Tuesday, November 13, 2012



I sit at my window
trying to translate the Kufic script
of the shadows of the trees on the snow,
smoking the invisible ink of the light
over the flame of my mind
to clarify my seeing
by realizing there is no deep or shallow
in the fathomless depths of I am,
nothing hidden, nothing revealed.

And it’s not so much that I am in the presence of the world,
but that the presence, the world, is me,
and if I go looking for it,
only my fingerprints will be found
like these violet shadows dusted by the snow
under my multitudinous mugshot in the mirror.

So I open my mind and my eye, my heart and my hand
and let things arise as they will,
knowing that even this is a blunder
that advances my tardy illumination by another eclipse.

This morning blue is the taste of the sky
and I am alive again at my desk
to wonder who or what or why I might be
this wondering spontaneity
circling like a bird in the abyss,
feathered by feeling and thought
for a tree or a meaning to perch in
that hasn’t already been struck
by the lightning of my homeless insight.

Indwelling energy in the turmoil of a terrible silence,
I am an ambassador of water to an unknown star
that foils my blood with light the closer I approach
and I don’t know what the message is
or who it’s from, but every time I deliver it,
my head comes off like the moon.

At some point you have to give up looking
to go on seeing, you must
come to a full stop
if you want to liberate the pen
that indicts you like an assassin
with his ear to the wall.
So I go by night, unheeded and alone,
a constellation of my own
that doesn’t read the braille of itself
reflected like direction in the starchart on the lake,
cored like eyes into the dice of my bones,
or mummified by a legend in a straitjacket
interred in the long-standing consensus of a guess,
knowing I would only be following my own footprints
like the shadows of these words
that flow from the trees in the snow.

And there are squirrels that leap from branch to branch
of these arboreal letters like commas
that don’t know where they go
and wrens that perch like quotation marks
around things that can never be said
that everyone claims they know
as they call out their name
like the echoless vocabulary
of a febrile grammar in a mad dream
as if their whole life were ingathered into one last scream
that might shatter the mirror of the way things inevitably seem.

I listen to the world and hear in each person and form
the mindstream moving through the night
like the voice of a mystic alphabet
returning to the sea
with news of itself
whispered into its own ear.
And if sometimes the stars think
my seeing goes too far,
my seeking exceeds the bounds of the light,
as it turns planets like doorknobs
to open new rooms in a dark mansion
that stands like an abandoned cornerstone of the night on a hill
waiting for me to return like a lost threshold,
or the faceless side of the moon to a window,
then let me here and now confess to my own denial
and knock on the door of the next false address
to see if I can find who wrote
this loveletter that slashes me open like a smile
and reads me out loud to the stars on the wind
as if I were the last flare from an empty lifeboat.




The women I have loved,
the taste of old fires in my mouth,
wild orchids
that summoned me
with their fragrance in the night
to mystery, ecstasy, danger and agony,
betrayal and loss,
intensities hotter than stars
that could thaw space like glass
in the coldest, deepest abyss of their beauty.

Seizures of flesh, potions of pain,
delirium of black poppies, eclipses, cloaks,
the sweet doom of paradise
in the effulgent bells of their hips
and their skin always
a starmap back to the earth, luminous braille
only the eyes in my fingertips could read.

Each was a way of breathing
in water, in fire, in stone, on the moon,
an atmosphere that clung to me
like the smell of an autumn night in their hair,
an era of seeing
that rooted like lightning
in the starmud of my poems.

Some were the windows of a palatial awareness
that astonished my heart like a peasant
and others, the rocks that crashed through it.
I tuned all my mirrors
to the high notes
of the most beautiful stars
in each of their constellations;
and the ones I loved best
were the windows
that could see both sides of God
and you could taste it in their eyes.

No doubt I was ruinous
in ways that it’s taken years
of deep solitude and suffering
to clarify, the ore
wasn’t always worth the metal within,
the volcanic rage of my baffled aspirations,
the urge to express, release, affirm, excel,
the way I parted women I loved like seas
in my quest for the promised land
and the way they closed up on me like pharaoh,
like a flower that doesn’t want to look at the night
and lowers its lonely eye,
like coffin lids
that were once the petals of a mystic rose.

Who knows who was buried
on those sexual slopes
that overlooked the motif of the river
wandering easily
through the vistas of the valley,
or how the story truly ended
that went on writing itself
as it does today
long after we were villages,
tiny necropoli, perfectly preserved,
and wholly usurped
like utensils by the afterlife
of the erupting mountain
that put an end
to the interminable funeral orations
that unrolled us like thunder in hell.
We slashed heaven
with the bloody razor of the moon
like the vicious legates of a papal threat
to spiritually salt the holy ground
we were rooted in
like lava, blood, and lightning.

I am still a confusion
of wounded dreams,
and when I look at the moon,
the bruises, the dead seas,
I am devastated again and again
by a ghostly sorrow
that returns to my heart
like a dove to a dark bell
that once knew the morning with another.
The truth is slurred by time,
and the confessions we made to the sky,
gusts of shame and contrition,
tiny burnt-out match-heads
that once flared into big fires,
slagging their depletion
like ore in the rain,
were abysmally true to the moment,
as we felt the ground beneath our feet
sinking like a continent.

We may have drowned like Atlantis
but how many decades since
have we lain here
like a thousand other toppled shipwrecks
offering the hilts of our masts
sheathed in coral
and the bunting of weeds
to the sea that slowly accepts our surrender?

All the beauty of that seeing,
the laughter in bed,
the aloof eternity in the form of the woman
at the end of the garden,
seen through the kitchen window forever
as if I had never made love to her,
pulling weeds from among the asters,
forever true, forever
preternaturally true,
the mystery that transfixes
and devours me yet.
I have not laid my dream down
like the head of a child
on the pillow of a stony heart.
I have not looked upon the stars
that shone over us those long walks into each other
as if we were two banks of the same river
and we were still a wonder
and a temptation to each other,
two wings of the same gate
hopelessly opening.
I am still summoned against my will
to those dread nights we went out in each other
like down-turned torches,
and the bouquets of the daylilies,
those truces of fire and water
we burned beside,
turned into congested refugee camps
that plunged into civil war with their own reflections.

All along this road
where I carry my life
like the shoes in my hand
there is broken glass,
shattered goblets of the moon
we once drank from together,
shards of the suicidal chandeliers
we once danced under
like the tails of the unnamed comets
that followed us like paparazzi
as if we were the prophecy.

Vampires once cloaked like assassins
in the darkness of the light,
they still come for blood,
pleading in the shadows like beggars for alms,
and I am often aghast at my own compassion,
feeling the quick tendrils
of their tongues flickering in my heart
that my blood still feeds these candles in eclipse.
Perhaps there is more spontaneity
in the darkness
than there is in the light,
but I have not let my mouth
turn into an open wound,
or wielded the cold flame of my tongue
like a dagger of fire that could only be put out
in the blood of another.

Leeches and lilies
are born in the same pond
and I have not denounced one
at the expense of the other,
but have stood before both in silent awe,
trying to overhear any whisper
of what these things might mean
that they should still sweeten and startle
my deepening ignorance
like the shadows and stars
that leap out of their own darkness and light
to ambush and detain us with love and life
all along these lonely, vivid roads
that walk us like the wind
that moves me now to remember
the generosity of loss that is love,
and the flaring of the dust that we once were,
this frenzy of dust, this urgent dance of the dust
that will forever be
like the wind, like love,
like fire and life, like the nights
that bent down over me while I slept
and kissed me good-bye,
the journey whirling in the arms of its own destination.