Thursday, December 27, 2012



What I have become and did not intend.
Is there no end of that deathmask in the mirror?
Glum when I should be shining, bright
when it hurts my eyes. O what little blueprints
my constellations were. Still, I worked like a firefly
with the shadows of the insights I had to go by.
Some nights there’s not a dot of Braille
on a blind starmap eyeless in the east.
I try to stare these ice-age windows into thawing
in the heat of my vision but only an eddy of air
has been weeping along with the lament of my candle
like a stray thread unravelling the atmosphere,
a ghost at the loom of a flying carpet
that never got off the ground. Obviously, down,
I’m rooted like a flower in an urn of starmud.

I don’t fight the shadows. I don’t exalt the light.
I don’t try to embroider my death shroud
with finely stitched vetch. I don’t white wash
my nightmares with the upbeat needlepoint
of sweeter dreams than my prophetic skull can summon.
I offer my absence entire to the enlargement of a space
where the stars are growing further apart
and time is slowly running out of lovers and friends.
I don’t compare my ashes to the fires I could have been.
I don’t ask the lamps of my genies to preside
at the death of dragons. I don’t bear false witness
staring into the firepits of their eyes like niches
in a skull that can see better in the dark than I can
at the end of their wicks like spinal cords tethered to a flame,
something eternal that proved transitory as rain.

I have a seasonal mind. I take the weather as it comes.
Just past the winter solstice now, the days are getting longer.
Last night Jupiter and the full moon so clear
it cut my eyes like the facets of a jewel
in the abyss of a mystery that called out to my soul
with a longing that’s almost more than I can bear to hear
its voice is so impersonal, I’m alienated from the intimacy
of a solitude where I used to entertain a self
with how dazzling everything is when there’s nothing of value
to hang on to. Not an I. Not a They. Not a You.

I can swim like the comet of a Siamese fighting fish
in a cloven hoofprint of rain forever but heave myself
up over the gunwales of an empty lifeboat in any attempt
to save myself from drifting alone in the interminable depths
of another graveyard shift on an infinite sea of awareness,
and I drown like the moon in the undertow
of my own shadows looking for where I’ve gone.
I derive a strange joy from the pain I suffer through in life
like a risk I shouldn’t have taken, but did, and rejoice
in the counter-intuitive act of macrocosmic emotions
that my laughter is a mountain that can sing almost
as deeply as the bird drenched voices in the valleys of my sorrow.

The dead branch where the rivers used to meet
might break under the weight of my sacred song
but I’m not out witching for wishing wells
from the blisters of the stars on my lips to atone
for having tasted the light for myself to know
if it were sweet or acrid. Merely illuminating
or more convincingly fruitive. Bright vacancy
or dark abundance, or a dynamic equilibrium of both
for those of you still foolish enough to conceive
of yourselves as pilgrims on a middle way
mapped out by lightning no one’s ever set foot upon,
the journey’s that abrupt. A Milky Way of fireflies
signalling like ships far out at sea like the spiritual life
of shore-huggers burning their dead on driftwood pyres
that washed up onto the beach. The fire god
comes looking for fire and there’s isn’t a star
that’s out of reach. Make your oblations of ashes and smoke
and snakes will climb the burning fire ladders to heaven
like lunar spinal cords long before the elect of your matchbook
fake their way out of hell. Their candles snuffed by their bells.

Brutal clarities. Homeless thresholds. Unhinged gates
hanging on like the broken wing of a prayer
nobody bothers to close or open anymore
like the last exit out of the labyrinth of yourself
before you enter the starfields like an eye in the dark
to give the light something to focus on
like an over-exuberant loveletter from the wildflowers
wondering why they haven’t heard from you in lightyears.




You’ve been gone such a long time.
Do the dead share their absence
with the hearts of those who miss them
or is the scope of the moon diminished
by its lack of a credible atmosphere?

After the flood, I believed in the covenant
the rainbows made with the disquieting day,
but late at night among the moondogs
I heard them weeping like watercolours
left out in the rain that washes their promises away
like false dawns in the third eye of the sea.

Where did you go? And why? Were you
a failure that went unnoticed? Did I let you down
in some unforgivable way and this is how
I pay by having to grow galactic to embrace you,
to close the abyss between us with oceanic forays
into time and space to say I’m sorry when
I feel you near, if I harmed you in any way
I wasn’t aware of, though never out of a lack of love?

Night after night, my heart drifts like a lifeboat
lowered from the moonset in the west
to look for you without a starmap to anywhere
only to be washed up on shore in the morning
as empty as I left. My waterclocks trying
to turn back time like a widow walk
around a lighthouse with no habitable planets.

It’s not the light of candles that I follow
it’s the wend of the smoke when they go out
that reveals the paths of the dead unravelling
like a road of ghosts dispersed among the stars.
My heart’s become a bone-box of your eyes,
your lips, your hair, your fingertips,
the nocturnal fragrance of the orchid of your sex.

I carry the ashes of your shining in a medicine-bag
around my neck in the indefensibly
dangerous human hope that one night
you’ll be attracted back to the relics you left behind
in a kind of sympathetic magic with the blind
so they might see you again, one last time
just to know that you’re ok with your disappearance
like a sundial at noon overwhelmed by its shadows
boarding the flowers up like coffins in a total eclipse.
It’s white outside right now. No topography to the snow.
Silt of the moon. A photographic positive
of the oblivion I don’t imagine you inhabit anymore
now that you’ve crossed the burning bridge
of your last threshold to make an indwelling
of the black hole you’ve left in so many galactic hearts
they’re wheeling like Sufis seeking annihilation
among the dust devils that arise at their heels
like the oldest messengers of the stars
to the mud we’re made of, some, clay bricks in a wall.
Some, dry creekbeds trying to decipher
their own crackling like pictographs
on the shattered ostrakons of a cosmic eggshell
someone got out of like the canary of a buried miner
to see how big the sky was when no one else was looking.

Is it bigger than pain? Is it the freedom of the forsaken?
Does it advance the cause of life to dance
even when you’re weeping over a purple passage
in a suicide note that was meant for your eyes only?
Can you see your reflection on the back of a mirror,
or is it enough that we abuse our tears for that,
lightyear after lightyear, trying to turn them inside out
as if the stars were always on the other side
of where we were for the night, looking out at the snow
making it all seem so irrevocably easy to let go
when you’re staring through an expressionless window
weary of trying to second guess the long view
of what you’ve had to live your way through anymore,
your grief a frozen nightbird in an aviary of razor-wire
entangling your heart in the strings of a harp
looping like the helical orbits of your retrograde descents
into Orphic modes of empty-handed, esoteric thought,
regardless of whether things eventually
come clear of their own spontaneous accord or not.