Thursday, November 22, 2012



Tired of supplying the stars their skeletons,
or webbing them into constellations
like love-letters written in prison,
or dusting the hieroglyphics of their fossils
pressed between the pages of nocturnal shales,
looking for signs of original life,
this brevity of perilous confusion
that sits on a throne of fog,
its quicksand foundations
the filth of fanatics and fools, my skull
a paperweight in a laurel of razorwire,
and every gesture of purity, every
symbol, emblem and image of light,
every effort to labour for greener domains
heart by heart, just
another mode of murderous betrayal,
lipstick on toilet paper,
a bullet hole in a swan, I long
for the clarity of mornings that don’t exist
to assure me I haven’t wasted my life
trying to feather a human out of coal.

I want a future that isn’t already a ghost,
I want to know at nightfall, bloodfall, eyefall,
that the available dimension of tomorrow
isn’t just another stalling tactic of today, isn’t
just more vinegar
bruising its eyelids with wine,
the slash of a thin smile greased with cherries.

I want to know that I haven’t been planting
apple trees on the moon,
that somewhere in September on earth,
a bough bends under the weight
of a windfall of planets
wrapped in thin-skinned sunsets
ripe with sugars and seeds
ready to fall to the living root
of their own beginnings
like cupfuls of water and light
returned to the river I took them from,
but sweetened by the spirit
that cherished them like gifts
I made of the gift that was given to me,
this diamond devotion to orchards and oceans
and the wounded humans that walk beside them,
their hearts unharnessed like ploughs.

Tired of having my jaw wired before I’m dead
to the remnants of myself,
these reconstructions of teeth and vertebrae
in the puppet-master museums
that put the future on display
before it’s born, my heart
a black embryo in formaldehyde, a ghoul
in a circus of interrogative clowns
that conjecture on what I might have been
had I devoted myself like rain
to different bloodstreams, had I
not disavowed the old, cracked creekbeds
to make a river of my own flowing.

I want to sit down like a lottery
with a choirmaster in a cemetery,
with a gravedigger on the moon who longs
for the probable impossibility
of knowing how many legs are on a snake
as he tries to reinvent himself from scratch.

I want to sit down on the hilarious ground
at the end of a long apprenticeship
and laugh until I’m sick with certainty
at the accomplished absurdity
of recognizing my best work
in the last phase of a lifelong eclipse,
set like a jewel of coal in the corona of a diamond ring.




As if I had just let go of something huge,
the glacier of stars
that has been driving me
like an enlightened ox all these years
to grind bread from my darkness,
as if a planet fell out of a dragon’s mouth,
as if turning the mountain around
I were no longer the cornerstone
of a temple I were being slowly crushed under
in the name of an unknown purity
that clung to me like the last of a species.

I’ve been consulting oilslicks
and eclipses as if they were starmaps,
I’ve been downloading constellations
onto a heretical hard-drive
to upgrade my fate, trying,
though it’s like trying to spawn upstream
when it isn’t easier than rain
to detach from my subjective imaginings,
the billboards and the midways
and the golden chains I look so good in,
all the Venus fly-traps of my creative idealism,
the gambler’s pride I took
in witching for water in hell
with a seasoned branch of lightning.

I’ve been pouring myself out on the ground
like nightblood from a wounded dream for years,
like a rare wine that had the elan to squander itself,
to transcend its own visionary delirium
this side of the river
where the fires bloom and spread wildly downstream
like supple bells of paint,
tender intrusions of beauty,
and even love bleats like a judas-goat
roped to a stake smeared with fat,
and it’s no one’s fault
when two masks stop crying for each other,
trying to irrigate a desert on the moon
with a glass tear
or predict the orbit of a firefly with a mirror.

And it’s cold and alone
and profoundly insignificant
when you realize
that there is no ultimacy at the gate
that will greet you,
looking up from your weeding,
with a smile, no clarity
that can wash your eyes away like ice,
and no one to give a bouquet to
that isn’t already a flower.

Intelligence isn’t enough,
imagination falters.
The spirit constantly denuded of itself
like spring from the wind
eventually sees itself reflected
everywhere in matter like time
and comes to rest
like a waterbird on the moon,
the shadow of a door that always opens onto itself,
like a valley, or a god, or a pair of wings,
the next breath.
Those who don’t know
look for a meaning to existence;
those who do
gather the bruised fruit with compassion,
and tamp their eyelashes
around the impoverished root like tea leaves
steeped in the cool bliss of their tears.

The stars look down in wonder over them,
as if a rose could be a bloodstream,
and marvel that there should be such hearts in the world,
where the lighthouses
are stubbed out like cigarettes
in the eye of the approaching storm
and the pyramids turn to quicksand.

And the wonderful absurdity of it all is
it doesn’t matter who you are,
a river or a highway,
a spider in a poppy,
or the iron daffodil
of a parking meter in bud,
until you let go of yourself like a scarred bell
that isn’t a phase of the moon,
and open the eyelid of your stone coffin
and breathe yourself out like a dream
into the shadows of your afterlife,
until the pulse of your whole being
is a tide and a threshold
that sweeps over you
like a sky over an uninhabited island
you’re still a rumour in the darkness
trying to reverse the disgrace
of an infamous legend of light.