I BRING YOU NOTHING LIKE A FEATHERLESS BIRD
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.