OLD SORROW, I’VE FORGOTTEN YOUR NAME
Old sorrow, I’ve forgotten your name,
you’ve been with me so long, pouring
the iron in my blood into the heavy bell of a heart
that’s climbed back up this sad tree of my spine
so many times out of the afterlives of my windfall,
these sad planets collapsing in on themselves
under the decaying weight and water of their own tears
from the inside out, and gone to seed
like a small fleet of lifeboats in this floating world,
trying to make it up out of these watersheds
to run the vertical deltas of this autumn orchard
whose roots I keep falling upon like a radical place to begin
climbing back up toward the stars again,
until one night I’ll raise my sail
like the moonrise of a blossom on the Milky Way
and be gone like a ghost ship in the fog of a nautical legend.
Old sorrow, I know you like the smoke of a thousand fires
I’ve danced around alone like the only child
of a midnight sun that abandoned me on the threshold
of a black hole I orbit like the rain in a broken mirror.
Who did you bury that we weep for, what
did you aspire to that you were too earthbound to reach,
what love of yours was so betrayed when it had
its eyes pecked out by the song birds
you never sing anymore when the bees
are in the locust trees, and the ants are opening
the peonies like loveletters from the Pleiades,
except there’s a wound in your voice the lyrics
are bleeding out of like a thorn in the eye of a hurricane rose?
Old sorrow, are you the tears deep down in things,
the lachrymae rerum that fill the wishing wells
with oceans of disappointment like the run-off
of our hopes and dreams descending the world mountain
after we’d talked to God like bathyspheres
trying to get to the bottom of our tears
like glass bubbles in our crystal skulls,
our third eyes frozen like the lenses of a telescope
fixed on a star above a shipwreck in Arctic ice,
looking for a northwest passage out of ourselves
toward a mythic Cathay beyond our continental shelves?
And what did God have to say that you kept to yourself
when you came back down from your tete a tete,
and returned your commandments like a library book
that was way overdue in Alexandria?
Old sorrow, I can sense in you how many seasons
have scarred you like a calendar of crescent moons
as you hang like the pine cone of one dolorous note
of the silence you sustain like a blues guitar
ripening in the corner of the room where the spiders
are writing music you’ll never play like the wind
in the hair of the willows down by the Tay River
when the black walnuts are floating by
like the scorched planets of sunless solar systems.
Old sorrow, I know you like a heavy boot cloyed in the starmud
of all these roads we’ve walked together to get
nowhere in particular but wherever we are now
in this graveyard of shadows
that talk to the stars who have none
about how to wash our names and faces off
like deathmasks that are tired of trying to light up the darkness
like a candle at a black mass at high noon
with an eclipse high overhead the flowers won’t look at
for fear of burning their eyes. Compendious companion,
you bend my boughs toward the earth
with the low hanging fruit of a giving nature
seasoning your inconsolable wisdom with compassion.
Immoveable buddha, are you the ancient echo
of the birth pang of life, the groan of sentience
being torn up by the roots out of the indwelling forms
of things you used to take shelter in like lenses and mirrors
you could blow into bubbles of the mind
like the multiverse through a keyhole into the abyss of hyperspace?
Old sorrow, were you rounded like a shepherd moon
in the undertow of time, your teeth blunted
like the molars of the asteroids eating stoney wheat
growing wild in the starfields of the neolithic grasslands?
Sometimes I can feel you possessing my heart and body and mind
like the corpse of an ancient ancestor, my spirit
like a prophetic skull on the dark side of the moon
lamenting the loss of its atmosphere like one of its eyes.
Other nights, I look upon you like the ruins
of a palace of water that once greened this desert of stars
like a Persian gardener that ruled an empire of flowers.
Venerable exile, do you despair of ever
finding your way home again through your lion gate
or have you encamped like so many other nations
to weep like Zion beside the rivers of Babylon?
Is your diamond corona occluded by the protocols of coal
that sully your face like the memory of darker days ahead?
I shall call you, friend, given how long
we’ve known each other like shadows of the valley spirit
blinded by the sundials of the unageing mountains of the moon.
I shall open my heart like a fire to you
and we can share the silence together for hours at a time
on long winter nights when the wind is howling outside
and there’s no need to speak of things
that neither of us understand about why
the fountains with the deepest watersheds
are always sadder than the last of the flowers
in a late autumn rain, or the willows along the Tay.
Slowest of rivers, you can sit saturnine and soporific,
red shifting into the longer wavelengths
of the oldest of your dreams, if you still dream yet,
and I’ll work on a poem in the shipyards of the mindstream
that will displace its weight in tears, and hopefully,
though you probably know better, keep us both afloat
like a paper boat shooting the rapids of a waterclock
that’s been running a little late like the two of us for light years.