Tuesday, May 22, 2012



for Rebekah Genevieve Dolorese Garland

Just before the air went radioactive again, it turned into glass, hot, viscous tears in a blast furnace. And you were in it, over your head in amber. Drysophila. Fruit fly. Speedy genes. Be fruitful and multiply. You were. I know because I’ve been there. The tiniest grain of pollen, under thousands of years of an ice-age that wasn’t waiting for spring as you were. What persistence! What a way to hang onto a dream as it turned to an old religion! Paragon of hope. But all the bees were out of date. Still no reason to give up. There’s always a lab somewhere trying to tell what the Druidic sacrifices ate before they were garotted like criminals in the name of a water sylph. Terrified honey and trembling corn, afraid they were dying in the name of nothing. No one to nourish anymore. Gone. Just like that. Can you believe it? A lover for all seasons. And after all those scenic calendars you saved like Stonehenge to understand his moodswings, his deaths and germinations? What a rip. Sometimes the womb dies before the baby’s born. That happens, too, when you take a gamma ray hourglass for a lover and raise your own assassin as if the Koran wasn’t meant to be delivered to you by the angel of light making a house-call in the middle of the night from seventh heaven. And it was real. I don’t doubt that. Cogito ergo sum. Only a fool who’d lost his Cartesian co-ordinates in a game of dice with God would base his life upon a lottery of thought. Go way, way, way beyond that until you run out of directions to point anyone in, and there’s nothing to win or lose, if you really want to see how o.k. everything is as it is, even when it severs your spinal cord like a valley through a mountain. I say that. But it isn’t the same as giving a sunbeam the finger like a positivist with no gear for reverse.

Of course, love. Of course, peace. But most people go looking for happiness as a placebo for inspiration and after a long search, come home to their own shoes, empty-handed and unlucky in love, only to find a misfit in their bed that’s stranger than they are. What to do with a bit of dirt? Turn it in the light like a jewel until your eyes have pearled it into a moonrise you can believe in for awhile. Plant a mountainside of sapling crutches in a clear cut old growth forest, and watch them leaf into trees but leave the fruit where it lies like pine-cones waiting for fire to open their eyes. Delusion runs with the in-crowd, but enlightenment’s a loner. Better to be an arsonist in a volunteer fire-brigade, than a terrorist trying to fuse a bomb to a waterclock that never goes off on time, or worse, a fraud. A Martin Mars water-bomber losing altitude without a parachute. When the whole is frayed like a shoelace too weak to hang itself, what’s that, but the strong rope of an ocean unwound into a million rivers, each a way of life trying not to embarrass their own fanaticism about the right way for a weathervane to flow like a rudder through it? Everybody makes the sea these days like a hybrid mutant of the rivers of Eden, Styx, Lethe, Phlegathon, and the Via Cloaca of the Romans. Acid rain in their tears and fire-retardants in their blood. Wildflowers with rusty flames like Indian paintbrush or hawkweed.

Pain. O most unavoidable queen of eclipses, just because it’s dark, doesn’t mean you need corrective lenses. Had an old rugby coach once who looked at my broken nose and said it doesn’t count until it hurts. It hurt a lot. We won the game. Funny how childhood elaborates itself into cosmic fractals out of homely thorns of misguided advice repeated over and over and over again when you don’t even know what to say to yourself when you score in your own end zone by accident. In the crusade between yourself and the world that keeps moving the goalposts like a running gazelle, the tines of a wishbone that couldn’t tell the difference, a tuning fork on the same wavelength as a snake, struggle like a warrior that knows she’s foredoomed to lose, just for the pure hell of it, no truce, no quarter, no elegy. No retreat from the gates of heat. I can tell by the way you grieve, you’ve got it in you, to love someone better than they deserve, as if you were doing God a favour or something to make her accept your alibi in lieu of a vow.

Alone. Cherish your solitude like the rarity of an albino eclipse. Be a new moon. You’re dark enough for stars, though that doesn’t mean you have to put your eyes out to see beyond the glaring midways of You Tube, what shining is without a sales pitch. Or start pleading with a thief to get him to buy it. Or listen to those self-appointed fools who say by acclamation, be yourself, as if you’d forgotten what caste system you were from. Who was the priest. Who was the sudra. And who among waterlilies in the frog pond of the court was the princess everybody wanted to dance with the most under the chandeliers of the Pleiades. Just because you’ve turned to stone, doesn’t mean you’re Algol, the Medusa’ head in the hand of Perseus who hid behind his own reflection after he kicked stars in her eyes like the cinders of black dwarfs he conned the last bit of light out of without even being a sacred clown. If you ever let anyone put a saddle on your heart as if it were a white-winged horse that sprang from the blood of Medusa, just remember, sooner or later they’re going to think it’s o.k. to use spurs on your eyes like a starmap trying to get them to glow in the dark.

Rejection. Exclusion. That dirty syringe that hooks your lifelines to the stars that gave you a myth of origin you could fly like a kite in a hurricane. And it was a better story by the time you got to the end than it promised to be in the beginning. Always is. What does the green apple have to teach the red? What does the house-dog have to teach the tigress about being dangerous? And it’s good you can feel the lack of a body in your bed like the absence of a habitable planet in intimate detail, the seal of a smile, those eyes that used to watch you move through the room as if it were flipping the pages of a magazine they were thinking of subscribing to. Half collector’s first edition comic book, half Encyclopedia Britannica gone digital. And your psyche like a starchart and your body like a small candle at a black mass where you’d just sacrificed everything for the dove under the eaves of your heart you spared the knife and asked forgiveness of the gods for keeping it to yourself like a no name loveletter that began: To Whom It May Concern. Who’s strewing the rose-petals? Who’s strewing the thorns?

O if always and only we could stay at the beginning of our hormones and not project an ending on them because we were expecting one. If only our epic meteoritic descents didn’t turn into the kissing stones of a desert religion. If we didn’t circumambulate the mystery like telescopes and shepherd moons. If we could be incinerated upon re-entry if we were to get too close to a dominant species that ruled our hearts like thermophilic bacteria seven kilometers down in a diamond mine. If we could shine and shine through everything like fireflies who always know where they are because they make up their own constellations on the go, and time and space renewed their virginity like a mirror no one’s ever looked into. And the bird that built in the willows behind their veils like Isis trying on trees for concealment, patching a heart together out of spiderwebs like hummingbirds, didn’t always end up holding it out like the begging bowl of a street-corner troubadour with the voice of a pleading muse.

O if, o if, o if, so much didn’t depend upon nothing. How you ploughed your eyebrows. Bucolated the comets of hairy stars into more stylish wavelengths . Dipilated the folding legs of telescopic tripods. Three days rain in a row. The scarlet letter of your oleaginous lipstick that put traffic lights and fire hydrants to shame, falling like a spent cartridge in front of the mirror in the green room with stagefright you might use it on yourself. And then the abyss. Yes. The abyss. Too empty even for space to get a foothold. Nowhere to plant a flag. No one to claim it in the name of and you the pauper princess thinking of stepping down from the throne. And the mirrors pick on you for things they can’t reflect, and there isn’t a window in the house that’s going to stand up for you and change their point of view. And it’s beyond me what we fear in here because there’s no sign anywhere that says, No Trespassing. Trespassers will be shot. Because the abyss is merciless. No end of it anywhere. Crueller than a black hole eating a universe. Yet everything intense. Amplified a thousandfold by the thunder of distant zeroes trampling your heart to death like a stampede of white buffalo mothers running from the endangered species list. Look through this window with eyes of stone and the delinquent in you can break it. Throw the moon through it. And isn’t it uncanny how the least of details in this space, the jewels that got swept up in the corner of your eye like dream crumbs you’d pick up when you found the dust pan, suddenly leap out at you like black lightning that rips you like heartwood from the roots up, a whole cosmology in the smell of a t-shirt left behind like a flag of surrender you didn’t ask for. I first saw it like lipstick on a piece of kleenex in the kitchen beside a shaving mirror, after my Spanish-Apache lover left me holding the medicine bag of what was left of my life for the moment, like a sac full of rattlesnakes sprouting eyes in an Irish potato famine. Something so small, so trivial, so untoward, like an arrow that broke off in my heart and me trying to look for all the reasons I could possibly deserve it, right down to the kind of flightfeathers she used and the birds she took them from, and me thinking maybe I shouldn’t have done that ghost dance on the reservation when the agent said all I was allowed to listen to was rhythm and blues. Or in case of an emergency, the Day Glo Abortions. Ain’t easy being a switchblade samurai in the world with the romantic sensibilities of West Side Story. Me? I became the warrior minstrel of the forlorn hope and blooded my blade on roses whose thorns knew what I was up to like a prayerwheel of spurs. And I introduced Pacific cowboy Zen like a seahorse to the samurai to take the edge off the soft weapons of the Japanese plum blossoms falling all around me in self defence. And they haven’t hurt me since.

And I know it’s not easy being a lighthouse on the moon beside a graveyard of shipwrecks that never learned how to listen on your wavelength about the red shift of farewell. So I send you one of my favourite star maps with cigarette holes burned in it that will let you see clearly all the way to the other side of the effervescent multiverse that’s blowing thornproof bubbles into the abyss like eyes that don’t need a house to know what they’re the sign of when there’s lightyears in your tears. And I send you a white heal-all for a nurse, in case you get seasick in this moonboat of a poem, and o yes, a spliff with the tendrils of a hookah octopus when things begin to get nebular enough to shine like the chandelier of the Pleiades when you go dancing with your eyes.




Someone to rejoice in. Foolish thought.
Epiphanous absurdity. My interminable longing
for a treasure, a happiness, a companion
I’m not even sure I deserve, is agitating
oceans of emotion again,
and wants to run before the wind,
wants to raise up apple blossoms
like sails with the skull and crossbones on them
and skirt the rocky coasts of extinct volcanoes
that once served as lighthouses in the distance
when I was island-hopping
like an infidel among the angel fleets.

The dragon’s howl in the dead skull.
Moments when my heart shrieks with life
like a red-tailed hawk falling upon a snake.
I am a ravenous man who wants to eat the light.
The night flows into my bloodstream
like an atlas of arteries.
As time has passed, the pain in me
has shifted wavelengths from the ultra violet
to the infra-red of a less lethal frequency.
I’m at the wide-eyed end of the hourglass,
but I can still bare my fangs
like the moon when I need to.
I can still come down off the mountain
like a hashashim and run the shadow of my knife
like an eclipse across the dreamscape of anyone
who takes too much for granted in their sleep.

So why is it after refueling and buying
a well-upholstered cheesey sandwhich in plastic skin
at the all night Kingston Esso just before you cross the 401
at one thirty in the morning, and begin to enter
the long, dark way home up the old Perth road to Westport,
did I begin to miss you
as if you had sat beside me my whole life?
And I pondered your absence like a hitch hiker
I had just picked up for the first time
and the impact of the encounter
left an indelible impression on my emptiness
as if someone had written something
so eloquent and intriguing as a ribbon of blood
letting its hair down in the water
I couldn’t help but feel like a flying carpet
that was unravelling mile by mile of asphalt
like a glacier that couldn’t wait to get back to you,
thawing time into rivers to speed things up?

And the night sang as I hadn’t heard it in a while.
And the stars flew in through the window like fireflies.
And I rode the road like a rat snake past Devil’s Lake
where we agreed to paint en plain air
when the waterlilies were in bloom
like huge starmaps laid upon the water.
Are you the tuning fork that tames the lightning?
Are you the power of silence that shames the word?
Are you the thread of blood on the sword that blesses it?

And I wanted to kiss you good night.
I wanted to embrace you like a nebula
of blue-hearted hydrogen and the dust of dead stars
just to see if I could make you shine or not,
but I thought it was too early in the year,
too premature for the Pleiades to break into light
and I might scare you with the intensity
of what was ingathering out of
the immensities of the last million light-years
of crossing these homeless thresholds
without a star to go by, alone and unconvinced
I hadn’t missed the turn several lifetimes back.

Now I sit upright in my bones at my desk
like dice with their eyes fully opened like blackholes
wondering if I should chide my skeleton for cowardice
or alea iacta, risked my luck, and crossed the Rubicon
like an event horizon that’s never known a compass or a guide.
And I’m looking under every leaf and stone
and heart I’ve ever worn upon my sleeve
like a fresh strawberry in a field of burning scarecrows
that started out as potential messiahs
but ended up being immolated as faithful heretics
true to the fire that consumed them from within.
And you, their felix culpa, their happy sin.
The one forbidden thing you must risk your life for to live.

I’m dogpaddling in space and time like a shipwreck.
I’m holding my breath like a lungful of stars
trying to stay afloat long enough
not to see my life flash before my eyes
like a lantern whose last remaining firefly’s gone out
like the solar flare of an s.o.s. that bloomed to no effect,
until your lifeboat returns like the moon for survivors.

A swallow again lost in a hurricane of volcanic ashes?
A simian in a cage with a piece of coloured glass
that transfixes it with vulnerable awe and wonder?
The aura of a woman who doesn’t know yet
quite how beautiful she is, lingering in the air
like the smell of wild roses when you’re out
painting alone in the fields of abandoned farms
and you can feel the uncanny chill of another person
walk right through you like the moon through a summer window.

And o to worry about so many little things again
the world pivots on moment by moment
as if it were a privilege and an honour to cherish them
like signs of love in a Druidic tree alphabet
that whispered coniferous prophecies to the moon
but held a few sacred syllables back under its tongue
that were just meant for one alone to hear
like a secret message between a butterfly and a star.
Or this woman who’s just summoned me
like a nightbird to the moonrise of her smile
as if I’d never flown to the end of my longing before
without finding a noose to hang myself with.

But as I do, I do again with less fear than before
and though the shadows in the valley of death
are just as intense, the warmth of a sprightly optimism
that keeps this firefly of insight alive in my heart
to want to see this all the way through
as if it were a rite of passage
that proved the comets true
or the rush of a wild northern river
with a rudder and a sail and a hull
going over a waterfall like the Milky Way,
or a moonboat panning for gold in the mountains.

The rustic pauper prince of Perth, I hadn’t
realized what an undernourished bush wolf I had become
after all these years of living in the wilderness
until I understood someone had baited the trapline
with kindness I had forgotten the taste of in my exile.
And though I don’t travel with a begging bowl,
by god, I’ll hold my skull out to her next time
if I have to, just to taste a sheaf of light
from that harvest again, as if the dark side of the moon
had just broken its long vow of silence and darkness
and she were lingering in space like the aura
of an atmosphere I had lived too long without.

As if a dakini, an elixir of light, had appeared
like the planet Venus in the dusk again
and I could feel an updraft of stars
wheeling under my wings
like a winding stairwell of serpent fire
threading through all nine open chakras
and eleven dimensions of a sky wide third eye
in an easy rapture of something unearthly, ascending
to sterling altitudes of blissful vertigo
that whirl me in a wind of fire at the crossroads
of everywhere and here
like the ashes of a mad Sufi
ghost dancing on his funeral pyre for rain
as the first few drops wash his fate from his forehead
like the sheet music of an old song
perched like aging birds on a downed powerline
returning its energy like lightning to the earth
she walks upon in the flowing raiment of fireflies
and the hydrogen negligees of the blue star clusters
embroidered with the harvest gold of the sun
seasoning the grain with the bright vacancy
and dark abundance of the light
still warm in the lunar locket of her heart
as if she’d just put a loaf of bread
out on the windowsill to cool for a moment or two.
And how can I, this famine in an hourglass
beside this silo of the plenum void full of manna
resist whatever befalls me in this desert of stars
whether it be vipers or wheat fields
along the way to the unpromised land of milk and honey,
barefoot on thorns, or walking on soft petals
like the dunes and waves of the ocean in the rose?

Flammable poet, sacred clown of the holy mirage,
mad monk alone in your hermitage, dragon seed
of island pirates wearing the night like an eye-patch
to navigate the stars like a canning jar of fireflies
burning on the inside of their eyelids like starmaps
to the cherished singularities I buried
at the bottom of the fathomless blackholes
firing up the galaxies all over again like the wellsprings
of a muse renewing her wings like starfish and birds
in the fountainmouth of the mountain at a loss for words.
Or as the poet said, what’s madness
but nobility of soul at odds with circumstance?

And did you not say, I heard you as if my life
depended on it, you were attracted to crazy people,
and did I not ask, if crazy wisdom were close enough,
and you replied, yes, and my heart freefell
a thousand feet without a parachute
when space bent like a longbow into flight.
And I shuddered like a witching wand in ecstasy
over the watershed that swelled under me
when I divined what that could mean to a sailor
lost at sea on the moon as far from shore
as any lunatic has ever been out of his asylum
his heart his mind his body soul and spirit
without dying like a message for the sake of the medium
it was delivered in like longing in the song of a nightbird.
Love in the sound of a word.




Seeds of fire in a nightsky root like flowers
in the ashes of my eyes I scattered on the wind
like the dust of stars I followed even into oblivion
to remain faithful to the life of the light
whatever transformations within me grew
into the starless darkness of the unknown heart
I’ve carried in my chest for years like the empty shrine
of a dead lantern to the last firefly to go out.

And this is a seeing without the eyes of the stranger
I no longer recognize as who I thought I was
when I could read the constellations like the Linear B
of the lost civilization that was elaborated out of me
to perish in the mountainous silence of what was abandoned
when I burned my starmaps and entered chaos
like the blackhole of the singularity
that could rejuvenate me out of nothing like a grail
I was seeking at the bottom of the deepest grave
I ever descended into, a spider at the end of its silk,
or a caterpillar like the distant rumour of a butterfly
on a tranformational pilgrimage to an unknown shrine
that crawled with it all the way back to the beginning
of the radical innocence of an radiant world,
before time overran it with arrivals and departures
as if it never meant anything in the first place
to aspire to the light in the hope of a deeper intimacy with life.

And in this darkness, there is no letting go,
or hanging on to what cannot be grasped by understanding
until you realize that understanding only ever finds itself
and the vastness of what’s expanding before it
into the unknown, is not a journey with a destination
or a threshold that can be crossed into illumination
like a voice meditating in the silence of its mother-tongue.
I was looking for the light by the light
I was given to go by when the wind blew it out
like a candle I no longer needed
to make my way deeper into this homeless darkness
that does not cast a shadow of time on enlightened extinction.

How can you divine what isn’t missing within yourself?
The seeker dies by the side of the road
like a cry for help in the dangerous distance
pleading to be rescued by its own echo, and it comes
but not in a language of its own, not
as the event of anything that could have been anticipated,
not as something you can bring back with you
like the taste of water to the lips of a delirious mirage
to prove there’s a reality beyond delusion
where everyone drinks from the same well
the muses of wisdom summon them to without a mouth.

As unsentimental as an overnight frost on the garden,
the larkspur rimed by billions of cold stars,
as if my seeing condensed out of the air
and every insight were a sign of farewell to the mystery
that urged me to risk everything like a tribute
to the divinity of nothing that had seized upon my heart
like a sacred clown faithful to the folly of experience.
Like the footprints of space and time that stretched behind him
for lightyears like the forced smile and phony tear
of the painted lifemask that convinced him he was not dead
to the ordeals of the journey he was leading nowhere
but to where he was every moment of the way
trusting in the crazy wisdom of the laughter
that regaled him every step of the way
like the cornerstone of the absurdity
that kept looking for new hills of prophetic skulls
to roll over like dice in a bone-box.
To wander like a rogue planet on an aberrant wavelength
of dark matter that doesn’t express itself like moonlight
talking to itself like the open-mouthed seed syllables
of the waterlilies at night on the Fall river
writing love poems back to the stars that inspired them.

You want to overhear what the universe
is whispering to itself like a madman in his sleep
in the unbreachable silence of a fathomless dream
of random atoms engendering the forms of awareness
like a grammar of chaos out of its own unattainability
trying to make some sense of what it’s saying,
an asylum of paradigms that undermines it own existence
in the arraying of a conditioned universe?
You have to learn to learn to hear it in a language
no one has ever spoken before you, as if
you’d never heard your own voice before
from somewhere deep within you saying
let it be as the stars broke into light
like the distant echo of an unknown wonder
that perceives the source of its own extinction
in the birth of everything, in the slightest conception
of the inconceivable rooting in its own ashes on the wind.

We all listen to the eloquence of things we don’t understand
like a secret we’re forbidden to tell anyone,
that keeps giving us away death after death,
birth after birth to our imperceptible selves.
Imagination seeds the mind of our uninhibited potential
to flower into worlds where the fruit comes before the blossom
as the harvest precedes the seed, or the darkness
wakes the nightbird up to its longing for love and light
and all our deaths are already achieved behind us
long before anyone was born to suffer them.
And yet we suffer them like a truce with the absurdity of the act
that establishes peace like a third-eye
in the middle of a hurricane that gives meaning
to the dark abundance of our extinction gathering into light
by sacrificing our emptiness like gods to our own creations
over and over and over again, as we surrender to ourselves
like candles returning themselves like fire
to the the light that inspired them
like water to the river it was taken from.

The distance of the journey of life is a wingspan
that cannot be estimated in shadows.
And though you master all the meanings in the world
and learn to love their subtleties like the taste
of mystic wine, or enlightened tea,
you’re still the guest that’s never met its host face to face
because everything you say is always behind you
like the light of a star whose immediate life
is always ahead of it hidden in the darkness like a jewel
that has yet to know the light of a direct encounter.
If you want to see deeply into the shining
you have to grow your own eyes to accommodate
the perennial insight into the restive vision at hand.
And you must learn to live without knowing
what it is you’ve come to understand
about the ashes of the dragons in the afterlives of the stars.

Don’t let the scars intimidate the innocence of your wounds
as if you could never be hurt again by what
you cherished the most in your search to find yourself
in the absence of anything you could be attached to.
Look at the fireflies emerging from the valley fog
of a passing storm like a shapeshifting constellation
dancing at its own wake like a blissed-out drunk at a funeral.
You can taste the whole history of life
like a wandering myth of origin in every sip of water
flavoured with the reflection of things that changed along the way.
Don’t mourn the transformations that enabled you to stay awhile
like snow on the mountaintops, dew on the tongues
of the new leaves of the apple-tree that emerge
like the sacred syllables of lovepoems
to the unknown windfalls of the mystery they facilitate
out of the urgency of their own becoming.

Here, where we speak for awhile, in the diction of things
arranged in the mystic grammars and paradigms
of our own likeness reflected like starmaps
to the shining that ripened our eyes from within
as if the whole world were turned inside out
and you had to descend into yourself to see the stars
like an arrangement of chaos expressed in metaphors,
the liars speak clearly in the language of other men’s mouths
that can be easily understood, as the tongue-tied sages
blunder like an ineffable silence into the deepening mystery
of the creative eloquence of the unsayable things
that life speaks through them like the facts of a dream
that trues their wisdom to the disparate harmonies
of the illuminated chaos deep within the heart of life
that keeps contradicting itself like a pulse among the dead.