IF I EVER GET TO LOOK BACK ON ALL THIS
If I ever get to look back on all this
even if it’s just to show me how wrong I was
about so much, how much I risked for so little,
I don’t want to have been mean and petty here,
I don’t want to have lived short-minded
as if my brain never grew to its proper height
and I had to live close to the ground
with burrowing wasps and centipedes
trading toxins in the grass like slumlords.
Tried to live like a magnanimous man
with an open hand whenever my luck kept pace
with my generosity. Didn’t want to die
knowing nothing about the stars, that shining
that grew in time even brighter in the dark within.
Wanted to know the fury and compassion, genius,
the affable kindness, madness and love of humankind.
Used to say we were born to see and be happy,
and if you couldn’t find a meaning that suited you,
make one up of your own. Don’t waste
the great creative potential of the absurd
and try to fit yourself like a little polyp of sentience
into the fossilized coral reefs of the past.
Go for the galaxies. What’s to lose?
If you’re going to fall, fall from a height.
Sooner a brilliant failure than a mediocre flight.
You’d be surprised at what the timing of one comet
falling out of the black halo around the sun
can mean to millions watching down below for signs.
Sensible shoes, or starmud on your winged heels,
Icarus or Neil Armstrong using his foot
to take a big step for humankind, walk your mile
standing up as if you were scanning for leopards,
your simian continuum at a fork in the road.
Danger is a capricious muse, but it can still
rivet you with inspiration. The hunters get eyes.
You grow an exoskeleton, then rib
the walls and rafters of the house and soon
the sun decides where the windows are going to go.
The Hox genes talk, and you’re the topic of conversation.
You start listening as if
you were listening in on yourself,
all those voices and things
for words you don’t understand,
bliss, butterflies, sorrows and assassins,
the victimized heroes of egoistic tragedies,
and the poetry in the pity of unexpurgated passion.
Lovers in the last throes of unmitigated catastrophe.
The rush and turmoil of the picture-music
going on all the time, shapeshifting
from one musical scene into another
and even you with your hands over your ears
sick of listening to the cosmic hiss,
climactic cymbals in the great performance
just waiting to come together like a hadron collider
deep underground where black holes in space
are born of the impact. If you’re not already
too calculating, or mesmerized like a stone bird
by the snake-eyes of the dice, put some money
down on yourself as if you had one to lose,
and if for nothing more than the exercise,
kiss your prophetic skulls for luck and let them roll.
And when you love, don’t approach a seabed on the moon
with a spoonful of water you can both sip from.
Return like an ocean with a convincing atmosphere.
If fools rush in where angels fear to tread
the angels will follow soon enough, with blessings
on the horns of your head. Learn
every gesture of her eyes like pictographic signage,
of her heart, a grammar for two, of her mind
be the no one to lift its veils, of her body,
apprentice yourself to the genius of her starmud.
Everything that lives is a gesture of the absurd
the imagination delights in elaborating
like people with the personalities of apple-trees
or the encyclopedic prolixity of the Burgess Shale.
I am is not the cornerstone of anything.
I imagine. And the wind is the threshold of the tent
that sheds the desolation of a self like a flower
that blooms in fire. Why water a mirage? Live large.
Squander stars on your vision of this, swallow the abyss
to keep your emptiness well fed, let your wisdom
be the private life of space, your time on earth
be passage and transformation, and your heart
cherish the bliss of all, animate and inanimate alike,
who suffer the same dream of being awake that you do.