Sunday, April 29, 2012



Silence here, long whispers of moonlight
suggesting things invisible appear,
occult constellations I read in reverse
on the chilly night air. Wildflowers
in the high abandoned starfields
soaked in the dew of ten thousand eyes
as the lone nighthawk of my overview of life
tilts its wings toward you as if the wrist
of the falconer were the bough of a tree
in the sacred groves on the island of Mona,
though I know you sleep in the shadows
of the mountains of Arizona.
Hear me, sweet one, do you in your dream?
I’ve filled your pillow with clouds
and the whimsy of mystical flight feathers
to replace the hard rock of the world
you lay your head down upon,
and pull the sword out of the wound
like the thorn of a star
from the palm of your hand,
from the kissing stone of your meteoritic heart.

And I circumambulate it thrice
like a rogue planet with shepherd moons
like lambs that lie down with the wolf
as if you were all directions of prayer at once
and I was marking out magic circles around
your house of life like a wolf star on the wind
high above the timberline
in an agony of longing to touch you
like candlelight in the secret shrine
where you go to heal the eyes of the flowers
the blazing of the desert sun
blinds like midnight at noon.

Too long I’ve been a lighthouse on the moon
for shipwrecks well past warning.

Too long I’ve been a night light in a morgue
to usher the ghosts of the dead to the best seats
in the darkened theatre of classic reruns
of the karmic movies they made
like double features of their lives.

Too long I’ve been the antidote of those
who were snake-bit by happy endings
that were mesmerized stone cold in the eyes
of snakeoil salesmen in a cult of spitting cobras.

Too long I’ve been the nightwatchman
who walks the long lonely halls
in a library of Coles notes and cheat sheets
where the ingenuous come to apprentice themselves
to the arcane grammars of an antiquated magic
that long ago dropped out of nightschool.
Too long I’ve been shedding
these old musty graduate robes
to walk alone in the skin of dragons
who know that true enlightenment
doesn’t maintain a teacher, as the masters say,
making a deep bow
and then going their own way
knowing their small magic is merely
the porchlight to a palace of wisdom
where you leave your eyes on the threshold
of a doorway into a zodiac of eclipses
where all the house lights have been turned off
and aren’t the signs of anything
you can see better in the dark than you can
by the light of fireflies trying
to organize their insights
into a constellation of first magnitude stars.

Existential mobiles! Humanizing chandeliers!
Who asks for passports from the mirrors
that coyote us through the desert
like mirages without any tears?
I’m a mountain range of ice bergs on the move.
I’m breaking up camp like a star cluster
to follow a gazelle across
the grasslands of the Sahara
long before paradise poured like sand
between the fingers of an hourglass
to tell it how beautiful it is
when it runs like a flash flood over the rocks
of a dry creek bed with a frayed delta
of lines around its eyes
like a waterclock of life
that knows it’s never too late to meet the sea.
And how much thrives in the wake of the journey.




So far down this road
without a destination
my childhood doesn’t
recognize me anymore.
So far into this life
I’ve never been outside of
I can speak to myself
in a foreign language
that no one can understand
as if it were the ancient dream-grammar
of a past tense
that talked its way into the future.

So far into what I’ve become
the peduncle is lost
in the ensuing phylum
and of all thought
I’m the first monkey
to look for its origins in an asylum.
The crow on an autumn branch
in the white rain
laughs more than it ever did
at the specious foundations
of my ephemerid profundities
dropping like apples at my feet.

The minstrel warrior of the forlorn hope
I took up arms in a holy war of one
I was doomed to lose
like a sad generation of demons
who knew the wound would never close.

If heaven isn’t a club-med in a specific place
but saturates all of space
like mystically dark matter
then we’re all falling toward paradise
like particles and wavelengths of water.

Heaven may be the whole cup
and hell a crack in the wine
and earth the place you sober up
like a bad hangover from the divine
but it’s a party I walked out of aeons ago
more a stranger than when I came
like a manger without a sign
like a magus without a logo
to an inn that had been empty for years.
I don’t presume to teach people
what they already know.
Even hanging on
is going with the flow.
This is a delirious place
where the mysteries cut deep
and silence is the native tongue
God speaks to herself in.

So far down this mindstream
like a paper boat I made of a poem
and set aflame like an orchid of fire
to honour a poet
who said it right in China long before me,
I bloom on the water of a prophetic dream
true to the unpredictability
of a sleeping dragon
to wake from the brevity of oblivion
with the eyes of a narcoleptic chameleon.

Joy binds
what sorrow releases.
And thought might prick the lifelines
of an amniocentesis
and offer up my embryo like a thesis
on whether I should have been born or not,
but I drink from my own skull like the moon
when it’s full to the brim
above the starwheat in the Virgin’s hand
to the stealth of the wind that dropped me here
like a lone seed in a huge empty silo
I’m trying to stud like the Venus de Milo.
It’s not easy rooting in stone
like the invasive metal
of a sword that will make you
king of the waxing year.
Things just fall apart on their own
like grain from the chaff of a fickle harvest
that rose from the dead
like the bitter bread
of an abandoned homestead
that walked out on itself too soon.

But I’ve never been one to talk
about leaving it all behind
like some dark gate of the mind
I could pass through
like a unilluminated comet through space
to shine in the light of a star
that was alarmed at my approach
and blind to my passing.
I’m more at home in the dark
with a firefly and a chimney spark
rolling koans like constellations of loaded dice
as if they were two diabolical buddhas
in the back alleys of enlightenment
pushing their luck to the wall.
They rise
and I fall.
I rise
and they fall.
Readiness is all.
Ripeness is all.
Lear shakes his fist at Hamlet.

The blue harvest moon in total eclipse.
All loveletters die like political pamphlets
up against a closed door.
So far into this cloud of unknowing
I have given up hoping
will ever become a star
and break into light in all directions
to show me where I’m going
I give up on myself like rain
and release my waterbird eyes
to fall wherever they might.

Readiness is spring.
Ripeness is fall.
Seven come eleven.
No one wins it all.
Two squared skulls
up against a crooked wall.
I shake the dice
and you call.
You shake the dice
and I call out to luck like a random goddess
to see if she still loves me
as she did once tomorrows ago
when I won everything back.

Whether you’re giddy with happy truths
or more profoundly belled by the sad facts
it’s scary at night in the spirit’s lost and found
when the lights go out
and no one’s around to look for anything.
Gardens of black umbrellas,
the wings of folded bats
stacked like unseasonal eclipses
that have lost the will to bloom
like flowers at a lavish funeral
for impoverished aristocrats.

And courage isn’t a home
that’s all that easy to return to
when you’re out here on your own
like a lifeboat full of midnight on Mars.

So far along this long homeless road home
I have worn out my faithless friends like shoes
I took from the feet of the dead
to walk on ahead of myself
like a star with a jump on where it’s been.
Now even I don’t know what I mean
when the words say me
like some black benediction
over an unknown grave
as I mourn the roadkill
and try to bless the turkey-vultures.
Earth. Air. Water. Fire.
Four cultures that bury their dead differently
but all to the same end.
Who could have guessed
the angels that came to earth first
had the wingspan of loitering scavengers?
I give my soul up to the birds.
I give my eyes up to the sky.
I give my voice up to these words.
I give my mind up like water to water
light to light
darkness to darkness
to the star that has misled me this far
into this wilderness of myself
where I’m preaching stealth to shadows
and air to ride the wind.
I give my heart up
to the thorn that gored the rose
like a deep insight
into the nature of the moon’s
bright vacancy
dark abundance
like two sides of the same face.
I give my will up to chance.
My blood to the conviction of the poppy it’s fire.
So far beyond my last event horizon
I’m never coming back this way again
what does it matter if the path
is crooked or straight?

I lay my tiny wisdom down like a hazelnut
on the track of the silver thought-train
to see if it can crack it like a koan.
I lay the mantle of my dynastic ignorance
over the shoulders of an avalanche like snow.
However much
you love the valley
it will be the mountain
that sweeps you off your feet.

I give my imagination up like a black wine
that tastes a little like me
to the muses who bruised it
like the great night sea
they drank from my skull
whenever the moon was full.
Among so many sages
it was good to be a fool.
One by one the schools
dropped out of me
and settled like mud at the bottom
of a clarified way to see
that everything that passed through my head
like a shapeshifting cloud
was just water looking into water,
me looking into me with water for eyes.

Why be shocked
by the predictability of death
when it’s life that always comes as a surprise?

I may have been lame
in my approach to things
and limped my way like an iamb into wings
but I wanted to look down
from way up there
as if I were a star without strings
and be the way things are
when they shine down on nothing
until a nightbird in a far tree sings.

Carrying forth into the carrying forth
eternity might be the ghost
in the starmud of time that perishes
to give forever a meaning
but it’s this life now
that talks the talk
and walks the walk
of a human being.

I give my eyes up to the seeing.
So deeply lost upon myself
like an empty lifeboat drifting through
these veils and visions of things
that appear like sails in the fog a moment
and then evaporate into their nebularity.

I give my blessing to the waywardness
of the course
that took me the way I am.
I give up my pain
I give up my sorrow
I give up my love my joy my laughter
like orchids and ashes on the mindstream
that flows out of me like a waking dream
that doesn’t insist on seeing me here tomorrow.
But most of all
I give my gratitude
to the mystic vagrancy of the great solitude
I approached like a friend
on my way to nowhere like the sea
as if everything came to an end in me
like a life I couldn’t foresee.

Though I have mourned
life’s preemptive reverses
I have not scarred my lips with curses.
I have not tainted the well I drink from.

And nothing’s ever spoiled
the bread I broke with others.
The feast is free
but it isn’t hunger or thirst
that makes us sisters and brothers
it’s the way we raise
the cup to each other’s lips
like a lunar elixir to a solar eclipse
as if we knew we would pass
long before the darkness did
but still made the gesture anyway.

It’s the way we hope
we know what we mean
when we say we love people
we’ve never seen
as if they were everyone in particular
and love’s mute theme
were helplessly gesticular.

You can’t keep
what you won’t give away.
Life’s a long sleep
before a short dream
that wakes you up far from home
beside the unknown road you’re on
that winds like smoke among the stars
whispering ghost stories around the flames
of their unbelievable fires.
By all means pursue what is true
but don’t forget
mercy has its liars too.
I give my life up
to the mystic specificity
of the medium that sustains it
like a wavelength of light
to a sea of dark matter.

And more than I could have ever lived
living alone together with everyone
crammed into the same planetary shoe
I give up all the vastness
of my awareness of the space within
and how far there is to go like light
before you can open
even a single flower of insight
to end your long winter night.
I give up space
like my place at the table
where I stood like a tower of salt.
I give my imagination up
like an underground cult
that gave its secrets away to everyone
like dark spots on the sun.
And whatever beginnings
are behind me now
like things I’ll never finish
I give my past and future up
to the omnipresence of time
in all I live today
as if something
were always coming my way
without expectation
from lightyears beyond my eyes
like letters from home
that never reach me
in time to call me back.

If I have shone among luminaries
like a firefly in an ice palace
of radiant chandeliers
that froze in their own tears
it was as a small lighthouse
on the coast of turbulent mirrors
that kept a nightlight on.
I spent the gone on the going
and trusted the darkness
to keep things flowing along
like a river coming down a mountain
without knowing about the sea
that summoned me to the lowest place
like an unfathomable watershed
in every eye of the fountain
that cried out to the birds
in words that feather the dead
for their long flight through the mystery
I am I am I am
the future memory
of my own prophetic history
before I wrote it down
like the path I took
on my way out of town.




In that slum of a neighbourhood
you were the Butterscotch Man.
Old. East Indian. Sikh. Kind.
Long white beard and hair
pouring out of your turban.
And as I can remember you now
fifty-four years later
you were a cloud circling the peak
of Mt. Sumeru
the world mountain
that walked among children
handing out one hard butterscotch candy to each.

You’re always there in my childhood
on the corner of Douglas and Hillside
by the totem-pole telephone booth
everyone jimmied for change,
reaching deep into
your tattered sports coat pocket
with a look of gleeful gratitude on your face
that the light had smiled upon you like a child
asking for a candy.
We were too busy playing for keeps
to know how or when you died.
One day we just knew you did.
And we broke into your small ratty house,
that crutch of a box that could barely stand,
and we saw how poor you were
so much poorer than us
and even though you had an address
here in Canada among us
and stared out through the same windows
at the same demeaning day
at the doors of the desperately poor as we did,
how inestimably far you really were from home
and how alone.
There was so little to steal
who could have robbed you?
But I remember the strange calendars
no one could tell the time by in Sanskrit
shedding the pictures
of the same unnamed goddess
in flaming sunset colours
like the petals of a lotus with its eyes closed.
I can’t forget the calendars.
Or how we went on looking
for large hairy black wolf spiders
hiding in the darker corners
of your abandoned rooms
we could drop hot match-heads on
to watch them run like startled wicks.
Some kids grow up like saplings.
We grew up like sticks.
But that one butterscotch candy
you were always good for
like some unknown kindness
we could infallibly depend on
however the rest of it hurt
has kept on releasing its sweetness in me
over the years
like some philosopher’s stone
that rolled down from a very high mountain of a man
that still stands before me in his turban
even at this distance
through the bluing of time.

I can still see you on any clear day
like snow-capped Mt. Baker on the horizon
across the Straits of Georgia
all the way to Washington State
from the southern tip of Vancouver Island.

And if you were alive now
I would thank you better than I ever did then
when we approached you like a bird-feeder
apprehensively as birds.
You were handing out
your wisdom your life your light
the largesse of your spirit
without words.

Now I’ve come back alone
for all of us who’ve gone our different ways
like the wind and the waves
and the heavy clouds
of the world we shared back then,
some to prison
some to god knows where
and some to early graves
like the seeds of bad beginnings.
And it’s not that I want to set things right
because things are never really wrong
to a strong mountain
that knows how to stand on its own
among humans
without blocking the light
and there never was a time
whenever I saw you as a child
I didn’t look upon you with delight.

But now as a man
I see you as a long dark night
streaming with stars down the Himalayas
like the eternal Ganges whose waters
I imagine myself standing by for your sake
to throw my heart in
like that shoot of a rose of blood
you rooted in our ancestral starmud
like a Taj Mahal of light in the slums
of a North American night on earth
where the children who went to bed
in that cast-off neighbourhood
like unanswered prayers
stoically beyond their years
like prodigies of disappointment
brutally acquainted with the dark side of Santa Claus
wondering why they weren’t worth much
to the people who were supposed to love them,
remembered you
and how much of the world can be saved forever
like the taste of kindness
in a half-finished butterscoth candy under a pillow
as hard as stone
dreaming of a huge big-hearted mountain
that thawed the milk of human kindness
to run down our lives like the lifelines
of the melting ice-cream cone
you looked like to us in your turban.
May this rose of a poem
find you everywhere
like the children’s eyes
you opened like moments of light
to star in a dark world
as if every one of those timeless moments
were the lifespan of one of your many afterlives
handing out candies on the corners
of all the myriad worlds
where the children run to your shining
like children of the morning
with eyes as bright as morning dew
to greet the Butterscotch Man
and pry open his fingers
like the sun on Kashmiri flowers
to see what he’s got in his hand
that would taste like love on the native tongue
of any land as wise and old
and as compassionate as his forever is.
Or as ours was then
unfeelingly young by ten.
So thank you.
Thank-you from all the children of when
the world was a shabbier place
than this homelessness of now
but somehow you always managed
to corner a little kind place for each of us
in that spacious heart
that seemed to understand
how to stand forever before us
in a turban of snow
like a sacred mountain
in the body of an ageing holy man
as if the deepest secret of life
were as childishly simple
as a hardrock candy in the open hand
of the Butterscotch Man in a turban.