Tuesday, October 23, 2012



I concede my fretful beginnings to no one
because I was with the stars
before they began to shine, before
the first Adam of the primordial atom
stepped out of his shadowless glade,
and the worlds fanned out like birds from water
and the surreal sea dreamed of krill and corals
or the ghastly fumaroles of the expurgated heart
of the labouring earth
taught its thermophiles to live without light
like a memory displaced so deep in the mind
only the convulsions and catastrophes
of sunless winters severed from their vivid chains
like stillborns and candid moons
can waken it again to recall the swell
of the wave that gave it breasts
and its life on land in the mansions
of orphaned oxygen that taught it to breathe
and let its breath be vital to cherries and bees.

I affirm and celebrate my connection to everything
and my foot is not less than my hand
nor my blood merely the flag of my imperious brain;
and often at night when I’m alone
with my own poor, longing self
I can feel my eyes webbing the harp of my bones
with the soft night songs of my ancient minerals
and the sad, dark airs of my gypsy metals
slaying the iron roses in their teeth out of love.

I owe it all to everything, and everything to it,
and I am complete, even in my emptiness;
even in the desolation of galaxies and leaves,
even in the spoiling of my most cherished nativities,
the shedding of eyelids and black pollen
on the naves of the daisy wheels,
I am always full of the world, at home
with everything from the emerald wardrobes
of the friendless algae
to the carbon solitudes of hapless humans.

I am the host and the guest
in the black mirror of my shining, the equinoctial eye
of my own arrayed being.
And the things that I say in the dark like planets
to amuse the night with motion and appease
my secret need for migrant harmonies,
are the foundation stones, the organs and skin
and kidnapped statuary of my summer palaces among the stars
and I am content with my solitary progress
through the wind-taxed realms of poppies and wheat.

I am the composite serenity of the night sky
that does not inhibit the flight of its cloudy owls
or its magnetic transfusions of bats.
If something troubles me, if there are distant seabirds
shrieking their warnings out over a turbulent sea,
or ants in the grass divining the lightning to come,
or the swan of the moon torn like a white peony
by something rising up with a beak and a shell from below
like the hungry turtle of the snapping world,
I take shelter in the roots of things,
in the watersheds of the relentless rivers
that press on with their dreams of eloquent deltas
in mystic union with the sea.

I summon the shields and shales of my radical nature
to renew their loyalty to the heights of land I stand on
battered but unbeaten like a northern pine.
And I shall live as long as there are rocks to cry on,
and fireflies to keep their homely constellations close to earth.




Listening to the nightsong of the silence
in a clearing in the woods that used to be
a field someone rocked and ploughed for cattle corn,
and left the crooked timbers and fieldstone foundations
of a log cabin to be swarmed by the rat snakes, their blood
as the cold comes on, slowing down into
long red wavelengths of hibernation that drives
the raccoons, the bears, and most of the locals
who can’t afford migration, to dream half the winter away,
soporifically numb by the woodstove, or numb outside
from the air gnawing at their fingertips and noses
as if they were being whittled out of ice
or numbed by food, sex, alcohol, gossip and drugs
into the Land of the Lotus Eaters in the middle of an ice storm.

Chronic boredom of a white screen they’d
rather smear with something than look at nothing at all,
whether cadmium red on a blank canvas,
blood on the snow next to the hollyberries
the foxes and blue jays have been feasting on,
or the mythic inflation of their own personal offal
gone viral on an internet of a sky full of stars
spreading the rumour around. Wonder what
the drunk loggers of Burridge back in the day
when the cops were afraid to go there,
would have to say about their whiskey barrels
being sawn in half for flowerpots of flagging petunias
and forlorn coleus on the streets of Perth today.

Or me out here on my own looking
for the Orionid meteor showers where the dark
hasn’t been distempered by the bottled light of the town.
After thirty-five years of living among these woods and lakes
I still come here as an unrooted stranger to the place
who finds it easier to relate to the wilderness
taking its own back, than the ghosts that abound
like Huron women in the moonlight
beating the wild rice at the edge of the ponds
into the bows of their spectral canoes
silent as waterbirds parting the veils of the waves
before smallpox, Jesuits, and the Iroquois wiped them out.

And yet how beautiful the stars are above the birch groves
just before moonrise, when you see them in isolation,
and you feel your heart gripped by a sense of wonder
so transfixing and sublime, you embody it immediately
as the deepest intimacy of time you’ll ever experience
in your passage through it. And it doesn’t matter
what the message is, whether you can interpret
the signs or not, or come away any wiser for the sight,
or mistake a knowledge of starmaps and constellations
for real light, you’re assured, without ambivalence
of the mortality of the witness, as a deep humility
startles your flesh into realizing its tenuous brevity
is only a temporary deferment of death, long enough
to be stunned by the profundity of these fireflies of insight
as if you’d just dug up your own prophetic skull on the moon.

Death soon. No need to make a fact morbid
by denying it. Right now I’m still a seance
of living fire in the woods the shadows of those
who dreamed and fought, wept, longed, loved,
lived, laughed and died here competently long before me
gather around as if a whole beehive of ghosts
turned out to bid the last flower of the fall farewell
or I were the axial blackhole at the nave
of a prayer wheel galaxy flowing into me
as if the black queen of the sweetness of life
were founding a new colony of natives, exiles,
and immigrants deep inside my soul like the portal
to another world than this one that exhumes and exorcises
all that lives like starmud in a repatriated body.

Or as the Ojibway figured out, ten years
of leaving me food and cigarettes at the sunny side
of my burial hut before my bones turn to dust
and my ghost is free of my fire, before the Canada geese
embody my migratory soul on a long journey south,
there are rituals and protocols of life and death
that must be upheld with a patience and grace
born of understanding how vital it is to adorn
what can’t be understood with osprey feathers,
cedar boughs, sage and sweetgrass, growing wild
in the starfields of our dream mothers
leafing the alders in the spring with new metaphors
for the wind blowing through the catkins.

In the beginning was the imagination.
Imagination is the mindscape we’re all aboriginals in.
Reality is still a theory fasting on a mountaintop
looking for a totem of itself while it remains awake.
Imagination is a three-feathered chief at peace
with whatever it dreams, even if it dreams it’s awake
when the elders gather to name the newborn
after the dancing waters and fire talkers
consult the wisdom of their silence and solitude
in the presence of the inexpressible events
that create the things of the world
like the sensory simulacra of a story
that always dying to be told around the fires of life
in a voice full of distance and time and sorrow
like the wind blowing the blossom of the moon
out of the leafless crowns of the trees
so death might wax fruitful when life is all ears.