Wednesday, June 20, 2012



In every face I pass, the insufferable smothering
of human potential to achieve great things,
take the jewel out of the ore and let it shine
in the light of their eyes, their hearts, their minds.
As if a new star had been added to the night
and they had lived a life that enhanced
the radiance of their insight. Wouldn’t that
be happy? To see these dead apple trees
in an abandoned orchard suddenly break into bloom
and bear fruit? To see the bears and the birds
the wasps, the humans, gathering it up
like a windfall of small, habitable planets
among the New England asters of a fertile galaxy?

If only so much didn’t depend upon subjunctives.
If only chance were incorruptible, if only
things had gone your way instead of their own.
If only we hadn’t been born into everything
we’re missing, if only our longings had less to do
with what we actually want. If only our words
weren’t links in another chain of iron or gold.
If only we stopped chasing our mirages around
like water in a turmoil of starmud that smudges
the view, and stop dying of thirst like fossils of fish
in a freshwater lake that tastes of our fear of death.

Would the deserts bloom so the children
can be fed? Would the stars efoliate into
cures for cancer like the occult herbs of a jungle
that dipped its arrows in the honey of life?
Would old men waste their time on useless dreams
and the children not be taught to mistrust the rain
for the lies we ourselves told about the nature of gain
as we stepped on a ladder of everyone’s throats
thinking higher was safer than lower
when we’re caught like birds in a chimney?

Are the stars in our eyes antithetical to the black holes?
And our irises lifesaver rainbows? Isn’t
just to be here aware of what we’re seeing
so that every grain of dust on this long, strange road
shines as if the Milky Way were under our feet,
and everything were neither far nor close
but the whole of us in every single part?
I keep thinking you only need to touch the heart
of someone, like ants tell peonies when to bloom,
and everything will be revealed like moonrise.
How incredible it is there’s so little wonder
in our eyes, so little tenderness toward
the brevity of the lives that suffer along with us
into an abyss where we don’t even know
if we’ll ever exist again to see all this as it is.
Even to suffer, even to fail, even to dread the darkness.
Even to ask what place is this you’re passing through
and be undeterred about not accepting
your own dead silence as an hospitable answer
worthy of the mastery of being able
to pose the question as if someone else
were there with you who knew what you meant.

Express yourself. Shine. Bloom. Rain down
on everything alike to show the abstract eye
of the truth, what new beauties can come
of your starmud when it’s sown by you as freely
as a child gives you a leaf or a twig, or the head
of a poppy as if you hadn’t forgotten how to dream
along with her that your amazement is as good
a reason as any to be here. Write poems
to the opalescent sunrise of your toe-nails
or what the thorns of the rose mean
to a dead matador awash in the blood of a bull.
Irrational in the mirrors of reason, perhaps,
fill your emptiness up with the fullness
of your own absurdity and learn to laugh
at the unattainability of the things you aspire to.

Learn to play wavelengths on your spinal cord
as if the shape of the universe when it’s not a woman
is an eleven stringed guitar in the corner
where the spiders are walking its strings like bass runs
and every thing is singing along to the words
of a song that only they know like an aviary of voices
in asymmetrical harmony with the dawn.
Adorn your sorrows in the laurels of sacred wounds.
Now is the time to utter wow under your breath
and include the woman standing beside you
in your astonishment as well as the stars arrayed
to entrance your sense of the inconceivable
by giving you something to compare her to.
Lift up your head like a dormant dragon
that smells the moon on the wind and roar
like the solar flare of a flower that blooms in fire.
Sooner a brilliant failure than a mediocre success,
accept your incompleteness as a sign
of spiritual progress, your terminal homelessness
as the path of the wind among the flowers
of the starfields that depend for their lives
on your passing beyond the gates of their gardens
with letters back to the wilderness they came from.
Be the black sheep that burned the maps
in a flurry of chimney sparks and wandered off
like an irrevocable planet into the immensity of the stars.
And whether you sleepwalk on the thorns of life
or tread lightly across a river cobbled in skulls,
however the rose bleeds, don’t belittle
the mouth of its wound with with a grammar of scars.




Each window it’s moon,
and a thousand lakes around here
each wearing it like a medallion.
The spirit of a woman haunts me
as the starlings head for home
and I just want to go down by the river awhile
and sit among some companionable bones
while the daylilies tender their buds
to the hot night air, and the river runs by me
without any notion of what I see in it.

No waterlilies yet, but the wild irises
are protruding out of their blue green sheaths
like cartridges of lipstick, and the clouds clear
and the stars get me thinking about her again,
and all the tender lucidities held in abeyance
I would say to her if she were here.
My heart startles me and jumps like a fish.
The fireflies play a game with me
where I have to guess what constellation
I’m in now as they ricochet off the water like a starmap.
She’s beautiful and bright and dangerous
as a witch in heat, and she’s been hurt so deeply
she loves the stars the way I do because
distance is a guarantee of their innocence
and she uses her pain like a weapon
on behalf of other people who suffer as she does.

Who hasn’t been wounded deeply by someone they loved?
Who hasn’t thought of suicide in a bus station washroom
where the mirrors won’t leave you alone with yourself
long enough to think of a destination
that isn’t bleak and unknown and against the way
your heart’s aching to go, you go, you just go
as you throw the face you just wiped off in the trash can
and try to get on with a life that’s over?

And once the scars have healed what they could
the terrifying blandness of a world that tramples
on the absence deep within you everyone ignores
by whipping your heart with advice, as the leaves
are hair braided like feathers into the tresses of the willows,
clarity, peace, and a solitude that understands you
better than anyone else can, one afternoon
in a backyard somewhere, sitting alone
in the shadow water of the maples and black walnuts
inundating the grass as the sun goes down,
when you least expect it, resonate with your awareness
of being lost, but delighting in the fact you can’t be found,
without feeling your happiness is some kind of consolation prize.
The ant with the wing of a butterfly in its mandible
doesn’t shine like a star cluster of floral chandeliers
they way love once did, it glows like a tiny coal of life
turning to diamond in the heart. Arcturus in Bootes.

Brutal exigencies acceptable to an incomprehensible radiance,
the commotion that has stirred the prophetic cauldron
for light years now has almost always been terminally creative
and I’ve always known the absurdity I’m dying in the name of
has been accelerated by dark energy into the expansiveness
of a sublimated kind of love that evaporates
like the ghosts of a diamond of dry ice into the night.
Sometimes it feels as if I’ve been working nightshift
on the looms of the spiders weaving curtains
to hang over the mouth of a screaming window
that never got over breaking up with the moon.

No longer apprenticed to a mage of crazy wisdom
I could take it from here on my own like this river
if I had to. I could flow like a diamond all the way to the sea.
I could get drunk down here with Li Po’s shadow
and drown in my own reflection, trying to embrace the moon.
And it would be all right, all right. I could live with that.
Like a red shift in the way I paint, and sure proof
I’m not wasting my life writing poems inspired by the abyss.
I could live like the black stone of a meteorite
that was never meant to be kissed, and it would be all right,
I could always tell myself when I needed a delusion
to rationalize why I’ve come so far the way I have,
I was a nickel-iron tektite with new paradigms of life
in my core that were contaminating life
with the antidotal memes of a creative future
that doesn’t replicate like logos into the brittle corals of life
we’re all being keel-hauled over like the hull of the moon.

I could tell myself all that but there would be one black pearl
like a new moon missing from the rosary of the truth
like the unknown name of someone inconceivably absent
as I sit here waiting for her to step out of the birch groves
like a white-tailed doe. Because I’ve become too foolish
to make a fool of myself, too hermetically balanced
to damn my own salvation for the sake of a greater bliss?

I’ve always thought it was a lunar privilege to love someone
and if they loved you back with anymore light
than a reflected glory with a few stars in it
to spice up the flavour of the imported candles,
you lived in the aura of a human divinity
like a paradise without any gates and you could
write poems on the wings of the butterflies
they passed on to the wild flowers that inspired them.
You could forgive the thorns of the locust tree full of bees
for not wanting to die like martyrs to their own blessings.
Or the begging bowls of necessity that came to realize
that life was something they couldn’t afford
not to be attached to. And maybe I’ve been
looking at the stars too long for things
they don’t know themselves, but it all made
incandescent human sense to counterpoint
all that lonely fury in the cold distance,
that can be dwarfed by the loneliness of people,
to ingather all the supernovas of my expanding afterlives
and use them to kindle the shining of someone I loved.

And I was willing to tap into the heat of hell itself if need be
so she could bathe naked among the stars
blowing bubbles like the multiverse into the abyss
that always smelled like cucumbers and apricots
as greater than a goddess, she shampooed her hair
and clipped the dead ends of the willows like a woman
highlighted by the medicinal signs of her intelligence.

A discipline, an art, a devotion, a grace of human nature
in the service of a body, a mind, and a spirit
that wasn’t unacquainted with demons,
I lived like a warrior on the cutting edge
of growing thresholds in perilous doorways
as the sages of my dragon blood stood watch over her
as she dreamed, and wherever she touched me
my scales turned into the feathers of fabulous fire birds
and I was the happy heretic who burned in sin
at the stakes of desire without any apprehension
of punishment or isolation in an urn of ashes.

Immolations of the spirit in a sexual narcosis
of gratified dreams. Sex as the bread of the soul,
butter on a cat’s feet, salt on the tail of the bird,
the lyric of the mob, the muse of the poet’s ode,
champagne and mud, the mythic inflation of love,
the dark root of the white blossom in the moonrise.
The jewel in the lotus like the third eye of a drop of dew
shining translucently in a flash flood of light
from stars that bloom like the flowers of solitude.
Time for the angels to sleep with the daughters
of men again. Time for the demons to dance
with the fireflies like the shadows of candles
in a shrine to what’s holy about the devoutly insane.

The hour come round to break this windowpane
like a pact between me and the stars and return
this journey of enlightenment back to the place
it started from like a mountain in the valley of a woman.
Let my eyes thaw. And her passion be the firewalk
of a weathervane that’s never sure which way
the wind’s playing for keeps from one day to the next.
Breach the clarity of the abyss with the bliss
of a commotion that surpasses the void bound
intimacies of a peace that’s about to return to transcendence.