ALL THESE BOTTLES WITH S.O.S. INSIDE
All these bottles with s.o.s. inside
but not a genie in a lamp among them.
Occasionally the Cutty Sark
in a forty pounder of whiskey,
but the masts snap like matchsticks
whenever I try to pull them out
as if I were trying to give a caesarian
to the chrysalis of a dragonfly
that got turned around somehow. Too often
a viper body surfing the dunes of the Sahara
in the hourglass of a gamma ray burst.
A lot of starfish that have quit shining
that I pick up off this sad, far shore
and bury them in the starfish cemetery
each in their exact place in a starmap
that replicates the constellations perfectly.
It’s what the enlightened do when they’re bored
and there hasn’t been a word
they don’t want to hear from anyone
for lightyears. All the sages
have left the house with Elvis
and Morrison’s just turned the lights out.
Raw solitude underneath such thin skin.
Hush, the flatliners are meditating.
They’re putting transalpine creases
in their theta waves, hoping to levitate
like a lifeboat up off the rocks they’re scuttled on.
Neap tide in the affairs of providence
for barges and schooners alike I guess.
Met this man once who said he was homeless
then gave me his card with a name
and a home address, so I asked him
if he could spare any change for postage
and after that, his mail never came here anymore.
Just thought I saw a ghost, but now
I’m convinced it was only a reflection
on the rim of my chromatically aberrated glasses.
O, ya, or maybe they’re the magic circles I draw
around my eyes empowering me to exorcise
the apparitions as I please, or spiritual junkmail
that lavishes way more on the promise
than it budgets to spend on its fulfilment.
Whenever I want to remember how the truth feels
I run the blade of the moon along my tongue
and sit in a sacred place where two rivers
of lightning join to split the oak, and if the truth heals
hope it isn’t cruel to realize, even to myself,
that most of us are the unrealized simulacra
of things in accord with the contradictions
of what we once wanted to be. The palettes
of the lichens that mixed lunar blues and greens
on the rocks, are scattered all over the place
around here like folk art in a Zen gallery of minimalists.
What’s important, crucial, in fact, when things turn infernal
is to observe the protocols of hell if not the content
with unparalled grace and distinction. Demon up
until you’ve burned all the slag out of your field of view
like asteroids trying to make a big impact on you
like a swarm of blackflies buzzing all around you
like spy satellites and semi-colons. Until
their radios short out. And I’m awash again with stars
in the cooling silence of my dispassionate clarity
with a wry slash of a smile on the deathmask of my face
it would be uncharacteristically ignoble of me
to let anybody else see, even if they had
the eyes and the mirrors for it because
I didn’t abandon all hope when I entered here.
I transcended it. I got real wicked. And clear.