WHAT’S TO KEEP YOU FROM DANCING?
What’s to keep you from dancing if you’ve got nothing to live for?
Dance naked in your tears. Cry through your laughter.
Plunge into a black hole and come out the other side,
renewed, a virgin, no more feathers and tar pits.
No more dead petals in a dry fountain. Absurd, isn’t it?
When you begin to compare skulls with the moon,
not at all what you imagined you would see, not even
the prevailing consensus of delusion that passes for reality,
this neo-primordial soup of logos and memes
we’re all swimming in like fish in radioactive water.
This pre-Cambrian efoliation of multitudinous sentience
re-inventing cuneiform to write it all down in the Burgess Shale
three hundred million years from now, fossil by fossil
and one among myriads, the lucky lottery ticket
of a fish with a spinal cord that will lead eventually
back to the saddest excuses in the world for the likes of us.
I’ve stood on bridges late at night by myself
watching the waters flow as if my mindstream
were going on without me, and the pain were too much
even for a poet to sublimate his way out of,
and I’ve lived my way to the end of a labyrinth of cul de sacs
and wearied of their chronic recurrence like a water wheel
at an abandoned mill that used to gamble on a river boat
things would stay afloat long enough to make shore
before the ship goes down. The crucial point here
is not to live with regrets as if you had something personally
to do with all of it. There’s no starmap
for the burrs of the sorrows that smoulder
like brown constellations in the slums of an inflammable zodiac.
You diminish your arrogance at the expense of your humility
that’s grown as gigantic as God, when you think
you know enough about the unknowable to fix the blame
as if you’d just come up with a new alibi for you and the world.
Could be a curse. Could be a blessing. Could be
an improbable concourse of unforeseen events
that’s been chain-reacting well before
the infinite beginnings of the multiverse.
You cut your skin with razors as if you were
playing tic tac toe on your thighs, hoping someone
would come along like an antidote and suck the poison out.
But life isn’t sweet when you’ve learned
to weep through your fangs. Go ask the moon.
There’s no holy crusade going on as if the rose
aroused its petals to go to war against the infidelity of its thorns.
Even the predators, in their own way, are the children of their prey.
The longer the fangs. The sharper the talons. The harder the armour.
Ever seen what an owl can do to a snake? Yes,
things can be bad, but not necessarily for your sake.
They can be good, too, but if you think it’s for you,
you’re going to end up telling lies about suffering in your sleep
like a flashflood in a dry creekbed trying to wake the frogs
that have burrowed deep into the starmud for the duration
by singing to themselves in the rain as if they’d just had a revelation
it’s wet on the moon again. I’d could give you any one
of a thousand interpretations of your eyes. I could
turn your sacred snake’s tongue where the rivers part
into a green witching wand twitching over the watersheds
of mystic lightning. I could scry the self-sacrifice of your next breath
like the smoke of a distant fire on an autumn hillside
and try to explain the fireflies as the popular demotic
of the proto-nostratic of the stars and how that relates
to the scars on your leg. Befuddle you into a salvation
that would last at least a couple of decades before
you could ever find your way back by your own lights
to where you were going with the rain before I met you.
You’re not wrong. You’re not right. I could say that and mean it
as easily as a principled astrolabe looks upon a starless night
and doesn’t try to see what isn’t there. It isn’t dark.
It isn’t bright out. It’s clear all the way to the next star
if you don’t bind yourself to a mental atmosphere
where the mind suffers at the hands of its own weather
like a child that thinks it needs to be taught to wake up
from its own nightmare when, in fact, once things
begin to bottom out it’s as over as a bubble rising to the top.
Pop! No more delusion, no more enlightenment.
No more mirages taking charge of the wellsprings
in the desert of stars in ruins around Jericho
as the wind shapes the sands in an hourglass
like a potter or a sculptor into a sea of eyes
that can actually flow like tears of glass in the heat
you can drink from like a dragon on the moon
just before it begins to rain. And the grasslands awaken
of their own accord. And everywhere guitar-shaped gazelles
are getting up on their own four legs like amputees
that haven’t forgotten how to dance to the elegant thunder
of their own leopard skin drums. And the rain
comes back to your drought-stricken eyes again
and runs like rivulets and the unravelled threads of your lifelines
through the starmud gullies of your brain breaking
into waterlilies of insight on the banks of your mindstream
tempering the broken swords of moonlight
that are offered to it in tribute, not surrender,
because there is no war, into alloys of reality and dream,
delusion, enlightenment, imagination and awakening
no one before you has ever fallen upon like a dancer
who was cut to the quick by a life she’s not been out of step with
by not so much as one angstrom of a wavelength of a firefly
for all the billions of lightyears along the way
you’ve been leading a pilgrimage of shadows deeper into the night
like a calendar of shepherd moons
you’ve been slashing like a sundial on your legs
moments away from the shrine of broken promises
you intend to keep like a vow you made to yourself
sleepwalking your way across the corals of your grief in bare feet
as if sooner or later you could tread all that blood into wine.
Put your dancing shoes on. Crystal slippers. Moonboots. Winged heels.
Stop carving your body like a deathmask you can wear in the world
like an alphabet with omega as its only child.
Why lie down on the grave of that morose saint of clowns
you prayed to deliver you from yourself like the spade
you were using to dig your own ditch on the moon
for the mass assassination of the innocent and obscene?
I’m a poet. And to me you’re as beautiful inside and out
as a blank piece of paper after the first snow
has had a taste of moonlight and softly glows in the dark.
Not Joan of Arc singing at the stake of her own serpent-fire
feathering her body in flames, in boas of smoke to cover up
the glyphs of the bird tracks on the secret loveletter
she’s been writing to herself in the flesh to really mean
what she says when she says I want to live, I want to love,
I want to give and receive the way I breathe without
meaning anything by it. I want to see, because I have
brave eyes, deeply into the light, into the dark, the mystery
of a life that keeps on going without knowing where it ends.