Friday, November 9, 2012



A thousand years from now
who will remember me
once I’ve disappeared from this windowpane,
a vapour of breath with awareness,
a nebular stain on the clarity
that will wash its hands of me
like a scar of water that has clung too long?

I’m not trying to embalm
the elegiac content of these obvious sunsets in words,
and it’s hard to shake honey out of these mordant bells
that lie like duplicitous lifeboats to the gullible compasses and maps
that keep crashing like doves that don’t have the wingspan
to come back with news of land
to this museum of DNA, two of every kind,
I keep scuttling like an ark on the top of every wave.

And what is a grave if not an abandoned embassy
that didn’t have time to shred its dreaded secret?
And sometimes, when the emptiness and the silence
are beyond bearing,
I hold myself up like a passport at the panicked gates
that have made me an exile and a wounded threshold in my own home
and clamour like a continent
to be repatriated anywhere
that isn’t a country whose borders are stretched out like refugee lines.

But it’s a foolish wish.
And if there’s a dragon to slay,
I realize it’s only more shadows and swordplay,
and I think of the return of the rain lifted from the sea
and how the sea never feels anything is missing,
and everything is passage without arrival or departure
and how the arrow never leaves the hand of a good archer.
It’s human nature to understand,
a sacred mode of disobedience
to look into the eyes of our worst fears
even if it’s just to flare like a star without rescue
and scream out in light a moment against its own extinction.
But who or what or nothing is ever there to listen
as we go out like flies and stars in a toilet bowl?

And a love of laws is not the law of love
and there have been so many dragons
left out of the chrysales of their questions like answers
that the heart is not sustained by the impersonal blessing
of ubiquitous entropy in a long, lab coat
as the spirit longs for transformations
a star and a night beyond itself
that might astonish a human
with something enduringly human
like a next breath that can’t be smudged by death
or something drastic in the dust that remembers us
when we were stars
that thawed through the windowpane
as if we were looking through the lenses of our own eyes
to discover everything we live is how we die
and we’re always a plight and a plea away from knowing why.

Imagine, one night, looking up at the sky
and there were no death to raise the moon
like a calendar above your neck,
and everything you saw around you,
crows, kites, keys,
last year’s pine cones on this year’s trees,
were not denuded of their mystic specificity
in this mortal profusion of origins
that ends where it begins. Imagine,
one morning, not getting up from the dream
to pan the mindstream for the nugget of a skull
that might be gold, and the luster of the radiance
never grows old like the taste of the moon in your mouth.
Wouldn’t this onceness then be eternal,
and what I’m saying now, indelible
as the space that prompts the stars to shine?
Learning wisdom is learning the universe
as if it were your own face, on the inside,
and you were its only eyes,
disappearing from view so that all that remains is you.

Birth, a breathing in; death, a breathing out,
before the first and after the last, this pulse and suspiration,
muses around the wellspring, witches around the cauldron,
planets fluttering like moths
at the windows of the constellations. Like the moon
I pass my hand over like an eclipse as if it were my own skull,
I have been creatively maintained from the start by my own expiration.
Are there no orchards in the hearts of old women?
Are there no graves in the eyes of a child?




When you listen to a bird
you should hear the whole of the sky
just as when you look at a star
you should be a fountain of eyes.

Because you cannot see,
the darkness is not blind
and your consensus of conventional abnormalities
is not reality, is not the source
of the hidden halo of comets that afflict you,
nor the crazy constellations of the fireflies that bless.

I don’t know if I speak for anyone other than myself
but that’s enough to reflect the moon in every drop
of this unvoiced delirium
that surpasses enlightenment and lunacy like old shoes
to walk barefoot across the stars
as if they were no more than cool sand in a desert at night
that’s never been bound to a road,
though every single grain is the cornerstone of the world.

How unsayably me I must be
that so many thoughts and emotions,
so many vital themes of blood and time,
years that have returned their fields to the wild,
have enshrined my namelessness
in this abandoned palace of shadows
I’ve pitched together like a chrysalis out of words.
A true muse is a well
that finds its own way to your mouth,
and I accord mine the perfect freedom to be me,
and drink deeply of the night she pours into me,
until neither of us knows who the other is
though we whisper like leaves on the same tree.

What’s crucial is not to offer yourself up
like a tourist map to the wind
but to let go. To find out where you’re going
not by giving up everything that you know,
but the knowing.
I let my thoughts follow the path
of a snowflake in a blizzard
until they melt like eyes on earth
to show my roots how to flower,
this one a waterlily opening
like a diploma in a swamp,
and that, the devil’s paintbrush.
Should it be otherwise?

Can you turn your eyes back like a clock
and unsee the things
that have looked so deeply into you
the skull of an impersonal space
wears the atmospheric intimacy of your face
like the ghost of an unknown planet?

I have felt poppies of blood
hotter than any prophetic furnace
rend my flesh like starving lions
for things I never knew I believed,
for the heart I laid down like a sword on the altar
to the inexplicable gods of the misconceived,
when I realized that not even my homelessness is shelter
and the only country under the flag of my blood
that might have claimed me as its own
has caged me like an undocumentable alien
in a holding cell of bone.

But it’s foolish to look for passage
when nothing’s in your way,
or seek enlightenment with a candle at midday,
not knowing you’re only washing a mirror with shadows
and handing out wicks to the stars.

And what’s the sound of one hand clapping?
Be compassionate. Be generous. Be kind.
This is the only way to forgive your mind.