NO GRAVEGOODS IN MY SOLITUDE
No gravegoods in my solitude, no trinkets
from any spiritual world inside or outside this one.
The totem belongs to the dream that’s buried with it
as the flower’s engendered by the root it’s taken from.
Mind is matter. Matter is mind. And it isn’t as if
one is blind to the other because one shore
isn’t parted from the other by the flowing
of the mindstream in between. Try to separate
the reflection of the moon from water in a dream state.
The moon is a characteristic of water as the water
is a feature of the moon. If you want to mediate
until you turn the vertebrae of your spine into a bridge
to get to the other side of a life you’re already standing on,
that’s ok as long as it’s burning. Otherwise it’s just going
to obstruct your path when you’re shooting the rapids
of the Milky Way like your own spring run off
trying to saddle a rush of stars with a rudderless liferaft
and oars for spurs. Better to be a waterbird
with wings of your own, but what a thrill
to ride the snake until you can fly like a dragon
among the stars like Alcor and Mizar, the horse and the rider,
in the handle of the Big Dipper like a warrior Bedouin
testing his eyes on the dune of a tribal hourglass to see
if he can tell what hour it is by the dance of a distant binary.
It’s getting late. Nightwatch at the well. The town
unpeopled by sleep. A choir of train whistles
practising their inquisitive requiems at every crossing
like Canada geese migrating south when the autumn stars arise.
More lonely than mournful, I can taste the shadows
in the honey of life as readily as the light. I can smell
the fragrance of time like the first snowflakes
in a lover’s hair, trying to turn her into a constellation
to sweeten the night air. And even in the ashes
of the starmaps the shining sets afire
and scatters like a library in the urn of the heart
on a wind that carries away the passions of this art
of exhuming more life out of a shallow grave than went into it,
I can still burn in the dark like the ore
of undisciplined diamonds. I can still squander my light
on the eyelids of the fallen flowers like a final kiss farewell.
Time wastes a death on me. Years ago the wind arose
and blew that candle out in the open window
of an abandoned house and ever since I’ve been
drifting like a ghost of smoke in a diaspora of stars.
I bequeath to the rose, the blood of my wounds.
To the thorns of the moon, my scars. To the night
I leave my eyes. To the wind, my breath. My voice
to the nightbird whose longing put my lyrics
to the picture-music that’s haunted me all my life
like the song of someone who loved me once
before I was born and began to forget. But my heart
that I could judge the worth of like a bell bound to the earth,
or a feather of fire in hell, in the palm of my hand,
I give that to everyone like the windfall of a tree in a storm.
Black walnuts and wild apples. Solar systems
of peaches and pears in the leftover orchards
of organic gardens bearing the fruit of a habitable planet
at the autumn equinox of the New England asters
and modest suns of the Jerusalem artichokes
for the birds and the squirrels and the bears.
You can’t keep what you won’t give away
and it’s no good to you in a grave when it comes time
to throw yourself overboard to stay afloat
and weather the squalls on your own sea of awareness
like an empty moonboat drifting through the fog
calling out to anyone who’ll listen on the coast
of a new universe that discovers you like Atlantis
to a ghost of the old world looking for a passage
back to the more familiar labyrinth of home.
Liberation is freedom through creative form, not from it.
Liberation is life. And life is all entrance, no exit.
And you weren’t asked at the door for any i.d.
And no one’s going to stop you from lowering the fire escape
to get away from yourself. And if you were to ask
the mirrors of your own awareness, they’d stop staring at you
as if they’d never seen a new world savage before.
Everyone’s going to leave an empty chair at the table
sooner or later. Like the skull cup of the moon
you’ve got to pour your prophetic lees out upon the earth
if you want to give your abundance another chance.
You can make lanterns out of fireflies in canning jars
or you can abandon them to the spiders
in the corners of your eyes like dreamcatchers and kites,
but if you want to shine of your own accord,
albino fish in the darkest depths with stars in their eyes,
you’ve got to see the sun flowering at midnight,
you’ve got to greet Venus in the Pleiades at dawn.
You’ve got to unsilver the mirror like a stripper
until you disappear like a bird in the house of life
through an open window like a crack in a cosmic egg
to feel the vastness of the sky that transcends
the limit of your wings. Despite the eye-witness
in the mirror, where time is always in arrears to eternity,
you’ve got to give it all up like your shining reflection
if you want to stay here for your own protection.