ACCORD ME A GENTLE THEME
Accord me a gentle theme, just for a moment, let the world
touch me lightly as if I were a burn victim.
Too much hate and pain, the chronic atrocity
of everyone acting as lame as Jacob, Vulcan
and Richard III before they’ve even tried
wrestling with the angel in the way. I’ve deepened
my defeat. I’m growing immeasurably stronger.
I don’t insult the light by passing it through
phoney diamonds softened like processed honey
by mechanical bees with artificial sweeteners.
My eyes aren’t blunted and blurred by the foggy roses
of impressionist cataracts. Cataracts in the eye,
flowers in the sky. Flowers in the sky. Cataracts
in the eye. I don’t launder the grapes
or bloodstains on my auroras by pressing them
through the rollers of my mother’s washing machine
to keep them clean for houseguests who look
at the nymph of the moon as if it were always waxing
like first crescent, and forget the waning of the crone
and both those claws, like the thorns of a rose,
have been blooded in the human heart like the cold shock
of a plinth of glass when the stars shatter.
Just for a while, let me fly like a bird
into the eye of the hurricane without washing me out
like a cinder from seeing the world is a house on fire
lying on a funeral pyre of crutches carved
from the heartwood of a tree that blossoms beautifully
but never shakes the superflux down to drop
like a windfall at the feet of people who are hungry,
so there’s no way of knowing by their fruits who they are.
Sweet river, let me ride your scalloped waves
all the way to the sea like the pentatonic scales
of a black snake freaked with stars, uncoiling
like dark, soothing music from a syrinx releasing
the healing from the herb. Let’s exchange metaphors
like knowing smiles between the crazy and the wise.
My heart’s pitted by self-righteous meteors
that are always the first to throw stones at the earth
when they’re challenged to remember their own transgressions.
Let me taste the milk of human kindness
dripping like snowdrops of anti-venom
from the nightshift syringe of your other fang.
Isn’t that you shining like the caduceus of Draco
helically coiling like a stair well around the axis
of the windmill earth quixotically tilting at dragons?
Can you hear me like a muezzin calling himself to prayer
from the station of the last chakra above my prophetic skull
petitioning you to live up to the legend of your serpent fire?
I won’t forget the children are starving or neglect
to scatter their ashes like mourning doves on the wind
from a high precipice with a lordly view of the valley
like those two who died of scarlet fever a hundred years ago
I found buried under an oak tree overlooking the beaver marsh.
My heart’s breaking like frost-bitten twigs in an ice storm,
but I promise to thaw them out like kindling
and start a new fire in an oil drum for the cold and homeless
they can hold their fingers up to like a candelabra.
Show me the wild irises again and let me compare them
to the blue-white stars of the Pleiades. Let the tendrils
of the wandering grapevines take hold of me again
like the veins and arteries of an elated bloodstream.
Let me hear my own longing in the urns of the nightbird
and not try to reword its lyrics into something happy and untrue,
but add a few of my own like peace, wisdom and compassion
to share the sadness of being alone like the voice
of black walnut tree that didn’t make it through the winter,
crying out in the wilderness like an acephalic seer
without pretending, irreconcilably, that it doesn’t hurt.
I want to sit on this rock like the immutable foundation stone
of the vicarious world and not feel the rasp
of stars and sand waterboarding my throat
like an hourglass that’s making me hoarse with time,
calling out like a lifeboat with a leak in it to the drowned.