NO JOY IN THE NIGHT, NONE EXPECTED
No joy in the night, none expected, black ice lacquered on asphalt outside,
March slush before the two week warm-up, black coffee, cigarettes,
I sit where I always sit, snowblind Inuit in front of a glaring computer-screen
letting my mind fly eyeless through a hurricane of stars, no pilot
in the keyhole of the door, staring through the windows,
trusting in the sincerity of their slow, brittle tears
calving like glaciers in the craters of a lunar landscape
railed by the snowploughs like razors on a black mirror
into lines of coke weeping hot tears into the gutters that cook them
like the faces of young women in a small town who grew up milking cows
raging at the boredom of their sorrows in a riot of cherry blossoms and stinging nettles.
Peace for awhile this time of night, skinless in my solitude,
my restlessness intrigued by the stillness of my estrangement
from everything that moves with a purpose in chains of thought.
Dying swans in a Bolshoi of smoke from a puff on a cigarette
I watch how they uncoil like a path through their afterlife
disappearing into the air like the albino auroras of the northern lights
untroubled by their exorcism as soon enough I, too, anticipate
being dispossessed of the dream in my heart that keeps me awake tonight
as if I owed it to life to be here, just as I am, without trying
to better my diminishment like a mirage in a sea of awareness.
Dawn, the suicidal blue of a homogeneous mass of indistinguishable clouds,
and the unfortunate buildings coming into focus, eyebrows
of fieldstones over the gaping eyes of their disinterested windows
like the eyesockets of the skulls of dead oracles fixed
on the one prophecy of continuous extinction that came true
long before it was foreshadowed by the random course of events on the inside
of the abandoned rooms they’re fronting for like a visionary tradition.
I can feel the pragmatic madness of a thousand utilitarian farmwives
getting up to start the fire like sleepwalking ghosts inured
like a habit of smoke to a dream of not being dead if there’s still a voice
snapping in the larynx of the cedar like God from a burning bush.
People using their panic as an excuse, the busy, busy day begins,
bullied by obligations and chores, debts, repetitive emotions
sighing competitively for something more from the world
than the world’s prepared to give in compensation for enduring it.
And they, too, serve who only stand like parking meters, lamp posts
and fire hydrants in the snow and perish, each according
to the lack of urgency in their convective lives, everybody
imagining there had to be more to them as they’re remembered retrospectively
after they pass and the patina of time and compassion for the dead
puts a little make up on their face in the minds of those who live
dreading the same fate as if life were an amphibian on a lilypad in a snakepit.
Though they’d deny it with earnest apple piety and I mean
no insult to any exit or entrance they lived and died by,
not having a grave of my own yet to get back to
before the stars beyond the squalls of the snowflakes pale
like the tungsten candles in the lanterns of the nightwatchmen
going out like streetlights in the waxing din of another lustreless beginning.
Black noise at night, white noise by day, too much permafrost yet
to be out digging graves, but maybe I can engage my spirit
that knows me well enough by now to overbid the odds
as the only chance we have of staying alive, to remodel
this elegy like the premonitory mood of extinction crossing
the waning wolf moon you can’t see, into a few sparse birds
of an aubade that didn’t go south for the winter. Absurd, I know.
But what does it hurt to drink mirages from a wishing well now and again
and vitiate the tactless clarity of mundanity by celebrating
the great variety of the means and modes of insanity
available to a creative imagination that can’t find anything lyrical
about road kill, but is in the habit of listening to people sing next door
like extraordinarily ordinary metaphors for the joys of life
that make no sense to anyone they weren’t meant for.
I see the three pots of Arum ivy on top of my closet
have picked up again since I watered them, green, green, their leaves,
what is it that wearies the heart of a human so much
that I envy their intent to live? Why do I always feel
I’m contributing to something collaboratively vast I’ll never be a part of
or indulge this tolerant affection for the mystic peculiarities
of the things in my apartment like a prisoner that’s learned
to pay attention to the smallest things in life that slip through the bars
he regards with the unpossessive curiosity of unobtrusive love?
I bluff the infinite with the intimacy of a knife I hold to my throat
like a crescent moon to the voice box of a nightbird
I’ve never known the name of nor felt the need to ask
as long as it’s singing as if neither of us had a care in the world.
Uncompelled, I remember the recent dead incredulously
as the embodiment of so much longing and pain
swept away like reflections from the puddles of starmud
on this back country road we’re all walking down alone together
where even the animals are dubious about accepting us for who we are
whatever that means. Are. To future phantoms making plans for now
as if it were already yesterday. How can it be we’re
mere bubbles of awareness in an abyss full of thorns
when we spend all our lives like fireflies trying to shine
like stars in the dark for a glimpse of the going before we’re gone
to less inept enlightenments than these we’re trying to stay afloat on?