Thursday, September 13, 2012



Want to be brilliant, want to shine like a black star.
Trying to bend space with my mind. Trying to stop time
with my heart. Counting moments like beads on a rosary
of skulls, or shepherd moons on an abacus of gravity.
Though I know they’re not all strung out like that.
Asteroids on a wavelength of light, or a spinal cord.
Or maybe I’m just trying to bead a guitar string
with a great black hole, or is it a lunar pearl,
in the center of a lyrical abyss? Workaday world
in a small town, who spends their time like this?
Not fortunate enough to have been born a carpenter,
I’m a mystically surrealistic, poetic astrophyicist
trying to come up with a new grammar for the stars
so all they have to do to express their shining,
is say, Metaphor, and as it is in the abyss, so it is everywhere.

Because I miss you like the main clause of my relativity.
The focal point of all my wavelengths. You’re the radiant
and I’m the Martian meteor shower that’s dying
to bring the gift of life to the Antarctic like the Leonids
did in the first place as I look at my face in the mirror
and think it’s time for a change of species. Sometimes
it’s crucial to sustain a few pathetic fallacies about yourself
so when you’re under the moonweather of an estranged planet
and a black star breaks through the clouds like the anti-matter
of a waterlily, so do you. Funny how the flowers close their eyes
because none of them wants to miss the eclipse.
One of them said we’re all looking through a glass darkly
but I don’t see any soot on their petals,
and none of the telescopes are wearing shades.

I like to keep things clear in the light of the void.
I’ve come along way from the coal mines of space
to shine through your diamond so you can feel
a different kind of translucency that’s eleven parts cheap thrill
in all the dimensions I can see you in, and one,
not even you, has discovered yet, that’s the orphan of an exile
singing to himself to people the dark in a desert of stars
like a gnostic gospel in the mouth of a cave
to keep the evil jinn and bad spirits away
from the watersheds of my wishing wells
where the angels gather to mingle with the demons like water
they’ve just turned into wine. As for the other eighty-nine
realms of seeing and being what you see, they’re shrines
I’ve devoted to you, swearing in blood and devotion
on the sidereal plinth of my sword, as I dedicate
all my prophetic skulls from the dark side of the moon
where the crows are wiser about lunar things than the doves,
to the enhancement of your radiance, your love and your art,
by deepening the dark, with a full heart, with things to harvest
that will make the abyss seem like a silo of stars you can break like bread.




He doesn’t really know what it all means,
but he gives it access to his heart, free-range of his mind.
Not expecting an answer to the mystery of life
because it isn’t petty enough to have one,
he explores its horrors and wonders along the way
making small discoveries like rings and keys in the grass.
He doesn’t look at things darkly through a glass anymore
since his binoculars turned into the third eye
of a mandalic kaleidoscope that has a way
of turning his chromatic aberrations into enlightenment.
And if he does it’s usually a nightsky squandering stars
on those with the eyes to see them in the starmud
of their flesh and blood, in everyone of their insights,
an intimacy with billions of midnight suns all shining at once.

Mind includes the brain but the brain doesn’t include the mind.
Just the way love includes the heart, but the heart
is a mere nugget of love, compared to what there is of love
it takes more than the measure of a universe to contain.
This is the cruising altitude of a submarine
that has spiritual aspirations of becoming a flying fish,
forgetting that love and mind are formless and without images
that can be grasped or rejected like stained glass windows,
totem poles or icons. If love were as brittle as that
it would surely break. You could lose it. You’d
need to defend it. It could be wounded like a rose
that suffered haemophilia for the rest of its fragile life.
You’d have to look for it down on your hands and knees
late at night when the grass is wet, with a lantern of fireflies.
You’d have to put the pieces back together with the binding energies
of the strong and weak nuclear forces if you ever
stepped on it accidentally like a nesting English skylark’s egg.
And if you ever ran out of it when the water palace
of the black Taj Mahal turned back into a hovel in a slum,
you’d have to beg, and that would either empower your inferiors
or open a window of opportunity as big as the nightsky
for the indefinable to be merciful to the unattainable.

But take it from the experienced astroalchemist he is
if you mix a little starmud with a splash of moonwater,
and stir it in your heart, and let it sit awhile,
then drink a great draft of it from your skull
as if you could swallow a whole river in a single gulp,
down to the last drop, this feeling will overwhelm you
and halfway between midnight and the new moon
love will lend its eyes to your mind,
like the nightsky does starlight to a mirror,
and both will disappear into the longest, clearest light year of their lives.
If not, he tells himself, it’s binary galaxies with binoculars
passing through each other like the ghosts of two starfish
trying to find a dynamic equilibrium to their maculate lucidity
like a gyroscope in a space where you don’t really need one
but for the optics of what you can see
with your naked third eye, is probably tender and wise.




Trying to interpret the silence like glyphs in a jungle ruin.
Afraid of what they might say if I cut the vines away
like a Medusa’s head of spinal cords connected to my brain,
or this octopus of major blood vessels plugged into my heart.
My dna is the long molecule of a Zen cowboy,
with the Mongolian genes of a shaman practising
hunting magic that ensnares what he loves
in the nets of constellations that do no harm
to the wavelengths of the prey. You’ve got
to keep on dying every day if you want
to be born again in the dream tree of a shaman.
This is the way you avoid taking possession of your transcendence.
This is the way you break out of a cosmic egg
like a dragon without making an aviary of your solitude.

So many voices all at once in my head,
trying to say something in the living languages of the dead
about annihilation in a time urgent with the mystery of need.
When space isn’t expanding the potential of its own medium
into the available dimensions of a future
that’s already behind us by the time it gets here
like a delinquent s.o.s. from a star we were hoping
had got a fix on us like the maidenhead of a lifeboat,
it breeds. It proliferates like punctuation. It bonds
disparate elements into oxymoronic metaphors
that leave you as elated as a vertiginous Sufi at a crossroads
knowing that ultimate union doesn’t have to be
about one or the other of infinite ways to make it through life,
you can shine like a star emerging from its own ancestral ashes
and take them all at once. Or as Dogen Zenji
said to himself one night when the moon was clear:
The place is here. The path leads everywhere.

I emerge from my own flame like a genie of fire
without smoke, and burn invisibly in my own art
like a crucible of the heart. Hermes Trismegistus,
the Thrice-Blessed, in a biochemical retort
bubbling over like the multiverse getting out of the bathtub
without leaving a ring around the womb of hyperspace.
I’ve washed so many lives off like the moon
it’s a wonder I’m not a virgin again, but the return journey
of the second innocence is better than the first
because it’s been sweetly seasoned by a universe
looping in reverse through all the stations
and excruciating transformations of my life
that don’t have the same sting in their glands
when they first struck out at me like mystic acetylene
and scaled flashes of insight into the psyche of lightning.

I’m a big boy. The acquiescent khan of millions,
the Golden Horde who would rather make love than war any day
of the Great Tectonic Year, trying to read the fault-lines
in my own skull, volcanic fissures between continental plates
and the surrealistic empires crowding my stargates.
I can take the pain. I was born for it. Raised in it.
Even if I’m deciphering my own gravestone,
brushing away the stardust like a patina of mirages
with my eyelashes for a broom, my tongue for a dustpan,
ripping away the roots like the nervous systems
of the things that cling to it like the cornerstone of a ghost.
Been alone so long in the company of stars,
raising this hourglass of time to the beauty of their eyes,
even quicksand can look like the oasis of a distant galaxy to me.
And this skull of a headstone, crumbling like bread for the birds,
not a ruin, but just another phase of the moon I’m living through.




While the ghosts are putting make-up on their death masks in the green room
and looking for their false eyelashes like centipedes on the floor,
I’m out on stage apologizing for a power outage of the stars
that shouldn’t be blamed on the windmills everybody’s tilting at.

And even Mother Theresa is lining up with the mermaids
on the deck of the latest shipwreck to see if she can get a bunk for the night
without any bugs or bedsores. Crackhead, hillbilly, hippie rednecks
are pouring booze over the amps of the band, and the arsonist in the corner
who hasn’t said a thing all night a lip reader could understand
is trying to short out his nerves to start a fire in the walls.
The underground circus is back in town like Cirque du Soleil in eclipse,
and as far as I can see, there are a lot of fire hydrants around
but no sacred clowns, and the audience is perched on a public trapeze
under a tent of starmaps that have never seen the Pleiades.

If you just got here, Edgar Allen Poe’s already had it out with the raven,
but nobody cares much, since it should have happened a long time ago,
and besides, Nevermore’s not much of a door to get out of
in case of a fire. Go ask the thief who left the moon in the window
and my reflection in the mirror when everything else disappeared.
He’ll tell you about the cat burglar who fell off the seventh floor
and lived to go on tour with the tale when she got crazy enough
to be wise, and put on a golden parachute that was the same size as her skin.
Have you seen Rasputin? I’m looking for my bleeding heart,
and the last time I heard of him he was in a bag in a river
with a snake that was using a rooster as a fire to keep warm
while the toxins and the bullets took effect, though all the haemophiliacs
and worried assassins said when they pulled him out, he still wasn’t dead.
Hey, you’ve got to give a man credit for not dying
when he was too innocent to float like a waterlily or an ice-berg
in a trial by ordeal that’s more Germanic than Slavic
though he should have been more subtle in his approach
to a courtful of jesters and gleemen who hate
the sound of anyone’s laughter in their midst but the king’s and their own.

And even the high priest of the Wizard of Oz
with his police megaphone and his taser baton agrees
you can’t learn the protocols of mythic inflation
unless you’re on your knees. Though I suspect
there’s a lot less behind that than at first glance appears
as Cygnus swan-dives sidereally into a pool the size of a tear
without a safety net of shattered mirrors in the land of lakes
to break its Icarian descent into the shallow end of the fools
who are watching with their third eyes closed,
and lens caps on their telescopes like the blindfolds of a firing squad
that don’t look much like the hoods of hunting falcons
with a bola of bells around their legs,
and the crescents of the moon for a trinity of talons.

But by the end of the act, the ghost of Lady Nightshade comes forth
like a spiritual toxologist with a spiritual arrowhead in her hands
to make a Clovis point of flint-knapped obsidian as clearly as she can
by plunging it through everyone’s heart like Jonestown
that’s just run out of black cool aid to bring
everything down to ground zero again as the roof blows off
in an unexpected cyclone, and we’re all left lying here
caught dead in our tracks like telescopes
and the standing targets of easels in the doe-glare
of the oncoming headlights of vehicles into roadkill
as if there were no more ripples or wavelengths in the rain
or tree rings anywhere in the petrified heartwood of the pain.




The light doesn’t talk to the flowers anymore
the way it used to. I can feel a lot of shadows touching my face
as if it were written in braille. Acid in the rain.
Tears of dry ice in the housewell. Weathervanes
knocking at the door to get out of the storms
they used to revel in, and the storms themselves,
no kamikazes riding a divine wind against the Mongols,
at best, a mango-flavoured tempest in a Japanese teapot.
And even Zen can’t put an edge on the full moon
to cut through everything like a harvest being threshed.

No songs from the birds that used to wake me up in the morning,
only these spiders weaving their smokey laryngeal webs
like a voice that got stuck in the throat of a chimney
when it forgot, when you sing from the heart,
you don’t need a medium or a seance. Not even an art
that’s interested in what you’re saying unless
you’re obeying a grammar of headstones that don’t know
what you’re talking about until it’s not worth
bringing up anymore in anybody’s language
whether the metaphors are living or not. Words in a bonebox.
Locks and bars on our eyes. Dumb-bells stuck through our tongues
like someone was doing voodoo on the leaves
or the baton of a drum major in a parade
that’s never going to come, afraid to leave home on its own.

Since I was a boy in the late Cretaceous,
I’ve always wondered about the timing
of the asteroids and comets and why
they had such an impact upon the dinosaurs.
But I hear they were already on their way to extinction
because of the earth’s own volcanic activity,
and, at worst, the asteroid just accelerated
the flywheel of birth and death a bit.
Bad spin on an antiquated myth of origin.
Better luck next time, but right now the mammals
have evolved so far beyond that they’re destroying themselves
in a long, slow nuclear winter of attrition
that’s putting a pillow over everybody’s face
like the cloud cover of a screening myth with an air force
that buffers the light with our own ashes
and much prefers smouldering to ignition.

What did Berryman say in a letter to Wang Wei,
centuries after the fact, just before he jumped from a bridge
into an ice-covered river with the Pulitzer Prize in his hands?---
O to talk to you in a freedom from ten thousand things.
Be dust myself pretty soon. Not now. Or words to that effect.
But just the same, it’s hard to get into the skull
of the man anymore without the flame of a candle or a dragon
to see where you’re going in case you nudge an atom the wrong way
and bring on another astronomical catastrophe inadvertently.
Minefield covered in snow like a pioneer cemetery
buried on the hilltop of an avalanche with a view of the valley below.
Dangerous, too, to move among the stars freely
like a rogue planet without a starmap, causing perturbations
in the orbits of the shepherd moons on an exploratory flyby
to see if there’s any kind of intelligent life you can identify with.

The nights are getting darker. The stars are moving further apart.
Sooner or later everything tends toward empty space
until there isn’t even any room left in it for itself.
And nothing ever dawns upon you there but endless entropy
and time comes to a sudden halt where spaces runs out
and the bones of the fossilized stars are left like empty chairs
in a dark auditorium with bad acoustics.

I’ll write it on the wind now, while I have the chance.
I’ll write it like a fire in smoke at a ghost dance.
I’ll write it in blood and tears and rivers and stars.
I’ll write it in scars and wounds as deep as roses.
I’ll write it on the skins of the snakes that I’ve shed
like serpent fire running up the lunar thread of my spinal cord
like a lightning rod tattooing the clouds of unknowing
with the insights of fireflies into the mysterious darkness of life,
who know that one glimpse is enough of a Big Bang
to satisfy even the blind who go looking for their eyes
with their eyes like a windfall in a thunderstorm of picture-music
though they’re still hanging on to the same old lifeline
like an umbilical cord between the backdoor and the barn
in blizzard of stars and butterflies. I’ll write it in light.

I’ll write it on the eyelids of eclipses and occultations alike.
I’ll write it on the foreheads of the mute rocks
in runic striations of glaciers retreating north in tears,
I’ll write it on my bones before I’m buried under the hearthstones
with a big rock on my chest like an asteroid
rolled over a cave to make sure I’ll never rise again
like Jesus and Muhammad said I would if I was good,
or Ali Baba and the forty thieves muttering their shibboleths
on the thresholds of an artificial paradise, in case I wasn’t.
Now is the light. Now is the loving and the living.
Now is the hour for the hidden nightbirds to raise their voices
in the sacred groves of the moon to celebrate
the brevity of their own longing for the unattainable
blossoming on the dead branch of their aspiration.

There’s only so much time, and then, in a moment or two, forever.
The heart sings awhile like a red-winged black bird on a green bough.
And then the eyeless silence of the stars
who have looked down upon nothing for 14.3 billion lightyears
and watched the fireflies dancing to the music
of their own tiny hearts, lockets of light, of insight,
that open like seeds and eyes sown into the abyss
to let all winged things, and even star-nosed moles can fly,
out of the cages of their earthbound solitude like dragons
taken down like occult books from their hardwood shelves,
with the wingspan of constellations singing in the night to themselves.