IT’S GETTING EASIER TO DIE
It’s getting easier to die looking at the way the world is. We’ve got this bigger brain pan thanks to evolution but I think we’re just exaggerated chimps. Vicious flea-pickers nibbling on parasites for strength in numbers and the security of a small place under the table like a missing link in the food chain we call love. Even absurdity has lost its pebble like a misshapen asteroid trying to bring something to life by making a big impact on the dinosaurs of Yucatan. Panspermia. Martian meteors like spare kissing stones lying in the snow of Antarctica waiting to be cubed like the Kaaba into the continental skullcap of a new religion. Someone told me we were an intelligent species once and that knowledge opens doors. No one can argue with a heart transplant but knowledge looks more and more like a doorman at the shrine of ignorance selling doves on the sly to the unholiest of holies climbing on its knees up the stairs where it throws its crutches away like the election promises of born again politicians on their way to Damascus in sunglasses. Even to say the words noble aspiration is to invite the sneers of a lobby group of crows. How many cosmic eggs do you need to see smashed on the rocks at the foot of the tree in spring before you get the idea that death is a way of life down here where the wind rocks the cradle and the babies fall to their deaths like Siberian shamans. How many turtles have made it all the way to adulthood like children running for cover in the high tides of providence in a Pearl Harbour of gulls without ever having heard a lullaby from their mothers’ mouths? The aesthetics of desecration have salted the roots of art. Morality is a game of snakes and ladders. Politics is a card shark playing strip poker with the public. Religion is a pervert that lies about the light and denies the existence of the shadows it casts on the spirit even as it scars the children like sexual flagellants for life. Has Jesus really become a blue blood haemophiliac who needs Rasputin to keep him from bleeding to death?
Scotty knocks at the door. He needs a ride out to Watson’s Corners. I need the money but I decline the offer. He checks his facebook page and goes. I commit financial suicide and shake my head like a twist of the knife at how ludicrously demented I am by getting back to this. Baby needs new shoes. And here I am standing like Empedocles on the rim of Aetna getting ready to plunge into the plasmid magma oozing from a wound in my continental drift. But you can’t become a legend without living the farce of creativity as if it were something inconceivable you could believe in because it had nothing to do with you. I raise the skull and crossbones and stand for an anthem of starmud that bleeds out like Van Gogh’s ear or Manet’s matador lying like a dead honeybee in a rose of blood. Ever since the late sixties I’ve been dying of love and compassion and the aristocratic poverty of poetry as if they were the only local anecdotal antidotes I had left to spit back in the cobra’s eyes. I knick the snake with whipper snippers, railroad tracks, and razorblades. And the snake spits back like the Taliban or an honour killing by splashing acid in the eyes of an Afghan girl who wants to learn to read or fall in love. I live in a town called Perth not far from Last Duel Park. But I’ve pawned my silver bullet to pay the rent and Zorro isn’t fronting me any more swords like an American foreign policy run by Boeing and Halliburton. I’m a dancing master in a snake pit. I’m down to the last G-string of the spiderweb I’ve strung between the horns of the Lyre of Orpheus like a cosmic dreamcatcher in a nightmare of killer bees and Maenads screaming for my dismemberment like a firestorm of air raid sirens in Dresden where people were twisted into the shapes of Pompeian agony like an Alexandrian library of matchbooks. Inspiration rides the dragon with sidereal spurs of apocalyptic indignation and rage at what is happening to us as human beings at our own hands. Evolution never made these kinds of demands on us to change. To mutate like logos in the corporate genome of Coca Cola imperializing Belize. Eleven dimensions of space and time and one unknown continuum of death. How can love ever hope to penetrate the hareem of hymens in the hyperspace of the multiverse without relying on the cop-out of a virgin birth? Propagation without ecstasy. Sex is food. People are the krill of corporate blue whales breaching like a market. And love is their ambergris. The x-rated vomit of Parisian perfumes. The R-complex at the back of the brain we hold in a commonwealth of carrion like houseflies and crocodiles. We’re still snapping turtles under the carapace of our neo-cortex. Don’t kid yourself. We’re still the same old scum-sucking mud dwellers that littered the bottom with the bones of gutted swans eras ago. Twenty-five million children a year are shovelled into the grave pits of their open mouths still gaping after all these horrifying years at the atrocity of how blithely we let them starve to death while obesity is about to have a heart attack that’s going to feel like the catastrophic revenge of an indigestible planet. Gather ye rosebuds and wealth while ye may. Carpe diem. Seize the day. Because tomorrow’s going to come like the false dawn of an unmarrowed bone through the nose of an unmarried cannibal and grab you by the neck like a drug cartel playing narco music on the Spanish guitar of your jugular vein. Prophetic skulls are dancing themselves to death in violent paroxysms of hydrophobic rabies trying to hold back the rain like sacred clowns in a mirage of nightmarish pain. We’re stinging ourselves to death like scorpions in a ring of fire. We’re playing Russian roulette with lethal interrogatives we raise to our temples like the triggers of crescent moons at the business end of our cul de sacs. Murder like war is a job creation program for the poor to give killing for the rich a purpose in life and a reason to get up in the morning. In the backrooms and dark alleys of a doomed consortium of corporate laybyrinths I’ve learned to whistle Mr. Bluebird’s On My Shoulder like a port-a-pack heat seeking missile and address my peers when I’m on my own as if the third eye of the Wizard of Oz were taking aim through a fully enlightened keyhole at terrorists planting bombs in the Yellow Brick Road. Democracy lands in the Fertile Crescent like the House of the Unrepresentatives of the People on the wicked witch of the east. You can watch her toes curl like fiddleheads and the embryos of oilslicks that will rise up like a snake pit to sink the fangs of the first and last crescents of Ramadan like the Old Man of the Mountain into your throat. Hash. Venom. Assassins in the shadows of your sundials and eclipses like a black snake under the pillow you dream on waiting for the tooth fairy. Radioactive noon at midnight. The human heart too scorched to feel any pity. Calloused hands close the eyes of the dead like can-openers. Magisterial pomp and ceremony attends the trivia of the irrelevant like the paparazzi a golden chariot being driven by a rock and roll sun king with the popularity of a pimp through a slum of infatuated children. Justice upholds the freedom of expression like gun laws in the ghettoes of Philadelphia. Compassion has become the idealistic shill of a faith healer laying his hands on the daughters of his parishioners like the cervical scar tissue of the dilated profit margins that wound the flesh and the spirit like an empty wallet some misguided soul returned in hell.
Night now. Skateboarders outside in the deserted street. No one knows what I do up here but I feel like I’ve been testing lead kites in a wind tunnel all day long. Been working out creatively for a heavy lift. But I’m not sure if I’m strong enough yet. My head is pounding something momentous on the anvil of my heart. Tempering swords in a trough of blood that hisses like the background radiation of the ghost of a cosmic snake. Or a thought train mourning like a funeral procession in the distance. No rain. So the windows are thick with dirt and stars. And the streetlamps are wilting like black-eyed Susans with tungsten petals in the heat. She loves me not she loves me not she loves me not like losing lottery tickets. I’m reaching critical mass like a nuclear reactor that o.d.’d on its own plutonium 239. My eyes glow in the dark but what I see makes me wish I were blind. Something’s tattooing prophetic starmaps on the inside of my eyelids. My brain is shredding secret insights into the conspiratorial nature of the future of life. Putting words in the mouth of the embassy incinerator like apple blossoms and autumn leaves just before the wind leaves town without the orchard. Taking too long to put a little English on the spin of the planet like a cue-ball in the right hand pocket of a black hole. You lose control in the moment if you hesitate. And I can hear some Zen master battering me with my own advice. Stand up. Sit down. Walk left. Walk right. Walk zigzag. Walk straight. But whatever you do don’t wobble. But even if I make the shot. Nobody wins.
It’s getting easier to die when I see how many more innocent there are among the dead than there are among the living. I have a survivor’s guilt. And nowhere to expiate it except on a poem on a painting or the flip side of Patti Smith. I am a Canadian artist. I feel nothing but guilt. And it’s hard not believe sometimes that I’m not already dead and what I’ve been dying and living for all these years is a just this mindless art of the life of the mind. And fifty years of poetry isn’t worth one loaf of bread in the grasp of a starving child. What comes out of the mouth. What goes in. Like ebb and neap tides dragged around by the moon by the hair where they practise rape like a martial art against women in the Congo. In the wars of the Druids it used to be that you could defeat a tribe by learning the secret name of their god. Bran. Or Exxon. For example. But these days they go straight for the genome. And it’s been a struggle even here where you can grow fat on the garbage of Toronto just to survive. I was born under the street. Learned classical Greek. Didn’t want to be victimized by the stereotype of the golden poor boy who got rich to lift his family out of poverty by his bootstraps like the spontaneous creation of the universe and reclaimed his throne from his wicked father as if he’d been raised in secret by a wise old woodsman. And who knows? Maybe I should have tried. But the sixties was firing up and I was going through economic culture shock at a wealthy university in my own hometown. It was my mother who taught me to cry. It was my father who taught me to rage. Fire danced on the water. I was a cool savage in an age of abandonment. I learned to throw stones and thaw like ice at the same time so I didn’t get caught living in a glass house. I hung around a lot of rich kids with long hair who all got shorn like Samson and ended up lawyers in their daddy’s office after they pulled the pillars of the establishment down. So I put down the sword and picked up the pen and in the deafening silence of the afterlife of the party when everyone stopped believing in the music and returned to their senses like the Toronto Stock Exchange thought if I couldn’t do anything else to justify the ambiguous luck of being born into a selectively prosperous country I could write poetry that would scream murder for those who were being killed pre-emptively because they didn’t have a voice of their own. I reconciled poverty guilt rage education inspiration fire water and light in one austere calling too high-minded to call a literary career. I was a prophetic skull in a desert that women like to dance for. I was a poet. I was endowed with a great negative capability for being nothing. I let my identity lapse like a passport. I wiped my face off the mirror with the sleeve of my shirt to see more clearly what I was looking at. The mirrors haven’t heard of me in years. I spent twenty years learning secret tree alphabets in a poetic college on the island of Mona and became a wandering poet scholar. An astronomical priest of sacred clowns who could wander unharmed through the clash of armies through a mystical path in the Blood Red Sea. I studied murder. I studied genocide. I looked at the heaps of spectacles piled in the lost and founds of Auschwitz like the spindly legs and hourglass thoraxes of dead insects in the commercials for Raid. And I felt my way into the camp as close as I could for someone who had not been killed or lived their way through it until I understood that most of the passions of humankind are nothing more than insecticides for butterflies and honey-bees. That angels were crop-dusters and there was DDT and Xyklon B and mustard gas on the apple of knowledge in the garden of Eden long before Eve took a bite out of it. The Holocaust taught me three things. The overwhelming complicity of silence when murder is being done. That humans are the scourge of God when he flagellates himself for their creation by whipping his back with black hydra-headed snakes in jackboots that cock their hats and snap their heels to attention like the triggers of a firing squad trying to shoot the stars out like a disciplined eclipse. That one should never underestimate the great opportunistic potential there is in human suffering. I scream for the bone. I scream for the blood. I scream for the flesh of those who had lovers and children and violins that set the teeth of the windows on edge when they were practising. I scream for the home-made socks on the corpse of the dead child being used as a doorstop to the crematorium. I scream for the button that was torn off the jacket of the boy at the back of the cattle-car and I scream for the needle in fastidiously loving hands that sewed it on and then sewed on a yellow star. I scream for the six pointed. I scream for the eight-pointed star. I scream for Isaac. I scream for Ishmael. I scream for the gypsies the gays the German Christians the Poles the Slavs and the children in line at the foodbank being cowed by charity into licking the boots of the anti-welfare protesters as a way of saying thanks.
Can you hear me where you live? My voice shatters the stars an octave higher than the celestial spheres that crack like wineglasses. I’m flint knapping chandeliers into holy Clovis spears of light and arrowheads I’ve dipped in my blood to make sure the first sword of truth I hang over your head is wounded by my own first. I scream like the scarlet letter on the Whore of Babylon’s forehead. And blood is trickling out of the corners of my eyes at what I see. Something thunderous and heavy-limbed approaches. The fireflies are panicking to get out of the way of the lightning and the ants are amassing in heaps of defunct punctuation marks that can read like pundits the signs of the writing on the wall as if they’d reached the end of the trail.
Drunks smashing whiskey bottles on the street. The violence is too deep in us. The greed. The need. The excruciations of apocalypse will not enlighten us. Release is not liberation. Desecration doesn’t make one worthy of hell. A lightning rod won’t tell you where to dig the well. I’m sick of this. My skull is thick with paleolithic wallpaper I’m trying to compile into a Book of the Dead for casual readers with short life spans. Even madness looks like it’s wearing sensible shoes compared to walking barefoot through the scorched cities of Rumi and Hieronymous Bosch where the black corpses practise the yogic postures of death. We won’t transcend being human by mending being human until our identity is drowned like a torch among stars trying to get a mirage of an insight into what it is we’re seeing when we look back at them. But who am I kidding? Idealism is the footstool of a hanged man. Who takes a match to go looking for a volcano? I scream for the runaway in her chrysalis of shadows in the corners of the doorway across the street trying to snort cocaine from the back of her hand like fairy dust on the pinkest of her dreams. Good night Tinkerbelle. Good night. I scream for Betty who went to nightschool for her affliction and received her degree last night in post-graduate suicide when she finally freed herself from her addiction to addiction and died of an overdose. I scream murder. I scream culpability. I scream for the unphotogenic atrocities of slow human attrition drawing the agony out like junkie Don Quixotes tilting at the windmills of their arms. Or cracking rocks with Sisphyus to roll up the hill in the morning like crumbs of the sun over the whole sapiently forsaken earth. Babies get eaten by pitbulls. The homeless heroes are demonized. Demons are lionized and then sent back to where they came from. Political decisions are passed like hold-up notes to a volunteer teller at a food bank. Stunned. Beaten. Abandoned. Betrayed. Throw a snake into a fire and it just might sprout wings and turn on you like a dragon. Nemetic karma. Dark matter. The spontaneous reversal of spin in a charged particle field. The people are poor. Dispirited. Ravaged by political warlords. The global oligarchs have stolen the moon from their windows like a corporate logo. One lick of jam in the jar. One crust of bread that once modelled for Van Gogh’s painting of his boots. It wasn’t much of a journey if you’re still a traveller at the end of it. The road walks on with or without us. Hurry up. Hurry up. It’s got wings on its heels and an immensely hopeless message that makes a black hole look like an optimist. Deranged gates and bent weathervanes. All the emergency exits blocked by our grand entrance as the most intelligent species to ever fuck up what they were doing on earth. And hell. We’re not even kind or spiritually well mannered. But isn’t it like listening to shadows in the blaze of a Roman triumph? You are mortal. Don’t cradle your reflection on the waters of life like the only survivor in the lifeboat of your hands. From one dazzling extreme to another of eyeless despair. Rage upgrades the contradictions of life and death into dirty mind bombs of anti-matter. Serpentine wavelengths of radioactivity that are as immune to us as we are to their antidote. And even the animals given only four choices to throw their lives in the ring of evolution like shepherd moons around a savage planet. The abattoir. The black market. The lab. Or the zoo. Gruesome tomorrows where you’ll be investigated for the political nature of your sorrows. Enforced consumerism. Ants and aphids. The scales of justice a spy satellite in the constellation of Libra. Spiritual espionage where your third eye plays all three sides at once. Data is power. And dice are the new currency. The human spirit decultified by pharmaceutical exorcists. The money changers throw Jesus out of the temple along with his doves. Peace will say render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and that which is not. And if you want to follow me. Go your own way. And don’t come back. Hell loses its sting compared to the venom of life on earth. There’s nothing holy enough left to scare anyone with the night sweats unless they’re going through withdrawal. A man of vision is a mugshot of a politician. Mystery. Enigma. Paradox. Oxymoronic ambiguity. The intuitionally unteachable concupiscence of the inevitable. Irony. Longing. Inspiration. Reason and compassion are all retooled as commercially acceptable mimetic paradigms of behaviour. The one-eyed liar throws his voice like a ventriloquist into the echo chambers of the heart. And the puppet poets design a use for art that no one could have imagined until they were told.
Getting old. Getting easier to die. And the answers to the incomprehensible sublimities of the question why always seem so much tackier than the starless silence of a lost song bird disappearing into the distance as if to fly out of the cage through the night window were to win your wings like a sky that’s always waving good-bye. I’m reminded of Hart Crane jumping off the stern of the Orizaba at high noon in his pyjamas a hundred and fifty miles off the coast of Cuba. And the glee on his face as he drowned. Where the cedar leaf divides the sky I was promised an improved infancy. If you can’t find any use for your life. Live for art. Add your musical note to the choir of celestial spheres like one long scream of a tuning fork that resonates with the times like a lightning strike on a sacred tree. There are more creative ways of waiting for death than standing like an unused shovel in the corner. If you want to be a master grave digger first apprentice yourself to a garden. Then you’ll know what it’s like to feel the roots of life groping through the darkness of their starmud like blind star-nosed moles waiting for their third eye to open. Root fires creep like dirty rumours among the cedars of Lebanon in the valleys of death. I scream for the children who twist in their sleep as if every breath they took were a kite on a lifeline tangled like a sour note in the nervous hymnals of the power lines. Every bird is a whole note. And every sky the sheet music of silence. You can sing like a parakeet or shriek like the ailerons on an eagle dive-bombing a Japanese invasion fleet. You can hum like the drone of the avenging engines of a hive of approaching killer bees. Or you can bite your tongue to see if it’s real gold or not. If the best steel really does go through the forge.
See how the water-lily pads its swamp life with beautiful concessions of enlightenment? It’s rooted in leprosy and rot but can you taste the flavours of the reflections of the stars that are mingled in its mindstream like an empty lifeboat on the moon? You can test the atmosphere for the noxious vapours of decay like air on the tines of the tongue of a rat snake hunting toxic frogs like a radioactive wavelength of water with fangs. And you can have a lightning insight into the double feature of life that turns the lights of the matinee out at noon to foreshadow the horrors of what’s coming to a theatre near you. Cannibal frogs and punctual vipers with lockjaw. Soon. You get the big picture? Clarity is a dream’s worst nightmare. And there are times when all you can do is sit like an insomniac in the middle of a sleepwalking audience and scream like a air raid siren until you’re as hoarse and broken as the wishbone of Orpheus’ lyre when it got stuck in the throat of his prophetic skull bobbing its way like a silver apple of the moon all the way from Thrace to Mytilene on the island of Lesbos with greetings for Sappho and Terpander. Or you can lay a cool vision like a herbal poultice down on the forehead of a skull that’s been running a high fever that makes it delirious with life. You can grow orchids in the shadow of an outhouse. Or you can drain the swamp and clean its wound of infection to keep the spiritual gangrene of a planet in crisis from spreading. Or you can turn your back on the urgency of the emergency nightshifts like the dark side of a harvest moon and say Physician heal thyself as if your life were held in ransom by a medical plan issued by a drug cartel. Knowing it might be the butterflies with beautiful bedside manners that are wearing their wings like nurses caps on the terminal wards of the pharmaceutical asylums but it’s the maggots that mend the wounds and prepare the bones for a decent burial like graverobbers convinced of an afterlife. I give you my word like a boomerang on the cutting edge of space that what goes around like a helicopter gunship comes back like a galactic sawblade in your face. On the thresholds of the available dimensions and event horizons of the future the black rose of blood whose beauty was eclipsed by the miscarriage of the corpse of a child whose eyelids were shut in death like shedding petals will be frisked for thorns like pins in the heart of a voodoo doll looking for revenge on us all. Beware the fury of the dark mother when the moon is in its crone phase and she sees what we’ve done to her young. The female principle of the world flares like a Medean cobra rising like an executioner’s hood over her shattered cosmic eggs. Can you read the sign on her mantle like the royal cartouche of a deadly queen sealing a death warrant in our own blood? Can you taste the poisonous fruit of your loins in the sweetmeats of the children she serves up like the four and twenty blackbirds of a ghoulish lullaby to the nightmarish apple piety of your blasphemous genes? The Achilles heel of the destroyer of worlds will be stung by a Parisian arrow of love with the wingspan of a vampiric universe sucking the blood out of the venom under the sign of the cross that makes the first incision. And nothing will be healed. Seven come eleven like a winning lottery ticket at the all night grocery store on the corner of hell and heaven but the short-sighted dice trying to game the table will still roll with their self-destructive luck like snake-eyes staring through them. Medusan puncture-wounds to the moon rock of the heart. The colon of the asp at the end of our imperialistic aspirations to live in the lap of luxury like Egypt but kill like Rome. But what follows is astronomically tedious and as far from home as the light of an occult candle in the hands of a lonely exile tabooed by its own creation myth has ever been driven out into the darkness on its own. What hour is it? Time casts our shadows like Mayan calendars on shark-finned sundials circling the penumbral blood lines of a feeding frenzy where there is no host there is no guest at the foodbank. Just the ghosts of starving children wiping the crumbs of their dream of life from the corners of their eyes like the dead waking up to a nightmare.