Monday, December 31, 2012



The words are merely the performers,
the jugglers and the acrobats, the fire-swallowers.
The fat lady with a moustache behind
her flap of tent. The Parsifals, the mottled clowns.
The Crips and the Bloods, the red rose and the blue,
the Mafia dons. Thought is not verbal expression.
The word, tree, can’t read. And clever’s a boor shy
of being intelligent. Keats was right when he wrote
how much superior humour is to wit though
he didn’t live to see very much of it.
And Whitman, too, when he made his exit
from the learned astronomer to witness the stars
as if the beauty of reality could speak for itself
and the science of shining had nothing to do
with starmaps. Things are words, labials of the moon.
Abstractions merely the ghosts of the senses
trying to get back to the earth before the dawn comes up.

Things teach us their names like a dynasty of kings
on the stairs of Incan temples. Generations of stars,
the demotic of light, the patois of their mother tongue.
And the way they relate to one another,
in a thousand different grammars, river reeds rooted
in tributaries all flowing into the proto-nostratic
of the one mindstream like sacred syllables of the rain.
The rain says wave, wet, water, and everybody
goes skinny-dipping in the womb of W
hanging on for dear life to an umbilical rope
at the local watering hole. Ever measure the red shift
of a consonant to determine whether it’s going away
or coming toward you? Are your vowels truly edible
or just the wax fruit that pose for your still lives?

In the Beth Luis Nion Druidic tree alphabet
apple trees ask the most questions about how
when, who, why, where, taking their Q from Latin
like a suggestion from a patron of poets. Horace,
perhaps, like a quarterhorse in the stables of Maecenas.
I can hear the windfall that drops from the tops
of the black walnut trees. I understand the semiotics
of the diadems of the stars setting fire to the hair
of the willows in winter plunging their burning tresses
in the river to put them out like matchbooks
in the hands of delinquent boys. Cruel arsonists
of their prankish joys. The fire gods come
looking for fire. The water sylphs hiss like sibilants.

Point is. As long as you’re alive there’s a conversation
going on all the time that you alone are privy to
even when you’re listening with your ear pressed hard
like a seashell to the walls of your skull. The silence
is riddled with the voices of things like space
is saturated with the red wavelengths of the heaviness
of our eyes, dying like the memory of old stars
that once considered us friends, after we finished crying.

The silence is startled by the sudden outburst
of a nightbird and the dark is seized by a longing
to step out of the shadows and reveal itself reciprocally
like a lighthouse calling out from its widow walk
to an empty lifeboat in the fog, drifting aimlessly
without the oar of a verb, or the rudder of a participle
trailing in the wake of a maritime moon, mute
as the bells of an unmoved sea to say three bells, all’s well, all’s well.




Bright blue winter Sunday in a slow town.
Eclipsed by the vivid contrast of light and dark,
watching the carcasse of a sabre-tooth in a tarpit,
cellphone by cellphone, being replaced, no app for it,
by younger minerals with an ice-age attitude
less flexible than water about finding their place in life.

Keep your Smilodons protean. Your fangs
deep and lunar as if you were the beginning
and end of things, and all phases in between,
parentheses around the full moon with a smiley face
if you don’t want to grow old plastering starmaps over a window
with one fixed star in the same place every night.

I’m not wallpapering space with wavelengths
of ticker tape in a blizzard of statistical genomes
falling like snow-globes on the triumphs of the past.
This slum isn’t riding a golden chariot past the bank.

But it’s impossible to be anything but confessional
in the twenty-first century, now my eyes change
the nature of anything I’m looking at, the observer,
the observed, no subject, no object, no experiment.
Just this dynamic equilibrium of creative experience
building bridges like oxymoronic metaphors flying in unison
like two wings on a waterbird, or labouring like an ox
to yoke both sides of the mindstream in a single pair
of lunar handcuffs. A new layer of skin has been added
to the bubble of the earth’s atmosphere like a mind
laying its reflection down upon the water
like a chameleonic simulacrum of the moon inseparable
from the undulance of the thought-waves that perceive it.

An inhumane aloofness can never justify
giving birth to Frankenstein ever again.
Things of the world are things of the mind.
Tat tvam asi. You are that. How can you tell me
you poured yourself out of the universe like a window
looking at the stars from the outside in
like an objectively flat goblet that’s never tasted
the flavour of the wine in the dark cellars of its own heart
as if there were an emotional life behind the shining
that can’t be ignored anymore than the mind
can be left out of a unified field theory inexplicably incomplete?

Add a little love to a little understanding
and wisdom’s back in vogue like a literary technique
of going without knowing where the road ends
with the whole universe as a travelling companion
as close to you as your seeing is to the stars
though you’re both lost in the mystery
of just happening to be here with no fixed plans.

My voice is the mother tongue of esoteric nightbirds.
The stars speak in the sacred syllables of my deepest secrets.
Even in the homelessness of the unknown, I am declared
a changeling on a threshold no one’s dared to cross yet without me.

You who think of yourselves as a dirty word
that has to be expurgated like a sunspot on the heart,
the womb scrubbed out by antiseptically surgical hands
that have yet to deliver you like the windfall
of the low hanging fruit of the earth, let me reach
deep into the matrix of your conception of yourselves
and turn you around so every moon rise isn’t a breach birth.
Let me return an eternal flame to the candle
that went so cold it stopped crying sincerely
after you left, like a wax mannequin in pursuit
of a more trustworthy clarity than the ambivalent probabilities
of your provisional humanity trying to take
the focus off itself like the studied indifference of a telescope.

Didn’t you notice its legs unfolded like an easel
so you could climb up on it like a scaffolding
to paint a yard of wet plaster a day until even you
stood in awe of your own creation myth
as an allegorical explanation of your troubled magnificence?

Unchain yourselves from the protocols
of an objective delusion and cultivate a starfield
of subjective correlatives that correspond
with the inexact science of remaining indefensibly human
in the name of deeper accuracy, a sweeter intimacy
with the Cepheid variables and creative singularities
painting haloes around the black holes of yourself
like the moondogs and moodrings of a tree in the rain.

How much you’ll miss about being alive
if you make the same assumptions as a windowpane
that clarity is necessarily sane. Your starmud
wasn’t meant to be squared with every other brick in the wall
even if you’re lacquered in lapis lazuli beside the Ishtar gate.

If the rivers are polluted on the outside
and all your aqueducts taste of the Via Cloacum,
what’s that if not plack on your own arteries?
All our passports are the democratized peers
of our own lack of identity in arrears to everyone.

No one’s asking you to burn your bridges like equal signs
between light and mass. It’s ok if things come and go
as they’ve always done in the absence of a mind
trying to befriend a camera as a more reliable way
of remembering things you can’t help being back stage.
Life isn’t a photo-op of fixed images and neither is poetry.
Adding a little humanity to what’s meteoric about your origins
doesn’t mean you’re going to end up kissing the Kaaba
like a black stone that’s been worn down by millions of lips.

It’s equally conceivable you’re as aniconic as an eclipse.
You’re lustrous with nothing inside. You’re rough as ore
with a gold girlfriend. The stone draws the sword out of you.
Vulcan walks with a limp like Jacob and Richard III
like the iambs of a waterclock, one leg shorter than the other.

It’s time you learned to celebrate your own creative absurdity
like a child playing intensely with her own imagination.
It’s time you got brave enough to risk your own creation
without asking someone for a starmap to misguide you.

Put the delight back in being a lighthouse full of fireflies
or a foghorn that doesn’t heed its own warning
at the mere sound of a voice clearing its throat
of a nightingale covered in creosote to say nothing
a decent chimney spark wouldn’t want the stars to over hear.

Start a fire the size of a big-hearted furnace
that can hold all the stars in and out of place at one time
like a space that embraces everything trivial and sublime
whether they mythically deflate or shine like a weather balloon
candling at high altitude like an emergency parachute
entangled in its own life lines as if that were the only way
you’re ever going to understand the afterlife of a dandelion
air lifting a time capsule to root sometime later in the future.

Surrealistic town, all eyes at the window as if
you were staring into a crystal ball while your ears
are listening to the blind prophetic skull of the moon
predict the return of a nocturnal atmosphere
bluer than a star sapphire in the eyes of a twilit peacock.
There’s not even so much the measure of an eyelash
in the distance between you and the next star.
You’re the nightbird perched like an arrow
singing on the green bough of the centaur.

Gap the abyss a little closer than you do your spark plugs
and not only your soul, but your body will achieve ignition
like two tines of the same tuning fork coming together
like two fingertips of what’s humanly divine
creatively collaborating with your own mind
like choirs of picture music on the Sistine Chapel ceiling
or the wind in the dry leaves clinging to the black walnut trees
while the stars rise in the east like the patriarchs of the fireflies
transcending their sobriety with the creative spontaneity
of burning their imaginary exemplars like effigies and strawdogs
in the gleeful heresy of making constellations up
out of the gusts of the stars that fly like enlightened dragons
that take you by surprise like the fires in their lucidly munificent eyes.