THE LAMENT OF THE LAST TRAIN WHISTLE
The lament of the last train whistle
has disappeared into the distance
mournfully looking for its lost child.
October night in the woods
around an old fire pit of prophetic skulls
blowing ghosts of smoke in my face
that bring me to tears, a neolithic calendar
of all the old and new moons that have passed.
So many, so much, that used to matter
doesn’t anymore. Dream figures
that shed their skins like the longer wavelengths
of watersnakes in an infra-red mindscape
of serpent fire dying like the sun
that can tell the hour by the taste of its ashes.
I throw more well-dried thresholds on the fire
like branches that used to be green with the tears
of sweeter departures and arrivals over the years.
All the light’s jumped from orbitals
of the tree rings that sag like bags
under the eyes knotted like islands
in the heartwood of their xylem and phloem.
Here where the river parts like long hair
on the skull of a stone, I sit like a demon
in a sacred place, clarified, alert, and alone
as any nocturnal animal in the woods.
The chalkdust of my bones trying
to connect the stars to their constellations
snagged in the trees like the rags of spiderwebs
on the blackboard of a starmap as wide as the sky
and deep as the subconscious of the Burgess Shale.
It’s not a betrayal to let go of your faith
when you had none in the first place
and you don’t need a parachute on the edge of space
to plunge from paradise, or a weather balloon
of a bad Christian poet to shepherd Dante
like a moon out of hell. Be yourself,
especially when nobody’s watching
except that same drone in the sky
that occasionally flashes a flake of silver off
its stone cold third eye to flint your awareness
that it’s still there in the cosmic background
like a witness to your dreams and schemes
for a luxuriously appointed life of enlightenment.
Be yourself. The direct copulative imperative
that has supplanted the light as the first word
out of the mouth of creation. Be yourself.
And then let there be light by the side of a good fire
to let you see who that is as acutely
as you can see in the dark who that is not.
The migration of the Canada geese might seem
a broken rosary of new moons calling out
the names of God to you, and one unknown,
or silhouetted against the moon they might
suggest the afterbirth attached to a cut umbilical cord
and your heart might feel reborn somewhere
in the autumn of your life, a child of the fire,
a flower in the full bloom of its solitude
dancing with its own mercurial apparition
on the waters of life in the mindstream
always out of season enough to lag behind
so it can tell the time by the widening gaps in its passage
as it’s waiting for the night to catch up to its own shining
like a thief of fire unchained from the rock
that broke the glass window of its transfixed seeing
with a meteor in the hands of an enlightened delinquent.
Or you might read the falling leaves as occult lifelines
on a Tarot deck of overlapping lifespans
like the scales of a dragon playing solitaire
beside the small inferno of a signal fire to the stars,
to let them know you’re coming faster
than the time it takes for a thought to make it
all the way to death and back to birth again
as if you were pinging your emotions
like stray wavelengths from the oceans of your awareness
off the horns of the moon the way
you used to skip rocks out over the sea as a boy
to see how long they would keep on going
like a waterclock of stone before they sank
like the flying fish of the hard, cold facts of life back into
the numinous depths of your collective unknowing
where the stars aren’t fixed to anything that isn’t
flowing along with them like the wind on the mindstream
or a small fire catching its breath in the silence and the solitude
of so much radiance, before it’s on its way again for good.