Wednesday, June 6, 2012



I bring you nothing like a featherless bird
that’s fallen from a nest, a sailor that knows
how he’s failed the wind all by himself
like a black sail off the coast of his hopeless gates.
But the doves in an avalanche of regrets
couldn’t reach that far into an advanced salvation
well past the last unmanned constellation of the cross.

I do not bring you my martyrdom like a relic of coal
from a primeval eclipse of occult flowers
for you to weep over like diamonds on a sunny day.
I do not ask you to kiss the curse of my birthmark
nor average out what’s crucial about the way
I approach life like a dragon in its sleep
as if I wanted to whisper something new in its ear.
I don’t need a sunspot to play dice with the sun.
Nor the rafter of a bird in flight to hold my tent up.

I’m not looking for someone to lie down nude
like a threshold to my solitude in candle light
so I can define the perimeters of my mindscape
with the boundary stones of sacred meteors
that found whole new religions just to find out
how far from home they’ve fallen from their cornerstones.
My skull and crossbones can’t be wracked up
on an abacus of one-eyed grocery clerks called to account
for the way they nibble like a lottery
on the tender green shoots of hope rooted
in an astronomical chance against making a quick recovery.

Look at me, little sister, look at the scars, look
at the skeletons I’ve welded back together
like bicycle frames in a back room repair shop.
Look at the lost chains of the orbits that wouldn’t gear down
to roll their planets over the hill, and the hot spears
of the stars that extinguished the radiance of their rage
on my flesh like killer bees. There’s no starmap
I’ve tattooed on my heart that’s going to guide you
to Treasure Island. I’m the sky burial of a crystal skull
born without a ghost to keep up my grave
out of affection for all the good times we’ve had.
The mines of my eyes are empty of jewels.
But if I were to encounter you shining
like the high priestess of the silver star
it would be as a sword I return in tribute
to the water sylphs that enchant the holy pools
that have washed my face off more than once
like the wounded reflection of a lunar deathmask
not a plough that ruts the moon for seeding.

I bleed like stained glass when I lose my faith in nothing.
And you can smell sacrilege on my breath
when the wolves are wiser than the sheep they shepherd
and the wind isn’t quoting chapter and verse
to the birds that circle the mountain like fossils of stars.
I snarl and snap at the hands of the children
they send to tame me, gnaw through the throats
of snake-necked swans that glide too close to shore
like a small town flotilla in a lilac parade for heritage tourists.
I’m a reptile with my third eye open
to the cold bloodedness of life witching in the grass
with the impersonality of an agitated shard of glass
and a bird’s eye view of what won’t get off the ground.
I’m an igneous anvil of planets. My pulse, the windfall
of a heavy bombardment of toxic oxygen
adding another hallucinogen to the atmosphere.

I live in swamps and low places like a rat snake
in a nunnery of waterlilies with perfect penmanship
though I seldom write letters home to the ones I love.
I invite the silence to remain dangerous and alone.
It’s not a career where the talking’s all done for you.
It’s a calling, and you have to listen hard
for what you cannot hear. What you cannot
see with the eyes. Calibrate with the mind.
Imprint on the heart when it’s at its most vulnerable.
Opiated affections and their buzzed out imitations
as passionate as thermostats at room temperature
might be okay for goldfish in a shark bowl
but I want you fed to me viviparously alive.




City rose, you don’t bloom like the other flowers
the sun coaxes into unclenching their fists, you unfold
like an ocean at night lingering in your dark depths
behind a veil of fish hooks swaying
with the bullwhips of the kelp to the pulse of your tides.
How suburbanly garish you look all trashed out
like the black farce of a substitute for love.
A poet and a prostitute. Doesn’t get much more skinless
than that. We’re both walking through the world naked
in a blizzard of thorns blunting themselves
against our ice-age hearts in an interglacial warming period.

Dying on the instalment plan to make a living,
there’s a glint in your eyes like moonlight on a knife,
and you’re armed to the teeth with fingertips and lips
and hourglass hips and here you can have my sword
even before I surrender as you know you can
when you walk into my life like an eclipse of the moon
with mascara running down your cheeks
and ask me if I still love you as I ever did
and I say, lady, you’re an innate releasing mechanism for me.
I sublimate you into poetry like dry ice.
I may be the bullet. But you’re the trigger.
And what’s a voice without a tongue but a gutted gun?
How could I ever use you on myself when the day comes
if you weren’t here with me in this wilderness
dancing for my head like a mirage in the skull
of a vast abyss that’s gone on dreaming all this
like a boy with a book under the covers way past lights out?

You give me that funny look like I’m half mad
or I might be making light of you, but your spinal cord
resonates like a guitar strung with powerlines
on the same wavelength as the crystal in your dreamcatcher
and I know your listening for disturbances in your web.
And I remember when two roads diverged in a yellow wood
like a wishbone the separated the song from the bird
and that night you came pleading to me out of the rain
to let you into my homelessness, and I took you in
like a wet kitten with claws and needle sharp teeth
that never knew when to let go of my heart
like a piece of raw meat you were always snarling over.

And you weren’t exactly the noble enemy
I always hoped would eat it, more a foodbank as I recall,
but you can’t always choose the heroic sacrifice
you give yourself up to, and I gave it up to you,
saying to myself you don’t always need to believe
in the witchdoctor to take advantage of the medicine,
and I’m always moved when your sunflower
turns toward me like a full-faced friend into the shining
and I’m the one who feels I’ve been following you
like a starmap to the dark matter shaping the universe.

But tonight the rose is bruised. You’re crying
like a broken window pane over the death of the wind.
Your eyes are funeral bells and your body language
is indecipherable, and I don’t know what’s hurt you so deeply,
and it’s only worse when I guess, but there’s
a dragon in the heart of the firefly I’m trying to be
that’s got a scorched earth policy toward anyone
who tries to lay their hands on you for any reason
other than lust. And though I’m an intimate of the oracle,
I never ask. You franchise your body like a fast food business
with crooked books, but I’m not your spiritual accountant
just because I died before you did and I don’t
think of the unknown as something impenetrably mysterious.
You, for example, whenever you discover
the young woman in you that isn’t looking
for vengeance upon herself for lying about
the things she wanted to be to her dolls.
Voodoo dolls or not. With marbles or buttons for eyes.

And you abuse her like a country mouse for reminding you
how you used to live off the crumbs of everybody else’s dreams
but now you’re a cultivated rose of bling and tinfoil
that wins all the garden shows they weed in Eden
like the bad girls from the good, but, off-stage
when there are no lights shining on you, and the rose
wipes her lipstick off like blood on her sleeve,
I’ve seen you mesmerized like a stone bird on a fountain
staring into the eyes of a snake pit of venomous regrets
for the way you abuse your innocence as if
it were subject to experience and time, all used up,
too much scar tissue over the wound that kept its mouth shut
like dawn over the ashes of a dollhouse you burned to the ground.

Did you ever go back in for your dolls?
It’s not too late, you know. It’s never too late
to stop treating yourself like a straw dog at a black mass.
It’s not a religious ritual. It’s just a bad habit of misperception.
And however much sulphur dioxide there is in the acid rain
of your tears, the rain still doesn’t fall in pentangles
and the stars and the wildflowers in the abandoned fields
still don’t attend opening night rehearsals
to improve their appearance on the catwalk of the zodiac.
They’re still walking the same old fence they always were
like gold medallists on a balance beam at the Olympics.
And I can see that the moon, as it does in you,
still dies inside them like a swan at a ballet except
you come to the climax of the dance dressed in Satanic black.
And that’s just the scarlet letter of a dead alphabet
you’ve carved into your forehead with a fingernail,
not the Rosetta stone that’s going to open you up to yourself
like Egypt with the eyes of a mood ring. O yes,
I know how many thresholds you’ve crossed,
how many taboos and cracks in the desolate sidewalks
you’ve stepped on to break your mother’s back,
but she wrote her alibi on a gravestone a long time ago
and she’s well beyond anything you can do to disappoint her now.

Born into sin, isn’t death a drastic enough measure to take
to clean the slate with the tears that should have been shed
while we were alive? The roots that should have been
watered with stars, the hands that should have been revered
like gnostic gospels even in a time of persecution and exile.
Maybe the blossom was betrayed by the roots
and the fruits were ruined. Who can say for sure
whether the tree’s a strong rafter or a coffin door,
or you’re just punching holes in your own lifeboat
to be spiteful, but I suspect you’re tired of sinking by now.

Three bells and all’s not well. And you remember
how you wanted to fly with the effortless beauty
of an arrow straight through the heart of a falcon prince
who came when you called out like a night bird
for someone to hold you against the dark like a door
love leaves ajar like the place in the book
where you left off reading and started dreaming again.
You’re taking a bath in the squalor of your own grave to renew
the ambiguity of your innocence as if you were
holding your breath underwater until you turn blue,
but there’s an expiry date that doesn’t matter if you’re late
and you don’t need a passport to walk through the gate unchecked.

The mindstream doesn’t cling to what it reflects.
It clarifies itself like flowing diamonds in its own running,
like crystal skulls thawing like honey in a blast furnace.
You can project yourself imaginatively like clean water
on the moon, and still feel the rain is a message
to someone else more like a watercolour than you are an oil
but before you begin painting in pain again,
look in the mirror. Isn’t that mascara running down your face
like a black willow rendered in sumi ink by a sad geisha
or is that just you washing off another eclipse
like a dirty window you’ve got to break to look through?
The light will find you all on its own if you stop
using the night to cover your eyes with shadows
when there’s something you don’t want to look at
that shines like a waterstar in the face of a sewer
blindfolded to the beauty and grace of its own imperative to change.

Be that as it may. Just because the exit’s false
doesn’t make the entrance unreal, and I can see how
you’re looking out the window for something
to fix your gaze upon like a reflection from a bridge
you let go of like the hand of someone you loved
to wear this blossom of a painted life mask
like a screening myth for the reason you let her drown.
Hurt, and lovely, and sad, battered down
like an orchid in the aftermath of an unexpected storm,
you make me want to cry for everything in existence
all at the same time, for what happens to us here.
I feel my vulnerability in yours. Half-insane for a moment
looking out the same window you are I become the pain.
I embody the sorrows of the trivial and sublime alike
and there’s no one to scream out to who isn’t wounded themselves
and I’ve died repeatedly not to make a philosophy out of love
just to satisfy death with a verifiable alibi for what
I was doing while I was alive, and none of it
lessens the sum of our suffering by a single tear.

We can put cushions around it and bank it up with dolls
and throw a warm blanket over it and kiss it
goodnight on the forehead as somebody else should have done
when childhood was wholly the timing of the content,
and go to bed with a will like a broken arrow
and a heart bruised like the blue rose of a starless sky
waiting for some small light, even a firefly of insight,
even a black hole on the negative of a starmap back to our eyes
to emerge from all this like Venus sinking down
over the darkening hills of her eyelids as if to dream
in the solitude of her beauty of rescuing her voodoo dolls
from the fire she threw them into, casting spells
like the shadows of moonless nights on earth
when pain had no value, and love was of little worth.

But in the face of it. Staring it in the eye
like a star or a reptile, trying not to lie like a placebo
to the spiritually hysterical about to give birth to the new world
out of their apocalyptic expansionism, not minting
cosmic keys to things that are not necessarily locks,
mustering my dusky yellow blood into the fire sage of a dragon,
and foregoing my penchant for self-destructive optimism,
the deepening of the terrible silence of our suffering
is the only reason I can come up with that our burning doves
don’t come back like loveletters we write like waterbirds on the wind.
There’s a silence within that is slowly ripening into the new moon
of the black pearl we’re making of the dirt in our hearts.
It’s not a third eye, or a rosary you can say the names of God on,
not even a sacred syllable of a secret that keeps to itself,
but something distinctly human that sacrifices its suffering
on the dark altar of the absurdity there’s no metaphor
to cling to like the lifeboat of a shipwrecked paradigm.
That everything’s been left relentlessly unexplained
as if only the silence were pure enough to receive our sorrow
the way our roots can’t conceive of the fruits of their labour,
or the sea receives the rain like a mirror of eyeless tears.
Sweet one, sleep without redressal. in the quietude
of what appears to include you in its innocence
like sugar in apricots when the locks fall away like ripe fruit.
The rained out peonies weeping their eyelids away
like phases of the moon by the open gate always
look ravished by the wind’s indifference to bliss.
The nightwatchman’s in the next room playing
solitaire with the scars of a wound as old as the stars.