Getting up on the first legs of the morning,
waiting to remember I know how to walk,
as my body changes shifts
and I emerge from the dream-mist
not knowing if I’m stepping out of a lifeboat or a cocoon,
if yesterday’s oars have turned into wings,
or the silver blood of the mud bone
greened like old copper
at the scene of a crime
or if my heart has finally congealed
like a suspicious scar
on the mood ring of the moon
as I resent the orthodoxy of the petty rituals
I have yet to perform with blades and foam and water
on a face that almost scares me
it is so diminishingly mine.
And it’s radiant, and the sun
is reflected in every windshield,
in every palace of ice and hovel of glass,
and even the deepest eclipse within me
that weeps like a dragon
is remotely enhanced by the shining.
Today I will make money.
Today I will pay bills.
Today I will fix the car.
Today I will feed myself intelligently and exercise,
trying to prolong my bruising campaign against death;
I will walk in and out of banks and stores
and greet people with as much sincerity
as they are capable of, careful
not to pour the ocean into a teacup
or think a tear sufficient to mourn the dead seas of the moon.
I will be congenial, kind, and generous;
I will scatter tropical trail mix
in the parking lot of Pizza Hut for the birds
though I know it annoys people
who worry about shit on their cars,
and walk away feeling like an insurgent
who bombed the marketplace into life
with dried pineapple not shrapnel,
though it’s a pathetic protest to offend
the protocols of their chronic opprobrium
by feeding a few birds more
than made it through the freezing night before
and excuses nothing in me that I often fear is worse
when I consider what I could be doing and don’t
because the picket up my intimate ass is the universe
and everything turns on that
like the paddlewheel of a Mississippi showboat.
All day long I will apply Buddhas and Zen masters like poultices
to draw the infection of the world out of my blood
like the noxious fume of a festering rose,
and then upbraid myself insightfully,
confessing to a delegation of mirrors
that it is my seeing, my eyes
that smear the view like slugs,
and that I am obsessively defeated by what I condemn
because I am them, I am them, I am them.
And that’s when I pull the trigger on myself like a fire alarm,
knowing no one’s coming to put me out,
because I haven’t been tested for the right emergency
and there’s never a pilot light on the mystic urgency
to at least be right about the way I know I’m wrong.
But no matter how you beat it,
you can’t beat a violin concerto out of a gong
or labour the rime of light on the lips of a black hole into honey.
All day I will look upon small trees
chained like slaves to a square meter
of lonely earth in an asphalt parking lot
and profoundly lament
the intrusive derangement of my species
that abomination after abomination, shames the fly.
And the fate of a shopping mall sapling
may be the bathetic token
of something more profoundly unspoken,
but all day my spirit will be unmothered
by the existential complicity
of being here like rain on the blood of the roadkill
my karmic imbalance tries to unmean
as everything I cherish turns slightly obscene.
But I know a star cluster far away beyond my fingertips
with the body of a serpent woman
who charms the clay she caresses
by playing her fates and phases on the flutes of the moon
as if every breath were the wind in a gust of doves
she scatters like the sheet music of a liberated choir.
And all day I will taste the infinite constellation of her stars
unspooling the lifeline of the mystery I follow
through the labyrinth of the moon’s horn gates
like cool transfusions of night through my blood
as I turn her image in my heart
like a mysterious jewel
that once wept her crown away
to lift a veil of water like an eye.
And I will smile through the day serenely within
remembering so many things, so many lives,
so many fireflies of tenderness that haven’t happened yet,
and the unsayable passion of the lips that wake the dragon
like a flame to the wick that candles the volcano
into a fury of ecstasy that shocks
the starmaps billions of lightyears away,
and she will be my secret and my sail
and I will disappear over her five horizons like a treble clef
or the whole note of a fleeing night bird into its hidden nocturne.
All day she will flourish within me to heal the mystic herbalist
who knows beyond flower and frond
the dark virtue of the black honey
that pours from her own wounded root like time.
And I can be moved by women who are goblets
spilling over with wine, and women
who turn moonlight into glass
and stand sad and empty
against the vastness of the sky,
witching for mirrors, and those
who were Japanese plum tree blossoms in spring,
the dangerous wine of the rose,
now shattered on the ground
as if the moon had slipped its finger from the ring.
And I have loved the loveliest
and least attentive among them,
and those who were mortal and mad,
and the black peonies of the sexually bad
who have indulged me by shedding their eclipses
until we fell down exhausted beside each other,
two petals in the mud.
But she has stars in her blood
that spice the tongue of the snake,
the grail horns of the divining rod
and the tine of the lightning
that tunes the ashes of the burnt guitar
as if it were still a tree
to the tears of the willow,
and I am addicted by a muse
to a delirium of longing
that burns like a loveletter
written in light and blood and shadows
that slides me under her door
with every breath I take
and unfolds me like a sky or a bird,
a fossilized constellation
buried in the shale of a starmap,
to shine deep within all day long
beyond the light like stars
at the bottom of a well at noon
where she comes to drink like the moon.