THE HIGHS ARE FEWER AS I’VE GROWN
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.