Wednesday, December 5, 2012



There was nothing ever to forgive you for
I’d say to you now if you were still alive.
Pain doesn’t maintain an agent,
though as many who have lived
have been named as perpetrators.
It just occurs
like happiness just happens
like a stroke of luck, a touch of grace
in an astronomical lottery of famished chances.
Voices arise in my head to address you
in the immensities of time and sorrow
like spokesmen for my heart
and another part of me
listens from the audience to this play
that’s been going on for light years without you.

I suspect I’m still trying to perfect the way I loved you
out of force of habit, knowing how
redundant and absurd that is
long after the play closed
and the plaster cherubs
on the Ionian cornices of the theatre
were buried in the rubble
along with the comic and tragic masks
that shed their petals when the lights went off
and everyone was left face to face with themselves.

You have drifted in and out of my poems for years
like a curtain at an open window
in an abandoned house,
like blue smoke from an autumn fire,
the fragrance of the bath you draw from the stars
and sweeten with the salts of lunar wildflowers
whenever you want to renew your virginity
like the kings’ mistress
stepping out of the sea
like some Renaissance Venus
covering her sex up with a serpentine lock of hair.

You’re the sparrow on the finger of Catullus’ lover
except now you can only make it as far
as my windowsill
though I leave everything open to you
to come and go as you please and must.
No illusory skies. No broken necks.
No more finger-stroking the soft walnut of a bird’s head
like a lost locket full of grief,
like a small lamp that can’t grant anymore wishes
however you caress it.

Ah, the genie’s out mingling with the Milky Way
like all unencompassed spirits of the night,
like dead souls in the bodies of Canada geese
heading southwest
though their echoes are veering northeast
as if their homeless ghosts
had a place and mind of their own,
an airy nothingness
without a local habitation or a name.
In my view of the world as picture-music
in an expanding universe with its foot to the floor
on a pedal of dark energy
the vision’s always too big
for any frame or stage or star map
you bring to it to try and express
where things are improbably at now.

We were young together for awhile
and we sought to embrace the world
and everything in it
even if it meant kissing the dead on the forehead
to wake them up gently from their long dream
of flying in formation with Canada geese,
though it never did.

I tried it on you more than once.
I kissed every bead on a rosary of prophetic skulls.
And still to this day no one answers, no one hears.
I tried to scry the future
in the crystal balls of my tears
but all I ever saw was the same old moon,
the same old stars that crossed us off
their birthday guest list
like a calendar of total eclipses
that had already taken place.

And I knew the future was far behind us.
And your early death could only make you more beautiful
as the years wore out their threadbare flying carpets
and those rare bright nocturnal spirits of life
you were meant to meet and fall in love with
like the heart loves its bloodstream
like a waterclock loves the passage of time
when it’s full to overbrimming
with water on the moon
grow rarer and further apart
like stars on the skin of our cosmic enlargements.

Just like this open window
that never lets eternity become a barrier to the dead.
I’ve never closed the curtains on the play.
I’ve never drawn a veil over
the fountains and the waterfalls
the wetlands and rapids of my mindstream
and said to the lady of the lake
in her garment of mist
this is live water
and that water’s dead
as if there were a wave of difference
between the one that carries forth
and the one that carries away.

The cloud and the snow on the mountaintop
both speak the same language,
share the same mother-tongue
as does the fog in the valley
the ice, the rain, the dew,
as if what’s false about the living
were true of the dead as well,
everything sublime, everything trivial.

Hydra-headed water shapeshifting
through our hands
like the desert sands of an hourglass
that dump the pyramid
and finally get out of the box.

Lunar landscapes
with transmogrifying mindstreams
that apply themselves like water
to mending gardens on the moon
while death waits like a stranger at the gate
to commend you on the green thumb
that’s apparent in your choice of wildflowers.

I can still feel you bend time
like the body of a guitar
when you’re around me
trying to tune the spider webs
in the corner of the room I write in
to your cosmic whole note of silence.

And just as you were a muse of mine in life
and I drew your intoxicating waters
deeply from the well
and we walked under the stars awhile
without caring where we were going
so even in death
I can feel you come to the dead branch sometimes
like inspiration to a night bird’s heart
when it doesn’t really matter
if anyone answers or not
because you flower like longing
in the roots of my solitude
and the moon blossoms
and my poems unfold like leaves.




I don’t care if you remember me or not.
I’m not going anywhere. I’ll still be here.
But I’m going to disappear soon enough
and you can have the mirror all to yourself.
I can’t imagine dying alone is any deeper
than this solitude I’ve been living on my own.
Take that chisel of a tongue and chip
my cartouche off that gravestone I’m not under yet
as if you just discovered a new talent
for pecking away at death as if you were married to it.

I’m out of here. This is my grand exit. Like Keats
I make it with an awkward bow, the way the deer do
when they come down to the river to drink.
I don’t make it in anger. I’m not judging a mirage
because it doesn’t slake my thirst for real water.
I’m not bitter, vicious, or proud. I see myself
in you, especially when you’re crying without
a knife in your hand you wield like a paper cut
of the last crescent of the moon. It makes me sad
that we live more separately than we ever will in death.
I can remember when you first took my breath away,
and now, if you want to give it back, that’s ok,
that’s ok, too, as my brother would say, listening
like an amputee to the one-handed applause of the Buddha.

There are gaps, there are voids and abysses,
there are neuronic synapses, godheads, bardo states
and black holes we all have to bridge sooner or later.
Love’s one of them. Death’s another. And life’s
a country road with so many potholes it’s shell-shocked.
You can efface my name from your memorial wall
but I’m sure I’ll turn you into poetry somewhere
along the way. I’m thawing into tears
like an Arctic ice cap faster than I should
but I’ll hold you in my cold, cold heart forever
like a dolmen without snow nobody knows the name of.

More wonderful things get said in the doorways
of farewell through the veils of our motiveless tears
than you’re ever going to hear on the thresholds of hello
when everyone mythically inflates their uncontested lies
in the name of love. It’s not much of a triumph
to ride in a golden chariot of the sun through a slum.
It’s a little vehicle, and come the first serious eclipse,
you’re on black ice on a highway late at night on your own,
however many corpses you’ve sand-bagged in the rear
to give it some weight. Kitty litter and ashes
for traction are better than rose-petals and thorns
strewn along your path. You get a better grip on things
as you’re turning your wheels into the direction of your spin
or somersaulting over your handle bars like a cow
that jumped over the moon. As for me. The moonrise
raises a spoonful of ashes to my lips and I try
to take my medicine like a solitary nightbird
sipping from the fountain of a dark muse
like a lunar fish in the watershed of a total eclipse.

I’ll never wish you ill. And I’ll try really hard
never to dispel your delusions of me as someone
you might have been able to love. Sorry about the discrepancy.
Mirages on a sundial. Lighthouses on the moon.
Sharks and shipwrecks. Shouldn’t our dreams and delusions,
our secret nightmares, be accorded the same
ontological dignity as any other God particle
in the transmorphic context of reality? They move
the world as much as mass or gravity and they’re
as counterintuitively absolute and constant
as the speed of light. Everyone’s trying to write
their own unified field theory to explain everything
all at once to themselves, as if they were whispering
seas of rising awareness into their own ear.

I’ve lived too long under this cloak of the mystery
I bear as best I can like a mantle of starmud
in the name of a thousand poets who bore it
in their turn to suffer the solitude of their revelry
like the calyx of a black hole in the center of a galaxy
consuming two hundred billion stars in a single gulp
to stay drunk enough for light years to learn
to breathe in the light before they’re willing to let it go.
To kiss the bud of the wildflower into the open
and step back into the light like a shadow at noon
and watch it grow without you. Noblesse oblige.
And I don’t mean it cynically. The wolf howls.
The dog barks. The road leads like a trail of blood
to a dark grove of trees where everything heals by itself
and death is a retroactive edition of a posthumous future
that lies up ahead like road kill. Like it or not.

Sooner or later every persistent absurdity is interred
in an aura of grace, as if we gave the dead
the benefit of the doubt we begrudge the living.
That said. Still hard to kiss the stinging nettles
like hooded cobras on the head spitting in your eyes
like the Taliban just as you’re learning to read
the writing on the wall. So the blind prophets
learn to love the dark. So the candle that’s burning
to shed some light on the night and the stars
goes out in a gust of breath like a secret chandlier
on the dark side of death. And what are we left with
that might remotely stick it out with us
in search of a treasure chest that isn’t
just another bone box of sacred relics? I used to think
scars from the stars that enlightened us
like Medusas of white phosphorus that bit
like high frequency wavelengths in a snake pit
the moon was agitating like ripples and scales
on the skin of a mirror we thought we’d shed
relationships ago. But now my youth has outgrown me
I go well out of my way to err on the side of compassion
more than I ever longed to know the truth
of what we’re all doing here together
trying to stay true to the circuitous path we’re on
by getting lost in each other’s eyes and arms.