THE FIRE HYDRANTS LOOK AT THE CHANDELIERS OF BLACK CHERRIES
The fire hydrants look at the chandeliers of black cherries
like Leonid meteor showers they’re never going to put out,
a pawn shop of new moons, a rack of tabled cue-balls.
A difference in the quality of heart, if not kind.
The stolid earthbound. The more translucently cavalier.
Hearts that function. Hearts that look for somewhere to dance
against the gathering storm clouds like fireflies under the stars
while it’s still clear enough for everyone to shine.
The galaxies whirling around their black holes
in three four waltz time knowing behind
all that beauty and grace, like a death mask of dark matter,
lies a chaos of rapture, a state of unknowing
that nonetheless knows, a crazy wisdom,
a lucid ignorance in the eye of a draconian eclipse.
Who needs a crystal skull, or a rattle of the spirit filled
with the sacred seed syllables of a dream grammar
that undermines and derails the logic of syntax
like underground rivers of lunar clay moving
under them in the night, not out of radical spite,
or delusionally estranged from a nature
that is neither true nor false, nor any desire
to see the work train topple into the lake as I saw
happen several times in the muskeg when I
was romantically labouring and teaching on an extra gang
lining and tamping our way through the wilderness
from anywhere to here we thought there was a purpose
as useful as a shovel in quicksand. As I said
who needs a crystal skull when you’ve already
got two eyes in your head and a mind behind them
to create endless paradigms and occult cosmologies
of the world as you see it, create it, and it becomes you?
Nights I weep mercury like a broken-hearted thermometer
taking the measure of my own entropy. Nights I weep
blood and water, cruel roses and compassionate rain
for love affairs I’ve never found the exit or the entrance to
though everything was self-contained and understandable,
but for the pain, but for the pain, expanding like space,
there was never a unit of measure or monad for that
when it’s wavelengths were millions of angstroms off
the scale of the Doppler Shift that would let me know,
in relative frames of reference, whether a heart
was moving toward me or apart. The birthmark
of a meteor with extinction on its mind, or a windfall
of black cherries like balloons in mourning released
like laughing gas at a black mass for poets and pariahs.
Tonight is agony without extasis. I may be
a high wire act crossing the void on my own spinal cord,
who knows how to land on his feet like the stars,
but balance is not peace, and tomorrow I’ll be jumping
through hoops of fire like a tiger of a comet in a circus
of endangered life forms when the lightning
cracks the whip like a ringmaster with a boomslang in his hands.
And the night after that I’ll be carving Mayan calendars
out of the petrified bones of my flesh and blood,
fossils in the Burgess Shale, to count the eras off
since I’ve last seen either of my children, feeling
like Stonehenge without a spring or autumn equinox.
A sun dial of the apocalypse, why has there never
been anyone here to explain this endless silence to me?
Why do the lies go on seeking God to justify themselves
and the truth refuses to speak for itself?
Hey, but I’m made of sterner stuff than that.
An adamantine alloy of necessity and imagination,
I’ve evolved a spiritual immunity to a whole range
of emotional insecticides crop dusting the wild harvest
of my jungle heart with napalm and agent orange,
as much by mutation as through transcendence
when I’m not morphing without roots in a salted wasteland
that’s forgotten the taste of bread and the fragrance of flowers
and everybody’s afraid of eating the polluted fruits of the earth.