IN A DARKENED ROOM
In a darkened room I see shadows in the hall
moving under the door like an astronomer
counting the planets around a distant star,
transits and occlusions and axial perturbations
of insight into the possibilities of life.
And more than life, it seems, at times,
the cosmic odds of love not being the victim
of the way it has to live to preserve itself.
Yevtushenko writing Lima Junction, first line:
As we get older we get honester. Most of us
either exhausted into the truth, too lazy to lie,
or trying to make an anonymous impression upon life
like the Burgess Shale on a grailquest for oxygen.
How much can be made of so little. Predators
growing eyes and prey encased in exoskeletons.
Pikaia drops a thin lifeline into the waters of life
and everyone’s been climbing up their spine
like scarlet runners and serpent fire ever since.
Burning siege ladders storming the parapets of heaven.
Thermophilic cyanobacteria the hard drive of the planet
look at the software that’s evolved from that
like happy apps to keep our left front parietal lobes amused.
I never planned on a purpose in life. I think
all paradigms of the truth are potential liars.
There’s something more honest about an iron chain
than a gold. One smells like blood on the snow,
the other, too much cologne on a sunset. Religion,
art, science, the disclaimers of secular spiritualism
like a ghost denying the gene pool it’s hovering over,
all well and good, the junkie’s got his moonrock,
and we’re well protected by an umbrella
of intercontinental, ballistic Clovis points,
and the shepherds of the black camel, obviously oil,
are raising tall buildings in the desert like the horns of unicorns
among the obelisks and minaras, and I’ve got
more ways of expressing myself than I’ve got
things to say, but, hey, it’s the twenty-first century
and still the heart’s the mushroom cloud of a stromatolite.
Lady I wish it were stars and fireflies with me too
all of the time, windfalls of golden apples
in the orchards of the Hesperides, ripening
like the halos and auras of moondogs
and mystics wheeling in their shadows
at the crossroads of sundials in a vertiginous trance
at the thought of meeting you like a willow at midnight
at the zenith of a bridge in an aquatic garden on the moon
where the mindstream is always at ease
with the oceanic night sea it’s flowing into
and the poppies in our blood were dancing like solar flares
to the wild timbrels of the savage celebration
of the conflagration of life they were returning to
like a watershed of light. Fire flows in the dragon’s veins
and a corona of solar flares turns into a rosette of flame-throwers.
Fossils flower in our starmud as the earth’s answer to constellations.
No suffering. No salvation. And the physician left
to heal himself. First from his ignorance. Then the wound
of salvation itself. Private conjuring put on public view
is propaganda, not spiritual art. I have a symbolic mind.
A paleolithic future. I wear the hides of my insights
like wolfs’ heads. I die like a shaman in front of my paintings.
Bury my bones under the hearthstones like a pyre of kindling.
Spit paint my portrait in red ochre like dried blood
bound by animal grease. There are elk horns
in the middens of my starmud, mother of pearl in my eyes
like another moonrise whispering strange dream grammars
that express the solitude of the creatures of night.
And an inexplicable longing to understand the mystery of sorrow.
Were the first hominids troubled by the birth signs
of the new mindscape they were emerging into
as most of us migrating with the big-game stars into
the available futures of our vagrant imaginations
looking into an abyss of gaping astonishment and silence
at ancient galaxies rising like smoke from distant fires,
realizing we are not alone with our genetic codes
like surrealistic poems looking for happy mutations.
Relative to the future memories of stars yet to shine,
we’re all troubled apes in prime time trying to crack
cosmological koans with the rocks of good ideas.
Sponges filtering the krill of the stars through our pores.
Wisdom teeth pushing up through our jawbones
under the molars of the bi-valved goose-necked barnacles
of our observatories on wilderness mountaintops
several mirrors closer to deciphering the stars
as the creation of the intel of our own senses.
No dirt. No pearl. Whether you throw it before swine or not.
The true harvests of the soul are still sown
under the fertile crescents of your fingernails.