Thursday, June 21, 2012



This late in the day, could I love you, could you
love me? If I made a black rose of my blood,
redshifting into the dark, and gave it to you,
not knowing what to expect, would you counter-intuit
the wounded watershed of the poetic imagery?
Younger I was a lot more dangerous than I am now,
though I wasn’t trying to be. Dragons raged in me
in infernal crusades of the bad against the worst
as I stood at the flaming gates of the vulnerable
and said to their worst nightmares you shall not pass.
I used my horns and scales to empower the innocent,
trying to turn a curse into a virtue, the atrocities
of the left-handed legacy of my condemned childhood
into something even a stranger might be proud of.

In Zen it’s said that nobody likes a real dragon
and even among those I came to the rescue of
like a Viking long boat with runes like scars
chiselled into stone, and well-seasoned swords
that backed up my word down to the very least detail,
even among the exiles who felt compelled to love me,
even among those who didn’t want to be seen
as hypocrites of their fashionable memes if they didn’t,
I could see people backing away from me
like an expanding universe running on dark energy
and that was ok, I was raised to bite the bullet
whenever my heart was liberated by amputation.
Free of me, I am unencumbered by concern.
I can solo in the night skies I return to without fear
of estranging the stars with my intensities.

Now there’s more mage than king in my immensities,
and time, sorrow and death have blunted my edge
like broken glass rounded in the turmoil of the tides
and Merlin has returned Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake,
I feel more like a rodeo clown in a barrel
with a funny hat, a painted tear, and a flower on my head,
a floppy poppy in red, trying to turn the crescents
of the moon bull on me like a Mayan calendar
to keep from goring the fallen who were mounted
above me like heroes that took a fall. A dragon
sheds its deathmasks like petals of the moon.

So if I presented myself to you as I am
could you learn to love an enlightened buffoon
with the injured nobility of a distinguished demon
guarding a small boy’s notion of doing
some good in the asylum of the raving world,
intrigued with the urgency of innocence
to redeem itself like a mutant gene in the fuse
of an occult chromosome that’s always
about to go off like a bomb buried
in the Milky Way of a fanatical supernova?
Was a time I’d hang the heads of my enemies
like Al Ghoul from my earlobes if they dared
to threaten anything I loved that couldn’t defend itself.
Was a time I’d start a fight at my own funeral
just to stand up for someone when I couldn’t.
Now I’m hemorrhaging like amaranthus
on an infernal summer day and my heart
is a coal bin of all the things I used to be
and there’s more tears in the diamonds than blood.

I don’t dip my pen in the trough of the world,
and I don’t shepherd wolves to graze on the mountain.
Even when space turns to glass, and water leaks out
of the reactor like a constrictor from an aquarium
I endure the inverted question marks
of the hooks I hang on in a deep freeze
as if just to endure were to spite in spades
the cruelty of conditions taking their natural course.
Seven come eleven, but I can look at things
through the snake eyes of frost bitten dice
and not end up piping on a stone flute.
I was born standing in the doorway of an exit
that glowed red at night like a miscarriage of the light
but still the road sign of a back way out of hell.

So if I wrote you a poem you couldn’t understand
would you exalt in your power to unman me
or would you feel the tenderness of the beast
behind the eclipse of the black lion that wears
the corona of the sun for a mane, a sunspot for a face?
Would you trust that the darkness is full of eyes
and some are hunting you, and some are shy
in your presence like wolves that have been shot at
because they’re wild and as cunning as life?
Would you bait the meat with poison in a leg hold trap
or would you defang me into affability
and teach me to lower my voice when the moon was full?
Would we lie in the same bed with a sword between us?

I could befriend your fireflies. I could mitigate your thorns.
I could get behind whatever you dream
like dark matter behind a light filled universe
and when you were sad, let the rain play my scales
like a harpischord or a guitar with a black hole
in the middle of it I would descend into
like an Orphic underworld to sing you back to life.
I would lift all my taboos for you and give you
an exemption in the night to approach me as you wish
and even if your hand weren’t brave enough to ask
I would fill it full of jewels with magic properties
that tempt the thieves of light to risk the labyrinths
of the inviolable graves on the dark side of the moon.
I would beatify you like a grail in a secret society
of warrior saints that haven’t had a drink in years.

And if your chandeliers ever had a nervous breakdown
in a lightning storm, I would dig up the bulbs
of the crystal skulls I buried in your garden for next year
and let you talk to them yourself about your fears
of what’s to come, and how to heal the shattered
with the dark clarity of compassionate crazy wisdom
drifting on the oceans of your tears
like a hydra-headed lifeboat empty but for you.
I would plunder spiritual islands in the wake
of extinct volcanoes to bring you
the rarest herbs of insight prophecy could afford
to see you dancing again like a constellation
rising over my event horizon with no fear of the abyss.

I could do this, I would be this, and will and more
and mean it if you’d let me. I could be the quicksilver
water of life and you could be the white sulphur
substance of the great work, its spirit and activity.
Or the other way around, if you like, given I was born
on a Wednesday with wings on my heels and head.
I could be the dragon trickster, infernal and divine
the hermaphroditic hidden secret
buried in the earth, creature of fire and air,
and you could be the salt, the anima mundi,
the philosopher’s stone, the light of the soul,
the wisdom that gives life and energy their forms,
mistress of the planets and the stars, the divine energy
that moves all things around to bring things about.

What an experiment we’d make, what an art,
what a conjunction of life and love and bodyminds
what signs we could reveal, what prophecies scry,
what freedoms take we could be burned at the stake for.
And the sand paintings we could pour through an hourglass
that would blow away like the dust of the road
and the comets that fell from their black halo
around the sun, and the lifting of waterbirds
in the pewter moonlight feathered on a lake
we could observe, and the scores of new constellations
we could form like new houses of an alternative zodiac
for the dispossessed stars of the homeless
burning their hearts out around oil drums under bridges
that span them like the Egyptian sky goddess Nut,
and the poems that would flow like spiritual transfusions
into the carnal bloodbanks of the burning rose
with a needle exchange of thorns, and the transmutations
of base metal into gold and back again, of dragonflies
gleaming like anthracite in the birth fluids of their chrysales
drying the filigreed silver of their wings in the sun,
paper clipped to the waterlilies like pencils behind their ears,
and the light years of passion and devotion
this would take to be done in unison, in chaos,
in wonder and bliss, in fingertips, eyes, skin and lips,
two alchemists in the Vas Hermeticum of a conceivable abyss.




The pale months discharge their attributes of green
in the gripe of small, bitter apples
and the white blossoms
have got their laundry done like nursing caps
and the bonds of friendship with the young
have grown sticky and black, almost obscene,
as they lash the willow like bad actors and beauty queens
with long, drawn-out rehearsals of sappy plays
and the busy wavelengths
of petty mind worms inching toward the virgin cocoons
that might lark their threnodies with real wings
and flammable paper if the little mummies
ever make it to their afterlives. As it is, when they weep
their tears fall like the cold lenses
of leftover concentration camps
they may or may not have read about,
and the split seeds of their careful, furtive eyes,
the tender shoots of agile semi-quavers
run to the black and white keyboards of vinegar
thinking the moon’s just an old whole note,
and the silence that lies in state
like wine in the dark cellars of the sublime
is just another waste of time.

They can’t imagine how many stars and planets and lives it takes
to sugar the black holes of their photographic depressions,
how much light must give itself up to the night
to get one drop of translucent honey
flowing through the narrow veins
of their slim contingencies
and into the green flutes of their bones
like marrow and music. Okay, they’re not
the red wizards of autumn yet
forging swords out of the ores and eras
of the igneous sunsets that have purified their fury in the fire.
They’re too busy looking for their place
and white surplice
in a travelling choir with portable pews
and souvenir crosses of wood.
They’re young and imagine because they say the word good a lot,
they’re good. Let them stand for their hymns and anthems
as they will, it’s natural, it’s right
and there’s even a beauty
in their platitudes and repertoires, their reforms
of ancient hydrogen
that looks like the birth of stars,
the seven spoon-fed sisters of the Pleiades perhaps,
or the reluctant debutantes torn on the horns of Taurus,
white dwarfs and cepheid variables,
young pulsars turning their diamonds in the light
to see if they’ve been cut right, if all the facets
are correctly interfaced
to download easy solar systems from the night.

They’re goldfish in a sharkbowl,
flamingo fan tails and neon tetras
in a cannibal aquarium
of tiger-barbs and brutal dime-angels,
they’re an army of baby turtles
holding on to their helmets
as they run for the beaches of Normandy,
strafed by the Stuka seagulls,
black panzers in heavier armour on the cliffs,
black wolves swinging their muzzles into the wind.

It’s a hell of a way to begin
the rites of spring,
but the best steel goes through the fire
and there’s a chastening beyond virginity
that’s got nothing to do with victory
or the peevish tempers of first violins.

And I look at the old women, the derelicts, the crones,
and the roadkill along the highways of life
unstrung by the turkey vultures like dead guitars
and the sad veterans of spring in the swan park
staring themselves to death like foodbanks for birds,
all the lamentable carbons of human existence
down to the last embers of their spent hearts,
the spare change of cogs and bobbins
taken apart like watches, and I see
another kind of beauty, the deeper innocence
of worn bannisters spiralling up like smoke
in the stairwells of old hotels panned by junkies,
sibilants of wood aged and polished
by the sweat and oils of ten thousand different hands
that steadied their ascents and fallings
through years of snakes and ladders
on the chromosomes and rungs
of these who’ve bleached their peptides
in the caustic salts of the sea.

Born a beachcomber among wasted, cast-off things,
the second-hand bins of the stranded performers
and dismantled wild-west shows of the wave,
a seahorse, a Pacific cowboy from the lunatic fringe,
I look efficiently into the secret urgencies within
the pre-cambrian tidal pools of their fossils and shells,
tears the ocean left behind in the undertow of a thousand farewells,
and a I see a darker kind of flowering
and the mysterious purple fruits
of a second innocence sweeter than the first
long after the apples are out of their diapers
and their blossoms are fouled by rust,
swinging from a dead branch of boney vertebrae
like bells, and moons, and chandeliers
clustered in an eclipse of black cherries,
and windfalls of seasoned planets
waiting to be pushed through the doors
of the hungry dead
in a jubilee year of pious offerings.

See yourself reflected in the face of an old man
if you truly want to understand what grace is,
or the well-used wood of a faithful chair
with a view of forever
beyond plans, if you’ve got the juice
to make something of yourself in the light and the rain
that can embrace the whole of the night,
can hold it like a syllable under the tongue,
a coin of insight, and not go insane. That’s what
courage is, not the charades of the young
besieging the sweetmeats
of moonlight in a nut,
raising their arrogant hammers
like stone gavels on the anvils of the heart,
mistaking their juvenile bias
for the robes of an older law
that presides without judgment
over everything that lives, not the breezy sail
of a quick voyage into the depths,
a love-boat cruise among enchanted islands,
but staring into the eyes of the Medusa
in the snake-pit of an oceanic abyss,
and greeting every grinning serpent
with an antidote and a kiss.




The night comes on like a bayonet in the eye of a baby. The mirror shatters. Shards of shining try to get their act together like small Balkan countries practicing their traditional viciousness. And yes, the world is dark, brutal, treacherous and you’re walking skinless through a field of nettles, your heart exposed like an igneous stone to the dead nun weeping in the acid rain. Buried alive in your own avalanche of judgment and delusion, do you hope to send down roots? Poor baby, you think I’m cruel, that when I tell you the diamond is mud, I’m trying to transplant you into some mythic crystal clarity you have not yet attained. Wrong where there is no wrong, because you’re there already. Isn’t it obvious your roots are in the sky; isn’t it perfectly clear that everything is perfectly clear. Don’t talk to me about confusion and chaos and the seven crossroads to nowhere that lie before you like a crippled starfish. I’ve pushed deathcarts in the morning through the back-alleys of Calcutta and evicted squatters from the satin slums of the cemetery. There is no sin or virtue in my seeing, no little coffin of concept waiting at the end of the boat-tour for a corpse.

You’re not innocent; you’re not corrupt. You drink the purple blood of night like everyone else and think it’s a secret. You love the criminal because you think it’s more sublime than intelligence, but you don’t see that you’re only a butterfly in the dragon’s mouth; you don’t understand that ritualizing heresy is not a bridge to the other side, not the crossing of any real taboo. Be absolutely certain, you’re the only firefly in this man’s dark vastness, but you’ve cranked your own ambivalence too long not to go through withdrawal into the deep assurance of the unseen light that wants to befriend you like a small green planet glowing with life. And screw the man who thinks he’s a guru when he says this; burn the mask he wears to his own funeral along with the rest of his tainted marrow. Why cavil?

If the thorns think they’re the crown of the rose, should the rose care, disposing of itself petal by petal, sky by sky, like the pages of an over-read book about the dangers of reading? Do you see? The wind shimmers like waves through the tall summer grass; and at night, the stars shine down on everyone alike, ignorant of their own burning legends. Deep within you, there is a hidden moon, a blind pearl, one of the lost ruby eyes of the phoenix who put himself out like a torch in the darkness of your holy waters. Why do you look outside yourself for the world you already are? Hate me if you must, but don’t curse the absence of someone who loves you outside of the net. If I’m cruel, if I’m mean, if I risk the obscenity of human lovelessness to love you; don’t ask me to forgive your hive of killer bees because it’s so painful to get near the honey. I’m not the Titanic and you’re not an ice-berg and the worst of tragedies are those that never happen. Live, if you can, beyond the billboards you call yourself; walk out into the fields of being beyond and see, truly see, what the rest of your life’s been doing while you posed like a freak in a circus tent for three grams a day. Or persist in your shadows like some third generation Nazi who can’t get it up enough to hate with any authority, but, likewise, is too fond of his designer straitjacket to love. What’s the point of using your head for a doorstop when you’re afraid to cross your own thresholds? Why lick the paper-plates for morsels of thought at a garabage-dump and call it a feast of sages? I might be stupid, I might be wrong, I might be the willing dupe of your most cherished delusion, but at least I can see you in a clear heart, your depth and beauty and agony, three flowers growing in a crevice of your well-wall. Haven’t the fish already learned to walk; the birds to swim. Don’t the stars drown, drunk, in you every night, and not one in the morning with a hangover? Go ahead, tattoo hell on your eyelids and pretend you’re awake to the world that’s hanging from the end of your nose. I love your tears when they fall; you’re a steep mountain in spring, the end of an ice-age, a fountain that’s learningto crawl.

But I’m not looking for your tears, and I’m almost as sorry as you that I am who I am under this gravestone in this six-storey cemetery of your fears. Do I die well or do I disappoint your witching wands when you come looking for me like a personalized parking space in the city of the dead? And don’t tell me you’re fragile, you’re young, you’re smudged across your own reflection like lipstick on a junkie’s bathroom mirror. I think too much of you to believe you. Here, here’s a new dagger, a clean knife, stronger metal and a more acute blade than any you’ve got in that soft copper arsenal of yours. I’ll even provide the forge and a blacksmith and the knowledge to fashion your own. Love isn’t love that doesn’t offer its artery to the beloved or complains when it’s being killed. O you who think the world is such a bad place, an ugly face, go ahead and try with your space-razor to separate the moonlight from the water. You want the flower and the fruit but you despise the root. You set fire to your own nerves like fuses and try to convince me it’s the work of mystic terrorists. Who knows; maybe you’re trying to overthrow yourself like a repressive regime and there’s no place in your politics for a firing squad still loyal to the wishes of a raving queen?