Monday, December 10, 2012



The highs are fewer as I’ve grown from stars
to the superclustering of galaxies in a more spacious
frame of reference trying fit the heartwood to the cambium
but they’re brighter against an emptier, darker background
and infinitely more intense. And as for the lows,
they don’t wear out as many shovels trying to dig me up
from the depths of the avalanche of mountain peaks
I’ve been so deeply buried under
with a stone so great placed on my chest
to make sure I’d never rise from the depths again
even the diamonds were wearing pressure suits
as they slowly rose to the top for fear of getting the bends
like bubbles of methane in thermophilic bathyspheres.
Death tries to scare me but I jump in my grave
and pull the dirt down over my body and smile
when I tell it you’re a little too late. I couldn’t wait.
I left without you. I’m a star you can’t catch up to
and my light has always fallen a little shy of my shining.

I’ve been sitting at this desk for the better part of fifty years,
going snowblind in the glare of staring
at a white sheet of paper blowing like laundry
on a clothesline in hyperspace where
the M-theories are hung out to dry like albino membranes
with no visible birthmarks until I ink one in like a prison tat.
Or a black and white photograph emerging
out of its cocoon in a visionary dark room
where the butterflies dry their wings pinned to clothes pegs.
I’ve always been intrigued by the mystery
of the way the mindstream bends like a wavelength
around the next corner of its own going
and what seemingly appears out of nothing
like poppies full of dreams in the blood
that never know what to do next, and yet
perfectly unfold like the flames of a hidden fire.

Poetry is the only embassy that’s taken me in
whenever I’ve been seeking sanctuary from myself.
Poetry is oxygen with an extraterrestrial origin,
a gift of meteors and comets, and, young,
I used to marvel for hours at a time
at how crucial phlogiston was to my kind of life,
but older, came to realize, how little it does
until you get it into your lungs and fire things up.
Poetry is the spirit breathing on a cold windowpane.
And in my life, it’s been a longer running continuity
of white rapids and precipitous waterfalls
plunging into the void as if the rosary of the river
had just broken into a million separate beads
and everywhere the air was saturated with eyes
trying to see what happens to light in a black hole---
longer than love or truth or wisdom,
though beauty, imagination, and compassion
have always followed me over the edge faithfully
to explore the possibilities of life on a further shore.

I don’t really need to know why I write anymore.
Maybe it’s cost me so much over the years
to stay true to the lunacy of this circuitous blossoming
I’ve become inured to the pain of prophesying
how it’s all eventually going to turn out
like the flightpath of a waterbird evaporating
off the lake in the morning, or a dream in a mirror
poignant with stars paling into a vast moonrise
of wild swans spirally aligned with the eternal recurrence
of the golden ratio on the Road of Ghosts.
Best show in town and the ticket was free
and who so petty they wouldn’t raise their skull
and offer a toast to the unknown host
who wrote its guests into the play like understudies
of themselves. The interdependent origins of excellence.
And only the lifemasks we wear to disguise our stage fright
sweating it out like candles in the dark to remember their lines.

Celebrity’s the barking of a young dog on a short chain,
and fame’s just a longer tether. Everyone enjoys
being appreciated for what they hope they do best,
and even though I cut anchor a long time ago
on the west coast, I would say the nihilism of my ego
isn’t such a purist, that the creative aspirations
of my golden age aren’t still trying to alloy themselves
with a little tinfoil star of recognition, but
for the most part I don’t spend my time updating
a bibliography of the wildflowers my lighthouses
and sunbeams have opened like the Colossus of Rhodes
checking its fan mail like seagulls in its wake.
And besides, I’ve always been more of an outlaw
than a sheriff, and outlaws don’t like standing in line-ups
waiting to be recognized for their sparkling identities.

Something sweeter, deeper, darker than wine
seeps into the grape over the course of time
and flares like a fountain of insight into the nature of life
and you can’t help being discretely intoxicated
by the cool bliss that enhances the human dignity
of creatively collaborating in your own beginnings
with the rest of the universe taking itself at face value.
The night is not a reward, and despite our beginnings
our ends aren’t a matter of words, and I very much doubt
there’s much of a bounty to be had by turning your freedom in
to be locked up in an aviary of Byzantine mechanical birds.




And this is the end of the road, this is the cul de sac,
and this is the white root of the black wick,
and this is the last relic in the bone-box of the heretic
who questioned what life is and went up in flames,
and this is death whispering sweetly into the ears
of the Sunday bells blooming heavy and sad
as cast iron morning glory pendulously wondering
why all the bad apples get to fall before they do,
and this is the rope at the end of its barking dog,
and this is the missing link in the daisy chain
around the hanged man’s neck, and this
that gentle daydream that comes to anyone
who’s been left out in the cold long enough
they’re freezing to death in a blizzard of razor blades
with a smile on their face only a buddha could understand.

Penury, my prince, we’ve already flogged the throne.
Poetry, my mistress, the lutes are rattling like dry gourds
dicing like snake eyes for the last few magic seeds
at the end of the tails. And the moon’s even resorted
to milking her own fangs as if she were suckling
a baby Medusa, and the ribs of the truth are competing
like empty bird cages with turkey vultures
for a scrap of roadkill in the pantries of the morgues.
The bookworms have eaten all there was to read,
and the mirages are losing weight as fast as their faith
in the ability of water to sustain them. Down
to the last blossom, the apple trees have been living
on dried bees and the begging bowls of the tapeworms
have been making snakepits of pasta out of themselves.

And this is the drydock of hollow cupboards
that have lowered their voices three octaves below
a skeleton, and the ships jump their plague rats
in a black market where Virgo grinds Spica
like the last stalk of wheat in her hand into
the dream crumbs she gleaned from a harvest of eyes.
The feast is looking for a fatter host. The famine
is cattle rustling the oneiroscopy of the seven lean kind
and Mose’s rod has just cooked the last Egyptian snake
over a burning bush like the leftover shoelace
of last night’s roast boot. Van Gogh’s licking the paint
off his canvases like batter off a wooden spoon,
and Cezanne’s making apple sauce of all his still lives.

Food for thought, and all the geniuses are mindless.
Below the salt, below the echoes of the abyss
in the nihilistic silos for bread. Sticky dregs of the light,
singularities at the bottom of the flagons of black holes
good down to the last God particle of gravity,
I’m laughing at the poetic idiocy of pursuing
an earthly excellence like a fruit fly, Drysophila,
the nectar and ambrosia of the higher things in life.
And given how few loaves and fishes are left at the foodbank,
if I must sup with the devil at the expense
of answering to the angels who don’t eat,
it’ll be the demons who come to the table
with long spoons, and me that licks my fingers clean
after gnawing on this winged foot I stuck in my mouth
like a black farce of the ouroboros I’ve already
eaten up to knot in this noose of nerves at the back
of my head I’m about to swallow like a black walnut
in a single gulp, like a wolf chewing through its limbs
in a leg hold trap that’s gone too long without meals
as it howls through five tercets of a villanelle followed
by a quatrain with two refrains and a pair of repeating rhymes
to express the pain of singing for your supper
on the lowest rungs of the foodchain hanging
the fruits of life on the dead boughs of an art
that’s dying while my heart’s still green.