ENROBING MY NOBILITY
Enrobing my nobility
in the aloofness of a spurned beggar,
or a musician on a street-corner
opening the coffin
of his exhumed guitar for change
to keep his humilation
enraptured and alive,
his song denied its bough
by a warning
from the window of a squad car
enforcing the petty complaint of the loveless
the flaring of the flowers in law
as if all that unimposing ecstasy
were merely another match
that failed to consume them,
I conceal the generosity of the stars
that urgently lavish their light
on the deepening night that reveals them
in the lordly pockets of my impoverished repose.
I want to want something again
that isn’t an expletive of acquisition
that ages into the accusing silence
of an unattended toy.
I want to knock down all the probabilities,
all the odds and evens
of the gravestones placed like bets
in a cemetery of bookies
that have hedged their deaths
with double or nothing on the long shot.
Love bides its time in me
like fire in a stone
that rings the ashes of its last revelation
and over the clamour of ghosts at war,
I try to live up to myself in the silence
like the impossible conditions of an unsigned truce.
I have plucked the wings of angels
and feathered my heresies
in the tars and flammable shadows of the night.
If I have withdrawn into myself
it is only to advance and transcend and array
like a wave or a breath
when the abyss gathers me into its unassailable immensities
and then sprawls me out like a map
on the shore of an uninhabited island
to discover what I’ve buried.
I am always curled
like the sickle of a harvest eclipse,
a question-mark, an imported executioner
over the pure, black point of my existence
even as I offer myself up
to the hidden face of the moon
as the first, shining stalk of wheat
to venture out of the tomb
under her inscrutable auspices.
But I am not the redivining of an old sacrifice,
I am not a child in the attic
playing in the valley of the kings
with the castaway cargoes of a rudderless moonboat
scuttled in time;
I don’t dress up in the abandoned wardrobes
of the oversized past
to practice the mute afterlife of my future.
Denied the bough of the day,
I am the nightbird perched in your roots
not to summon,
not to warn anyone away,
and even less to convey
the bitterness of unrequited beatitudes
or the serpentine intoxicants of unanswerable longing.
Sometimes it feels as if
I were an extremity of fire
frozen in the ice of hell,
or I find myself lingering
over the petals of the pimped-out magnolias
like the pages of a torn book
or old Venetian blinds askew at the window,
to look for eyes between the lines
I might add to the watersheds of my seeing like rain,
but I’m never a pilgrim on a road of smoke for long.
And I don’t know
if I have enhanced the waters of life
with the tears that fell inwardly
from the lightless side of my eyes,
but I am not the urgent miscellany
of the misunderstood
and I have always been suspicious of the bread
that calls itself good
and founds its thunderous, empty silo
on a curse in the cradle of the grain.
I don’t peck like a pigeon
in the holy squares of the doctrinal,
and it’s been an ironic consolation at times
to wryly affirm with a quizzical smile
that only my uncertainty is certain.
My life may have been blown about
like the windswept froth of a pathetic guess,
and everything I know
be phantoms of foam clinging to ruinous rocks,
but I have that in common with the stars,
and there are tides I ride bareback without a bit
like my own bloodstream
that fly like wild horses on the moon,
muscling the dead seas of the heart like waves
that expound no more
with the gavelling of their hoofs
than the astounded pulse of the running.
I am no longer estranged
by the parsecs of solitude
that are the true measure of my age,
once I realized
it was my only way of meeting everyone.
And I have never mistaken a chain
for the rosary of a dead liberator
and linked the name of God
to anything that is bounded by what it binds.
My freedom is slanderous,
lightning and a star,
but my devotion glows like a firefly in a jar
when I consider that I owe more
to the things I got away with
like a fugitive
compelled to cross the unknown badlands
by a posse of judicial compasses,
than I do to the foghorns and lighthouses
that bellowed over my unsalvageable corpse
because it rose on its own
like an unschooled coast,
and there’s still a morning in my smile I can’t regret.