Wednesday, April 25, 2012



I can remember you screaming
like a shattered crack house window
something obscene to the last john on death row
you railed like a comet in passing.
Your mind was a mirror
that had suffered one too many exorcisms
not to weep on the dark side
like an exhausted eclipse
when you cracked like a wishbone for the boys
and I could never imagine
what you said to yourself
when you picked yourself up after them like toys
they had forgotten they had wished for.
When you pulled the shower curtain closed
like a bruise on a nun
were you in a cloister or a confessional
or are there other vows
that can only be broken by a professional?
You were all gates to everyone
but no matter how many they passed through
they never made it as far as the garden.
But I can remember one night with you
before we both grew up through the concrete
when the angel with the flaming sword
blew herself out like a candle
and there was more to the beginning
than just a word.
Everything sprang up like mushrooms
and in every one
I could taste you like the moon.
And San Francisco in the sixties
showed us both what the world could have been like
if it had been created by a woman
but it was you alone
in the silence of our mystic complicity
that revealed what could be revealed
of your plans for paradise.
Are you in it now?
Are you dabbling your toes
in the salmon-enchanted rivers of the dawn
or leaping over the obvious rainbows upstream
to heal your urgency in the sacred pools of Goldstream
as if the sea depended on it?
The last time I saw you
the drugs had made you so thin
you looked like a ladder going down into a deep hole
and there were no demons or angels on it rungs
and the stars in your eyes had turned their dance floors
into the heads of tiny pins and celestial syringes
at the other end of the telescope that makes things small.
And then the ferry pulled away from the wharf like a planet
and left me standing dwarfed in its wake
and I remembered you, so unafraid and golden
insisting I push you higher and higher
with every return of the swing
as if you couldn’t do anything
without coming full circle,
and then you jumped like a stone from a sling
or a comet from its dark halo
and I saw the moon fall out of your ring
like an opal, like an eye
and by October when you left for Mexico,
the little we had of a belated childhood was over.
I wanted to call and tell you
I still loved you like that summer
you turned, and laughed, and raised your shirt
and showed me your breasts at the end of the walkway
like something of you
you wanted me to remember.
And I do. God knows I do, by the way I hurt
like a road you didn’t take
or the face you kept hidden for my sake
that still keeps on using me like tears
when you asked me in jest
but listened for the answer like a bell
if after all these years
I would still die for you
and for a few hours one afternoon
you were Josie again, happy and vain and glorious,
whenever I answered yes
and there was no chain in hell
that could bind you like a swing or a well
to the pendulous clockwork death cart axles and oxen of anything
and no pain in the silence that followed the news of your death
when I said it again
and true as a comet to its calling
or the map of a star to its falling through fire,
you streamed out forever like your hair in an exaltation of glee
lacing summer stars through the darkest places in me
screaming, higher, Patrick, higher,
push me higher than I’ve ever been
as if I could pick up where you had left off
like a kite on the wing
a girl on a swing
and the world was not dirty and mean.




Let me be worthy of the river
and the strange ores that glow at night,
buried like teachers in the mountain;
let my blood always taste of the moon
and my heart burn like a black rose,
like the poem in the fire
that sweetened the sky with a flower of smoke,
for the wisdom of the generously unattainable,
and transcend the hell that shadows the folly
of not being foolish.

May the stars,
when they gather in gardens
water the roots of my seeing from clear fountains
and the wind bleed like ink from my pen
when I’m wounded by the beauty and the terror
of my helplessness.

When I am large, spacious, profound,
let me sit like the universe
on the throne of a seed
that lies in the dirt;
and when I am small, brief,
a trinket of light in a flash of ephemera,
robe me in the lion skin of the night sky
and ennoble me
with delusion and enlightenment
on this road of ghosts.

Whatever befall,
let me perish or prosper as a human
who insists upon the divinity of all
and burns and rises
for the heresy and truth of it.

Let anyone born be accounted a hero,
a lifeboat that hauled the world aboard
when the seas raged in the womb
to give birth to suffering;
and may I always be entrusted
with the ancient shales of dark courage it takes
to look into the dragon’s eyes
and not be horrified
by the ferocity of the freedom
that thaws space
like an hourglass in the rain.

And should love occur
to shape the blade of the moon
on the anvil of my heart,
and a cauldron of passionate visions
scald the eyes with intimate glimpses
of myriad heavens and hells,
all truer than reason,
may my bitterness pass
like the eclipse of an hour,
a left-handed blessing,
no vinegar of injured illusion
accept the sad surrender of the wine
like the death poppy of a folded flag,
no tar of judgment and denial
feather the dream with stone pillows,
no abyss under the brief era of an eyelid,
make me too petty or afraid
to dance with my skin off
engulfed like the wind
in secret sails of mystic fire.

There’s always a clown, a jester
who rides beside the hero like an anti-self,
a thoroughbred and a dray
yoked to the little red wagon of the heart
like two thieves either side
of an unwitnessed crucifixion,
two dadaphors, two torches
disposed like opposable hinges
on a door that opens like water
at the whisper of a key.

Let me be the clown-prince
of my own idiotic profundities then,
let me survive my way into the wisdom
of the inspired fools
who know that anything they ask for
from the stolen bounty of the king
is just another absurdity in disguise,
that even laughter isn’t a lifeline.

I’ve always had my heart
caught in my throat
like a bird in a chimney,
a cork in a wine-bottle,
a habitable planet in a black hole.
I have loved and befriended
almost anyone
who would let me
and seen their evanescence,
their transigence, their vagrancy, their passage
through this mansion of space
with the amazing windows and chandeliers,
the sad brevity of the things they cherished.

Blind to restorative grails,
I have not sought the meaning of life,
I have not hunted the dragon with nets,
knowing reality is meaningless
because it has no fingers,
it doesn’t point to anything beyond itself,
nor bear witness in a mirror,
but I have walked in the peacock robes
of the twilight sky, all eyes,
in the gardens of the life of meaning,
past the hushed bloodtalk of the roses,
and seen for myself
that there are flowers with petals of water
and roots of fire
that drink the stars like rain.
Meaning dethrones the flowers like bottle-caps
and there’s no refund on the empties.

Night puts its hands over your eyes
and asks you to guess;
and there’s no end of the mystery,
no end of the blessing
of sitting under a tree
looking up at a star
wondering what human beings,
what you are doing on earth;
what a thought is, an emotion,
the blade of grass beside you,
everything alone together
in the silent boat of the rising moon
docking at its own reflection
as if the port were always in the voyage,
merely an expression of the intensity
of our not knowing.

The answers come and go,
governments, religions, arts, 
sciences, fortune-cookies,
like parking meters, like waterbirds,
like oceans on the moon.

Life is the lock that opens the key,
the skymouth of the dream that woke itself up
talking in its sleep,
trying to remember the dreamer.

Like the fleets and caravans
of the seeds on the autumn wind
we are the purest expression
of a universe
that answers us with ourselves
when we ask for a sign.

Like cherries that ripen in the silence
of the deepening night,
turning our tears to wine,
our darkness into eyes,
may my shadows always be worthy
of the light that casts them.

Sixty-three years a human being,
sixty-three years of suffering and doubt,
of boredom and magmatic intensities,
of mystic elation and mythic insignificance,
of anger, danger, risk, defeat and victory,
of saying and seeing,
of trying to kiss the shadow of my pain away
by deepening my ignorance
and progressing backwards
through the re-runs of old eclipses
that once gorged on the moon like dragons.

Tonight the wind howls bitterly outside
and the stars seem eras away in the cold
as if the intimacy I have felt with their shining
since I was a boy
were just another leaf torn from the tree.

It’s rare to catch a glimpse of your agony,
to see that even the brightest fountains
of your efflorescence
are rooted in a wounded watershed
that has never known the colour of your eyes.

I don’t need to be forgiven
for being born;
and I won’t be poured
like a tidal wine
into a life that isn’t mine
however many cracks appear in the cup,
however I recede and leak out of myself,
my blood isn’t anyone else’s signature,
and this walking to nowhere I call a poem,
no one’s footprints following me but my own.

How should it be otherwise
that I fall like rain
to appease this rumour of life
like a fire in my roots
and flash through the creekbeds
of my own flowing
like time returning to its hidden source
with news of nothing?

An echo of light
looking for its lost voice like a star,
I don’t need to prove myself to the night
like a theory in the heart of a passing stranger
and space is the only death mask
that is the true likeness of my face.

No more than the light and the rain
that open the seeds like love-letters,
I don’t need to know
what I will become
or what was revealed behind me in the dark,
but let me be worthy
of this wounded boat of the moment
with its cargo of eyes
enduring the burden and inspiration
of the voyage
like illegal refugees
with forged passports to Atlantis;
and if I must be accounted
one of the martyrs of absurdity,
then let me be as generous as wings
to the worms in my name
that blindly tilled the soil
of a rootless country.