Saturday, May 12, 2012



Every word turns away
shame-faced and a liar
when you try to say things so true
they could only be contaminated
by a mouth.
And the tree in your voice
may be its own guitar
and every flower of your breath
be rooted in stars like the wind,
and you can spend a whole lifetime
trying to say everything
as if words could exact living destinies
from the names on the scrolls of the dead
to save everyone, to save
everything that exists
from nothing
but when you’re done,
when the tree falls silent
and the bird has flown away,
everything, just as it is,
will still be left unsaid
and just as there is no likeness for the living
there will be no likeness for the dead.

It is the unsayability of the mystic theme
that runs through us like a road through a dream
or the poem in our bloodstream
that is the cosmological constant
that keeps on expressing us
like waves of its own water
though we go looking for ourselves
like empty cups
to fill the topics of our names
forgetting like the moon
that water is its own chalice.

Why kneel by the water like the moon
to drink from your own face
as if it tasted any different downstream
than it did when you were a cloud
high on the mountain
when you can taste
the facelessness of the sea in everything
if you drink deep enough?

And there are eyes full of wine
waiting to get drunk on you
that haven’t bloomed yet
and wells that your tears
are still falling through
like plumb-bobs and pennies
that haven’t reached bottom yet,
and deaths that are antiquely your own
you must rise from
like the hosts of the morning glory
to show the gaping bells of your irrefutable ghosts
it can be done.

Words have bad memories.
Words are troubled sleep and nightmares.
Words are dead trees in a winter swamp
that couldn’t wake a mosquito up.
Words are the ring of the gold on the countertop
that tells you it isn’t true.
Words are a snakepit of spraybombs
that go off like terrorists
on any average day
in the market-heart of the silence.
Words are wanted posters
nailing their own likenesses
to the crucifix of a telephone pole
to divert their detection like water
from the tines
and witching wands of the lightning
that seeks them out like humans alone in the open.

And if you try to say the unsayable
by smearing the view
with a new holy book
what have you said
that isn’t just more graffiti
scratched on God’s face,
or the vast scream of the dawn
just before you wake up from the dream
to discover you’re gone?

Words are the negative space
we use to delineate
the shapes of ourselves
when we talk ourselves
like water into fish,
like infinite, open-mouthed skies
that have winged their way into words
like autumn rain in the hearts of the waterbirds
that leave no trace behind.
Words are blind. And eyeless.
Words are boulders
in the throat of the impasse
when the mountain tries to speak
of things that last,
or mud in the stream of the valley
when it lowers its gaze like a poem
to whisper of things that pass.
Words turn the spell
on the sorcerer
and dangle him
like a participial puppet
from the strings
of his own grammar,
his own magic,
like stars in farcical cocoons
on the trophy-lines of his webs.
Why rummage through
the wardrobe of a wave
for something to cover your nakedness
when every time you go swimming
you can wear the sea?
Take a page out of the book of the stars
and keep words behind you
like seagulls in the wake of your shining
so by the time anyone can see you
that’s not who you are.
Words are living creatures,
words are all eyes and ears
as vivid and vital as yours
looking out from under the autumn leaves
like a flower pressed into a book
that gives it no meaning
that it didn’t have in the fields.
Ignorance doesn’t eclipse the light
and enlightenment doesn’t illuminate.
You may talk forever around it
but what’s the meaning of fire
or sit by the mindstream all night
making constellations of the fireflies
that come together like words
and there may be no separation
between the water
and the reflections of the stars
that ride it like long-legged spiders,
or between you and the earth
not so much difference
as a grass blade,
but what’s the meaning of water,
what’s the meaning of the earth under your feet,
what’s the meaning of that blade of grass?

Words speak for themselves,
not anything else.
Words are living voices
not harps in the throats of the dead.
A word is not a thought,
not an emotion,
not a stand-in for reality
not the verbal version
of the stem cells on your tongue,
or the eloquent fragrance of a brain
recruiting bees to chafe their pollen into honey.

You can spend a whole lifetime saying
and still not know what a word is,
a whole lifetime feeling
and not know what emotion is,
a whole lifetime thinking
and not know what a thought is.
Beyond appearances
that are not wholly
at the discretion of the depths,
nothing is the likeness of anything else
in the unity of their uniqueness,
the oneness of their oneness,
the mystic specificity
of many rivers
unspooling the mountain
to weave this infinite sea of awareness
into the myriad forms and tongues and waves of us
who take on minds and hang
like empty cups and water droplets
from the tip of a blade of star grass,
from our own hooked fingers,
the black crescents of the lunar triggers
that play Russian roulette with our heads,
and the dreams that fit us like skin
and the lean watercolours of our sweat
on form-fitted sheets
when our separation troubles us
like waves trying to say the unsayable sea
to islands that already flow
like clear diamonds
that have mastered the yoga of tears.

Everything’s like that
when things turn from solid to real.
Even these words.
Even in the fireflies
no one ever sees
deep in the well of the word,
even in the human heart,
the star, the rock, the tree,
in the smallest eye of water
that ever looked upon a summer sky,
the unsayable sea
of the whole of this multiverse
that sheds worlds like cool petals
from the sea mouths of the mind,
the life of everything
effortlessly exists
to explore its own weather
like water, to hold
its own life like a jewel
up to the light
and see everyone crowned
in a palace of water
whenever you say your name
to the stars
just to let them know
that you were here
as if you meant it.




Meandering after the long thaw
through whatever landscape my mind
creates in its flowing, karmically disposed
or not, I unscroll like emotional water
playing with the quick otters of my thought
and no meridians or parallels on the loom
that snares the stars in birdnets,
and no horizons, no ports
of arrival and departure,
no hellish red of emergency exits
out of the darkened theatre,
I revel spontaneously in the freedom
of not having a clue about where I am going,
and go off in all directions at once
like the moon on the waves
like light through the homeless abode
of the only place I’ve ever stopped like space
to admire the road without beginning or end
that leads everywhere and nowhere at once.

Thought-years away from my last death
and the nebulous rain of the sidereal breath
I took once and held forever,
waiting to grace my stars with flowers
when words don’t interrupt the silence like pyramids
and the desert is free to speak for itself
to itself about the flower
that flows like an eye through its depths.

One eye, being; the other, non-being,
and a third that is beyond both,
I don’t know what it is I’m looking into,
but I keep rising and falling
like a wave of my own seeing
casting shadows on the water
like the voices of the things I write,
the new moon like a dark coin
under the tongue of everything in the light,
and the valley voices and the mountain voices
and what they say to each other in the night
when they draw near to a fire
no one else is awake to overhear.

I may be a bull in the labyrinth of my own fingerprints
unspooling my blood along the way
so that someone else can find their way out,
an evangelist on the moon with my head in my hands
telling the stars not to fret
if they’ve forgotten the last prophecy
because eventually even the lies will come true.

My wild ass compassion wants to break the jaws of circumstance
that eat so many like thorns of the moon in the desert
when the cactus blooms and the viper strikes like a flower,
but I don’t send my emotions out to judge events
like hysterical lipstick smeared across the mirror
or let my thoughts stir the mud in the puddle
to make things clear to the clouds.
One meaning for the whole of immeasurable life
is facepaint on a clown that’s seldom funny
or a spiritual ideologue whose only expression of grace
is a frown like a knot in the wind
that dances all around him, abusively free.
But the life of meaning doesn’t need
a seeker or a teacher flipping pages like a weathervane
for the stones and elixirs and grails of life,
as if you had to struggle to attain what you already are.
The star in your eye. The tree in your spine.
The bird in your voice. The moon in your heart.
The wind in your lungs. The light in your mind.
The sea in your blood. The earth in your flesh.
It’s not hard to know who you are
when you’re breathing alone in the darkness
that sheds you like the oceans of the moon
and the manes of the lunar lions come undone
like white peonies on the flowing of the nightstream.

However you look at it, your nose
is the hypotenuse of a right-angled threshold,
your own personal event horizon
that’s crossed with every breath you take
and your skin is a contract with the world
that begins at the tip of your nose
like an available dimension of forms and events,
experience after experience
that keeps on happening all the way back to you
like the singularity at the bottom of a black hole.

But what’s the point of looking for yourself
like a black sail on a night sea
or erecting a monolithic I like an oil derrick
or a misguided lighthouse
to drill for light
when you’re already swimming through it
and the world is arrayed clearly everywhere like eyes?

Everything you see; everything you can be
is the expression of everything else.
A star gives birth to your eyes and water
organizes you like a neighbourhood
and a genius of mud lays a scarlet cloak
of flesh and blood across your shoulders
strong enough to uphold the earth like a head
and space readies itself like a sensitive room
where you can stay up late to watch your eyelids bloom
like waterlilies coaxed out of hiding by the full moon.