THE NIGHT WITH THE PERSONALITY OF AN INDELIBLE INK BLOT
The night with the personality of an indelible ink blot
that just leaked into my pocket no doubt trying to print its own money
as a fast lane to prosperity as the dumptrucks, snowploughs, snow blowers,
front loaders raise and lower their blades and buckets
like weightlifters with a grunt and a thump, authoritatively
clean the streets of Perth like an occupation army after curfew.
Too many windows looking back at me with nothing in their eyes
but half-priced mannequins wearing black sequined dresses
like the scales of wet rat snakes anticipating the spring.
Signs of attrition everywhere, no stars, every third store
empty or on the verge of economic seppuku, two in the morning,
purged of people, I’ve lost interest in trying to befriend
the fire hydrants, garbage bags, crosswalks and traffic lights
that never stop talking about the importance of having a function in life
as a measure of human worth while I’m going incalculably mad
irradiated by too much chronic sanity hermetically sealed
in a downscale upstairs apartment like a mason jar of firefly jam
put up in the meltdown of autumn by people who know how
to look ahead to yesterday in the eternal recurrence of tomorrow.
I’m writing poetry in self defence. I’m bailing my heart out like a lifeboat
trying to stay afloat in a squall of undermining metaphors
that want to kick the stool from under my feet like the sealegs
of a man trying to drop anchor on suicide watch trying to weather it out.
Bring on the rocks. Bring on the mermaids I once heard singing to me
in an avalanche of meteors that buried my species alive.
Of what use am I when I’m the Mohican omega of my kind? I survive.
Driven out into the wilderness to live among the scapegoats and the prophets
on honey and locusts, staghorn sumac, bitter choke cherries frozen in the snow
and not even a local Salome to go dancing with every Tuesday night
before I serve my head up to her on a platter to prove she has no reason
to be jealous of the menage a quatre I’m having with the three sybillant muses
of my solitude, silence and stillness. It’s only a lyrical fling
with the freedom to despair as I please without consulting anyone
since I was nineteen. I’m beginning to look up to myself when I’m down.
Go ask the river I nose my way along like a lone bush wolf
looking for muskrat in the cattails. No waterlilies walking on water
like jumpy stars in a telescope, I can bloom like the sail on an iceboat
skimming a patina of moonlight on the thin ice of a lake about to break
like a fortune cookie with no risk averse wisdom inside. Luck
of the abyss, I guess, because necessity says when you’ve got to jump
you’ve got to jump and you’ve got to get it right seven out of ten times
if you want to live on the razor’s edge that close to your jugular.
No odds on your side but the counter-intuitive fact
you haven’t got as much to lose living on your own
as you do when someone you love is walking out the door
because she can’t be famous in your shadow or live off the superflux of nothing
like a mystic with a fat soul. But over the intervening light years
of shining over my shoulder into the dark behind me
I’ve come to appreciate the constancy of the discontinuity of love
like the ever-fixed mark of an asteroid belt as the north star of a sonnet
whose height has to be taken with a plumb bob in a dry wishing well.
As above so below. It keeps me from being embittered by the truth
after these last fifteen years in hell paying for the virtues of my youth
bleeding out like the oceans in the rose of a matador gored on the horns
of garden snails with floral sensitivities. Now I carry two swords
like the hands of a clock in the sash of a samurai
living up to the Zen code of a warrior jester with a laughable hope of delusion
and when the hour comes around again to draw straws at midnight
I emotionally eviscerate myself on the shorter blade to save face
in the long run of so much pain I have to take a short cut
through a heritage cemetery to get to where I’m going on time.
Ah, if only it were the dark, dark, dark, of another starless winter night in Perth.
And not the measure of a man opening his heart up like a pinata
to see what his life was worth after years of living dysfunctionally
like a nightwatchman in the black holes of nirvana, trying to keep the lights on
in an eyeless space with big dreams of never waking up again.