Sunday, December 9, 2012



My ghost is dancing on the ashes of my bones.
My blood was always a rose in this house of thorns
and it blooms and it blooms in a fountain of fire
and each of its petals, a farewell in the eye of a flame.
Ghost dancer, what do you pray for, who do you dance for,
what do you celebrate? Are your tears drying like paint
on the lifemask you left out in the rain? Are we
ageing into the scared silence of doomed children
listening in the other room to a stranger raging in pain?
Should I bleed with the warrior or heal the medicine man?

Whose life was this that kicks its heels up in a gust of stars?
I remember when I used to smile at my scars
like arrows that hadn’t been fledged yet in their own feathers
as they hastened to taste the blood of the mark they left on life.
Do we fly like hawks for awhile, coming down
like a decisive answer of the gods to what the dove
was wondering, and then as we age and mellow
like the gourd of the moon in late October
and the harvest’s in, and the stars have been beaten
like wild rice into the wounded canoes idling
like fish in the shallows, does the lunacy of our wisdom
teach us to evaporate like a quiet suggestion
of the grey wraith in the moonlit mist
that unravels from the lake like another way of life
we’re going to follow like the path of smoke
from our own fires and the calyx of shadows they cast?

Did we heed the protocols of the magic and the mystery
well enough to have been worthy of the wonder?
Did we part with gifts or did we die with our hands closed?
Does our disembodied heart resound like the whisper
of a black snake sliding through the grass down to the river
to drink like the ripple of a long wavelength
from its own watershed, or does it still boom out
like summer thunder and grasp at what’s unattainable about life
like bolt lightning with open talons? Does our voice
still grow silent in the aftermath of the most beautiful absurdities
after the nightbirds have finished singing in the black walnut trees
that taught us to forego the star tracks we were following
like blood through the woods, for the more powerful hunting magic
of the understanding that exceeds the signs we go by
like a dream we had when our ancient totems slept at the side
of this Road of Ghosts wandering like wild geese across the sky?

I remember lifting the veils of my tears
like curtains of rain over the distant blue hills
and the sound it made like the plectra of a harpsichord
playing adagios of music in accompaniment to itself
as it fingered each clean note on the keyboard of the leaves
with the agility of a spider seeking shelter from a downpour
as the fireflies appeared in its wake like the chandeliers of the Pleiades
shining in the valley fog like constellations that weren’t yet
quite sure of themselves but had a nebular insight
into what they wanted to be as I watched like a shapeshifter
enthroned like a rock intrigued on a neighbouring hill.

I can still feel the spell they cast upon me
like the bliss of enlightenment when I realized
how extraordinarily unnecessary it was to be anyone
I would recognize tomorrow wearing my own skin
coming the other way on the same path I followed
like a mindstream on the moon that shed me
like one of the last phases of a lost atmosphere
it breathed out on a deathbed unmindful of the weather.
Do you remember the name the wind addressed
the willows in that night or have all the words
we used to speak to one another about the secrets of life
been taken out of our mouths and replaced
with a whole new vocabulary of light we have yet to master?
Or are we deaf-mutes now and the dream grammars
we once chanted around our fire pits like wild irises
irrevocably indecipherable to the unborn and unperishing
who always had less to talk about than we did
who lived among the dying like a compassionate stranger
as one of them moored on the moon to the same fates they were?

Old ghost, no regrets? Is that why you’re dancing
on the ashes of my bones? Because we didn’t sign
a truce with the starmaps that put a lie to our shining
like a limit on the sacred mindscapes we wandered freely in
without taking possession of even the little we needed
without seeing it as the gift of a magnanimous spirit
that expressed the measure of its own creative power
by how much it could give away like the sun or the full moon
or a light nocturnal rain on the dusty wild flowers that needed it
to keep on blooming back at the stars that shone down upon them
for never having put gates on their gardens
or guarded their exits and entrances with warning signs
that the birds and the worms and the deer and the dragonflies
that came in the name of life to gather the fruits of the earth
had no right trespassing here as if they weren’t walking
on their own land beside a deed of free waters given
with the open-handed blessings of a habitable planet
amazed by the starclusters of New England asters
and stamina of pale blue chicory along the side of the road
this late into the fall like the parting gesture of farewell
to everything that passed before them like the moonrise
of a dream just waking up on the far shore of a deep sleep
sweeter than any that even the love of peace had ever known before?




I never asked you to lie.
I never insisted upon the truth.
I was wholly absorbed in studying
the comparative mythology of your alibis
as they came to me like mystic revelations
dropped off in the wrong mailbox
like the Koran addressed to Muhammad
that was meant for Ali. At least
that’s what the angel said through its eye-teeth
when it came to the door and I asked
Why me? And it left me a flightfeather of light
to read like a glossy flyer when I got a chance
to sit in a room alone with a votive candle
and watch the dawn advance
like a lamp in the niche of an indigo window.

I might have momentarily hoped
I meant something to you closer to the heart,
but after awhile I thought Nietzsche
would suit you as well, or Spengler’s
Decline of the West and got on with my art
like a madman with things to express.
Better to be loved than right most of the time
and who could argue with a silence
that wasn’t a sin of omission, to prove it wrong?
So much I could say swimming in tears
to the polyglot candle on my desk,
speaking in oracular tongues to the stars
for the both of us waiting for Venus
to come up just before the sun exorcised
the graveyard shift of the ghosts
that worked so hard at becoming us.

I could hear the picture-music of your soul
dreaming in the next room like rain
on the windowsill of an ivy-covered asylum
and the eternal recurrence of the leitmotif
you kept trying to take in your mouth
like the light of the stars catching up to their tails
or an ouroboros spinning its wheels in the starmud
as you played long sad wavelengths
of your red shifting thematic life schemes adagio
on the bull horn harps of your golden larnyx,
expecting different results for the same credentials
over and over and over again, like the pulse
of a Chinese water torture tapping on the forehead
of your crystal skull like like an impatient finger of rain
on your windowpane to get you to sign the confession.

You were always Mata Hari in front of a firing squad of stars.
You gave me your body like a foreign agent
spying on my mind for critical secrets
you could pass on to the Kaiser like antidotes
to the mustard gas of toxic English unicorns.
I used to mutter false information in my sleep
but I never liked misleading you that way
but no leaks worth listening to, no charismatic sex.

Now it’s thousands of light years hence,
and I’m still a lyrical existentialist
trying to make sense of the essential mystery of it all.
O, how I would have loved to have danced with you
without the encumbrance of a disguise.
The petals of five life masks open
and one face blooms like a nocturnal waterlily
the stars return their eyes to like the lunar dew
of a fertile enlightenment experience
that bales the mangers and drinks from the grails.

Bereaved wise men have been known
to cross deserts to satisfy their astronomical curiosity
in spiritual hourglasses going supernova
like wine glasses smashed against the walls
of Greek weddings dancing for joy
on the splinters of their tragic chandeliers.
And the Buddha, too, sat still in the presence
of the morning star, supremely assured as I am
that he’d attained absolutely nothing
from the shining of the clear light of the void.

Yet how beautiful you were, and what
a promise of bliss was missed by this delusion
of what is and what isn’t the true identity
of emptiness in an exuberantly abundant world.
And though I keep winding up the wellsprings
of the waterclocks to keep them running on time
like train whistles keening across town,
and things have grown momentously pendulous
since you left, like a water drop hanging
from a blade of stargrass trying to be a lamp post,
I can still regret, delinquently sitting here by myself,
trying to have a conversation with a candle on death row,
waiting to be eradicated by the dawn
as a few remaining winter birds begin to tune
the trees up like shipwrecked guitars
there are no sequels to a mirage however
many lunatics fall to their knees in the cults of the moon
and pray it wasn’t retroactively over so soon.