BE A FATALIST, BUT MOVE YOUR FEET, GOOD CHINESE ADVICE
Be a fatalist, but move your feet, good Chinese advice.
I’m sitting here looking out the window into the dark night
polluted by the town lights, long eyes peering down the halls and corridors
of my red shifting thoughts. Relax. Ruminate. Reflect.
My way of trying to stare down a double-bladed crisis
like the axe of the moon about to come down on the nape of my neck.
Should I paint? Board’s primed and toned on the easel. Ready to go.
Or give in to another poem that isn’t going to help pay the rent and hydro
because people buy things they can touch and own, not so much
the insights and emotions they’re touched by and can never take hold of.
Don’t want to rant about it anymore like sheet lightning talking to itself.
Don’t want to take a knife and cut myself in the calf again
to suck the poison out of the snake-bite before it goes to my heart.
Not trying to make chain mail out of my scars anymore.
I’m a lot less vulnerable walking down this road of thorns skinless,
me, my evanescence and my cat, travelling light, bobbing for apples
like shepherd moons or prophetic Orphic skulls, a windfall
of dismemberments, floating like depression glass Japanese crystal balls
free of the fishing nets in this sea of awareness,
drifting pianissimo on the calm before the storm all the way
from Thrace to Mytilene in Lesbos where Terpander and Sappho
used to live. Radioactively resigned to the torment, maybe
I’m living my half-life now. I’m stable as lead. I don’t want
to write another poem where I’m sticking my head in a vise
to make me confess to things that never even crossed by mind.
No more inquistors. No more confessors making accusations.
I never could make any sense out of advice that smarted like a penance.
Salt in the wound. I’d rather brine my back with stars,
be keel-hauled across the hull of the moon like a shadow of myself
than be erosively rasped to death by termites, tapeworms, and maggots.
A bit harsh. But as I said. Radioactively resigned to the Tathagatagarba,
the Thus Come of it all. Maybe I could do a ghost dance
that will bring the people and the buffalo back if I can leave the reservation
in my thousands without making anyone too nervous. Make a war bonnet
out of my winged heels, let Pegasus lead a diaspora of wild horses
across the plains as an alternative to the wheel of birth and death.
I could shaft and fletch my arrows with alder and eagle weathervanes
that could finally fly as true as Aquila arcing up in the west
or hold my finger up like a lightning rod to determine
the direction of prayer on the wind from moment to moment.
I must have been an East Indian kalpas of afterlives ago
because I’m always trying to go cosmic as I approach
a condition of zero and eternity starts creeping into my thoughts
like an abysmal incommensurable that puts pi to shame.
One of the great graces of the empty pockets of space
is they never shortchange the stars so the light’s not living
in a chronic state of doubt. This is That. Flat out. Poems and paintings
don’t diverge as much like the tines of snakestongues, forked lightning,
witching wands or roads in a dark wood. I am the tendrils
of the wild grape vines overtaking me like poem. I am
the dancing brooms, the braided manes of my paintbrushes
trying to capture the living spirit of a wayward mirage
as the light falls upon it instead of trying to sweep it all under the rug
of some flying carpet that never gets off the loom of the moon
undoing me a night thread by thread like the strong rope of a spinal cord
to keep me from hanging myself from a starmap of northern chandeliers
or tying myself up like the hawser of a lifeboat to a fire hydrant
so I’d never have to come to my rescue again, emotionally unmoored
like the noose in the eyes of the hurricane on Jupiter
that’s been raging for the last three hundred years like a knot
in the heartwood, or the skull of a rock parting the comma, coma, comet
of a hairy star plunging into the midnight sun like the light
of my mindstream evaporating like tears of dry ice
into the air, into the ether, into the arms of a great reservoir of fire
long before it gets there like the ashes of a dispassionately posthumous loveletter.