Saturday, December 15, 2012



Something beautiful, lyrical, tenderly heart-felt
like a child reaching out of its innocence
to test a bruise that used to hurt
but now has mellowed into a wild flower
with just a touch of local colour.

Wild irises among the breathless willows
along the shores of the Tay River
adjusting the catfish to its flow
like underwater weathervanes
and it’s summer on earth
and the sun ripens like a tomato
on the inside of your eyelids
and the hum of the dragonflies
buzzing your ear like a flight control tower
lulls you into a narcosis of physical well-being
when even an hour of being so at peace with life
as it is, was, appears, ought to be or not,
the distinctions are as unreal
as water consulting a nautical chart,
and even time stops judging things by its first impressions.

Something easy, inclusive, and true as it needs to be
without going to any special efforts.
Just to lie back in the fresh summer grass
and wish you were a white horse
with a black star under your forelock
that could graze upon the young blades
that smell so much like cool green peas
and stare into the endless cerulean blue of a sky
with an eye for antique clouds
the burgundy-tipped brushes of the birches
are scumbling a little alizarin crimson into
just to warm things up a bit.

I want to see wet mammals
gleaming with water and light
sliding down a mud bank back into the river
otters, muskrats, beavers,
and forget all about evolution
like any other corporate utility
that can wait to be paid.
The turkey-vultures and the red-tailed hawk
circling high overhead without disturbing
a feather on their wings
when they’re riding their thermals for the sheer joy of it,
like kids sliding down a bannister
that find the most fun in what
there’s the least purpose in
and even less reason to question.

I want to look upon life
as if its only secret agenda
is as it always has been
hidden out in the open
for everyone’s eyes only.
I want to let my mind
sprawl and cluster as it will
like the waterlilies in lieu of stars
giving illustrious astronomy lessons
inside the dark planetarium
of the abandoned beaver hut
on the far shore
that’s just as big a mystery
as the disappearance of the Mayans.

For the moment I don’t
want to go anywhere a maple tree
wouldn’t grow of its own accord
whether it made it through
the first few winters or not.
Listen to the leaves on the aspens
lapping like the small waves
of an incoming tide of shadows
as the afternoon slowly withdraws its assent
like a hand from the hand of a sleeping lover
to reveal your sacred absence when she wakes up
like the best gift you had to give her
though she’d never dream
of asking for so much.

Powder-blue eyeshadow on the damselflies.
My spiritual dakini dancing voluptuously
making Hindi hand gestures of light
that flash off the backs of black watersnakes
that roll with the waves
like a melody to music
your whole body hears
like serpent-fire roaring through a chimney
to clear its throat of birds.

Enlightenment might be akin
to galloping on a horse through a busy market
without bumping into anyone.
There are enough fools who doubt it
to convince you there must be some truth to it,
but here where the red-winged blackbird
sings from the dead branch
as often as the green bough,
the deathless insight is effortless
and ignorance and enlightenment
are just the front and back doors of bliss
in this house of life that takes a worm
and turns it into a Monarch butterfly
or takes a landscape
and turns it into a state of mind,
a dynamic equilibrium among opposites
that stand before each other
like a man before a mirror
without one asking the other
which of them is real.

Not as I am but as it is
is true of everything in creation
from the atoms in a lost osprey feather
on up to the superclustering of black holes
like voodoo dolls in the hearts of the starfish
who gather in covens to sacrifice their light
to the darkness, making a ritual
of the natural order of events
emerging from the chaos of a random universe
like a school of fish
or the flight of birds
or even the improbable concourse of these words
when they all swerve the same way.

Reeds in the river.
The hair of the willows.
A human who seeks peace in a low place
down by the water
and lets his thoughts go along
with the flow of things
like the main theme of a waterclock
with a heart and a bloodstream
discrete enough to ignore me for a while
as I drift like an empty lifeboat down the Tay River
like one of my unmoored poems
whenever I am whatever it is
standing in the shadows of the answer
that’s been liberated from the slavery
of responding to the question that belabours it.

We are consummate nothingness.
The metaphoric vapours of a drug we inhale
like the fragrance of white sweet clover,
distillations and elixirs of the moon
we drink from our own skulls,
semaphoric fireflies waiting for the stars
to answer back, shapeshifters
bending space to the shape
of our momentary cosmic minds
to have everything fall into place prophetically
like wild grapevines into bottles of dated wine.

Go ask the water if a reflection
standing on its own two feet
like a mirage of stars in the desert cold
of the upper atmosphere
waiting for someone at a wishing well
is any less real than one that’s lying down
to look up at the passing clouds
until it disappears like a mirror
that doesn’t inhibit them
into whatever they’re the image of
in a fraction of sunlight
on the wing of a blue heron
startled into flight by something
on the far side of the river.

Mesmerized by the mystic specificity
of the extraordinarily ordinary,
one dandelion in a wild raspberry patch
overwhelming it like a tsunami,
the fate that must have befallen
the one-legged gull
I gave bread to here last summer
favouring him above all
to humanize the radical impersonality
of the randomly accidental
that did this to a bird
without purpose, will, or meaning,
I sit here among these,
my senses attuned
to the vagaries of consciousness
as they’re beaten off like crows
by nesting sparrows
or keep a journal like a leaf
that set out young to explore the river
like a water god that went looking for water
and found it when he came upon
what remained of himself and cried
when things went oceanic
as if it had happened to someone else.

Something beautiful, lyrical, tenderly heart-felt.
Two ruby-throated hummingbirds
hovering over a bouquet of daylilies
like single quotes.




Squalls of rusty leaves clinging to a tree in winter
like the pages of a perfectly bound book,
the memoirs of a fire that refused to go out
like the gypsy scarves of the poppies,
dry, rattling, skulls encrusted by the firepits
of their own laurels. So many of my generation,
the sixties, the fabled seed beds of a dead revolution,
the distant thunder of a creative firestorm
that flowed back into its watershed like a black snake
after the lightning struck the sacred tree.

Cratered, pitted mantles with thinning atmospheres
on the surface of rogue planets still looking
for that one mystic star they’ll orbit
like comets with their greying ponytails forever
if they ever find it. But don’t be too quick to judge
the heart of the original nightbird on the basis
of a fading echo with a long way to go yet.
Just below the surface of the reflexive symbols
that have worn out the knees of the shrines
and devotees who made peace signs
instead of the sign of the cross, just below
the volcanic islands of the scars they’re marooned on,
the effusive swords of their edgy insights
cooling out in a tempering sea of awareness,
there’s still a hot, magmatic core of dragon sages
dancing in the ashes of a dead furnace
that approached them like a matchbook
that thought it was the peer and master
of their ageing green cremations at a rain dance.

Don’t throw cold water on a dreaming wolf until
you’ve checked its teeth to see if it snarls
with the broken crescents of a waning moon
or the turning world has kept its pencils sharp
as the point it’s about to make for enlightenment’s sake.
Even in my own heart, I can hear the pathos
in the voice of the wolf shaman calling
the few who remained faithful to their prayers,
like a savage muezzin in the mountains
of a brutal solitude that knows what hour it is.
If it grows dark around me even as I write
that doesn’t mean I’m editing myself out of the light.
That’s just a sixties way of conjuring the stars to come out.

Who hasn’t stood in the starmud up to their necks
in the infinities of the chronic rapture
of a sixties think tank of one very spaced-out brain
cauterized by bliss burn? The generations lie down
one upon the other like layers of sediment settling
out of the turmoil of their sky bound puddles like new skin
on cosmic river bottoms, today’s cambium,
tomorrow’s heartwood. Dark absorption lines
around the eyes of an emission spectrum. Black
calendars scarred on the vulture femurs
of the bird bone flutes of Archaic Indians lying
in their graves by the Straits of Belle Isle.

Takes a while, but it perpetually happens.
It’s going to happen to you, just like that
medieval clique of skeletons said. As we are now
so will you be one of these mystic bagladies
or homeless revolutionaries out trying to trade
the whole wardrobe of the emperor’s new clothes
for a few rags of retroactive fashion. The duff
of the autumn leaves collaged into wet albums
on the forest floor of radicals returning to their roots
one last time before the snow falls. The setting star
doesn’t shine any less brighter than
the new debutantes of lucidity rising in the east.

We ran before the storm awhile like birds
that delighted in the riot and the madness
of its creatively destructive, dark energies.
We burned cities, trying to make love not war.
We gnawed through the chains of the anchors
of moonboats in the ports of lunar drydocks
even as we jumped ship like rats on friendly terms
with the dragons of the Chinese zodiac.
Civil rights, anti-war protests, feminism efoliate,
this time with thorns, ecological paracletes
intervening on behalf of the pimped-out earth,
water, air, earth, fire, four poor girls
whored in the stables of the corporate flesh market,
and a sexual revolution that broke the locks
on the stocks of the witch-hunting Puritans
who burned the bodies of women like candles
fearful of the lunar power of their own housewells,
fierce hypocrites who thinned the blood in their veins
into the formic acids of nettles and ants,
into the vicious beginning of their one letter alphabet
of red ink that kept sinking deeper in arrears to God
because they lived their lies like pincers on a lightning rod.

Major regret. No work revolution to undo
the immorality of enjoying what you do for a living
instead of accepting it as a purifying karmic scourge
for the evil and the guilt of having been born
to hard labour on a chain gang without parole.
It’s sixties just to point out that the Upanishads say
work should be a form of worship, or in Zen,
a do, an enlightenment path, or closer to home,
a begging bowl. In the aftermath of the cosmic cocktails
of chemicals for herbivores with poetic sounding names,
the apocalyptic spirit went supernova and the remnants
of the excruciating ecstasy came up like a moonrise
of manic mushrooms that shaved their heads
like magic monks in a cult of future afterlives.
I saw the maharanis kiss the serpent on the head
and get away with it. I’ve lapped the marrow of music
out of the fossilized bird bone flutes
that tried to charm the snakepit and got bit because
music hasn’t got charms to soothe all savage breasts.

Over now. With this proviso. No star ever
says farewell to its light however far
it travels from its original fountainmouth,
wavelengths away from the first flash of insight
like the continuum of the wind, or space and time.
Things may be diverted by gravitational third eyes,
and, yes, so many have imploded on themselves
like black dwarfs that yesterday were fireflies of the spirit,
and others brood like dark ore deep within themselves
over secret motherlodes of white gold
that glows like wheat in the moonlight
in the wake of a silver plough sowing stars
in the furrows of their terraced brows
that are timed to germinate long after they’re gone,
gone, gone, gone, altogether gone beyond.

Lucidity surprised by the lengthening shadows it cast
like a rookery of crows in a psychedelic sunset.
Chimney sparks by the moody cresosote of old fires
that aspired to the stars like nightbirds
caught in their own throats when the darkness
overwhelmed them with the unattainability
of the best things in life to reach for
like brilliant failures with an artist’s nostalgia
for a lost cause that went into exile voluntarily,
some like asteroids of the Orphic dismemberment
of a whole generation, some like hyperbolic comets
fallen from their dark haloes turning once around the sun
like tracers following the flightpath of their own ricochets,
and some, you’ve seen them, emanating
from the invisible radiants of well-thumbed zodiacs,
like the lion and bull gates of meteor showers
that can still thrill the marvellous children
with the fireworks of their creative immolations
as another generation shrieks in glee realizing
their own freedom in the high jinx
of the sacred clowns and amazing lunatics
blooming in orbit like wildflowers protesting
the way the earth passed every day into night
without opening its eyes to the wonders of itself
strewn in its path like the tarnished haloes
of moondogs we once reached for like brass rings
that gored us like matadors on our own horns
as we bled to death in an eclipse of roses
in the magic ashpits of their oracular thorns.