THE TOWN DEAD BY MIDNIGHT
The town dead by midnight, dark spring rain on the streets
like puddles of anthracite, the cat asleep in its feral innocence
and the furnace pipes cracking like arthritic bones
and there’s a bleakness that’s trying to speak for me
like a train whistle with a muse of its own. Words
are trying to understand me like a silence that sings
with a surrealistic accent in a stanza of migratory water birds
excluded from the aubades and aviaries of the dawn
because they don’t make cliches of the lakes they return to
to swim among the stars like constellations of themselves.
Sheltered from the adolescent temper of the wind
in the tolerable loneliness of my apartment, this bone-box
I write in the fair hand of a cursive script of smoke,
of rivers flooding their banks alluvially
with the emotional silts of a spring run off
that lavishes me on the roots of half-drowned trees,
I disembark like a lifeboat from a Viking funeral ship
and let my mind drift into the depths of an insignificant abyss
that’s never tasted the meaning in the flavour of death
or cared that much for the black humour of what I believe in
that labours at keeping me alive. If I knew why it should
I could only be a disappointment to the future
of my undiscovered solitude actualizing its creative potential
to enter into occult marriages with muses that sweep me off my feet
like stars and leaves off the stairwells of my deciduous arrivals.
I don’t petition the gods or summon the ghosts
of fires that burnt out yesterday like votive daylilies
in the aniconic shrines of the sun to return from the dead
and bless what I plead for as if I knew what to ask
from my sorrow that might help tomorrow rejoice
in what’s to come. Even wisdom doesn’t question
the nature of the song that emerges from the night
like a wild canary in a coal mine urgent as a pilot light
that smells apocalyptic gas in the subterranean labyrinths
of star-nosed moles blindly seeking to get at the roots of things
that only bloom in the dark underworlds of our radicalized starmud.
Bleak outside. Death, death, death in the dead air
of artless cement and chronic pageant of storefronts
like the repeating decimals of unappealing floats
in a municipal parade of all we’ve got to celebrate.
I don’t want to feel bleak inside, sickened by the world,
but Walmart is dyeing its fashion garments in the blood
of Bangladeshi girls skinned of their lives
by corporate traplines and parasitic politicians
baiting humans with 14 cents an hour seven days a week
like those wasps that lay their eggs like carnelian dots
on the foreheads of the living host to let their young devour it
like future consumers of the western world baptized
with brand names. Maybe I should meditate upon a flower
like the one Buddha gave Ananda with a knowing smile,
but all I see are white peonies freaked with the hemoglobin of children.
In my time, people with clean hands were usually the filthiest.
We were clever but we weren’t encouraged to be real.
We stuck to the unprincipled indifference of our social structures
like flypaper. We danced on the graves of our fellow humans
and promoted a trickle down theory of happiness like global warming.
Our weapons evolved like insects, but the abstract savagery
and rabid rage that deployed them were definitely
creationist, ante-diluvian, conservative, and simian. Nothing’s changed
since the first prehensile grip threw a bone ballistically
at the left front parietal lobe of another ape whose ideas
mythically deflated its brain. In back rooms
and sensorily deprived think tanks of lobbyists and spin-doctors
we made window dressing of democracy in the showcase windows
where we displayed the latest wardrobes like the death shrouds
of the humans our gluttony had culled. Misery polluted
the chandeliers of our crystal tears like a hemorrhagic fever of acid rain,
but we went on ghost dancing with ourselves as if things
would get better and better without realizing we were already dead.
Evil in the world. If you care, how can you not go mad?
If you don’t care, how can you not be peacefully complicit
in what it is by virtue of a sin of omission, forgetting
it will rush in like a backdraft of a fire through your door one day
because nature abhors a vacuum and paralysis and impotence
incite it like blood in the water, mice in a snakepit?
Atrocities perpetrated in the name of order are worse
than random accidents of chaos that hold nothing personal
against us being here without necessity or purpose
sussing out our feeble meanings for life like garden snails
bull-vaulting our own horns trying not to get gored on the moon
like a prehistoric aurex that went extinct before we did.
I should leave all these catastrophes behind me like
a graceful exit I made at the bend of an awkward entrance
and walk out into the darkness beyond this catwalk of streetlamps
posing like tungsten asphodels observing a moment of silence
with their heads bowed like cobras into the woods
down by the river but I’m loathe to track myself in like roadkill.
I want to walk ankle-deep in the starmud of the wolf paths
that will be thawing out this time of year before the rain
has had a chance to pack them down solid again or plump
the grass of the deerbeds. I just want to see one star
shining through the burgeoning branches in the burgundy crowns
of the birches putting their green gowns on again like renewable virgins.
Beauty coming out of the darkness like Spica in Virgo.
Trout lily, hepatica, wood sorrel, violet and crocus,
I want to see what colours the spring has on its palette this year.
I want to experience a pink full moon soon to be eclipsed in Scorpio
and expand the difference that makes to the way I understand things.
I want to know whose blood is coagulated on the candelabra
of the staghorn sumac leaning out over the river
like an old torch singer at a black mass beginning
to get her voice back as she feathers her reflection like a phoenix.