Saturday, March 30, 2013



I still believe the pursuit of an earthly excellence,
not in name alone, but in the act of elucidating
even so much as a firefly’s insight into the darkness
to add your experience and confusion to the abyss
like a myth of origins in progress, is a noble calling,
a privilege accorded by the moon to wear the hide
and head of a wolf when the spirit howls in longing
to lift the agony of humans up to the stars as if
there were no greater sacrifice we had to give than this
that makes us peers of those fires, eye to eye, mirror to mirror
as above so below, the jewel of compassion in the slag
of our suffering, the beauty of the rose in the midst of its thorns
weeping holy blood on the skulls of her prophetic children.

A poet among people, a voice, a hermit thrush or an owl,
a red-winged blackbird on a dead branch or a crow
on the cabled bridge of the green blackberry,
or an indigo grackle, the eclipse of the mourning dove,
regardless of who or who isn’t listening to the wind
rasp over this desert of stars in an hourglass
like the wavelength of a serpent of fire as a sign of intelligence:

Say what is uniquely human about you so that
others might recognize themselves in the music.
Mourn as you must as if it were your funeral
you were going to as one day it will be,
your ashes in the locket around a loved one’s neck,
and break trail along the way as you explore
the wilderness of your loss so that others might follow,
assured by the dolmen of your presence in their solitude
the dangers of the journey are humanly surmountable.

A poet among people, that’s what you can say to yourself
on your deathbed and mean it in gratitude with a smile
at whatever shape of chaos you’re worshipping at the time,
you had a summons to suffer, praise, rejoice, mean and go mad
on behalf of other people, you, a self portrait of them.

Your love of them voluntarily going into exile,
or driven into it by the very ignorance you’re dying to overcome,
to know their homelessness as if it were a threshold your own,
to sow the available dimensions of the future
with metaphoric weeds and wildflowers in the starfields
so we don’t forget what all the fuss about enlightenment
means to a species rooted like a waterlily in its starmud
as if that were the dark genius behind all that shining,
the apex, the acumen, the anthos, not the denouement
of our flowering, and no future habitable that isn’t freely human
to express its awe and wonder at being imaginatively alive
like a purpureal crocus under an eyelid of opalescent snow.

Poetry is the discipline of a crazy person
who walks wisely among people half-fearful
of how fiercely vulnerable you must become to love them
as if there’d never be anything in it for you,
the most indefensibly human of them all
o so much more substantial than your dream figures
once you wake up, stubbing your heart on the rock of the world,
a razor blade to the artery of the rose that bleeds
just a profusely as you do when death cuts obliquely
into the stem and presents it like the ear of a bull
to the moon in a sacred brothel around the corner
opposite the Iseum where they make the partial whole again.

Incited by life to be demonically playful in the darkness,
angelically withdrawn like the stars and shadows at noon,
cherish the inconceivable nights that are not rewards
for anything you could have done or earned, as love
and inspiration aren’t, and marvel the more
at the strangeness of the miracle that things are this way.

Exhausted mid stride between the noon and dusk of your life,
don’t underestimate the mysticism of action
in the mundane labours of the day responding like bees
to the floral opportunities of tending the larkspur
like a voice coach pinging a tuning fork on their stamens.
Work at nothing that isn’t a form of worship
that demands your passion. Not to be fascinated by your life
is a child labour sweat factory of human enslavement.

The petty won’t brave their own happiness
nor that of anyone else, but the generous will
who understand that happiness is a grace of the heart
that happens to you from the inside out like a fortune cookie
not a law of causality misery is endlessly trying to repeal
beyond a reasonable doubt of ever coming true.

But seldom a joy without a bruise for a poet
whose bell of sorrows depends like most humans
as much upon the rain as the light to ripen
into the warm sugars of life like wild apples at sunset.
The eyes that look the deepest are usually the saddest
like housewells anyone’s free to draw from
but god, what poignancy of light smiles favourably
upon the faces of the tragically fulfilled
who lived out their singular prophecies
to purge everyone’s terror with empathy for their fate.

Arete, excellence. Aristos of merit. Beauty of soul, mind, body, heart,
the quality of your awareness, the largesse of your experience,
the natural humility of the bow you return to the mystery
of a tree in bloom, and the wisdom of an old stump,
not in the way of perfection, but the brilliance and courage
of your failure to attain the unattainable, enlightenment
the ultimate defeat for the benefit of all because it’s never complete
even when the Buddha goes straight to hell like an arrow.

Not void bound, bless the intuitive disobedience of the poet
who burns in the flames of her most sacred heresy,
savagely curse with compassion the erosive injustice
of the greedy legislating impoverished standards of living,
raise your voice when you see murder being done
so your silence isn’t complicit and the power of your rage
mollified by the slag of association that blunts
the edge of your sword when the only mercy is a quick kill
with a sharp blade and you go to it like your own execution.

I don’t care if you’re a junkie sleeping on a car seat
on the back porch of a crack house in the summer,
wondering in a moment to yourself if the stars ever weep for us,
or an associate professor of English at the University of Victoria,
cherishing a pair of thin leather gloves some raving beauty
left in your office and though she never returned
to reclaim them and you as for years you hoped and hoped
still rot like black banana skins on your windowsill,
a divorced housewife doing investigative forensics
on what happened to her life at the kitchen table,
share whatever starfields you’ve sown with tares or wheat
as if there were always enough bread to break with everyone.

Take the gold coin you call a career from under your tongue
like a false moonrise and washing your corpse
in your own grave, take the edges off your sphericity,
average the crucials out like a pebble or a planet
in the great tides of life you’re immersed in
like a human panning their own starmud for a little more light
to be shed in the depths of their oceanic awareness
than there was before you showed up like one bright fish
and lit your cells up like votive candles dedicated to the dark
and started seeing things by the light of your own life,
not the Rosetta stone of three dead languages
that never spoke from the heart about the ruses
of being human that get us through the darkest nights of ourselves,

so when someone takes a greasy volume of poems
down from the shelf, the cover worn off, the glue
of the perfect binding crumbling like dreams
in the corners of their eyes as they wake up,
and they’re shuffling loose pages as if they were
paginating a deck of cards, or trying to keep
the leaves of an autumn tree together, though you’re dead,

though your tongue is a leaf on the wind
and your eyes are clouds, your breath gone proto-nebular,
and it’s three in the morning, and the solitude is withering,
and insanity is grinning in their face as if to say
you always knew this is what it would come to,
and they reach for you like a home-brew of magic syllables,
yarrow sticks and tea leaves, liver spots and fossils
in a bonebox at the bottom of your skull cup,
write in such a way they don’t just read what you’ve said
but sit down on the ground with a friend they can share things with
and break your book open like a loaf of bread
spiritually cooling on an open windowsill as fragrant
as white sweet clover growing along the roadsides of paradise,
but as substantially nurturing to life as compassion for the flesh.




Yes, I left you, crying in the nude like inspiration
at the end of the driveway while the trees
were tearing up a manuscript of leaves
they’d written like silver Russian olives for the moon.

I could hear you trying to smudge my name
like the misbegotten house of the zodiac
from the blackboard of your teaching starmap
several Magellenic Clouds down the dirt road
swearing my first magnitude stars were all tinfoil
not worth the light they were confederately printed on
as I drove away like a space probe into the dark,
trying to keep ahead of my own prophecy
and never come back, no, never like a chimney spark
to that smouldering fire that never broke into flame.

I wept in the smoke of your acrid oak
that hissed and bubbled like spit from a cobra’s mouth
long enough. Go, little woman, like a landmine
that thinks everybody’s dying to step on you
all the time and have their arms and legs blown off
listening to you apologize for not recognizing me
even though I called out that night’s pass word,
love, love, love as if I weren’t behind enemy lines,
as you stitched my body parts back together
like a prickly pear or spiny sea urchin with a defensive attitude,
trying to shine your best light on it like a candle
in a concentration camp you held my feet to
like birch bark and a funeral pyre of kindling
to the heat of your fireproof desire to be inflammable.

Yes, I left you, with your mouth gaping with incredulity
like the larger land mammals at the end of the last ice age
glorying in the freedom of their new found extinction
like a Dyer wolf pack tired of howling at the moon
that kept turning her back on them like lunatics
that couldn’t carry a tune like that chip of a bluebird
you carried on your shoulder to piss the world off.
The buzzing of innumerable onomatopoeic Tennysonian bees
isn’t a guarantee that your locust trees are full of honey.
Or the bulb of the moon you buried in my starmud
like a prophetic skull you never wanted to listen to again
was always the best judge of the daylilies that kept
breaking into flame between us like a rootfire of unquenchable sex.
Even when my lighthouses were turned thumbs down
on the latest of our famous west coast shipwrecks
I was only ever trying to put the torch of stars I bore for you
out in a tarpit with the eyes of a volatile dragon
to get you to spread your wings like a field fire
that knew how to green the short straws of a scarecrow
at a ghost dance that could rain on the ashes of everything
we wanted to bring back to life again and again and again.

Because when you said yes to being loved, firefly,
your light was inextinguishable and I could feel in my blood
as I approached you like a heretic the axis mundi of the stake
he was happy to immolated at like a Luna moth driven mad
by a female jinn enflamed by desire without smoke,
a thousand buddhas regretting they ever escaped suffering
by refusing to climb a ladder of thorns for the sake of the rose
they uprooted like three wishes any one of which
could annihilate you in joy wholly absorbed
in the false dawn of nirvana the distinction was lost upon.

You could overwhelm my body at will from the inside out
with the spell you cast on my blood like a hunter’s moonrise,
a lotus unspoiled by the slum she was rooted in
like enlightenment in a swamp of delusion
where the snakes swallowed the frogs like koans
head first until all their cannibalistic taboos
reversed the course of the curse and started
speaking in tongues of serpent fire like kundalini haikus.

I bent the blade of my sword in tribute on the waters of life
I had tempered it in like an igneous alloy of carbon and iron.
Night and blood. The mysterious appeal of a woman in hell.
Not so much dangerous because she was beautiful.
But beautiful because she was a risk I had to take
as she, for her sake, so an angel could fall from paradise
and a demon could rise from the underworld of half-lives
that could look the light straight in the eyes
like a black hole or full eclipse that was never the first to blink
when she spread her cowl like a Venus fly trap
and began to dance like a wavelength for my prophetic skull.
More Orphic, I think, than Judaic-Christian served on a silver platter.
I’ve always preferred to wane gibbously past my prime
like a ghost returning to the scene of my lyrical dismemberments
to add a few light touches, metaphorically, like star sapphires
to the mystic ferocity of the dark desires in the eyes of the myth.


Thursday, March 28, 2013



Wilder times than we thought they were in the moment,
savage intensities cultivated in the name of art,
the children of the bourgeois afraid of violating
the mystique of genius as if there were a lumpen proletariat taboo
like a magic circle drawn around it, cordons of spinal cords
at a premier of the polymorphous perverse
melting down like emotional nuclear reactors
irradiating Pleiadic insights of white phosphorus
like jelly fish trying to plug into the scene.

First magnitude stars that weren’t quite sure
whose legend they were shining in
as long as there were something Icarian about it
and infallibly tragic, as if to be destroyed by your gift
were certain proof you were a snakecharmer
with a talent dark enough to curse your own blessing
in the sacro-sanct way sacrificial heroism
is a judas-goat for the gods to coax them out of hiding.

What addictions, what madness didn’t we tolerate?
No weirdness, no twisted perversity of fate
unacceptable in order to keep up the morale among ourselves
that our own derangements were liveable humans.
Stoic sobriety with a touch of the infernally noble
as long as there were enough star power
to be derived from it extemporally to fool yourself
you’d been to hell, you’d conversed with the gibbering ghosts
in the underworld, and now you were ascending from Hades,
empty-handed, except for an abalone inlaid guitar,
a voice, a repertoire of songs you used to sing
from coast to coast like a ghost at your own seance,
or if you were a poet, three books under your boa skin belt
like wampum, a wounded heart channeling Horatian odes
to staunch the bloodflow like a hemorrhage of fire.

We lived as if we were always spitting into the face
of librarians moved by poetry enough to write about
making raspberry jam in their amazingly savoury kitchens
and that wasn’t very right or nice of us, regardless
of whether they deserved it or not, but it would be
less than frank not to admit how alarming it would be
not to be able to muster a cobra of spit the same way now
to punish the eyes of the snake-oil salesmen
with a taste of their own medicine for fouling
the housewells of the muses with all that bleach and brine
they scour their poems with as if they were keel-hauling them
on the hull of the moon out of fear of drinking
from the same skull cup as everyone else on the nightshift
deep in the mines of their starmud working with
a candle and canary to bring the occasional jewel to light,
out of fear of getting some life under their fingernails
or contaminating their lips with human elixirs.

At least we killed like tigers, not tapeworms,
though needless to say, because that’s the way the world is,
we did more damage to ourselves trying to stand out
like someone real from the mob of the middling and maudlin
to suffer the black farce of our former radiance
lightyears later in this ventriloquial dawn
where wooden dummies have mastered the art
of throwing their heartwood around like the voices
of decoy waterbirds in front of a hunter’s blind
trying to bring the words of those who can fly
down to their level of poultry and pettiness.

Every quarter asked, every quarter given,
a disastrous expression of compassion,
but when you’re trying to live with largesse
as if you had a soul that was more mammal than reptile
of course you’re going to err on the side of generosity,
your winged horse spurred on by pussywillows and burrs
until you’re thrown off by a star under your saddle,
the dupe of your own unaccountable gesture
as you ride off into the sunset with Don Quixote
feeling like Sancho Panza tilting at the futility
of counter clockwise windmills on lifelight savings time.

Too many swine. Too few pearls unwilling to be trampled
like the grapes of wrath getting indignantly drunk on us.
Don’t offer your tears and sacred oils to someone
with a drinking problem. Though I encourage you
to ignore my advice so you can be what I mean for yourself.
Incandescent ingratitude. As if genius
took its tragic lifemask off, stepped out of its skin,
tore the curtains off the windows like the northern lights
and showed you the blackhole of the ego in the spider web
that spun a myth of origin like a starmap that knew
only a few chords and barred its Fs as an excuse for music
that maintained the world began with an arachnid
but kept that fact hid from the frenzy of friends
around the streetlamp of a public image on the radio.

Ego. That paper dragon that likes to play with matches
creatively, a brush dipped in paint, a nib in blood
that flared up like a bouquet of sulphurous little chapbooks
straining to convince you their personality is black magic
once you get past the alibi of words that smack
of saccharine and formic acid, ants and stinging nettles,
and taste how shallow and unclever a cynical lack
of sensitivity to things ego doesn’t understand is,
to that mess of neurotic avarice that sticks like gum
that’s lost its flavour in the tresses of a flypaper muse
as it lackadaisically strums the guitar like a Ferrari
warming up, to disguise the fact, if you go by the work,
it can’t really play and the wheel hasn’t been invented for it yet.

Dramatic brawls at midnight, out on the street,
at the top of our lungs, embodiments of nemetic karma
defending principles willing to settle the score here and now
if you were crazy, drunk, or daring enough to risk
losing more than you ever had or intended to give
to substantiate your reality with fists that would later bloom
like bruised crocuses and waterlilies lyrically inclined
to deadly nightshade and moody orchids in an eclipse.
But most edged the Texas toe of their cowboy boot
up to an unseen line drawn in the stars like a Tropic of Capricorn,
that said for all your talk of figs and horns, a coward
goes this far and no further for self-preservative reasons
that have been canning him like jam since childhood.

More than one night I lay in the dark sobering up,
proofreading my name in the sooty contrails
of bic lighters on the ceilings of Ottawa city jails,
Orphically exalted to have left my mark
in an underworld anthology that didn’t depend
on a political jury of friends who elected things into print
as if they were pensioning off candidates for the senate
with two free copies, fifteen minutes max
at a mass reading, a minute on the local news
and enough notoriety to incrementally con
a few more false friends they might have been
wrong about you, and accordingly adjust
their parallactic affiliation with your twinkling.

My elders, the ghosts of older owls, the afterlives
of stars that had burnt out romantically on alcohol,
who spoke like legends of themselves in a refugee camp
for broken chandeliers and abused constellations
performing off Broadway like the loveletters of a mailman
who delivered them like the wind in a tree in the autumn,
since imprinted like the cambium of last year’s spring
in the hall of famous tree rings that have stopped growing.
Honoured with urns. But for awhile, precociously,
peers of mine, fish dying of thirst beside a freshwater lake,
artificial respirators crying out for back-up parachutes
because they thought it was poetically cute
to always be the one who was rescued from themselves.

Ego grease. Black farce of a circus on tour
with drugstore carnies, clutching at straws
like the rungs of a trapeze someone was always
falling from like a star you caught and put in your pocket
like a safety net that counted on your friends’ sense of timing
to save you from your own web like the spindle you made of fate.
Metamorphic larvae in the coffins and cocoons,
the lifeboats and chrysales these shepherd moons
moved into as if they were on a grand tour of the zodiac.
Pageants of wrecked talent showing up like queens
of stage and screen, who adorn your table
by letting you sit at it with them below the salt like a foodbank
as they told you lies about the famous fireflies
they used to cavort with like radical root fires.

Memories of the last literary scene I ever wanted to be in,
eyeless images of overcast dreams, the business
of art spinning the lack of imagination into
some tear drop of a bauble for public consumption
that made evaporation look deep by comparison.
Treacherous metaphors. Nasty similes
that thought they were teaching you a moral lesson
through petty betrayals of the trust you placed in them
against your better judgement, only to ignore
with Olympian indifference the kind of dung heap wisdom
that tried to disenchant you from ever trusting your likeness
in another again like the alienable bonds of mutual opportunism.

Old men now, many dead at the hands of their vices,
nine dog paddlers for every synchronized swimmer, prima ballerinas
that could really write and paint, sing and dance once,
crucible steel hammering out the slag of their impurities
like sparks that shone for a moment like starclusters
that hung in the air and then disappeared
into the great reservoir of one-eyed mirrors.
I can remember when that bag lady was a rose.
I can recall when his charm partially concealed and compensated
for what is so obviously feeble about him now
as he waxes mellifluously nostalgic, trying to squeeze
a drop of honey out of his stinger like the good old days
when he used to hang himself from the green boughs
and dead branches of poetry like a pinata of killer bees
coming on like a kite or Black Hawk sneakers tangled
like bolas and medicine bags in personably contemporary powerlines
you can still hear humming and hissing
like a red shifting snakepit gone long in the tooth
whenever it rains on the ashes of a smouldering guitar
trying to serenade the moon under her Medusan window.




After the long labour of ashes in the rain
the phoenix is shrieking like fire into life again.
I can hear it in the valleys auditioning the mountains
like a voice torn out of the heart of pain.
My shadow is in complete empathy with the ghost
I cast like an imaginative projection of myself
into the emptiness of my crowded solitude
where everyone is recognized by the inside of their faces
in the light of the return journey to the seasoned innocence
of my homelessness beyond the gates I’ve passed through
like an earthly garden blooming in the star fields.
Singing again, as if the stars knew all the lyrics to the song
long before I opened my mouth to swallow their fire
without setting myself ablaze like a funeral pyre
gone supernova in a neighbouring galaxy.
As if a lighthouse off the dark coast of the shipwrecks
knew that timing was the medium of the message
and it was time to rise again on the updrafts
of these buoyant adagios of picture-music,
like a heart immersed a long time in the depths
of its own crazy wisdom abounding
in the bliss of an unknown treasure
rising like a lost continent that drowned in its sleep.

And even in the weeping for things that have passed
through the immensity of the solitude I was the last to leave
like the captain of a lifeboat going down on the moon,
an undiscovered joy in the way I learned to breathe underwater
in the ocean of sorrows that overwhelmed me
like the beauty of a rose that burned
like a torch of blood in the rain.

I’ve given up trying to save the world like a moral ransom
I pay to the one-eyed pirates of circumstance
for the redemption of a self that was more a mirage on the moon
chained like an empty cup to a wishing well
than real water that flows like the tears
of diamonds thawing like glaciers from my eyes.

And may all the wildflowers of this circuitous blossoming
astound the nostrils of God like a fragrance of music
growing like white sweet clover along the roadside.
May every firefly and lightning bolt of insight
illuminate the whole universe like the flaring of a single match.
Let the dead whose souls I bear toward the south
know that I remember their names like loveletters
I’ve sent on ahead like the return address of the future
that waits to encounter them again like birds
that came to the windowsill of this burning house of life
like the notes of a song from a voice well beyond
these spinal cords that bind us like kites to the sky.

I scatter my cremations like ashes on mirrors of ice
for those who would follow me to ground
like the cornerstones of a tent
pegged to the wind like a flower.
I gnaw on the dice of my bones
like a wolf above the timber line
mining the white gold of a motherlode of marrow
and I let tomorrow sing of the things tomorrow brings
like hungry lovers to the round table of feasting stars.

And bless the sword that guts me like an envelope
that bleeds like a wound of love that never scars
the words that are written on a magnanimous heart
that doesn’t pace the rate at which it gives itself away
like a poppy dreaming in a field of leonine dandelions.
And though I fall like an oak on a hill in a lightning storm
let me not live on my knees dumbstruck by the revelation
that burns in my heartwood like a calendar of fire
where somebody’s fixed the dates of spring
as if they didn’t want to forget how to be taken by surprise
like a scholar that can’t bring himself to believe
in the chameleonic nature of his own eyes.
Though I fall like a waterclock of rain from the sky
into the deepest blackholes of time, let no root say
it was ever denied access to my watershed
that even the dead were the guests of a living host
that welcomed them like the voices of a familiar solitude.

Uplifted by spirits of fire, stone, and water,
I’m flying through stars with my wings ablaze
like a comet that exalts in jumping for the sheer joy it
from the black halo that encircles the beatified sun
like the prophetic zero of the final outcome.
And I shall not set my circumpolar throne
on the hills of the skulls of my traditional enemies
nor abide by the jinx of the birds on a prayer-wheel
turning in the direction of cosmic destruction
like an ill wind fouled by the contagion of time.

Every moment of the day, every era of the night
I shall remember the infallible atrocities of blind religion
that gouged the eyes out of the light like gravediggers
cooking rocks in the shovels of the backhoes
rummaging through the remains of the resurrection
for the relics of the names on vandalized gravestones
weathered by the acidic rain of the great desecration.

A little bit of joy balancing on a perilous precipice.
I know about falling. I know the risk. Not a mandate
nor anything I choose to take as if the danger were all mine.
But just a little sweetness in life, a wild grape, the eye of the wine.
A moment stolen from behind the backs of the calendars
like a man in space, with no time to reflect on the outcome
of being younger than when he left. Not listening to signs
but resonating with the hidden harmonies of myriad symbols
arranging picture music for the eye and the ear and the tongue
like dew in the night, whole notes and semi quavers
on the staves of the dreamcatchers and spiderwebs
when the shining comes to the morning as unprepared as swallows.

All my Platonic ideals, the black matter of desire
in a goldrush of the heart that can’t hold anything back
in a Zen panic to stake its claim on nothing
as the fairest jewel of all to give back
to the ocean of awareness you retrieved it from
and hope the moon among the corals appreciates the gesture.

Buddha, too, had an ill-advised attachment to the unnattainable .
I won’t starve my delusions, just to please my insights.
My mirages drink at the same well I do without condition
and it’s ok if they want to leave their veils on too.
And I’ll observe an ethical truce with society
But more goes on in the dark, inconceivably,
than even the light could possibly visualize
on a cold seeing night from a mountain top
with an asphalt road that coils all the way around
like a serpent doing research into the seven ages of man
trying to keep its credibility up with the times.

On my left palm, the star of Isis, keeps me from drowning,
and in my left ear, enough gold, if I’m washed ashore
on some galactic island after another shipwrecked exemption
to burn me down by the sea on a pyre of stars this time.
I want to ingather my ghost out of the smoke, and watch it shine
like fireflies in the fog, like lighthouses along the coast
off the starboard side, looking for moonboats
on the slopes of the swells heaving easily
like bells full of emotion swinging out over the edge
to prove it’s not afraid of falling back
to the ground it arose from like a boy
daring the devil to an apple fight
in the crowns of the trees to see who
can climb high enough to scare the other down.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013



Compassion is the sweetness that enters
the wounded apple of knowledge after
you’ve taken your first bite out of it.
It’s not an antidote to the facts of life and death.
And you should know by now if you’ve suffered at all,
and it’s impossible not to from the moment you open your eyes,
the night is not a reward, nor the lantern of the light
that goes before you on a graveyard shift of the stars.
Compassion is the oldest instinct of the heart
and first muse of the mind that can taste only
the blowing blossoms and bitter green apples of the spring,
gripe brain, before it ripens like a sunset in your blood.
That’s why the heart knows more about it than the head.
And I expect, on that basis, no one is more capable
of loving us who must doubt that we’re worthy of love
to live up to the truth of it than the dead who can open
the tiny koans of the seeds at the core of things
like the lockets of fortune-cookies that break
like twisted cosmic eggs in a rush to spread their wings
like waterbirds who write the lyrics of their songs on the fly.

Words for the eye. Words for the ear. Words
for the voice of the wind like black walnut trees
and kites in a storm. And if you really know how to listen,
I mean if you can hear the wavelength of a black snake
swimming across your blood like a mantra
of terrifying, beautiful wisdom that keeps its secrets
to itself, or hear the unfathomable oceans in the black rose
whose petals and eyelids are always smashing
like white eyelashes in a squall of sunbeams
against the breakwater of a white dawn that passes
like an albino eclipse in a moonlit leper colony
of extinct black rhinos. If you even remotely
hear what I mean when I speak like this sleepwalking
through a dream grammar like a prophetic skull in a trance,
words that dance like light on the mindstream
rejoicing in the clarity of the voice that expresses
the hidden message encoded in the genes of the fireflies.

You have mouths. Speak for yourselves.
Some like lighthouses along the banks of life.
Some like thieves with searchlights for eyes on a bomber’s night
when everyone is underground and the bummers are out
plundering the evacuated houses of the zodiac.
Might be the ravings of a star struck maniac talking to himself
to make sure nobody else is listening. Might be
the surrealistic lament of a Dadaist night bird
singing out loud in its sleep for things it doesn’t know
it longs for, or maybe a lunatic is waxing prophetic
in a labyrinth of his own echoes trying to sound his way out
of the mountains without end he’s being trying to befriend
like a cloud or an eagle silvered a moment
like the ore of a dream in the corner of the eye
of a moonrise coming on like a hurricane
with a black pearl in its teeth. The eclipse of a sacred lie
compassion concedes to an alibi without a myth of origin.

Compassion is the child of imagination that identifies
with its simulacra of suffering by applying the heart
like a bloodbank to the wounded eidolons of eyeless images
that didn’t know how to bleed, or breathe, or cry or see
until compassion tempered their impression of themselves
as paradigms of rationality, by shedding real tears
in an ice age of lenses that kept their illusory distance
from the stars that came out after the rain, wet and shining,
laughter radiating through our tears, because life isn’t a dry fire.
It’s the hand on the rudder of a lifeboat
that keeps you from drowning from the day you were born
in the undertow of the tides of the new moon
until the night of the full when you haul everyone aboard
who’s been swimming through glaciers of tears
like baby mammoths for the last twenty-five thousand years
afraid of extinction if they ever stopped to catch their breath.

Compassion is accepting everyone’s death as a portion of your own.
Everyone’s life as your third eye, a vital organ of your own body.
Compassion is an undisciplined action of the heart.
Compassion arises like a moonrise of inspiration
in the eyes of the older sister of the muses
who walks too much alone as if she’d devoted her solitude
to the suffering of a wounded stranger she met along the way
when she let her hair down like willows of rain
to cool the scorched earth and slake the roots of pain
until they bloomed like foxfire in the shadow of her passing.

Most poets sit around the lesser fires of their art
trying to divine the smoke of what’s burning in their hearts
like autumn leaves they’ve heaped into books
that smoulder in tears more often than they break into flames.
But if compassion turns her eyes toward you
like a star in the darkness beyond your blazing
the Milky Way runs like a bloodstream through your veins
and you see in terrifying clarity the great mystic details
in the deep watersheds of picture music efoliating
like wildflowers and galaxies, grails, fountains,
lunar herbs, and starfish raised up off the ground
to take their place among the shining, radiant with life,
in the low valleys and high fields of an imagination that heals.




The grey rain riffs on the windows
as if it’s been listening to too much rap.
Fragrance of gasoline blooming in the gutters.
People all look like daffodils in baseball caps.
Wish I wanted something enough to buy it again,
and it’s been a while since I’ve been with a woman
who wanted anything for me. I’m inside here
dethorning the intensity of the black rose
imploding under its own mass as its core
condenses in a withered star like a heart
whose light’s run out. The fire in my blood
took it all one nightshift further than red
and now I can see in the dark like a black hole.

Nightvisions in broad daylight. I can see the stars
shining through the smudged pearl of the sun
trying to glow its way through the clouds.
I can see the skulls of insurrectionist dreams
deep underground in the cults of my cells
trying to assess the direction of the bomb blast
to insure the maximum damage. Not all roads
are trying to make friends with people
who walk them like cowpaths littered with road kill.
It’s better to be lost as the lesser of two evils
when clarity scorches the heart radioactively.
Dissociation, Deconstruction, Disintegration,
I’ve evolved like a language into a grammar
of oxymorons just to keep my thoughts and feelings
together in a syntactical world of unpunctuated scalpels.
Alloys of a stronger metal are not estranged
like copper and tin from the cutting edge of the sword
by the colour of their skin or religion in the Bronze Age.

Love comes at me in the darkness of these depths
like a crossroads of light from all directions at once
by which I know the radiance that’s found me
is not just another flashlight that’s still looking.
And there are Sufis whirling like weathervanes
in blue woollen robes, and enlightened Zen masters
gently picking the fleas out of their chest hairs
and thanking the thieves for leaving the moon in the window,
and demonic demons with the insight of black diamonds
all telling me you lose control if you hesitate in the moment,
or stand up, sit down, walk, or run, but whatever you do
don’t wobble. And I plunge into the galaxy with both feet
hoping to make a big splash in the red tide of the stars
and I either drown in the light, or I end up
blowing hyperbolic bubbles into a bulky multiverse.

I haven’t turned my senses into lenses,
starmaps, and spectrographs, but I’m not blind
to what’s living under my eyelids in a chaos
of crazy-wisdom playing picture-music
in a band of clowns, just to get a good laugh
out the oracles that are prone to never
take their own advice so seriously
they couldn’t change their minds.
You can’t refit a round suggestion
into a square meaning, and it’ cruel to try.
I have long wavelengths of thought
that burn like iodine and salt in sea kelp
but I don’t whip the eyes of the tide
just to get things flowing like tears my way.
I don’t throw acid in the faces
of tomorrow’s beauty queens learning to read
the writing on the wall as just the wall’s way
of threatening you into letting it protect you.
I don’t boil kids in their mother’s milk
and I don’t practise the kind of spiritual judo
that uses a person’s best ideals against them.

Especially as I get older, I would rather be
obliterated by wonder and gratitude
that I got to be all this without any effort of my own
than have my awe underwhelmed
by petty renditions of the black farce
that welds some people’s eyes shut like
an eclipse stronger than the original bond.
But there again, if you’re happy being a scar, mend.
What could it mean to the stars
if you can’t see them during the day?
And I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again
to those of you who have taken a more radiant path,
blazing is a kind of blindness too
that keeps you from seeing the diamond in the coal.

Yesterday oxygen was alien ore as toxic
as the love apples of superstitious tomatoes
two hundred years ago it was death to eat.
And it’s poignant to remember that any ground
you plant your flag in like a flower without a root,
like a placard without a rally, is
a charged particle field that reverses spin
synchronistically like a revolution
in an hourglass relationship with what it overthrew.
Consciousness is necessarily bifurcated by its blossoms
into two points of view, but deeper down
in the bloodstream of its darkest roots
it doesn’t make a distinction between an I and a You.
Subject and object aren’t separated
by a skin of water empty as the mirage
of a bubble within and lustrous as the stone
that broke the window without. This world
isn’t happening to you from the outside
and you’re not making it up within like a lie
you can tell your children about being alive.

No one’s wholly wise who still possesses a mind.
No one’s totally ignorant if they give
a red cane to a blind traffic light to see it coming.
I don’t trim the wicks of my comets
as if they were candles at a black mass.
I can breathe fire like Draco at the North Pole,
but when I’m not axially aligned with the earth
I can look into the eyes of my fiercest dragons
and see at the bottom of a telescopic well
millions of fireflies lost in a labyrinth of mirrors
looking for an insight into the nature of life
that would true all the others like crystal eyes
caught in the eleven dimensional net
of enlightened lies where time and the timeless intersect
and synteretic sparks ricochet like spiritual eagles
off the slopes of mountainous eras of grace.