Wednesday, May 9, 2012



Safe, educated witness to bestial scenes
since I was born, the destruction of cities
and species, and helpless human beings
severed from their limbs like pruned branches
too close to the borders of warring powerlines,
whole families massacred like icons
in a video game by a real soldier
whose delusion wasn’t the same,
the blood-spatter of children
freaking the flower, I
loathe the indifference
of the one-eyed watchers
who look on impotently
like hardened gum
under their bomb-proof desks
weighing the risks for both sides
of unbalancing their covert genocides
like a second set of books of the dead.
Perverts blowing kisses like artillery shells
to children in their beds
who scream like murdered bells
and windfalls of deathheads,
billiard balls, and tiny skulls
that broke to start the game.
I thought I was a lucky man
to be born in the land of plenty,
and the cupboard is full
but my heart is an age beyond empty
and my spirit is savaged
by disgust and shame,
and under every pellucid, abstract thought,
laying itself down like money
at an ideological dogfight,
an abyss of bones
where the children rot
like the memory cards
of disconnected cellphones.
I listen to myself, I listen
to the distinguished commentators
and the prime-time spin doctors
passing out motorized walkers
like miracles for the mentally lame
and renewable treaties
for the kingdom to come
that fits over the head
of the planet now
like the used atmosphere
of a discharged condom.
Hell seems quaint by comparison
with the agony and the torment of here
where the natural, untaught decency of a human
is accosted by the atrocities
of a loveless heart
hooking the lives of children
on inverted question-marks
like flayed cattle
in an avant-garde abattoir of bad art
as everyone subscribes to the New York Times
to keep up with the latest alibis
to expurgate the mess
of regurgitated crimes
that aligns our vomit
to the wines of progress.
And everyone feels what they say
as if God sat in their corner
like a fool on a stool,
but no one ever says what they feel
when the heel crushes the head of a child
like a grape
and her sister is hauled away
like a voodoo doll at a gang rape.
Who caters the flesh feast
at these laden tables
of fat, old, impotent, girdled men
arriving in limousines
to discuss discussing a resolution
to put an end to a child’s screams?
Summoned like vampiric thorns
to the bloodbank of a rose
that bleeds like a child or the sea
everyone opposes saving the roses
until they can be arranged
like body parts and ashes
in the funeral vase of a policy
that crashes like a junkie
at the mention of withdrawal.
O mighty world
who eats the nations
like a pack of wild dogs a corpse,
necrophiliacs at a conference table
smearing make-up on the facts,
trying to turn their maggots into butterflies
by wrapping themselves in their flags
like the stars in the sky
and the waves of the sea
and squeezing the life
out of a child like striped toothpaste.
O vicious, pygmy abomination
you pricked your thumb
on the thorn of the crescent moon
when you reached out
to leech the blood of the rose
by crushing an army of four-year-olds.
O wild hog of runt-rage
goring the world
like a girl on your tusks,
it takes more than one star
to make a constellation
and a lot more than bloodshed
to school the eyes to see it
that look at you now
like children in terror,
the plinths of your shining,
sidereal teeth,
and the lonely myth
you drop like flyers over the city,
lip-service to a fraud without pity.




You’re lonely
and you think it’s because
you’re not understood
in a small town
where extraordinarily ordinary people
go about the business of living
without expecting glorious results.
You show up catastrophically
on my doorstep
at three in the morning
and ask if I’ll let you in like a wound
that has slashed you open like a mouth
and you know I won’t turn you away.

You don’t know what to do with your beauty
and neither do I
without a prelude to the encounter
and so you ask me how to live.
I turn myself inside out
looking for loose change
in the pockets of a dream
to drop into the begging bowl of the silence
and sliced by the insight
of a master in medieval Japan
tell you every step of the way
should crush the head of the question.

You think I am immediate and wise
and for the moment it’s a useful delusion
as I look into the reasonable facsimiles of light
that are posing as your eyes
and see a painful young woman
trying to sail like a swan through her first eclipse.

I dodge the euphoric arrows
that randomly fly
from your toxological lips
and try not to get sucked into
thinking of you as a wishbone with hips
and outrunning the flashflood of the effusion
turn my attention back to your confusion.
The moon is in my window.
A muse has come
to ask for inspiration.
Water asks the fire how to flow
but what you really want to know
what you truly want to learn
is how to burn.
You’re trying to pull the moon
like a hot sword out of a cold stone
to kill your lover over and over and over again
like a wasp on a brain
trying to sting itself into honey.
If you weren’t so beautiful,
you’d be funny
but I make the appropriate concessions
and listen to your accusations
like the intimate confessions
of a promiscuous nun
who’s never slept with anyone.
I listen quietly and tenderly
to the chafing of the restless snakes
in your angry abyss
gathering myself up like visionary rain
above the cauldron of a distant, cosmic ocean
to fall like a cooling kiss
on the flaring heads of the igneous.

I milk the fangs of the moon
into experimental antidotes
and no fool around match heads and cobras
summon the wind like an ambulance on standby
to immunize me against the toxicity
of your insistence
I’m your private school.
Morgana la Fey at Merlin High,
eager to learn, eager to deepen her darkness.

You want me to teach your eyes to flow
through a labyrinth of underground dreams
you’ve tunnelled through your pain like a blind mole
waiting for moonlight to wash you out
of all your crazy bloodstreams.

If you can’t live with the one you love
the way you long to
appealing to oblivious gods
maybe you can kill them into it.
If you’re hurt so deeply
you can no longer feel your heart,
maybe there’s an art
that can be mastered
to do it so discretely
the blood that unspools on the blade
prefers the wounded poppy of their death
that stalks them like a bloodclot in a rose
to the lonely craving of their next breath
to feel the edge again
that addicts them like the moon
to another hit on a battered vein.
I can hear what you’re thinking,
I can see what you feel through my fingers.
I know you haven’t come to heal
or put your hand in the hand of another
that isn’t folded like a secret loveletter
of Damascene steel
ghouled by jewels of blood.
I can peel the eclipse from your eyes
like an executioner’s hood
and fill the darkness
with the music of diamonds
falling like rain from their crowns of coal.
I can look into your eyes
like the lies you wanted everyone to believe in
and make them come true.
I can teach you to hunt like a magician
in the twenty-first century
and dropping your halo down to your feet
encircle you in the dark clarity
of an inviolable sanctuary
with gates of golden horn
that swing open like the moon
between the wingspan of her crescents.
Or I can turn a word like a stone
and set the angels free
like petrified bone
amazed by the new lucidity
that remarrows it like the clone
of a woman no one can be
until she returns the sword to herself
she lay down like the moon
surrendering to the sea
in a holy war
that cut the throats of the waves
and made widows of the sacred tides
she concealed like the secret insurgency
of her own dark urgency.

But since you asked
and the flower is already
half-unmasked by the morning
and the truth is only a voice away
from revealing itself,
and the hour scratches at the door
like a cat to be let in,
I will tell you
what the good and foolish never learn:

If you want to burn
like fire on the water
without going out
like a flame unwicked by the wind
that sins against it like a veil
it knots with nets of doubt
to gill the moon like shale,
you have to teach your demons how to sail.




You don’t need to put a supernova in a window
like a candle in a telescope
to help me find my way back to you
from the next galaxy over. I’m gone
like a sixties light show after the music was over.

But I didn’t close you like a door behind me,
I didn’t find you like a threshold
in the spirit’s lost and found
and try to return you to the house you belonged to.

I’ve always been a little ahead of myself
so when I said good-bye, it will be light years yet
before you know anything about it.
It’s just that time doesn’t linger in the doorway
of enlightenment, and eternity isn’t any closer to God

than the next moment is. A hundred billion stars
two thousand lightyears away and you,
checking the wiring on blasting caps in a beaver dam
that’s threatening to flood the road you’re on
as I go off like a firefly already
two mellenia into the future that’s looking forward
to meeting you eye to eye in a brighter place than this

just to see if you recognize me as I am.
Black matter in the lifemask of a blossom
peaking through the keyhole of the universe next door
to see if I’ve returned to my room like the moon
with a curfew it’s in my nature to break forever

whenever we are, if the timing’s not right.
If you can’t see in the dark what the light owes
to the shadows who have died for it
just to attract your attention from afar again

like a man who’s been tarred and feathered
and set aflame like a phoenix in the rootfires of the sumac.
Like an immolation that scatters the ashes of a burning house
all over the garden you’ve been tending
like a urnful of flowers about to come out.
Like a candle in the darkness enlightenment
snuffed out on the dark side of the moon
to keep you from being lost in the blazing like a star at noon.

I lead you away from me, like all I’ve ever wanted.
I say good-bye to keep death from saying hello along the way
as if it had met you somewhere before I came on the scene
like a flame thrower with a flare for arson burning
like the passion flower of a dragon on a pyre beside the Ganges.
To raise you up shining out of the grave of your aspirations
like lightning and fireflies in the updraft of my expedient means.
So when you cry over someone you’re missing like me,
your tears have the power of a sunflower in the garden after dark,
and the ashes turn green. And scarlet runners bind themselves
like the happy home fires of heretics to the triune axes of your tent poles.




Night. A whisper of rain. Peace in my heart.
A penny on the third eye of the hurricane
I’ve been trying to ride out all day without
having it throw me off like a big cat on its back.
Farewell, turmoil. I retract my claws
like quotation marks and crescent moons
around the silence of your name.
The fallen pine boughs of your broken wings.
Inspiration doesn’t trample on things
like flowers and stars. No more. No more
of those feelings that were meant to be as famous
as a Trojan horse to a poet grazing on the plains of war.

Eyes running down the windowpane in tears
as if they were teaching it to cry. Listen to the rain
deepen the silence like the roots of silly flowers
when you fire the voice coach
and teach them to paint watercolours.
It’s sad. But I add that poignancy to the light
like a fragrance of the moon to an apple orchard
and let it dream like wine in the dark
until I taste it again in the windfalls of late September
and in the retreating rosaries of grace leaving like birds.

For the moment I am the inclusive intimacy
of a passion that doesn’t scorn the fruit of its outcome.
I kiss my skull the same way I kiss the blossom.
Come life, come death. Two feet on the same path.
I don’t split hairs like the wishbone of the road I’m on
and not expect to lose my way back home
wherever that is now the astrolabe is blind and starless
and I drift like a paper lifeboat in a truce with the sea.
I should raise naval flags like spring flowers
to signal the relative victory of a few short hours
but the candles have already sent the message in flames
and the shadows have answered: message received.

No need of tomorrow and much less of yesterday
let the moment tend to the affairs of its own will
I’m an apostate event unbound from the stake
of the irreligious history of the world trying
to burnish lead into gold in the wrath of a volcano god
someone met on the way to the promised land
and asked to join the caravan at the wells in Median
to compound the absurdity of visionary matchbooks
that rained manna and vipers from the opposite eyes
of the mirage of an hourglass skinny-dipping in the desert
to renew the virginity of time like a sundial on the moon.
Rare revelation to the changelings of lust
released on the river like prophetic decoys in a false dawn
to lure the waterbirds into friendly fields of fire
as if to say you can come this far, no higher.

There’s never been a star named after a human
except for Cor Caroli, the heart of Charles the Second,
dimly under Alcor and Mizar, the horse and the rider,
under the handle of the Big Dipper I raise to the lips
of a mermaid in the desert like real water
to a true believer in the midst of delusion
just to hear her sing again on the rocks of longing
like a waterclock on a windowpane in the rain.
And I don’t want to tie her to the bowsprit of a shipwreck
that went down at the end of her song,
the whole town on board this leaking ark
and she’s the only one that’s crying into a lifeboat
like a woman with her face in her hands at the news.

Forty nights and forty days of rain in the spring,
the earth’s a hydrocephalic with water on the brain.
And the roads are cobbled with sloppy frogs,
and the darkness is dense with a wardrobe of sorrows
that hangs in the air like an era of hesitation
above the crystal slipper dancing shoes and rubber boots
in the pungent closets of the watershed
that waltzes them like rain on the Tay River
under chandeliers of light-footed starmud
in the abandoned ballrooms of the willows dancing
like gusts of air to the heritage harps
that shine like constellations in their high-strung hair.

A train howls like a wounded animal in the distance,
an iron horse. The nightwatchmen have gone out
like fireflies, but not the streetlamps that have stayed on
like starmaps in the rain to walk the drunks home
arm in arm, crying in their cups like watered down wine.
Nothing divine, earthly or infernal, the eye of time
no more vernal in the east where the moon rises
than eternal in the west where the sun sets,
I’m not playing solitaire in the rain with old regrets,
I’m at peace with the stars that are caught like civilians
between storm fronts, as their seeds get washed away
like flower bombs in a flashflood of shell-shocked rivulets
someone stepped on by mistake. And I’d rather keep
the worst of my war-stories to myself, than swap them
with the vets being strafed by the rain of ricochets
in the Legion’s parking lot where things are fought all over again
as their wives usher them to the passenger side of their cars.

Just the rain and me. As if we were born a moment ago.
And neither of us had anything to fight about.
And I was the bud of a wound that hadn’t started bleeding yet,
like a shrieking poppy or a stoic rose, and it
wasn’t the cure that washed all the blood off
like a paint rag of a sail in a Pacific sunset hemorrhaging at sea.
Just the rain and me. Doing what we both do best.
And all our labour effortless as tears in the eyes of the night.