Sunday, December 16, 2012



Expecting the worst because it is always now
and now is always the downfall of time,
the doomstroke of the present pulse
that goes off like an alarm clock in the grave
that no one will wake up to
but a lonely few raving in their sleep
feverish with dream, I look upon
the tribulation of the willow beyond tears,
the fury of the flagellant pines
that thrash the troubled air to keep from breaking,
the garbled flight plans of the veering birds,
and, prophet of the obvious, presage
the coming of a storm to break you
like a mirror of stagnant water
on the meteoritic thrones
of your igneous foundation stones.

Were you elected by the stars
to skull the earth with bombs,
to crater, gouge and scorch the playgrounds
of the obsolete children
waiting in their makeshift hospitals
for arms you tore from them like daisies; “she
loves me; she loves me not,” until
the night pours metal in their eyes
to seed the fire-fruits of their flowering
that has suddenly matured
in front of the guns and cameras
into a windfall of silent, acrid hearts
buried like landmines in the dazzling road
of their scorned flesh?

And they die for oil, they die
for the corporate spiders pulling the strings
of the Punch and Judy puppet governments
that tour the morgues like spring;
for bridges and contractors, power-lines
and power lunches, foreign policies
that brain them like the jawbone of an ass
they die, in their pyjamas, in their beds,
a kiss goodnight, and their prayers
imploring the disconnected dark to enlarge
the acceptable quotas of civilian dead
like the posters of the martyrs
on the walls of their rooms
shaken by the distant thunder
of computer-guided patriots and prophets
cooking their cities like God. And tomorrow
and tomorrow and tomorrow they die
in twisted, tormented convulsions
of agony and baffled blood they die and die,
learning to read and count
the names and years of their relatives
in the liberated souks of democratic cemeteries, alif
beh teh theh jim, F-l8, they master their lessons
and die in their thousands
because an executive cabal of miserable old men
with platitudes and prosthetic missiles for dicks
are into kiddie-porn snuff flicks
and biblical memoirs of all they begot
for the providence and profits
that redress the way they rot.

Acknowledging that this is not a hallmark greeting card,
I put it to you in the name
of your own enlightened self-interest,
in the name of a heart that isn’t
congested with a fashionable indifference,
in the name of a natural decency
that doesn’t need a teacher, in the name
of the families you came from
and the families you work for,
the daughter that falls asleep with you on the couch
like an island in the eye of a hurricane, the son
who listens to everything you say
as if he were kicking through bushels of autumn leaves
and then steals your car keys,
and your half-estranged wife, hoping
you’ll notice her hair-do at dinner, your mother,
the evangelist of baby pictures, and your father
softly overgrown like an old stone wall;
in the name of teen-age lovers
and their sophomoric glues, in the name
of calcium postal-clerks who smile
like Easter seals; in the name of iron men
with empty wallets, in the name
of the huge, lonely roses in all night bars
that bloom like scabs on the moon and know
they’re not pretty, in the name of physicists
and cabdrivers with chunks of quantum hash,
in the name of the angry crossroads in the singer’s voice,
in the name of the name of the insecure poet
whose last word fell like a drop of water
from a trembling blade of stargrass, I put it to you
because you are not a toad in front of a football game,
because you are not
a pebble-minded cosmetician in a delirium of pink, because
even in a shopping-mall you can feel and bleed and think,
and though you may be slow, you’re thorough
when it comes to putting on new brakes,
and though I know you don’t know what I mean
when I tell you that even the rocks, even
the rarest of ores we draw from the earth
like secret kings and artificial hearts
are freaked with seams of mystic gangrene
that will sever us like bells of blood
from the gardens of the gods we hope for,
rotten hinges from the gates,
bad meat from the starwells; you’re seer enough
to intuit the theme. It’s not about honey,
it’s about lies and death and money
devouring families like yours; it’s about
rich men gigantic with greed
and nations of thugs and thieves
infesting the earth like maggots in an abattoir,
manipulating what everyone believes,
defaming the weak and the poor, war after war,
to glut themselves on more and more and more
until all of life is nothing but a toxic insight,
and there are children everywhere tonight
making the news, hoping
they’ll need their shoes in the morning,
bleeding through their bandages like dawn.

Famine, disease, war, poverty and ignorance,
under what sign was this planet born
that this should be the birthmark of black stars
that forsake the constellation
burning like a kite
tangled in the powerlines?
And do not tell me these abominations, these
ominous eclipses of the heart
that fit the skull with lichens and cataracts
sunspots, polar caps and death shroud victory flags
are the labour of mineral casinos
playing the sluts and slots of chance
for a material immortality composing sexual requiems
on the keyboards of our genes.

These are the smiles of old scythes,
rusted and bloody,
that reap what they do not sow,
the chronic harvest of blood, bone, tears and flesh
threshed by the rotating blades of the moon;
these are the wounds and gashes,
the indecipherable science and scripture of scars
that stroke the lunar fury of the wild boars who plough with tusks,
the salt and lime and ashes that spice
the tasteless, eyeless, childless grave
with famous reasons for murder. These
are the ballroom courtesies of dancing cannibals,
these are the mothering headphones
of a twenty year old tank commander
who smothers the screams of casual children
in his video line of fire
with the curative gasolines of American rock and roll.
These are the occult imperatives
of cosmic ghouls whose mouths
are roses of blood, whose idols and ethics
are praying mantises dismembering the world,
tent-caterpillars and locusts
blighting the leaf and the grain
with the eggs and afterlives of imperial insects.
These are the arcane scales
of old serpents sloughing skins
like epochs and empires and straitjackets
that couldn’t contain the life within
the market gardens of original sin, these
are the hinges of its gaping jaws
and these the fangs and poisons
of its septic laws undone like lynch pins
to take the whole world in, disgorging again
the used condoms, the withered shells
of the nations and nests they’ve plundered.

Let the blind ambassador
whose morals are as breezy as his teeth
number the spoon-fed nightmares
propped up like dolls in unnegotiated corners,
their glass eyes open for keeps
like guide dogs at the fatal intersections
of dark, delinquent streets
that only the children cross,
hysterical in sleep. Let him explain
to the pillows of the children in the furnace
why their feathers will never make a bird that flys;
let him explain to the bracelets and bells,
the twilight of hair in the comb,
the glacial sages preserved in the cracks of the mirror,
the drowned lumber of mothers
dismantled by violent coasts, their children
snagged like cod in the purses of political fishing nets,
why death is the only guarantor of human liberty,
let him choose his words carefully
as if he were loading a gun with birthday candles,
let him drop seedlings in the bullet holes
and talk of future forests gleefully
to the press corps generals
spewing pulp fiction like chainsaws in a feeding frenzy.
Let him mark well the small graves in the footnotes
of his text, the fragile starmaps of braille
that will later come forward like witnesses
to accuse his sterling composition
of the mountainous corals of the dead,
all the polyp people that he brained into stone bread.

And when like death he’s out of a job,
let him run eagerly door to door
delivering newspapers to the mob
like personal resumes, or let him carve gravestones
for unofficial children
on the dead letterhead of his own.
Then take the presidents, the bankers,
the ministers, executives, and pimps
equipped with the long spoons and supple shovels
of their death-divining tongues
and let them dig like star-nosed moles
deep holes in the earth for the corpses of the young,
black poppies in the shadow of a white-washed bloodhouse
enthroned on a summit of dung.




In the early grey morning trying to tune the tinny rain
to the fleeting keys of the pentatonic birds,
a bad musician lost in the labyrinth of its ear
like a spider or a sodden note with too many sad flags
caught in the torn stave of its saturated web,
I arrive like a messenger from far coasts
and the exotic nightlife of the bright cities of the stars,
having crossed the passionate ocean of the poppy
that dared her maiden voyage in a bottle.

And I say to myself, because no one is listening, behind seawalls
of black coffee and rolled cigarettes
because I own no part of the sky, no
fraction of the leaking house I’m quartered in
with a library of pleading guestbooks I refuse to sign:
look for the secret gold in the crumbling foundation stone,
pull yourself out of the rock like a charmed sword
or the mad ore of a sad crown in a kingdom of one.

But pauper that I am, I’ve never managed more
than an empty throne, and the antiquated office chair I sit in
was crafted from the timber of burnt windowsills
I rescued like eyelashes from the cooling ashes
of my last revision of the schools of weeping glass
who loved the flaring of the mystic arsonist I used to be.

Whole generations can die in the pause
between one heartbeat and the next and I don’t remember
when it was that I woke up older than the rain
that once derailed my affair with a married sphinx,
but yesterday is not a bruise I want to wear tomorrow
and today is not wise enough to guess the riddle of my sorrow.

More amused than bitter in the expanding interim
of my cosmic solitude, there are graves ahead
I feel compelled to answer from the irrefutable depths
of the opulent silence that owes my voice
a god and a name. And there are roads that I must lead home again,
adopted rivers that have never met their natural headwaters,
and valleys full of fireflies I must endow like brides
before the waxing crescent of the autumn moon
severs the fruit from the wombs of their lachrymose guitars.

And I am weary and scared and inconsolably alone
in the stern mirrors of the morning that reflect my face
like an apology that came too late to make a difference,
or bridge the distance between one beginning
and the next. This is my life, I tell myself, and hope I’m lying.
This is the blue stairwell of my irremissible longing
to suffer the unattainable until I am wholly transformed
in a single embrace, to die with eyes, to heal the wounded beast of coal
so much like nightfall in my blood with salves of flowing diamond,
or crawl from the ashes of miscreant angels with wings.
This is my life on earth as it is, and this who I am in the changing.
a lightning rod in a makeshift morgue
trying to raise myself from the vast surrender of the dead
I was born among to weld their chains to the clouds
in a flash of liberation. And this is my life in the ruins
of darker aspirations that squandered its victory bells
in useless assaults against the intransigent walls of heaven,
the adamant gates of hell. And should I now deny
out here in the open with my small army of masks
depleted by desertion, what I haven’t even admitted to myself?

There never was a way to wage peace against a world
collegiately braced for war. There never was a way
to campaign for love and survive the treaties and truces
that snarled like poison kisses on the cheek of the moon
I could not turn, the bitter cups and skulls and crazy wines
of the sacrificial knives it kept refilling like a garden.

So now there’s this exordium of islands and exiles like me
buried every step of the wayless way ahead
in our own footprints, casualties of the blessings and bullets that missed.

This is my life, and I will not decry it like a stormbird
off the precipitous coasts of savage ashtrays
nor haunt the shore with reading lamps to jackal through the salvage.