HOWEVER GRATIFIED I AM
However gratified I am, always I’m left with a hunger
for something more than I’ve tasted before
as if my emptiness were not perfect yet and I were
ready to let everything ride on a single throw of my skull
up against the wall just to see what falls out of its own will,
or change my species once in a while. Over-reaching
perhaps, spiritual pleonaxia, something amiss with my heart
or maybe I just don’t want to be left behind, resigned
to an expanding universe I can’t keep up with.
Things are as they are. It’s clear. My mind’s a hawk
with the blinders off. I’ve thawed the diamond.
Enlightenment flows through my heart like electricity.
I’m shining. I don’t need a star to find my way home in the dark.
I can look upon the earth demonically.
I can see it through the eyes of the angel.
But the fireflies have taught me all they have to share.
And the lightning looks like a slacker compared
to the discipline I exact from myself just to
shock me out of the old growth forest in my heartwood
like a chainsaw, despite the nails I’ve hammered into it
like a crucifix without a saviour, an ark without a sail.
Though I’ve beamed like the full moon out over the harvest
the bounty of life never quite fills me all the way up to the brim.
I’m always a drop shy of my longing for completion,
as if there were always a crack in the cup I drank from.
And this agony has summoned me for years
from as far back as my beginningless beginnings
like a bell that swings both ways between sex and death
and though I answer it like the s.o.s. of a lapwing
by the time I get there, it’s irrevocably gone
as if it were just a ruse that were leading me on.
Deeper into life? Though what I make of it, like the stars,
I make alone? No trysts on the rainbow bridge at midnight?
No god to rejoice in these works of love within me?
No abyss to delight in the sheer absurdity of it?
A gleeman, a jester, a sacred clown, a morose fool,
a mystic, a scholar, a sailor that went down with the ship
just to stay true to the spirit of the storm within me,
an open doorway for the dead to come and go as they please,
an astronomical prodigy, an optician of mirrors and prisms,
a cowboy Zen master who rode into town on a seahorse,
a poet living on the edge of the word that thrives like weeds
around the graves in the cemeteries of the dead metaphors
I’m always digging up like a dog who buried a bone.
A gardener on the moon, an usher of history, a lover
who learned to sing like a martyr in the flames
of a gnostic heresy that gave up all its claims to knowledge,
a triviality that mentored the grand scheme of things
in the mystic specificity of not just the cosmos,
but the chaos under our noses as well, and all these avatars,
this pageant of characters I look back on now
like a children’s crusade, consumed like straw dogs
in the fires of their adoration, and the smoke they left
like a script on the air, unencompassed by any direction of prayer.
A lunar mirage behind a veil of heat, a delusion of water
I raise to the lips of the man on the moon to drink slowly
from his own hands, and the mouth of the man he sees in them.
I hang on a hook through my gut in the air and speak
in tongues of pain nemetic forecasts of the New Year
as a volunteer for the mystic excruciation of agony into bliss,
without insisting that it should be so, and each time
I say next year that’s going to be effortless, but it never is.
I’ve tried denying it to win its affirmation.
I’ve tried affirming it to have it issue a denial
and still it haunts my solitude like a mute siren I can’ t resist.
And don’t want to hear. And don’t want to listen to.
This undemanding imperative to live more deeply, more darkly
than I ever have before such that all my dragons
are diminished into fireflies at a distance by comparison
trying to burn their way out of the blackholes
I enter like a rite of passage I can’t do anything but trust
to the other side of why I risk so much to be here.
I can hear the wind howling through me like a wounded wolf
cauterizing its heart with stars. No mercy on the mountain,
I steel my blood cells with the carbon of old extinctions
and eat the pain, gnawing on a bone in my mouth.
Praying to my own echo for silence, cessation, release,
without taking a step backward over the edge of where I came from.
Let it come, let it come, let it come, encounter or collision the same,
exit or entrance, gate, wall, consummation or the upper limit
of it all just before it turns into a windfall of beginner’s luck
and I’m the chance it takes I’m not playing dice with the universe.
That there’s more to learn from a curse than a blessing.
That all this isn’t just an agonizing farce of humourless shadows,
non-spatial impersonalities slowly being humanized
by life masks of scar tissue as a way of facing up to things.
That a calling isn’t just a matter of putting up a plaque
to commemorate the garden life was first introduced to time in.
That humans weren’t just born to be sundials of the flesh.
That suffering is a dark enlightenment that’s mother of the stars
and compassion tastes of the tears of the tree it ripened on.
That ego isn’t the king of thorns in a world full of balloons.
Or if so. A rose is a mere rhetorical device of the blood
and there’s nothing beautiful about a puncture wound
to a mythically-inflated universe waiting for a heart transplant.
That art’s just the phoney climax of an unbearable impotence
that breeds cunning and guile as an antidote to spontaneity
and it’s an indictable offence to bear true witness
to the untenable relationship between the fiction of beauty
and the delirium of meaning that follows in its wake
like gulls behind a river barge of surgically removed body parts
being dumped out at sea like bad meat down a neighbour’s well.
Anomie. Ennui. Menses and memes of homogenous angst. Normalcy
of reflexive desecration. Solipsistic nihilism. Home-grown anarchy.
Gnats in the dusk. Frenzied star clusters. Saddles without horses
lined up seriatim along the fence like the pelvises of extinct animals
waiting to get asked to the dance by a water ballet of wheelchairs.
Schools of thought slyly amended by X-box.
Heavily armed poets buying bad ammunition for their books
and the clarity of a life that was never there to return to
going through violent paroxysms of withdrawal in de tox.
Locusts dying in the starfields they swarmed like civilization.
Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
I’m out here in the weeds, ploughing the moon back under.
Let the seeds fall where they will on any night of the calendar.
Intense heat. Unusual sprouts. I’m not a hunter, not a farmer.
No ploughshares beaten into swords, no swords into bells.
I don’t read meanings into what I sow like dragons’ teeth,
open gates to let things in and out or through.
I was an exile in progress the day before I was born
to be returned to my solitude like a waterclock
of siloes and urns on the moon scattering my ashes
among the stars that bloom to be consumed by their hunger,
as it is becoming increasingly clear to me I do
like a salmon leaping upstream against the flow of time,
to spoonfeed the abyss an elixir of remedial eyes.