Sunday, August 5, 2012



Time to myself.
The first half hour feels
as if I’m sitting at a bus-stop
waiting for something that’s never going to come.
Thoughts like stray threads of hair on my shoulder.
Old love affairs that have gone grey in my absence.
After the last flashflood I scuttled the ark of my heart
on the moon, like a dog far enough into the country
it couldn’t find its way home again.
Love’s always a mystically unique reality
but the cosmic urgencies of the pain
I endured demonically in the name
of things that were too feeble to believe in,
eventually came to hum like white noise
in the background of a boring curse
where all you could do was dogpaddle
in the flotsam and jetsam of incredible trivia
that floats up to the surface of a shipwreck on the bottom
waiting for the next lifeboat.

No one locks their doors in the country
unless they’re living a field away
from a hobby-farm, hillbilly crackhouse
that’s been handed down like the story
of a body in a lost housewell somewhere on the property,
so if someone were to step in out of the night,
I wouldn’t stand my ground like a ten point, white-tailed buck
on a hill that’s been posted against hunting
with grenades, and feel too sure of myself,
but just the same, I’d watch from a distance for awhile.
Like a wolf made shy by intelligence,
I wouldn’t come down from the timberline
until I was convinced by the probable concourse of events
there was no bounty on my head
and no judas-goat was pleading in a leg-hold trap.

Sounds brutal when I say it, but not to those
who’ve been shot at by shepherd moons
trying to cull the pack like asteroids into extinction
whenever it tried to snatch the golden calf by the throat
and bleed it like a rose of transubstantiation in the snow.
The most insane things I’ve ever done
in a world that specializes in absurdity
I’ve done for the beauty of the madness
that overtook me like the acids of a Venus fly-trap.

Sometimes love can be a lighthouse on the moon
with no one to give a warning to, it may be a mermaid
but it’s been singing the same old song on the rocks too long
and I’m poet enough to go down with the ship
but not as a creature of habit. The scratched guitar
with a warped neck in the corner
that made a benign hobby out of a way of life
that was once the death call of the music
that only endangered species could hear and dance to.

Love needs a wide screen to feature
the wingspans of its emotions so any sky
you might find yourself flying in fits you like skin.
But me? I can see a masterpiece in the paint rag of a parrot.
And there are worlds within worlds within worlds
so unanimously unconcerned with us
they have to read ancient history just to prove
that we exist as an unexplained anomaly
of the cosmic background hiss of radiant annihilation
deconstructing into the echoes of its original inspiration
like birds crying in the throat of a valley
that holds its notes too long
to keep time with the pace and passage of life.

Love’s a melodic state of mind with a percussive heartbeat
and no one’s ever really missing from the band
on the road like religious icons of democracy,
even when they get homesick for their girlfriends
and the drummer is moved in his heart of hearts
more by paranoia and lust than he is love and music
to end his calling in a bus station with a broken phone,
trying to make sure his girlfriend’s there
when he gets home at two in the morning.

Not especially bitter, and only occasionally longing,
but I remember the happy day my Greek chef friend announced
he no longer worshipped at the feet of the great goddess sex,
and died of cancer five months later, and how
even Mahatma Gandhi couldn’t pacify the hydra
of his sexual desires by lighting little fires
all around him when he slept on a pyre of women.
Worse than celibacy is abstracting the flesh into a hungry ghost.
To damn the body with the faint praise
of a sin of omission that denigrates its earthly excellence
as an instrument of God in the hands of rank amateurs
trying to weave flying carpets on the loom of a guitar
to add their wavelength of lament to the disappointed stars.

Where the bullet comes to rest
in a cosmic game of Russian roulette
is forensically irrelevant. Who
got it through the heart and who
got it through their head can go on arguing forever
who suffered the deepest death
when the daffodils began behaving like periscopes
intent on torpedoing the love boat
zigzaging through the sealanes of a wolfpack.

Open-armed as the bay of a seaworthy sailor,
I embrace love these days lightly with a kiss
like a ticket in a lottery I’m not expecting to win
but revel in like a Zen poet dancing with the moon
as if he were water, and it was taking its sail down
over the treetops, to stay awhile on his enchanted island
where delusion is not an obstruction to bliss,
and enlightenment isn’t anymore of a seer
than the scars of the star that stripmined your eyes are.




Long day painting by myself down by the lake
where I used to paint with you many years ago,
and now your absence haunts my solitude
as I grey my greens with cool alizarin red
and though the trees and the water are the same
it’s a much eerier world just to know once
you who were here with me, are utterly gone,
and what has carried on without you, though
I’m affably intimate with its creative characteristics
is wholly estranged from the name I’ll write on this painting.

As if an era in art had passed. Dreams and assumptions,
things you take for granted because in living them
you sometimes must, like love and oxygen,
and the presumption of life going on between us,
for the most part unplanned,
but a commingling of waters nevertheless,
a sharing in the other’s quiet amazement
that the other exists as they are in your mindscape at all.

A heron rises from the cattails in the shallows.
A fish jumps at a dragonfly on the tip of a sword
of the wild irises in a muddle of mystic indigo
and a sulphur butterfly struggles in the thick pthalo blue
of the sky I slashed in with my painting knife
as if I were grouting the canvas like a mason
to lay a fieldstone wall that wouldn’t keep the birds out
that have learned to ignore me like a scarecrow
in warpaint ghost dancing at an easel
spreading its legs like a doe
come out of the woods
to drink quietly from its own reflection.

Everything seems thriving and deserted.
The waterlilies still clutter the wild rice
like prolific constellations of the frogs
whose singing doesn’t sound all that bad after awhile.
I’m a curiosity to the fox
that’s been taking a profound interest in my work
all afternoon as if I were some kind of savage impressionist
and it were a cultural savant with a few pointed suggestions.
Two raccoons luxuriating like moss on a femur of oak
behind me, watching me underpaint the lakeshore rocks
like two kids through the wire fence of a construction site.

Events of the day. Transactional armies in the grass,
bees and ruby throated humming birds
enabling the daylilies like pyromaniacs
and soon, the green dragon of the sumac
will burn in the auto de fe of the fall as well.

But you are not here to mention it to
and compared to the quality of the isolation
I once lived here with you in paradise
the beauty of my painting lacks the highlights
and finished details I used to attend to
knowing how they’d shine by the light of your eyes
as an effect of the atmospherics you brought to the scene.

And though everything appears the same,
it’s uncanny not to be heading homewards
with the shadows and the crows
as you and I did so many nights
well pleased with what
we laboured for all day in the sun
to a farmhouse full of paintings
whose windows cling to the remaining light
as we did like waterbirds for awhile
around a lake full of constellations
as the Eagle, the Swan and the Lyre,
went down behind the abstract expressions
of the sad geometry of the barn roof
weary of rusting like wavelengths of rippled tin,
not knowing whether it’s holding out
against the wind, the rain, the field fires
or still holding something empty
as an urn full of stars
that were scattered like chimney sparks
on one of the coldest nights of my life, in.




Dying young in autumn,
the ideal death of a flower or a star
whose beauty’s still as obvious
as a door that’s been left ajar at night.

The fireflies are search parties
out looking for someone
who’s made an escape through the woods,
or they’re lamp lighting deer
out of the dark into the glare of their insights.

Train whistle in the distance
works its ghost to death
Doppler-shifting its lament
into an infra-red eclipse of existence.

And then the stars in the eyes
of the recurring storm of the trees,
flaring over-eagerly like candles and dragons
to burn for the sheer delight of it.

I make my way through a labyrinth
of foliage and moonlit shadows
to nowhere in particular
with a rocky slope glacially graded
down to what the locals say
is a fathomless lake none of their childhoods
were ever deep enough to plumb.

I lie down upon the cool poultice of the earth
and I can feel it drawing
all the fever out of me like the effluvium
of swimming the thousand polluted mindstreams
I’ve become osmotically enculturated to
like a dendritic form of spiritual gangrene.

The moon puts a new dressing on my wound.
I urge the pain to rest like a homing bird
on a limb that’s healing like the rafter of a house
that broke under the weight of what it upheld
when a three alarm fire in the heart
sought sanctuary from an ice storm
and it was nobody’s fault but my own
that I didn’t let it go out like a flagging comet
with the rest of the daylilies
that died in harness like parachutes.

I’ve kept it alive for lightyears
like a book of the occult in an industrial library.
I’ve cupped its light in my hands
like an ancestral offering
to the enlightenment of my peers
and though the clouds have raved
and the wind turned vicious
it still burns in me like a dragon in an aviary,
a canary in a mine, a muse in a lantern,
a genie in an old lamp, a female demon
that only blooms in fire like a black waterlily
with nothing to fear from the new moon.
Or the fireflies trying to find it on a star map.