Friday, June 15, 2012



Basking in the silence of the cooling day,
sunset in the blood of a snake on a rock,
coiled into its own thermal like the hawk
in the twilight eye of a peacock past its prime,
I go out of my way, by the railroad tracks,
where the adolescents lay their lives on the line,
to accord it the dignity we all hope for in time.

The acrobatic swallows have finished
their aerial attack on the cults of the gnats
and now the nightshift relinquishes the sky
to the dog fighting gypsy moths
and the stealthy dive-bombing bats.
Every evening, the same, their finest hour,
shooting each other down in flames,
and the stars and heritage lamp posts looking on
as if they couldn’t be any less concerned.

Crackheads in khaki shorts pass me,
caps askew, and smile nervously at my earring,
though they’re baffled by the cowboy boots,
but it’s got nothing to do with me
whether they can read the memes right or not.
I just want to mesmerize the ocean
of lunar commotion in my brain
by the rhythm of walking as if my body
held sway over the tides for awhile.

Rage, sorrow, love, my judicious attention
to being fastidiously kind especially
if I suspect I don’t really like the person,
just to keep the record clean with myself
and outwit my pettiness just because I can.
Goes with being a poet trying to live generously
among thieves who’ve never heard
of magnanimous humans weakening themselves
like the chiefs of the Potlatch as a sign
of power leap frogging itself to the top of the totem
by giving it all away with an expansive hand.

Not really sure I understand it myself,
but I live a life of isolation in between
trying to make things mean way more
than they deserve to or not just to hear
the scarecrows mocking my absurdity
like straw dogs on the pyres of existentialism.
Voices like scalpels in my head,
chainsaws in my heart, razor blades
nicking my starmud like cuneiform
into a library of Assyrian incisions
made by Ashurbanipal to cook the books.

Living in the twenty-first century
has taught me to mistrust all the others.
Double back to the health food store,
up the road to Sunset Boulevard
that taught me how to paint moonrises,
five miles to Glen Tay and back again.
And if I’m lucky there shouldn’t be anything
left of my brain by then but a reflexive flunky.

Someone’s addiction is following me
like a rat in the shadows of my ancestors.
My rotten father maybe, his rubber cheques,
that deaths head of brutal alcoholics
with the insolvent grin on its face
that said I have nothing to give you
but violence and heart benching wretchedness?
Or my saintly mother the day she turned on me
for nailing Michael Jones square in the third eye
with a stone David would have been proud
to have thrown with such authority and finesse?
And I still am for the way he transgressed my fort
by throwing dirt at it like the Taj Mahal.

My legs are growing heavy and numb
and I’m running a gauntlet of road kill
through an ordeal of toads and turkey-vultures
unravelling the complexities of the dead
thread by thread until the loom is dismantled
that wove the big picture of the details
into a prayer rug of sectarian wavelengths.
Man of my age, or son of an old adage,
someone once said I was born a hundred years
too late, though late for what is lost upon me,
if I’m already a century ahead of my time.
The lucky day is when you discover it’s all one day.
This specious thought moment of the mind.
It’s all emanating out of the same radiant
simultaneously. Nothing gets left behind.
Haven’t you seen how the mountains
synchronize their spontaneity to the birth
of butterflies like waterclocks of being-time?
There’s no hour of doom for every era of redemption.
My ends aren’t shorter than the beginnings were long.
Eternity’s the rule of thumb and time’s the exemption.
Ten miles just shy of two hours whether you
measure it in tame avalanches or rogue asteroids.
Coming back the way I went as if I’d gone nowhere at all,
blueweed in the ditches, and loosestrife
in the moonrise of the river through the drowned trees.




Unbuckle your heart, undo the luggage strap.
Wash the smell of old lovers out of your laundry.
Sow the dreams you’ve carved from your skull
like dice in sacred ground
and let’s see what springs up.
There’s the bathtub you can renew
your virginity in, and there’s a corner
you can stand your bass guitar in
like an Irishman at his wake in a coffin.
And there’s the garden for that persona
you took on the road like a scarecrow
for a travelling companion with a limp.
All the flowers taste of hummingbirds.
And it’s ok the raccoons come for the corn
like second storey cat burglars in the night.
They never take more than they need
and in a world of greed, that’s integrity.
I always leave a smile ajar to let them in.

But with you, my heart’s an open doorway
the moon’s standing in, and my blood’s
a transfusion of black roses into the occult.
My eyes, a rare conjunction of fireflies
that won’t happen again for another hundred years.
Doom can spend all the time it wants
messing with its calendars to co-ordinate
the apocalypse in all zodiacs at once
so the year of the rat and the year of the swan
don’t synchronize their prophets to the dawn
like waterclocks who think things are
just going to go on and on as they always have
like imperially inclined aqueducts without a rupture.

Eclipse, millennial poseur, you’re a lyric of carbon
that makes the diamonds flow like tears
to realize there’s galaxies of white sweet clover
more to you than appears under the cloud cover
of a hundred billion stars burning into the silver nitrates
of the photographic plates I take of you
in the humbled mountains of my all night observatories.
And even at this distance, alone in the cold company
of these one-eyed telescopes, I’m tempted
to cross your event horizons into your black holes
and see what worlds might come of us
on the other side. Throw caution to the wind
like a rodeo clown and take the ride
as if you were not too wise or wild for tenderness.

Even when you hurt I’ve seen how you wear
the corona of the sun so lightly in full eclipse
all the haloes shining by a reflected glory
seem mere brassy moon dogs by comparison.
Out of fury you insist upon your originality
like a gamma ray burst in the path of the earth
as you weave your interlocutory wavelengths
into the flying carpets and labyrinths
of an alien cartographer mapping out the stars
with your third eye open to the loneliness of beauty
and how everyone’s threatened by an intelligent orchid.

I imagine sometimes you’re almost as unloveable as I am
when I’m at my best, when I’ve been accurately blessed,
not too much, more or less, beyond my aspirations
and I see at the speed of light how time stops,
and my mass and volume become as infinite
as my body and mind, and everything
is perfectly inconceivable in a fallible eternity
that’s adapted to us like the medium of a mystery
in a graveyard of dead metaphors we keep giving
new meaning to as if we were all randomly immortal.

Are you the supple bubble of effervescence
in a tsunami of sorrow that could keep my spirits up,
or a methane moon waiting for an airlift of oxygen
to light you up. You’re too incandescent
to shine like a brown star, too imaginatively immense
to be a black dwarf. Are you the omnipresence of a particle
or the oracular wavelength of an apostate saint
when no one’s looking but me and you
through your holy books to see if what we said
came true or not? If we kept our word
to the innovative absurdity of it all in peace and war
or threw the moon through the window
like an alarm clock that didn’t go off in time
to save the earth? I know you’re not
the existential bricklayer of the paradoxically sublime
outside the gates of Babylon, nor the whore within.
I’ve seen you wing your way from one planet to the next
trying to thread your lifelines into a nest
that wasn’t a begging bowl in the hands of tree
that came on like a slumlord in a ghetto of birds.
There are no aviaries for the hopelessly free.
But could you live with me in this homelessness
like a tent in the wind that scours Mars for survivors
of the last expedition of seeds that tried to bloom here?
I’d build you a palace of black water that eclipsed
the beauty of the Taj Mahal and plant stars
all around it that would fountain into waterlilies
and we’d be so full of moonlight and solitude
in the silence of each other’s eyes, the darkness
couldn’t help but envy us the danger of the enterprise.




I won’t turn the shadow of the sundial back
to replicate the asters that bloomed yesterday
and were lovely as the wrists of a child
playing with perfume in front her mother’s mirror,
I remember, without wanting to turn them
again and again and again into a template.
I don’t mind grinding the past
into a parabolic mirror to see where I’ve been
in the last fourteen and a half billion years
but as I get older, that isn’t going to give me
an insight into the future of darkness
I’m rushing into like an accelerated fool
where the angels are not self-destructive enough to pass.
The most beautiful songs are sung in the dark
by the loneliest of creatures endangered by the night.

I’ve been a jumper for as long as I can recall
and sometimes it’s sheer suicide, and others,
even though I don’t pack a parachute for the fall,
it’s paradise. No risk in your next step
you’re just crossing a river on a bridge of skulls.
No real Apaches in the Black Hills you’re just
collecting postcards of the massacre,
buttons and bullets in a garden that went bust.
How can you keep your wits sharp
and hone your instincts in an arboretum?
Drug-store explorer with a library of roadmaps,
you’ve feathered your heels with lapwings and poultry
and flutter around like butterflies in a barnyard.
You ever tried firewalking across the stars?
Or put a match to a poem you loved like a storm?

If you’re not proceeding at your own risk
the journey’s not worth it. It’s someone else’s path.
It’s only another threadbare carpet under a window.
May the rose always have thorns. May your lovers
always be able to kill you without a moment’s notice
and your fireflies revert to dragons when your comets
are flying blind too far from the sun to shine.
You be the one that’s missing from the family album
for a change.You be the one who’s moody and strange.
The blasted orchard that isn’t known by its fruits.
Stop revising that diary of event horizons
you’ve never violated once, and instead of
dumping your dirty sheets down a laundry chute
into the basement, go skinny-dipping in a black hole
to wash the stink and stain of useage off.

You keep listening for choral arrangements
of mellifluous honey in swarms of killer bees
without realizing the maelstrom that is already upon you.
Your mountains aren’t wolves. They’re St Bernards.
Have you ever been the epicentre of anything
you’ve ever said, or have you always been third echo
in this choir of indignant aftershocks? Would you even
recognize the sound of your own voice
if you ever heard it in a keen-eyed wilderness
among the nightbirds with the courage of their longings?
And I see you’ve gone and offended the muse again
by lowering the bar of your pain threshold
and fireproofing your heart against a lightning strike.
You think hugging shore with the rest
of the abandoned refugees is going to keep you
any safer than a liferaft flowing along
with your own mindstream through blackwater and white?

You can embroider your nightmares on pillow cases
and think you’re going to sleep better tonight
than the homeless that are banked up like leaves
against your door. You can bleach the shadows
into albinos and think you’ve done something
kind to yourself, but all you’ve really done
is make the light turn dangerous. The sun bare its fangs
at the colour blind cowardice of antiseptic flowers.
Not a cheap thrill of blood on your palette anywhere.
Talent smiles like a house karl, but genius snarls
at the thorn of insight in its paw like a lion on a cross
roars like lightning in a skull at the rosey stigmata
of a fresh kill that tastes like the stars in its blood.
Solitude isn’t a state of mind, it’s a calculated risk.
You either jump into the lotus of fire heart first
and dare your own extinction among great heretics
or collapse like a universe into a starless abyss.