WHEN I’M ALONE
When I’m alone
I want to be with someone,
and when I am with someone,
I’m twice as alone.
is a snake-pit
I dangle my heart over
like a mouse by the tail
and when joy does show up,
a butterfly with resplendent wings,
it slowly adapts its palette
to the slag and soot and oilslicks
of the black orchard
shedding its petals everywhere
like micro-eclipses in hell.
And all the poems
I gathered like asters
from the autumn starfields,
all these skies that opened above me
as I walked down a long road alone
in darkness and light,
obedient to the wind and the shadows
that whispered move on, move on
beyond the journey and the arrival,
are merely a leaf,
a tattoo on the back
of a serpent of water
like rain like mind in search of a course
that isn’t the cracked map
of last year’s desiccated creek bed.
My body is scarred, my heart
a voodoo doll
pierced by a thousand fangs
as it burns like a bee
in a rose of heretical fire
for refusing to turn my honey into venom
or conform to any magic but its own.
And there is no heaven
to appeal to as a last resort.
I endure what I endure
for the dignity
of my indefensible humanity,
knowing the pain
that sometimes turns my nerves
into stand-ins for the lightning
that keeps crackling my cosmic egg
like the paint of my last masterpiece,
also schools my blood like the wine
I pour out joyously
into the empty goblet of the mystery
whenever I host the moon.
Life is neither fair nor unfair
and the seeing, a vision, a poem
is always a bird
born and breaking free of your eyes
opening like a threshold
like a flower
like a crack of lightning,
like the world that hangs,
a veil of water,
from the ends of your eyelashes now.
Love is great, love is much, maybe all,
and the being here incomparable,
and the mystery always
whispering in a field beyond its own compass,
and the wind that tastes of birds,
and the light that tastes of flowers,
and the fountains of darkness
where God washes the stars off her face,
will always urge the extinguished branch
of an astonished pen
to blossom into a poet.
Are the dead any less creative
than the living?
If they don’t come from anywhere
how can you ask where they go?
If everything is the unborn energy
of a dancing god
with worlds in her blood
how can even a blade of grass perish?
This world, this life,
this ungraspable now of awareness
is the passion of a goddess, not a passing thought.
Beyond this riot of blessing and anathema,
this racket of loss and acquisition,
of birth and murder,
there is a silence
deeper than the space
an abyss without longing
that knows you from within
as the fire knows the flame,
or a woman,
the haste of her lover.
If you think you know something,
cast the thought down
as you would a venomous serpent
or let it strike;
even the poisons
can unspool you like wine
in this delirium of life.
And isn’t it more than could have been asked for
just to be here
under a sky
spun finer than the silk of diamonds,
breathing the stars in and out
I have been silently and eloquently
stupefied by the wonder
all my life;
and urgently moved to explore
the great ocean of awareness
that intrigued me to experience myself
as the world,
I put to sea with a leaf for a sail.
We must become
more intimate with our vastness, learn
to listen to the whisper
that has always been us
in our own depths.
We have depleted our preludes of awe,
the spirit slags in the pit mines
of our complacent arrogance.
Our own creations
amaze and lull us away
from the sustaining abundance
of what was given spontaneously.
What do we know?
Who is it that asks the question?
The fluid continuum of the mystery
is a waterclock
and every receptacle, an era.
And science can advance the shadows of life,
but the answers eventually fall like leaves
and no one knows how to account
for the stars that root in the duff.
What each of us sees
when we see deeper than blood
over the course of a lifetime
are the eyes of the goddess
when she looks at us.
What we are is our own creation,
curse and blessing alike.
You created heaven.
You created hell.
Experience is just the metal
shaped on the anvil of our hearts
into edges that kill like life,
the plough drawn from the stone,
not the sword,
or blades behind the door
that wound like serpents.
You can enlighten or eclipse
the iron in the ore
by pouring it
into a heart or a bullet.
You can make a nail
and build a house
or crucify a teacher.