Wednesday, August 8, 2012



Nameless tonight, not me, immensities
beyond my reach. The windows
thawing in the heat. Blue moon
above a junkyard of farm machinery.
The pioneers’ bones have been exhumed
from the land they settled. Empty
the graves of those who slept in these hills,
lunar lichens plastered like playbills
over the closing night of their names.
Echoes we all disappear into like waterbirds
soon enough, skipping out over the lake
like gravestones in the hands of those
who effaced us from our own history.

I can’t place myself anywhere,
alive or dead, no homestead of my own,
where I can watch the raspberry bushes
flourish year after year and listen to the rain
drumming the tin toolshed roof into a trance.
I’m unselfishly disciplined when it comes
to rendering the unsayable communicable
through events of form that shape-shift
to the counter-intuitive logic of metaphor
that transcends physics in post cosmological realms,
but that doesn’t mean I’ve got the will of a socket wrench
to go on tightening loose bolts the rest of my life.
Rocking fields they won’t let me die in.

I like knowing the pioneers used wildflowers
for soap, Bouncing Bet, Pride of London,
Lady at the Gate, and if I were ever
to survive a nuclear war, I’d put this knowledge
to good use like a lantern in a housewell
to keep the hand pump from freezing,
potato peels in the fire to desiccate the creosote.
I’d eat staghorn sumac and briney frogs for breakfast.
My mind would be an assortment
of different size nails and screws
I’ve saved for years to meet any occasion
I might have to keep things together anti-dramatically.

In the meantime I explore these old farms
the way a raccoon exploits an abandoned barn,
listening for the torrential wavelengths of snakes
fleeing the rain to hunt mice in the dishevelled bales
of sour hay way past dreaming of mangers.
After the original occupants die
and the last born son has left the farm for good,
we’re all strangers in a used solitude.
The indignant silence makes everyone a trespasser.
Names on gravestones. Names carved in barn beams.
A scripture of old curtains hanging from the windows
like the priestcraft of spiders that haven’t been disturbed in years.
Prewar magazines espousing the miracles of magnetism
in relieving the agonies of rheumatism
and hairline fractures of cracked vertebrae
that took the load upon themselves out of pride
one too many times without thinking
of their own cornerstones and rotting floor sills.
A roof collapsing. A door on one hinge like a drunk
trying to hold on to something upright and final.
Schools and churches, pews, desks, and woodsheds,
everything as functional as the hives and houseflies
that cluster in the walls like those born to follow
the tried and trued, straight and narrow road
through the winding woods reweaving it
like a loose thread that unravelled the labyrinth
of the spiritual lost and found that dug up their bones
for hygienic reasons that had nothing to do
with how deep they were buried in the land
before their corpses were washed away from the soil
that clung to them like faithful hunting dogs
that slept on their graves for weeks after they died,
not knowing, how the city would come to them,
even in their homegrown deaths, like roadkill and erosion.

I’ve seen crucified barn boards warped by the sun and rain,
pull their old fashioned square-headed nails out
with their own teeth like dogs extracting porcupine quills
from the voodoo dolls they’ve made of themselves
like a self-fulfilling hex of hunting magic gone wrong.
And I admire all that the way I admire the palatial virtues
of the strong who live like glacial hills among
the heaped tels of Sisyphean rocks beside
the valleys they dug for themselves and their children
expiring in moats of scarlet fever, to lie down in
like time capsules without a table of contents
that could have anticipated that all they laboured for
would cast them away like strawdogs after a moribund ritual
that would not let them rest their heads on the rock of the world
and dream they were returning to the wild
like their gardens that have gone on blooming without them.

Salt of the earth with bedrock hearts, I come
like the deus ex machina, as you would have seen me
in terms you could have understood, late in the day
like a ghost to a morality play on tour in the country,
looking for a clearing among the trees to view the stars
long after the applause has died away. And the longer
I stand here surveying six thousand photogenic stars
burning without fire permits in the summer dark,
mourning your exorcism, the more I feel crowded
by your absence as if the Summer Triangle
were missing an eagle and the Seven Sisters
in the orchards of the Pleiades, carried away by the wind,
like Sabine maidens, had pruned the horns of Taurus
by deboning the land of the humans
they’ve torn out of it like the stumps of the locust trees
that used to sing here at night, bright with blossoming stars
and the occasional night bird like me
on its way to somewhere else,
and in the morning, was backed-up
by the ecstatic choirs of the born again honey-bees.




Galactic darkness. Luna moths
drawn in by the zircon oases of
candles on the coffee-table
burning behind plate-glass
like the muses of consumer longing,
given how far it is to fly to the stars,
though nothing blocks the way,
their wings spread on the windows
like death masks and decals on a suitcase,
stamps on forlorn loveletters
that can labour over every sacred syllable
for effect, but still eat
the ashes of neglect for real.

But, then, again, how can you fail
if you’re mad, if you can feel
in your blood, how the stars
can start fires here on earth
using the fireflies for chemical fuses?
Or the moon, her moths, for proxies?
Bless the beatific insanity of crazy wisdom
pursuing an earthly excellence
in the eye of inviolate perfection
to add its petal of light to the shedding
of the unsayable rose that ignites the soul
to the dragon of longing and devotion
that dwells within like serpent fire
waiting on the wind, that’s you,
to give it wings with every breath you take.

Just because you can name all the trees
in the forest, doesn’t mean
you’ve explored a wilderness
or suffered the dangerous ordeals
of your rite of passage through it
to uninhabitable states of mind
your adaptable presence
spontaneously humanizes
with the unlikelihood of you even
being there with your mountainous outlook
and sidereal overview about
the apparent impersonality of the universe
putting its roots down in you like fruitful tree
with a windfall of sustainable planets at your feet.

O little mystic, in midnight shades
of Prussian blue, it isn’t true if you
were to look into the face of your god
your eyes would burn like an oilspill
on an ocean of of prescient wavelengths
that will turn on you like a snake
from the burning faucet of a toxic housewell.
Embrace what consumes you like fire at the stake.
In the blast furnace of the universe they peer into
like the source of the mystery that absorbs them
the astronomers have recast their eyes
into philosophically ground lenses and pyrex mirrors
silvered by a quarter ounce of their vaporous spirits
looking for clarity in a cloud of unknowing
the way the morning air cleans its stardust off with the dew.

Nothing less than everything all the time.
What does the world hold back in reserve,
or your bodymind all you need and prefer
to be as lost as a feather in the shadow of a sundial
as the nightbird you are now, afraid
of where the wind might carry you
far from the aviary of that golden cage
of a voice-box that’s trained you
what to say to strangers who ask
when was the last time you went looking
for continents in a flood, or even
went down with one like Mu or Atlantis,
the kingfisher captain of the ship?

Take a cometary approach and leap
from your black halo into the sun
as if you were jumping orbitals
from a burning bridge where
the serious arsonists come
to commit suicide by flinging themselves
like fire on the water to see if,
like the reflections of the stars,
they can get over their hydrophobia,
by realizing the pilot lights of their fever
can never wholly be put out once
they start spreading like a wildfire
through the zodiac, house by house.

But you don’t need a fire department
in the inflammable amethyst village
sequestered in the coffin of your spiritual life
like a seed afraid to come out of itself
like foxfire after a cosmic conflagration.
You don’t need to dream your totem alone
in a fire-tower in the woods,
high among the crowns of the trees
polling fireflies and meteors by the minute,
to see if you’ve got what it takes
to get something started within yourself
that isn’t just another demonic firecracker
you throw at the ghosts of your afterlives
like pebbles and beans, to scare them away.
Pinocchio runs to the pyre of his karma
in the sacred ashes of someone else’s lifemask
though the flame at the end of his nose
is a dead giveaway he’s attached too many strings
to the box kite self-immolating in the power lines
he thought he could do a quick fly over
like a transmigratory bird avoiding a snake pit
that’s trying to catch its eye like a liar’s holy book,
two minutes with a hook, then dead air
when the hits are shelved like golden ashes
in the urns of an elephant graveyard
where the poachers come to salvage
the tusks and crescent moons of their mnemonic relics.

Any fool can make a religion out of a salvationist alibi
by telling themselves that we were all no good
before we were born, and we all need to be recalled
like Toyota suvs for legally culpable emergency repairs
at mystically specific authorized garages
and shrines with forklifts for spiritual vehicles
to have their undercarriages inspected in the pits of hell
by gurus with Jiffy Lube all over their coveralls
greasing the wheel bearings of the celestial omnibus
to turn round and round and round
like the wheel of birth and death suspended in mid air
and going, as the crow flies, nowhere.

Don’t scorn the fire in the darkness of the coal
that burns on the inside when there’s nothing
but diamonds freezing at the door on the outside
or looking down in longing like the stars
at the flurries of chimney sparks rising
like intimate insights with the lifespan
of enraptured gnats at dusk, to illuminate
the fixed assumptions of the mythic shining
with impromptu constellations of their own
in a smaller darkness closer to home
that glow at night like astral plastic stars
stuck to the ceiling of a child’s bedroom
made infinitely intimate and wondrous
according to the orders of her intuitive seeing
when she walks in the starfields, following
the fragrance of whatever’s she’s dreaming
whether the road evaporates like smoke
from a fire on a cold night in the distance,
or unfolds like a starmap of wildflowers,
a bird with a library of feathers for wings,
she embraces the vast, vacant, interstellar spaces,
the sublime, empty vastness of the tabla rasa
of her imagination, the light emerging out of the void
into the eyes of the uncarved lifemasks
of the most tender and homely of things.