Thursday, May 10, 2012



The day an empty envelope, the clouds
islands of their own in a slow wind,
gathering out of nothing, going anywhere
the blue conception of the dispersing sky urges
above the green, summer turmoil of the trees.
I wake up wondering if love is just a word
or a whisper of smoke from distant mountains
or a tuberous begonia someone tore up last night
in their madness to dramatize their exit out of ecstasy,
their roses, scalded lobsters, their heart
torn like a soggy dawn in the pincers of the moon.

And I have been here before at the end
of these long wharves pillared in departure,
standing firmly fixed in the tides of sorrow,
saying goodbye to the sky and the sea
that have cried enough stars for the night
to remember its light is the taste of oblivion.
The air breathes you in like an anchor of mist
and all the words we released like vows
gently unhooking their wings from the fishing nets
we found abandoned in the wake of a lunar desert
that had wandered off like an arsonist in the archives of its tears,
are pens that have flooded in our pockets of blood like oilslicks,
not the feather of song left that could fly.
And I should thank you for the bouquet of corals
you gave me like an island in a ocean of ashes,
and the nights my heart was a frenzy of mating eels
thrashing the silver waves in a ferocity of transcendence,
a rabble of moonlit tongues, that made me feel
the hanged man was at last a key someone would risk,
a boat moored to the wind that had at last found a door
with the eye of a water-lock and the Gulf Stream
of an infinite threshold it would take a galaxy to cross,
and there were voyages I dreamed, o, I dreamed
of naming continents after you, oceans on the moon
that teemed with startling new forms of luminous life
that did not salivate for each other like arrows on a food chain
but fell from the intensity of our wishing like rain.

I wanted to add your fire to mine on a pyre of thorns
and mounting the last constellation uttered in bliss
by the mouth of a burning rose immolated in her own beauty
rise like a kite trailing a thread of blood to show the stars
how to weave a life that breathes like silk
out of the mulberry cocoons of their nebular cradles,
auroras exhaled like the veils and ghosts of riverine light
that disclose the grace of a woman, secret by secret,
until even the stars are homeless gestures of ash,
crowns of flame enthroned in the abysmal domains
of the radiant mystery they could draw from
like water from the wells of your eyes
to refute the claws of time and space with flowers.

And it’s been four starless nights, four bleached days
since I last heard from you, no word, no sail, no wick,
no eyelid of a candle to open the darkness like a dream,
not a chromosome in a fortune-cookie to dispell my fate,
only the incremental atrocity of the cruel silence that salts the garden
with the radioactive fall-out of your nuclear absence
so that even my shadow glows like a sunspot that won’t wash off.

And I must tell myself you’re not the queen caprice
of a cherry in a hive of chocolate leaking honey
all over the sticky page of a theatrical candy-wrapper
blowing up the road like the obsolete playbill of a cliche
well attended by the ants who traffic in sugar.
I must tell myself over and over again like a wheel,
not to save myself like an enlightened pagoda
in a corner of the cones of the fools who wear
their disasters like the paper headlines of a daily heart,
not to adorn death with the lies of wounded heroes,
for I am a small planet of haunted wines
you can burst against the roof of your mouth like a grape,
and far too acquainted with eclipses and cremations
to exalt my ashes with the consolations of a reviving phoenix,
tell myself not to lawyer my sorrow with a congress of crows,
and in a crowd of placards and protesters, pretend that I am brave,
that my cause is just, that the world you’ve left me needs to be saved;
or that I can save it from myself like an arsonist
by learning how to swallow it like fire,
not to incriminate you among the cap-gun terrorists
who rage like chains in the doorways of their emergency exits,
their hearts boiling hand-picked scorpions like blackberries
to mitigate the acids of their glass wounds,
but to believe you’re still out there somewhere like a road
that has wandered off in a wilderness of directions,
though the mountains and trees all point the stars out to you,
that cannot conceive of where it leads until we both walk it.
I want to believe there’s no bodycount
behind the words of love you send me like refugees
that gather in the valleys of my heart like liberated fireflies,
that the lampshades of your poems are not wrapped in human skin
with a star pricked out by fangs and the repeating decimal
of a genocidal number too powerless to stop itself
from biting at the running sore of its own ulcerations.

I have never seen your face, heard your voice,
the wind more intimate with your skin than my longing,
but I have felt the stars within brighten in your presence
when all I could be to you over the miles, lives, the worn shoes,
was someone who charged space with gusts of ionic affinities,
hoping somehow the atoms knew, the rain, the hill in the fog
calling out to the drifting lifeboat with a disembodied voice
that there was yet a breath within a breath, a light within the light,
what I was before I was born to reach out empty-handed like this
to create you out of the nothing I am, a marvel more than me,
a clear fire that burns invisibly like breath on a windowpane,
the exhalation of a ghost startled by a spirit that lives
within and beyond it in a continuum of vital strangers,
closer to us than the patches on the underside of our eyelids.

I don’t know what I am to you; though I have hoped
and you have said things to me I could only disappoint,
but they have made me want to drink your face from my bare hands,
they have made me a fountain and a vine, a door that bleeds
among the quicksand foundation-stones waiting out the mountain,
and my heart was a pauper lavish with revelation, a glove
that felt the universe fit it like your hand, and the answers,
were as evident as birds gathering seeds in an open furrow.

We have grown over the months like the rain together
and maybe now we fall, maybe now this alloy of water
is to be threshed by the wind like wild rice
shaken into a birchbark prow of aboriginal moonlight,
and the waterlilies have finished blooming like asterisks
and the stirling is marred by the acids of black fingerprints,
and a patina of commonality makes the moon a cold stone,
but there’s a pause between accountable heartbeats,
a world between waking and dreaming, exits and entrances,
where I think everything returns without having left
like stars paled in the blazing of a lesser light that thrives,
and the heart receives itself back into its own hands like a ball,
and even in the rain-soaked journals of the autumn leaves,
the wind still addresses the flowers with its inconstancy,
and hands still find each other across the dangerous table
like the lost receiving the lost in a place of belonging
that is a stranger to them both on the same side of the river.