Sunday, May 13, 2012



to the memory of Ted Plantos and Shaunt Basmajian

My voice refutes me like the skin of an old enemy
I once honoured with scars that glowed in the dark
and there is no end of the cemetery windows
I keep hurling myself through like a planet or a rock
or a bird with a vertical horizon
stubbing its neck on the blue lazuli
of the freak sky that put its foot down
on the throat of an impossible freedom
and solidified into a mage of glass and ice,
a corpse in front of a crystal ball,
a rebel satellite defying its own ripples
trying to evolve feathers of fire
to get the voices out of its head
and fly where it wants,
probing what it will like a humming-bird,
or a mosquito with more than a taste for blood,
or a junkie tying off to shoot a movie. Never
let it be said that I didn’t go looking for myself
under every avalanche, after every deluge
as if the omega in the word hope
were a vowel that survived, not just
the last word of another expiring number,
the expansive amplitude
of an indecipherable nothing,
a kamikaze zero with explosives in the fuselage
that never hit anything
on the desperate way down to victory.
Like any human being I took my stand on quicksand
and drowned in my own foundation-stones,
dreaming of mansions fixed in cement
I churned from blood and tears and lime
in the hourglass of a deserted heart.
Abject and unabsolved
of my ferocious delinquency, my thoughts now,
as the suppositions of the years regress,
are more of the provisional nature
of moonlit tents, Saharan waterlilies,
than the time-defying antics of the pyramids.
I don’t want to last anywhere for long
where the fires aren’t a legend of stars by the morning,
or the wind isn’t the biography
of an infamous ghost-writer
who could drink an ocean dry
with just a single fountain-pen.

And I know there are those
who gargle their poetry
as if it were just another mouthwash,
a distillation of mint, pink-tongued poets
plashing in municipal bird-baths,
their haikus cleaner than fingernails
and a deodorant for every passion
that dews their pores with sweat, and others,
years after the protest, dynastic radicals
laying down dry bouquets
of predictable placards
like cardboard lilies in a graveyard
to honour the established dead.

Knights of the thumb, let them pull down their visors
like thimbles, and raising the lance of a needle
dangerously crochet the tiny exploits
of their pillowcase crusades in the stray threads of blood
they unbound like nesting birds
from the stronger rope of a wounded bell
that, night after night, lay its head down
on the hard stone of the world to die.

There are those who are born
to know the net, and those who were meant for the sea;
and then there are others,
though they made no larger waves,
sounded no greater depths,
discovered no further horizons than these others,
because their muse saw
beyond the obvious blossom of the moon
to the frenzy of life in her tides,
her true reflection,
startle the heart in their passing
like a field consumed by thousands of black poppies
on an island that rose in the night
to carry their name like marble
or a boy on the back of a dolphin
leaping like a liberated apostrophe
into the more intimate renown of a favourite constellation.