daughters of Atlas,
the cornerstone of the world it upholds like a starmap
adjusting our eyes, our seeing, our unreasonable being here at all,
to the light and gravity of everything around us
in harmony with a life that’s never
at peace with itself creatively
to keep the wild grapevines growing like grails
that everyone seeks like sweetness and light
at the root of the truth of themselves, as soon
they’ll be sipping bliss from the towering stars
like ruby-throated hummingbirds from the larkspur.

Be empty as a cracked cup or an eyeless skull
and know what it is to be filled
by a lake that takes the low place so you
can flow into it like a bloodbank into the lifestream
of the spring run off of winter stars thawing in the dark hills
like patchy galaxies of snow that have found a way
to get off their islands by realizing
one wavelength of light
one wavelength of water
one wavelength of thought or insight
one wavelength of love and compassion
one wavelength of a seeker with a mindful heart
is all the flowing of the same night creek
growing into consciousness like a stranger
we come face to face with as it dawns upon us
emerging out of this dream of a self
like a dragonfly from its chrysalis,
like the wet sapphire of an eye
from the dark abundance of the seed
that prophesied that it would be so,
the best way to navigate your way
on this ocean of awareness even if you’re shipwrecked
like these dead trees at the bottom of the lake
with herons in your crow’s nest
is to take your hand off the wheel and let go.

Let go the way an archer releases a bird from a power line
or the first purple marten of the year
from the blossoming bow of an alder branch
hung with catkins in keeping with the fourth month
of Bran in the Celtic calendar and the letter, Fearn,
in the Druidic way of speaking to trees
to ask for directions through life and death and beyond
as if they’d made a library out of the whole forest
by listening to the wind in an alder copse
in a language the alders understood
they spoke in common with the water stars
of the blind and enlightened alike.

And if there’s no one to fall in love with,
or out of, this time of the night starwalk
the circuitous blossoming of your way
deep into a nearby grove sometime,
along the shoreline of the improbable concourse
of the way of things like a wild grapevine
gave up being on the go, for growing,
once it got a taste of its own wine,
and watching the Pleiades like crown jewels
in the burgundy upper branchs of a birch
closer to heaven than you could ever
have imagined you could be,
fall in love with a lake with a French accent
and the soul of a Celtic sybil, and doing
what the moon does with her lunar sword unsheathed
lay your silver tribute down upon her waters.