Friday, December 21, 2012



I can still see you shining, and when was it ever not so,
like last night’s stars, sacred syllables
lingering in your voice like broken mirrors of ice
and you so badly wanting to fly above it all,
to burn like a draconian firefly that healed its heart
with a blow torch that welded you back together again
with scars of gold, to prove how intensely pure you were.

And you were o yes you were so serious,
amazingly beautiful, no one laughed,
when they saw the extremes of scorching honesty
with yourself and others you were willing to go to
to be worthy of the excruciations of your art,
and deeper than that, something you knew
was there in the dark by the weight of its eyes upon you
like a stranger with a spirit of bells that meant you no harm.

Of you, I wrote, my muse is lovelier than any running doe
because it was true and there was no other way of putting it
that didn’t blunt the shining, that didn’t cheat the rose,
that you inevitably didn’t when you were the new moon
and I was wholly in love with you like a total eclipse.
Yes, I remember how there was always more dark bliss
in the gifts of pain I received from you than I,
and you know how hard I tried to give back,
ever returned to you like a sacred grove of nightbirds.

You showed me the diamonds in the abyss of my inadequacies.
You were the peer of the mystery of yourself,
a black savage, one third deadly nightshade,
two thirds nocturnal orchid and there was nothing
strategic about your magic compared to mine.
That made you a greater sorceress than I was ever a wizard.
For me the birds sang, but you could hear the sky weeping
for things I’m still trying to understand about compassion.

When I think of the passage of beauty, you’re always
one of the last wildflowers of the fall, sometimes
the starclusters of the New England asters, others,
the last pilot light to go out on the blueweed
or one of those rare times, as I sense this is now,
I’m attending a seance of waterlilies that are trying
to call you back to life like an echo in a housewell
at four in the first October morning we spent on the farm
and were startled awake by the ghost of a white horse
drumming on the well cap in the moonlight
glowing in the frost on the ground, as if we were
both enlightened like two eyes at the same window,
burning in awe of the vision we shared together,
knowing the ensuing silence was more than enough
to attest to the truth of it like a secret that wasn’t meant for words.

Just as this isn’t, after so many lightyears
of remembering you like one of the great joys of life
that cast the longest shadows of the most poignant sorrow
to haunt me for the rest of my life like a wound
even the scar tissue of the moon can’t keep me
from flowing out of like the source of the Nile before Egypt.

God, how I wish every time I reached out for you
the stars didn’t burn my hands like snowflakes and doves.
There must be some other way to kiss the spirit
of evanescent things without putting your lips
to a sacred fire in an ice-age as if you were kissing
the head of an oracular snake like the eyelid
of a lover you were trying to wake from a dream
that lasts forever like a garden you’ve been shut out of
because you’re still alive, and foolish enough to love
what’s can’t be helped or forgotten because it’s gone.

After the storm surge, in the gleaming facets of sunshine,
death dries its outspread wings like a turkey vulture
at the top of the totem of a pine that’s been broken by lightning
and you lose your faith in the thunderbirds of aquiline evergreens.
At least, I did for awhile, looking up at the stars alone
at twenty below, impossibly trying not to accuse the gods
of anything they didn’t mean, as I grew
colder than liquid nitrogen on the inside, and my tears
shattered like crystal stalactites in an ice storm,
or sublimated into wraiths of dry ice I exorcised
too dead inside to be haunted by your memory just yet,
than any void I’ve ever tried to fly through like space
as it was turning into glass. This, too, will pass is not always true.

Eventually the wind stopped snarling like a barnyard dog
as I began letting go of you, and the pain thawed,
and the hawks were unlocked from their aviaries of ice
in one long shriek of liberation that tore my heart like a talon
because my grief was the last of you I had to hang on to
and I couldn’t use the permafrost as an excuse
not to properly bury my dead where they’d asked me to,
as I did you, facing east toward the lustreless black pearl
of the new moonrise of my heart on the threshold
of a black hole as if I had nothing left to lose but loss itself.

And who could have imagined that time would cling to me
as it has, a habit that distinguished it from eternity
like fresh water from the salt? Or I could be so exalted
to that palace of stars your spirit took up residence in
like a squall of fireflies the wind played with like chimney sparks
from the dead furnace of this house of life we once lived in together?
The morning glory’s overgrown the gate. The palings
of the fence I built are down like nights and days
crossed off in a calendar. The window we looked through
is smashed. The housewell lost in the rising tides
of the wild grasses learning to write on the wind.

And that last painting of yours you gave me,
all those truncated trees, lepers and amputees
grotesquely gathered on an island in a bay
you lavished in soft placental violets and greens,
Persian silks, and auroral saris for mutilated mannequins,
I left on the wall of your studio like some kind of seal
on the place breaking up like Pangea into
continents of plaster. I pried it loose from the ice
of a snowbank slumped in the corner opposite
that small open window you stared out at the world through
like a portrait in a picture-frame I’m still trying to get right,
and I hung it back up counter-intuitively as I imagined
you would have done, something incomprehensively beautiful
and strangely evocative of a gesture suggestively perfected
like a long misunderstood labour of love, masterfully abandoned.




Even here on earth where indifference,
not rebellion, turns the place into hell,
slag of the angels, and dark ore out of
the gold pollen of the honey bees,
and self sets false humans up
like fallen idols to Mammon,
and the hearts of children are crushed
like strawberries, the wise are tormented
by trivia, and the fools are given pulpits
on behalf of a cult of coffins,
small mystical acts of compassion
keep happening like salt and water,
light and bread, slipping between the cracks
like one prisoner passing another
a cigarette through the bars
they climb everyday like ladders.

Who hasn’t cursed the long labour of worship
carving yourself out of light is, or given up
halfway through the dawn that lasts
until sunset when the nightshift comes on?
I don’t think I’m especially good
and is the inability not to empathize
with everyone, a vice or a virtue?
Mark one jewel and they’re all marked
like the dew shouldering the moon
in every drop, or the eye
the superclustering of galaxies
in the afterbirth of myriad multiverses.
Insomuch as you do it unto one of these,
you do it unto me. That’s pretty clear.

You see the worst and best done everyday.
Everytime somebody looks at someone else
the whole world changes out to the furthest star.
For your eyes only never made any sense.
An aspen leaf whispers something to the wind
and the seashells hear it oceans away
as if it were a secret they were keeping
like lockets to themselves. Something
their mother said in a good mood, remembered
since childhood. You were fathered
by every stranger you’ll ever meet
the night you were conceived.
You share your genes with everyone
like a mother tongue back to Lilith beyond Eve.
There isn’t a drop of amniotic fluid
that isn’t a waterfall. There isn’t a star
that wasn’t born in the womb of your eyes.
Sentience is the light turning around to look at itself
through your point of view. Sunflowers, too,
and gnats and fish and birds and wolves.

We all cast shadows. We all live penumbrally
in the half light of the moon, and by noon
the blazing’s washed us out like watercolours
and we’re a disappointment to the sundials.
Everyone’s tears are on a grail quest
for an inkwell that will help them live
indelibly happy with the outcome
of their prophecies whether you call them
fact, fiction, or spirituality, the issue’s the same.
One to blame, we’re all to blame
in a bigger frame of reference. Like roadkill
on a country road when even the dust
is as sweet as a locust tree in bloom,
just to be here is to be inescapably complicit.

Even driving the white-gold chariots of the sun
there’s a lot of slum in all of us that comes due
inestimably sooner than later. Do you know how long
you have to hold your breath before
you become a pure fish in polluted water
trying to belly flop up toward the sky?
Do you know how many fish are dying
of thirst beside a freshwater lake
and all they’ve got to do is roll over and drink?

I’ve been witching for water in hell a long time.
I’ve been trying to decipher the crackling
of my starmud like lifelines in the dry palms
of my creekbeds. I’ve been attempting to live
as if meaning had some artistic talent
as a medium of the absurd and the very inanity
of the effort is enough to prove I’m on
the right track. The seance is making
an honest effort. I’m a journey man apprentice
to a travelling circus of sacred clowns.

Some people want to make a big splash.
With me it was always a total eclipse or bust.
Indefensibly human you do what you must
and hopefully won’t need an alibi that will lie
behind your back, just as you’re coming clean
as a new moon with yourself, and everything’s black.

Nothing’s bigger than one, and sometimes
I think I’m the grand master of God’s Own Zero
then someone unusual comes along and pops
the docking Zeppelin, and I’m a conflagration
of mythic deflation astonished by the progress
of my humility just to have something to hang on to.

What’s come as a retroactive shock, recently, though
is how many muses refuse to be saints
and yet there’s still an echo of goodness in the air
tending the heart’s home fires in danger of going out
as if it were a reflex of the second nature of oxygen
to keep things lit in a dark time, brighten things up a bit.
Extraordinary ordinary decencies of life,
small acts and gestures of kindness rare
as orchids in the winter time, and just as shy
as deer caught in the headlights on a spring night.
Their own two hands the only clay tablets
brought down from the mountain
after talking to God like a gate, not an exit,
they ever obeyed like commandments
carved in granite like glaciers in the rocks
of the Canadian Shield. The alluvial soil
of a northern mindstream with small asteroids
of circumpolar ore circling a midnight sun
like gold in the heart of a human that never sets.
How one eyebeam of genuine starmud
without an agenda for shining touches the heart
and the whole valley’s alive with fireflies.