Friday, May 18, 2012



Under the bridge
with the rest of the homeless
there is a large, rusty oildrum
that a raging orchid of fire blooms in:
my heart.

Anywhere is now my only address
and everywhere the world crosses my threshold.

I know my own spirit
as the eye of the water
knows the moon’s reflection;
a mystic firewalk of luminous petals,
a shattered urn, the shards
of an ancient mirror
that’s never featured anyone,
sharp enough to cut space.

Under the bridge
where the lost keychains
gather to enlighten the night
with stories of the things they could not open,
my spirit is a hot, black rose
on a witching wand
with the crescents of the moon for thorns.

And I have never understood the loss
the heavy bell of my pulse calls me to
like a sorrow that hauls me around tidally
in a dans macabre
or lily-laden funeral procession
to mourn the lethal beauty
of our passage and separation,
the extirpation of the mystery.

Under the bridge
my spirit is free
and no one can evict the wind,
and though the lies and the truths
eventually mingle in a confluence of waters,
and the dead are
as often the shadowmasters of the living,
as the living are lighthouses to them,
I am still robed like a trembling king
in the oilslicks of my delusions
when the guest of my awareness
mistakes the host for a servant,
and the shining seems blighted with sunspots
that struggle pointlessly like flies
on the helical gusts
of my flypaper mind
and the windowsills are thick with the dust
of unattainable aspirations.

So much of what I was taught was wrong.

Under the bridge
the dead gather like leaves at the gate
for hand-outs from the living
who have even less than they do
and the lovers don’t dare remember
what it was like not to crave and despise each other
like the next fix.

Here is where
the sages of the street,
lost and found in the tao of concrete,
linger like ants in empty brandy bottles
whose labels have slipped from them like skin,
slurring their prophecies
in a demotic of scars.

Should you come here,
bring your own totem pole of eras and masks,
the stele of your subjective imaginings
you erected in the circus of your heart
like the axis of an amputated clock
to witness the running of your passions
yoked to golden chariots,
the single pillar of the temple
that houses your most cherished afflictions.
This is where the curses come to die
a natural death
and the blessings
are the enhanced shadows of whatever’s left.

Here even the barnacles
that make toy villages
and give the tiny molars of their dead volcanoes root canals,
have tasted the dark ecstasy
of a moment that spewed them out of their fezs
like the lonely feather of an astounded bird escaping.

Under the bridge
no one knows what the skeletons are pointing at.
I want a compass with a clean needle.
Under the bridge
the ashes and shadows
of hearts that were once certain
argue over what they are the lees of,
what lights and fires
have cast them into perdition
as they swallow their liquor like hourglasses.

Under the bridge I am spared all these meanings
looking for life.
Here meaning itself is meaningless
and I want a life so immediate
I don’t need to grind a mortar out of the stars
to assign myself a place
in what cannot be located.

I don’t want to know who I am all the time
and if there’s any need of a temple,
sanctuary in the quicksand,
let it be the wind.
Love is a coil of flypaper
hung out in the hope
of catching a star;
better to be the wind
and learn to let things go
like seeds and birds and the leaves
of a tree that burnt its own holy book,
tired of flames and feathers.

Under the bridge
where everyone is the missing link
in a chain of tears,
I don’t need to master everything I see
or tighten my spinal cord like a guitar key
to jam with the blind music of the spheres.

I attune myself to space
and sing back-up in the darkness.

Under the bridge
all human knowledge, all art
is graffiti expressed in passing
to make the emptiness homey.
I’ve been weaving my blood like fire
on a loom of bone
into flying carpets and curtains;
I’ve been painting dreamscapes
on the lunar sails in a bottle of wine
and sending them off
on every wave of a delivered heart
with a warning to leave me alone.
I cry along with the rain
to adorn a palace of water
and follow every river
back to the fountain-mouth of a woman.
I plough the nightsilts in the mysterious deltas
of forbidden civilizations,
knowing the pyramids are dust
and that everyone’s afterlife is now.

Under the bridge
the lonely and luckless thresh the oracles
of the candles guttering out in their skulls,
believing love can win a war with a blade of grass
against the serpent-fire of black lightning
that doesn’t need the witness of a nightwatchman
or the fury of a junkyard dog
to keep an eye on things.

One flash of its lucid eclipse
and the work is done.
Under the bridge
you wake up like a rootless tree
that’s free to come and go
like any other illusion
mesmerized by its own inconceivability,
or you’re the moon
eating your own afterbirth in a sea of shadows.

Under the bridge
enlightenment walks the way of the lie
like a forged passport to liberation
to show the refugees of truth
a little known escape-route
out of the war they declared against themselves.

Under the bridge
I am aging.
I am sad.
I am alone;
and there’s a spiritual oilslick
trying to convince me it’s a nightrose
and the golden chariot my heart once was,
stinking of triumph,
is now a garbage truck
reeking of angels
and the accoutrements of an outmoded purity,
the chipped relics of a secret sanctity
that bled to death through its eyes
when the solid turned real
and the fools gathered in amazement
like footnotes
to scoff at the text of themselves.

Now I saturate my silence with compassion
and leave the weeping
to make their own creekbeds
through the precarious terrain
of their infantile schemes
to dazzle the sun
with the candle of their insignificance.
Most still stick out their thumbs
for a free ride to a wild hope and a hunch,
but under the bridge
all the true pilgrims are roadkill;
and anyone who still believes in anything
is merely donating themselves precariously
to a foodbank for cannibals.

Under the bridge
the last resort
is always the burning gate of something better
and the most ardent optimists
are those without a chance:
seven come eleven,
but their only constellation,

Every morning I lift the mirror to my lips
and drink my own reflection
like blood from my skull
to forget what I am becoming
as I age like an echo among the mountains
even as a greater translucency
slowly enraptures me
in the competence of an unexpected freedom.

One day
you say good-bye to your voice like a bird
that adorned the tree
throughout the summer of its bearing,
the last flame leaps from the fire
into the darkness like a dancer
that stole everything from you
without offense,
and from that denuding on
everything you’ve got to say
is the wind in leafless branches
trying to sweep the stars from the sky
that might have shown you a way back.




Starting to feel marginalized.
Second magnitude star
in the wrong constellation.
I make a lousy footnote, iota subscript
to the main body of the text. So does the sea
and the vast bedazzled panoply of the night sky,
or the moon in the drop of water
that hangs from the heron’s beak.

Splash, and the ripples
of the fish that made the eye
jump back through it, the second seeing
more placid than the first,
the expunged topography of the bed
excessively made to exorcise the imprimatur
of the amorous ghosts of the night before,
all the hills flattened out
like chalk on a blackboard,
and the pillows perfect sacks of equine oats.

If you’re fortunate enough to meet a lamp,
feed it, pour your oil out for the stars,
or if it’s the darkness you prefer
there are bells with black mouths to do the job,
candle-snuffer chimney sweeps who come
like the metal eyelids of overturned spoons
to smother the apricot dream of the flame.
Insecurities. Outcast doorways. The bleeding orphanage
where I grew up with the shadows of renegade castes
pleading for scraps off the plate of fatuous abundance,
the rotten shoelaces of the things that bind the heart,
the well-meaning lies that pour their gravy over the flies.

Shards of the ostrakon, the expurgation,
another invocation to exile
shatter like the petals of clay roses
lacquered and baked in blue-green honey,
enamel auroras, flowing irises, pooling into glacial fixity,
and cataract polar ice-caps blurring the star on the lens,
the sun on the eye of the blackberry, the moon
a widow under the veils of her dead seas
mirrored in the spider-tears of a torn necklace.

All I ever wanted was a moist summer star,
somewhere outside the gates of the Pleiades
where I could grow a few planets
that wouldn’t be trampled
by my neighbour’s horses
and I thought I found
that gypsy joy by the well of your eye,
morning glory binding the bucket to the winch
that spools and unspools like time, like blood,
like the coiled serpent fires of dragons in love,
and I was happy to graze alone on the stargrass
that burned in the twilight pastures
of your furthest fields,
a winged horse in the dusk born
from the blood of decapitated gorgons.
I could wait for the night
to grab the wind by the mane and ride.
I could wait like a boy with a telescope
for your sidereal transits,
feeling as I did the first time I saw Venus,
or the Andromeda galaxy,
or the tiny lilac eyelid of eloquent Mercury
glancing out from under
the roosting wing of the setting sun,
and I have been scarred enough in life
by the liquid knives of my own credulity
to know what I dared, to know
what a temptation a skinless man is
to the acidic looms of the nettles,
the hypodermic carpet-baggers
who swarm the rose like wasps and blackflies,
junkies, a healthy vein.

Or maybe you’re mad at me
for some oblique infraction,
some chromatic aberration on the rim of the mirror,
rainbow lipstick on the lips of the chalice,
some line of a poem, the track
of an animal in the snow
you couldn’t recognize among
the hushed fauna of your sacred groves,
a species in exile with unknown weapons,
because new is now and forever evil
and I’ve been ashes enough
at the foot of charred stakes
to know this bed of nails I sleep on proves it.
Or maybe you’re bait
in the traplines of a legless gesture,
or one of the unsalted crackers of common sense
crushed like a blizzard
over the soup kitchens of circumstance,
just not enough hours in the day
to spare the feast of an eyelash,
and I’m the dead battery
exposed to the cold
like a firstborn daughter,
electrochemical quicksand,
a black Kaaba of plastic and tar
no longer the direction
of your eastern prayers
when you were hoping
for a meteoritic foundation stone?

My deficits are as sulphurous
as the light of flaring matches is
to the exalted constellation
of the amorous fireflies;
my shadows are as open as my hands
and even my eclipses
have nothing to hide from the blaze
of the tiger in the snow
thawing in its own fire
to dispose of its claws and fangs
like flames and lilies
that touch without tearing
the midnight skin of your water.

Or maybe I’m deranged
by my own intensities
to feel like a cold draft shut out
by the silence of closing doors
that would rather leave this gust of leaves
playing on your stairs unsaid.

Sensitivity make you sensitive,
the tuning forks, the tender horns of the snail,
lightning rods cauterized
by the cattle prods of slaughter-house storms,
weathervanes that pivot
at the breathing of butterflies,
and eyes at the end of your fingers
that can play their revelations
up and down the wharves
and keyboards of mystic blue
that woad the nippled fez
on the breast of a warrior tattoo;

and there are shadows
that sing like the ancient scripts
beneath the voice of the bees
in the morning locust trees
and valleys that turn
their ears like begging bowls
to the stone tongues of the mountains
for the widening smiles
of tremulous faults,
avalanche warnings everywhere
like troubled birds
and even the ants recalling
their scouts to rock proof shelters.

I just want to hear from you
like the curtains of an old house
that misses your ghost at the window,
like a space probe well beyond
the black-ice shades of gibbering Pluto,
that keeps on faithfully
broadcasting these love-songs
from the edge of an expanding heart
accelerating into the engulfing mouth of the void
like the universe you detonated with a single spark
from the cricket-sticks
of a fire-wired atom exploding into bliss.
I don’t want to be this motley of shadows
bleeding in the deer park
like grapes and razors,
wondering whether those
are cherry-blossoms or eyelids
banked in the gasoline gutters
of acidic snake-showers,
this pygmy circus in the oversized
straitjackets of its carnival tents.

And I tell myself everything,
a lexicographer of reasons
to explain the absence
of your fingerprints on the wind,
the fist of your light
in the taste of the apples,
why the flowers smell like dirty laundry,
and there is a funeral stench to the stale fires
embering in their creosote like black wasps
snarling like angry drunks in harvest orchards.

I draft the curse of twenty religions a day
and rearrange the hierarchies
of the demons and the angels
to dance like the Milky Way
on the head of a pin
without anyone’s hooves
stepping on anyone’s wings,
to raise you like a lifeboat
from the bottom of my cloven heart.

And I don’t know how many nunneries
I’ve dedicated to the Coptic stars
of Mary Magdalene,
how many brotherhoods of bone
I’ve donated my igneous marrow to,
hoping to exculpate the sinner from the sin
of the abysmal kiss
of your baffling silence,
how many trivialities
I’ve followed home to your old address
listening for the opening breach
of a golden bolt
to answer the mind-seizing
koan of sartorial doorbells
emptier than the water sills that preface
these bent event horizons
of a mute unhappening
like lips that kiss the air
to supplement this crash diet
that is already eating the eyes out
of the dragon vines of space,
and dipping these famished feathers I
n the inkwells of my mouth
to divert a panicked lover
from the seabed of my face,
the burnt bough of the apple tree
still holding out for birds
and in the dry throats of the flowers,
the rumours of rain that silver
the lifelines of your words.