Saturday, July 28, 2012



The leaves sluicing the rain down the back of my neck
to put out my candle of serpent-fire
like an orchid in an abandoned house well,
lightning in its tears, thunder in the hollow
of its telescope when the white runaway horse
pounds its hoof upon it at four in the morning,
the muscled embodiment of moonlight made flesh,
the stars running to peer through their windows
to see what’s making that sound.
The sodden path down to the lake, rife with duff,
an Orphic descent whose picture-music
owes nothing to death, and the moss-pated skulls
of the prophetic rocks along the way, every precarious step,
the assessment of an omnipresent danger
that could kick the stool from out under your noose,
though you were foolishly hoping it might be
an Egyptian ankh, granting you long life
in an underworld where anything that’s violet
is the toxic shadow of an inconsolable grief
that laments that it had ever met the sun eye to eye,
and try how it might, can’t make a way of life
out of suicide. But I didn’t come here to grease
the hinges on hell like the wings of rusty birds
or desecrate the place with my omnipresence.

Once I realized the realm of the dead
is no realm at all that can be distinguished from the living,
I’ve returned to this underground river from time to time
where the roots try to take hold of my skull like the moon
as if it were their last chance at blossoming,
and my bones are scattered along the banks
like socket wrenches from a dead mechanic’s tool box
or a coffin that’s finally run out of things to fix.
This is where I come to return my harp of water
to a watershed of indistinguishable wavelengths
in homage to the source that handed it on to me,
a voice of my own, and there’s a bridge I stand on
no one’s burnt down yet, just a fallen log really,
but to me an overarching oxymoron that lets me stand
on both sides of the mindstream at once
to pay homage to a death I long to be worthy of
like a teacher my life is obligated to surpass
to fully honour her undisciplined transcendence.

Like water. A carrying away into a carrying away.
We couldn’t tell time if we weren’t all dying.
Eternity just a sundial that never closed its eyelids.
The wounded serpent of the waterclock bleeding out
like a human heart to remind us what hour it is,
what windfalls and harvests of the season of our soul
to leave in the begging bowls we place
at the eastern doors of our autumnal burial huts,
hoping we’ll see each other again, once are bones are dust,
like Canada geese returning in the early spring.

Some bring silver swords minted of moonlight
thrusting through the parting clouds
and lay them down on the water gently
like children they once cherished abandoned for life
as the greatest gift their hands had ever grasped.
I lay down this gift of a clear voice
that no fear or desire’s ever broken in like a wishbone
pimped out like tinfoil to the glamour of temptation.
Whatever storms raged in the crowns of its oracular branches,
this tree never injured any bird that ever sang in it.
I never hung my lyre like a dreamcatcher over the bed,
or used it to seduce butterflies into a spider-web,
dolphins into a bay of fishing-nets, nor yet
let its strings go slack like the pentatonic spinal cords
of a guitar that’s lost its nerve in the dark corners of life.
Nor did I ever refuse to sing what the dead asked me to
anymore than I did the living. Nor let the medium
intrude upon the message in such a way
the import of the song couldn’t exceed
the wingspan of the bird that released it
into the vastness of its interstellar longing.

Here the dead whisper their secrets to the waters
like coy sylphs of the wind flirting with waves,
and here where dissolution walks in the same shoes
as regeneration, and one step east is one step west
and though there’s a coming and though there’s a going
birth and death don’t know anything about this,
and Prussian blue the wet wind that’s been crying
about the sturm and drang of things to the broken pines
whose excruciations have become part of their character,
as if the haloes of the rain rippled through their heartwood
like the echoes of old engagement rings
from wide-eyed springs that have lasted for light years.

Death isn’t the derelict of life’s glory.
Just as peace isn’t the end of passage.
Mid-summer squanders as many flowers
on the capricious rivers of life as it does
the funeral bells of the fallen water birds.
And maybe that’s all these words are,
wild iris and daylilies lifting their skirts
above the flowing like troupes of gypsy fires
that like dancing to the flutes of their own desires
as they burn on the pyres of their floral reflections.
Who knows this late in the day, but maybe
I’m just trying to approach my own death
like an unopened gate to a garden
the way I did as a novice to love
when I couldn’t tell a larkspur from a hollyhock
nor what sign the star sapphire of the borage
wanted to be planted under like the Pleiades?

Anyway it pans out is ok with me, though.
I like it here where the waterlilies reset their sails
like redemption out of their own salvage
and after a long, grey day of funereal rain,
the clouds begin to clear around nightfall
and my eyes are seeded with the stars
of unnamed constellations of New England asters
that don’t conform to any known starmaps
I can follow genetically back like a fuse of dna
to the Big Bang of my first flowering into life.

And maybe I’m a mutant in the ancestry of death
that has always been the subliminal motif
of a symphonic life that wasn’t immune
to the picture-music of the celestial spheres
but I can’t help noticing how the bones of the muskrat
and the skeletal remains of the heron’s stilts
toppled by the stealthy fluke of a fox
all resonate like musical instruments
laid down in tribute on the roots of the trees
and on the sides of the paths that broke like melodies
on the ears of the dead who could taste them
like the tears of the moon on their silver tongues.

In this realm of radiant starmud in a state
of reanimating life out of its own detritus and decay,
I can hear their ghosts returning to life
like native atmospheres
returning to the songs of the lunar night birds
that don’t abuse their solitude with a sense of loss
without sweetening the music
with the ripeness of their silence
just before the grande finale
of their next windfall of transcendent whole notes.




I circumnavigated my eyes
to wash these ashen rags of grief off
like the torn sails of the Magellanic Clouds.
I knew how deeply I was lost
when I set my starmaps afire
because they got in the way of the shining,
to give them a first hand experience
of lighting things up for themselves
like arsonists playing with draconian desire.
Took me years to get the last shadow
of your misdirected spearhead out of my heart,
make white noise out of the snarling chainsaw
that accompanied you like a seeing-eye dog.

At first the intensity of the pain
clued me forensically into thinking
the sheer immensity of your crime of passion,
the number of times you stabbed me through the heart
meant you loved me more than you cared to let on
but then I noticed all your knives were smiling
like scalpels that had just blooded the moon in my eyes
and I could see the savage delight
you took in my Orphic dismemberment
like an artist in a surgical theatre of vivisected hearts.
Incisions I’ll remember for the rest of my life
like paper cuts from a black belt in loveletters.

I forgave what I could and deliberately
misunderstood the rest to let you pass
without being noticed by the demonic lighthouses
that kept watch along the coast like candles
at a black mass for a continental shift in perspective.
I think I was still half in love with you
when I was assessing the drift of our separation
in light years, and the grief, at times, when it didn’t seem
potentially lethal, was almost suicidally beautiful,
but as my afterlives dragged on like retrogressive epicycles,
as you did when you pulled the stars out by their roots,
I let the garden return to the wild
and laid out a defensive position of black holes
the dead who once bloomed here
never need worry about being exhumed from.

And I remember standing on the trajectory of a bridge
throwing the bones of my body parts off
like the pages of a calendar scored by a sword
in a cutting edge experiment with oviparous clones
born like mystic comas from spiritual replications
of the same cosmic egg you could never break out of
even after I defused myself like the supernova
of an unexploded terrorist who was once wired to you
like the memory of an old risk that wasn’t worth the cause
or the collateral damage it would have done
to the startled innocence of the bystanding stars,
not to mention the traumatic disheartening of the sun
in having to realign its shining with midnight
like a firefly in a dream on a flowerless, terminal ward.

You were the anti-enlightenment that occluded my identity
as if I’d never been there in the first place,
and that would have been fine, I would have
happily lived for you as a better lost cause
than the one I was waging like an unholy war of one.
I would have burned in my inexhaustible solitude
like a discipline of devotion refining my passion for you
into a sword worth falling upon in the name of your integrity.
It would have been a privilege, a tribute, a blessing
to have had you there to give it all up to,
knowing you can never lose what you freely give away,
to get behind your dream like a demonically fulfilled familiar.
Capo, and consigliere, but the power went to your ego,
forgetting that arrogance makes you unguardedly stupid
and stupid will get you killed faster than evil,
but you didn’t need my advice to assist you with that.

Not to be. That’s the last plea of exoneration
from people who don’t know the damage
they’ve done to each other without even trying to.
The inert delusions of neon gas that highlights
the stations of the heart where we stopped
along the way for a garish night
of PyschoBabylonic heartbreak gone berserk
and solar flares ionized the gun-metal, electrical fragrance
of flowers going supernova in space as if
they were ripping the veils and spiderwebs off
the gutter wisdom of the upper atmosphere gone slumming.

Even if I didn’t need to, from playful firefly
to dragon sage with dusky yellow blood,
I would have transmogrified myself for you,
an oracular shapeshifter delighted to accommodate
the most delicate lineaments of protozoic desire
to keep you from bottoming out like the Burgess Shale
into a motile labyrinth of genetic cul de sacs
waiting for your traffic jam to turn green again.

Not to be. The gavel of whose will?
The officious seal of whose blood?
Better to be loved than righteous, feast the heart
among friends and lovers rather than
nibble on the bitter weeds of your isolated sanctimony.
You were always trying to salvage
perfection from its flaws, dehumanize it somehow
into nanodiamonds you wanted to genetically replicate.
Pollen of crystal flowers in a menagerie of bees
that turned their hive into a kiln of glass honey
that shattered like tears at your feet when you wept.

Who isn’t an approximation of the person
they hoped to achieve, who isn’t the fraud
of their own accomplishment, more disbelieving
in themselves than those who applaud with envy
the strawdog that gets thrown on the fire
after it’s served a ritual purpose no one
quite understands? Hard to find a rose in the wild
that isn’t supple and pudgy, blighted and marred,
soiled by life, armed and scarred, dust on its leaves.
You wanted to excise the imperfections
as if you were editing my emotional life.
I was always the diamond in the rough
you were going to send like a foolish jewel
to a multi-faceted finishing school
where they scrubbed your ancestry out of you
like bituminous coal off your immaculate, adamantine record.

Trouble is when you let that happen
you’re not rooted in life anymore,
you scrape the poetry of living
from out under the moon’s fingernails.
And there’s no way you can plough a mirror
and throw a seed in it and expect it to sprout
however you exalt and weep over it.
Life may be a black hole,
but it’s not an infertile ditch
of mercury trying to pass
for a thread of silver in the moonlight
through the eye of a needle wider than the Hubble
popping bubbles like worlds in the multiverse.

I offered you dragons, but you wanted me to be
a hyena with great table manners whenever
we were eating the leftovers of a lion
at your mother’s place, and I was always
the savage you picked on to say grace
as if the words would somehow burn in my mouth.

And I suppose I could have been seated
at the appropriate place at the table below the salt
and not eaten before those you considered alpha dogs did,
and torn my share of meat from the spoils
of the psychological leg-hold traps set for everyone,
and honed my night vision to take down
an albino baby rhino on a National Geographic documentary
to reveal that scavengers know how to hunt on the sly
nocturnally. Maybe you would have seen me
in a different light, maybe it would have become
easier in time to become what you had in mind for me
but I can shift hearts and minds as easily as forms
and when I assumed I was you for a moment
I could see, after the hyena, you had me
lined up like a chimpanzee in a cage
with needles taped to my shaved head
as I expired in my solitude like visiting hours
with pain the only nurse on the night shift
working over time in the lab of a perfumery
to make the abattoir you made of the roses
I used to bring you, smell more like blood than flowers.
And that’s when my sense of empathy
began to grow eyelids so I could turn it off at night
to identify with the dream figures
that didn’t wake up with me when I did
and I began to evolve an affectionate sensitivity
to the exquisite features of compassion inherent
in painting life masks on the emptiness
to amuse my own inconceivable sensibilities.