Friday, April 20, 2012



Everything sings, the shadows of the winter branches against the streetlamp
laced on the windowpane ribboned by dirt, back doors and rooftops
and yet I am enveloped in this silence without wings, this voice
that valleys the universe like a drop of water down the spine of a leaf
to the root of no flower, no heart, no simple mystery of the night
maturing into stars. I’m in a room with books, paintings, lamps,
plants, computers, easels and cats. Things are neither right nor wrong
though I flatter myself that I have grown from mistake to mistake,
defeat to defeat and cloak the sum of all my failures
in the unconvincing authority of experience.
It’s rude to take your masks off in the light.
I try to see myself in the darkness like a star
with too much to say that loves to give its hiding place away. Forgive
this indiscretion of my solitude, but my name has obligations
and there’s nothing in the house to eat but swans.
Soon enough there’ll be a term to all these spectral visions
that add their shadows to the lead migrations of my thought
and traverse the motionless deserts of the skull-faced moon.
And what can I say to the pilgrims who come to visit my heart,
all these lean feelings without deceit or art
who crowd around the miracle like damaged mystics and moths
hoping their agony will be immolated in the serene ferocity of the void?
Space is only the rough draft of my emptiness
and ghosts confer in the wings like uninspired actors 
or lie detectors trying to interpret the crimes of my last passion play. 
Before I was born to cross the sky in a blue coffin with a black rose
among all these islands of light, I was the ashes of a bird
in the cold furnace of my life, a jest of the indifferent wind
that toys with the lamp and candle of my seeing.
Now, in every word, among a hundred million burning stars,
it’s enough to watch a vagrant firefly, a constellation of one
blind the universe in a single flash with marvel
as I slide down the helical bannisters of every descending starwell
toward the dark by which the dark is known.
Together with everyone I heed the mystery alone
and I don’t know how I got this way
or if I’m a shadow or a wing, the gesture of anything,
but when the moon is in my window, the night arrayed,
musing in the aftermath of life’s homely escapade,
a little afraid, I feel someone dying, and I sing.




It’s not enough to hinge a new door to your heart
when the house is built on flowerless quicksand
and the chimneys have acquired a taste for books;
poems are the birthmarks of stairwells climbing themselves,
of hawks and serpents boring into the corks of wine
to get at the heart, the passions, the dreams, the rage
of the vine that set out like a road that got carried away
and fell in love with the intimate strangers who took it home
and danced all night among the swords as if they were thresholds.

Born in the shadows of unbearable bells, early I found
they were bound to the cord of my spine, like the moon
among the kelp that oils its tides with the black sperms of creation,
and I learned to pull on their iron parachutes to ease
my harsh, hot descents into wingless, mute oblivions;
I discovered there was a voice beyond mine
that could gather and disperse, celebrate and divine
the secret weddings and deaths of the bridal ghosts that came
like castaway bouquets to the refugee altars of their torn veils.

And there’s an indelible secret as old as the eyes of the wind
that can whisper sand into pyramids, that won’t receive
the vows of the petty and clever who traffic in the shadows
of the great, wild dead who wore their battered crowns like fire.
Let them crib their poems on the back of another man’s eyelids,
real constellations don’t shine like this and the wells are mute
whose waters taste of fireflies; and there isn’t a river on the moon
that knows how to plead with the sea for a widow that mourns,
that knows whose prodigy of blood unravels on autumn’s horns,
or how the waterlily in the mouth of the dragon
is more dangerous than a shrine full of blind snakes.

Behind every name, behind every door with a brass threshold
is a man who was forgotten by his own violated treaties
with the indentured mirrors he consulted to cheat the lakes,
who comes up over his horizons like the solemnities of the moon,
looking for the pillar of his lost reflection in chunks of coal,
in the underfed crematoria of his sacrificial backyard fire-pits
in the lifelines of the empty hands he misread like maps of smoke.

Poetry isn’t an orphanage or asylum for the disenchanted,
though there is a deranged abyss under its relentless solitude;
not a showcase Colosseum for famished lions at a petting zoo,
though mauled minds and bodies litter the unwitnessed field;
there are no paths through its unanswerable distances
strewn with petals or thorns, no bridges or waystations,
no branches of hospitable trees to perch in for the night,
no dawns that can erase what’s been written on your forehead,
nothing that can blind you to what you were born to see,
no rain that can douse the squandered fire of the poppy,
though the messenger is smashed like a bottle between
the tide and the rock; the star, the candle, the nightflower
snuffed by the morning, the last breath of the deathless moon.

And you must die enough to not be there
when the world picks up a pen like an axis
to spin in the direction of its wounded inclinations,
you must not walk into the house wearing a face,
your breath on the glacial windows of the furious stars
full of secret fingerprints, love-notes, names,
you must be more conversant than a ghost on a bridge
or a rose, or an empty mailbox, or a road that followed you
to where the river turns, with shapeshifting,
with pearling a body around a syllable of sand,
with showing a galaxy its shadow in eyelids and eclipses,
with standing like a scarecrow in the cornfield
that shucked the cob of a smile to batter you with birds,
with lying beside the dead like a lantern in a morgue
as if your blood crossed the threshold for them,
with waiting in the earth a long time, a root
that conceals orchards in the furrows of its dirty hands,
a buried boat that unfurls the blossoms of its sails,
the starcharts of the blind moles that shine underground,
like a voyage in search of the rudder of your tongue
to pilot it safely out of the ports of the moon,
a flame, a breath, a feather you’ve cradled for years,
the small measures of belief in an oceanic grave
that enrobes the flowing in the wake of severed waves.

Be stone, or be space; the emptiness is the same,
silver ore, or the motherlode of a black hole,
let your heart pan the long rivers of the night
for what the stars value, jewels of life in the light
that can be grown like a menagerie of blood and tears,
the eyes of the blackberries, eyes of the radiant bee
on the flutes of the wind that plays for a handful of seeds.




Of human misery what’s left to tell
the single bead of the moon
that makes a lonely rosary of revolutions,
one face always turned away
as if it refused to look upon
its own imploring features
in the brutal, breathless, garish light of day,
or those of the earth
reviewed in the turning below?

I am nothing, a man, a microbe on a skull
picked clean by immaculate cannibals
whose hands are greased with brains,
my much vaunted, cultivated consciousness
and sterling will, free, or spontaneously
predetermined, the leaf of an afterthought
enhancing my passion for light
and periodic sentences.

Look where you will
and tell me this is evolution; tell me
this is that continuum of used mutations
that bricked the river clay of ancient Sumer
into these ascending asylums of the absurd
to burn our children in the fires of the stars
as surely as Carthage ate hers,
poor kids first, then the rich, as always,
civilization nothing but musical chairs
in the food chain, a game
of I eat you; now you eat me, who
shall be the grass, and who, the proudest of cows,
the grazer. And the grass may turn into the grazer
and the grazer into grass in transformative cycles
that ripple out wonderfully like rain
to rationalize this caste of food and feeder
and make it holy, harmonious,
and scientifically insane enough
to appeal to the average reader,
the red letter ‘A’ at the top of every genetic cliche
that’s still convinced of angels in the abattoir,
growth on this planet
nothing but the pace of murder, government
a blood-bank run by vampires intent
on the deregulation
and sanctification of their fangs, the sanguine order,
the cherished symmetries of our bacterial histories
nothing but the victory bells
calibrating the advance of slaughter. And paintings
of the gouty apes and their bedizened concubines,
and poems that only the affluent can write,
and all the cathedrals, mausoleums, and pillars that enhance
the hills of blood-soaked soil we build on,
all the refinements of culture, all
the opiates of erudition, the ineffectually coherent overviews
of the chaos of bones we throw before us
like men and women and children
to allay the superstitions of the future
that demands of us now nothing less
than the last born of our own unrequited extinction,
will not do to decorate the birthday jest
and excuse with elaborate rococo icing
nuclear candles all over the blood-cake of the planet.
If liberty means I have the right to own the rain
of another country; if health and happiness depend
upon designer genocides that race
the minds and hearts of the heartless, mindless mob
with toxic logos and lethal codicils, if wisdom and art
are only the crusted, rotten, riddled pylons
on a wharf of indulgent departures
in a sea of blood and fury, the idiotic squall
of the ship’s horn as it pilots out of harbor,
the advance defection of hurricane roses
believing the false hilarity of a doomed love cruise
and there is no lifeboat in the bruise of their beauty,
then we’re only licking the eloquence out of our own wombs
and mouthing platitudes like cleavers in a butcher-shop,
masters of dismemberment;
we’re just another evil dream that no one will remember.

And no one will recall what a morning it was once
just to wake up; and all that we have cherished
will be desecrated in a conflagration of black fire
because twenty-five million children die of starvation a year
and the fact is the small fret of an obscure poem
that will turn and destroy you
in a word from the eyes of a disgusted messiah.
If the pursuit of knowledge is a regression backwards
through the hallowed slimes of evolution,
and flesh and blood and bone, the jellies of our eyes,
are now more alien than the foundation stones
of the pyramidal corporations erected by slavers and thieves
to own every square inch of the planet’s afterlife,
inflated market shares in the global necropolis
that grows in the grave like fingernails and hair, then
how can we not be refuted by our own prescience
and perish in the cyanotic blue moonrise
of our own catastrophe coming true
when we saw, we knew, we ignored
the glacial cracks in our spacious palace of mirrors
and the rips in the knees of our emaciate atmospheres
and went on chancing the planet like a week-end casino?

We’re just another inept species under the bell-jar
of the writing on the wall that no one remembers how to read
as we exterminate ourselves in radioactive ferocities of greed,
dead as yesterday’s headline in the instant that we breed.

There are nations on their knees being whipped to death
by their own umbilical cords
in the evangelic hands of missionary markets
and there are nations that vie for the lion’s place
in the imperial trend of the stable atrocities
that guarantee that children will bleed
to cleanse the wound and fatten the gland of a dividend.

The corporate wasp lays its egg on the forehead
of the living host and butterflies
are cancelled like bad cheques,
nations are gutted from the inside out,
and the experts defend the economic dialectics
of flexing their hex of hysterical democracy
over the bent necks of experimental derelicts
labouring in a labyrinth of lab rats and executive acts.
Among the swans and soirees of the prosperous assassins
the insiders trade in subtle abortions
and panicked climacterics of erotic stock
that convulse the planet with toxic shock
as their dicks erect with capital and war
violate the wind, the water, the oil, the ore
until the rapacity of their lust is satiate with scandal
and peace is mentioned, justice, human dignity
and they pull out in a hurry, limp with virtue,
and from the pulpits of the puppet press
dry clean the torn dress, the stained flag,
with the bleaches and fabric softeners
of their laundered confessions and laissez-faire digressions
on market pressures and open trade relations
with the third-world brides of the first night
that are torn from their husband’s arms
and subject to palatial abominations,
exploited like a resource, their wombs battered into sterility,
must learn to comply with capital’s amorous charms
among the ruined nuns and nations
labouring under the weight of corporate virility,
voyeuristic eunuchs in the fiscal shadows,
and skeletal children thinner than keys,
still stunted in the filthy chimneys
of the captains of commerce, the Molochs of money
quoting chapter and verse of their logo genetics
to feed another generation to their corporate creed,
a labour camp for orphaned amputees,
severities of people on their knees,
cut like a budget.