Tuesday, July 24, 2012



In you I come to the end of roads,
and an alphabet of burning wings
falls from an indigo sky
like meteors trying to write
the unsayable in a slash of light,
in a language of luminous scars
the night beatifies with mystic knowledge
that wants to name you
so deeply in thresholds and stars
the charged silence
is giving birth to an indelible mouth,
a doorway of blood,
an ancient grammar of fire
the wind puts on like a robe
to scry the darkness for a voice
that could fill the goblets
of the moon’s dead seas
with the wine of a radiant wound,
so much within me
already the tongue of a bell
that can taste you like blackberries.

The whole of you
in every single drop of your eyes,
you are the black swan
of the eclipse that rares its reflection in water,
the dark orchid in the shadow of the dragon
that sways like a bell in the night,
even your absence a shape of cherishing,
a harvest of shadows beyond the light
of the lamp that burns for you.

Within the deepest abyss of myself
where the heart stands alone
like a single black pillar
in the twilight wasteland of the world,
a mysterious temple to the ultimacy
of having been here once
to suffer the passage of form and time,
everything a gesture of space
that thaws back into itself,
I have written your name
in the hourglass of my blood
like a whisper of secret ink
that once voiced the light to be
and shook the stars like wheat
out of its blind abundance
and will be remembered forever
as the first intimacy of the sea,
and there is the rumour
of a dream in the air,
the fragrance of an approach,
that out of an ocean of light
the tide will embody a woman
like the shore of an island
littered with fingertips and kisses
enmeshed like galaxies and starfish
in the exhalation of her veils
and our lips will meet like archers,
and our bodies will sing like arrows
sunk like orchards through the heart
and long after the last flame of life is shed,
the night will silence the birds
in the groves where we bled like poppies
to open the gates of the mystery
like keys and rain, or the rosary of black pearls
that chants its prayers to the night
like the slow alarm of autumn geese
in the eyes of a human face.

I try to say what can’t be said,
pouring my spirit
into the wineskin of every word,
but my heart is a larger apple
than the bough of my voice can bear,
and the silence
that would erect temples everywhere like flowers
spun from the auroral silks of my soul
and perfume the air with the pollen of sacred fireflies,
every emotion a priest with a shaven head
to honour the moon
climbing the stairwell within me
of a million horizons at once
in every breathless step,
falls away behind me like the wake of a sinking ship
that lowers me into my coffin like a lifeboat
or a message in a bottle
that pleads like wine with the emptiness
for an alphabet that isn’t in arrears to time
to say you to the night
in a lightning breath of life beyond
these elemental likenesses I carve
from a quarry of stars.

And I know I ask for immortal children
from a human womb,
and wide as my powers are
to exceed the sky with homing birds,
to adorn the dead branch with windows
that dazzle the roots of dawn,
I am the ashes of a black star in daylight,
a stone man with a chain for a tongue
when I try to swim like Atlantis
through the depths of your shining within
and the last word, the last life
to flash across my mind as I drown
again and again like a pulse
in the embrace of your beauty
is always the world as it is
before anything was said.




Devoid of everything but metaphors,
the bread gone hard in the tasteless cupboard
littered with bees and flies
that struggled alone with death
on the plains of the upper shelf,
I enrich my patrician poverty
with poems and painted moons,
dreaming of the unlikely day
without anticipation
all things will be corrected. Hope is a lichen,
a sea of shadows on the moon
that drains the water from the stone,
the siren from the rock. Despair
is a cuff of black blood
caught in a bicycle chain,
and if there’s a dawn to all of this,
a day when it promises to change,
it always comes up like a bride
getting married at her own funeral,
my heart waiting,
alone with the flowers
in an empty limousine.

And madness is not an option
in these days of disintegration;
the asylums are full
and they’re handing out straitjackets
in the lifeboats of the survivors
who jumped ship
when the sea got rough.
I could drink or shoot up,
but that’s a parachute without a rip-cord,
and besides, who’s got the elevation
to get off on the rush
of their falling? And I’ve grown old
as a foundling
on the stairs
of an abandoned church; I have no faith
in miraculous adoptions
or the emergency exits
out of hell, and the deacons of absurdity
long ago gave up passing me around
from heart to heart
like a collection plate
when they saw how little I rendered
as the lean scythe of the harvest moon.

Now the mirrors leave pamphlets,
celestial junkmail
on the threshold of the mornings
left to live. The years fly by
like an abacus of birds
on the sagging powerlines
that weave compliant lightning
into spider-webs.

And everything I’ve caught
has poisoned me
as the women came and went,
different styles of voltage,
brown-outs and butterflies
surging through my heart
like a new transformer.

Now I remember them gratefully
as so many incubators and used cocoons
beyond conversion
I must be a lousy messiah
or one of the lost wise men
to have come this far
beguiled by an elusive star
without finding a manger anywhere
or saving anyone
from their unsalvageable selves,
least of all me, baffled
as I always am poetically
by these luminous rumours of clarity
that arise like women and waves
to dispose of what I am
and enlighten what I’m not
in the bedrooms and Babylons
and spiritual snake-pits
of a dozen sacred brothels.

Aging is not incremental,
drop by drop,
a succession of moments;
it’s precipitous, a stairwell
of continental shelves
I keep stepping off
into deeper, darker, colder depths,
each, a longer fall than the last;
or it’s like the rain
that fell on me as a child,
and falls on me now,
and will fall tomorrow
to open the flowers
that will languish on my coffin
before they launch my moon-boat
crammed with farewells
into the grave. On good days
poetry is an encyclopedic obituary
you can’t take out of the library,
on bad, a suicide note you can
as soon as you pay your late fees.

My devotion has made me absurd;
and my famous pursuit
of an earthly excellence
has treed me like a pack of hounds,
the chronic yapping
of a literally-minded audience
who want the word made blood.

Out on a leafless limb
I linger here
with only the rising loaf of the moon
to sustain me, believing
for lack of a better delusion
as I scramble the stars like code
it somehow keeps my life
hopelessly important
to bait my own dismemberment
by maintaining this fire-watch
throughout these long nights
in a collapsing wooden tower
erected by reformed arsonists
looking for revelation in a lightning strike.

If I have stayed true to the stars,
to fireflies and candles,
and poems that flare like a book of matches,
and preferred instead
to read in the upturned palms
of the passing storms
not the judgment of a god,
but a cheiromancy of luminous life-lines,
the humour is not lost upon me
nor the danger discounted
that the way I’m going
I might very well end up
reaching out for a rescue
that condemns me to hang
from a rope of my own, as usual
the last to know
in the name
of my misplaced loyalty to everything
I took my own life
to consecrate
the unhallowed ground
of an exalted footnote
wandering from page to page,
looking for a cigarette
and a purple passage worthy
of its illuminating irrelevancy,
its penny of qualification
in the back-rooms, sewers,
short-cuts, by-ways, alleys and gutters,
the addenda, appendices
and mystical errata,
the epilogues and variant recensions
that wait like empty cupboards
and extravagant cemeteries
to annotate these endless drafts
of the unpublishable book of life.