O LITTLE SISTER
O little sister you’re an alley-cat alto-sax
howling on the fire escape
under a blue moon
that’s driven you into heat
just outside my window
for that arsonist boyfriend of yours
who used to puke in my potted geraniums
every time the two of you got drunk enough
to crash across my coffee-table laughing
even with each other for a crutch
you haven’t got a leg to stand on.
I was charmed by your romantic desolation.
I was intrigued by how much original sincerity
you both saw fit to squander on a cliche.
C’est la vie, c’est l’amor, c’est le guerre.
Elvis Presley is well and living in Tweed.
And Arthur Rimbaud is running guns
with Jim Morrison in Ethiopia for Al-Shabab.
Most people work harder at hope
than they do at achieving their downfall
and you were a fire hydrant
and now you haven’t got a hose.
No pun intended
I’ve known you too long
to see you this upended slurring your words
like the simultaneous translator
of an hourglass speaking
out of both sides of its mouth at once.
I don’t know why he left you.
Maybe there was nothing left to put out.
You burned out.
A piece flew off your heat shield upon re-entry.
Maybe any man who couldn’t hold his liquor
realizes sooner than later he couldn’t hold you.
I don’t know.
Go ask my geraniums.
They’ve got more to say about him than I do.
You make your death bed.
You got to die in it.
Next time build your house on stilts
in Stanthorpe Queensland
to keep the snakes away from your pillow.
What can I say?
He had a shoulder on his chip
that just couldn’t hold his end of the world up?
And don’t get me wrong.
I’m not laughing at your pain.
I don’t laugh at pain.
Pain is pain.
Who hasn’t gone swimming with dolphins
in the saturnine seas of Titan
or dropped a comet like a match
on a methane moon of Neptune?
Endomorphs and dopamines
can make you do a lot of funny things
that love is at a loss for words to justify.
Even if just for one wild night
of occult hunting magic
everyone longs to run with the wolves.
And howl, o little sister, you can hear them howling
in their blood agony at the waxing moon
as if something had died within them
that was so deep and crucial
it tore their hearts out
in an ecstasy of unrepentant pain.
And many many years later
when the solid abyss and hollowness of life
has grown even greater
you can still hear their voices
screaming like winter winds
above the timber-line
so high-pitched no echo
has ever been able to reach that high again
without shattering like a night bird
against the mirage of the open sky in the window.
Like you, little sister, now.
I’m not a sump-pump for anybody’s tears
not even my own
but I’ve been known
to throw a little heavy water
on a nuclear meltdown every now and again.
Pain. Separation. Loss. Dream death
you keep reliving like an afterlife in your sleep
you’re dying to wake up from
like a coma that’s lost everything worth waking up to.
Not two. Not two. Not two.
That’s the way it is here.
That’s as far as words go.
That’s where Statius takes over
from Vergil on the nightshift
and the stars nod off like children
who couldn’t finish the story
and the quality of the poetry drops
as dark genius opts out
of the company of bright mediocrities
trying too hard to make it a better world
than it needs to be.
For things it didn’t do.
And in a merciful world
that lived up to its teachings
and didn’t shrink the heart
with fear of its own extremes
while everything else is expanding
shouldn’t be asked to suffer like a placebo
in the glands of spurious cure.
And, yes, I know sometimes
it’s hard to keep up with the mysteries
like the elements of life on a geometric scale.
How many jugulars does a woman have
for someone to cut
like the downed powerlines
of the Medusa’s head
for having cast the first stone at herself?
You can wake the serpent fire
at the base of your spine
just above your coccyx
the hardest bone in your body
the little throne
the modest gravestone
you’ll be resurrected on
when you’re summoned from the dead,
but you can’t train love
to bite the people you want it too
and run like an antidote to the rescue.
That’s why you’re getting high
on your own poison right now.
That’s why your drunken tears
oscillate between a broken chandelier
that’s bleeding out
and acid rain that burns like love
congealing into a new ice age.
However deep you dig the grave
to bury someone you once really loved
even a desert at night
when the stars weren’t looking
wouldn’t be enough to fill it in.
It’s a wound without scar tissue
for the rest of your life.
The ghosts keep being pulled out of the box
like that kleenex you keep using
to dry your eyes at this seance
you’ve called on the spur of the moment
to be appalled by how lonely it is
to plead with the dead for severance.