WHEN THE UNSAYABLE SUPPLANTS YESTERDAY’S WISDOM
When the unsayable supplants yesterday’s wisdom
it makes it look obvious and trivial in retrospect
and you marvel at the spiritual gestures of goodwill
that swept you off your feet for light-years
as the arcana of a discipline you gave up trying to master,
because you could only see into the matter
as far as the light you were given to go by.
And you didn’t know then that when
you blew the candle out you held
pathetically up to the abyss that you did more,
by blowing it out, to illuminate the universe,
than you did when you fed it your heart
to keep it burning like a night light among the stars,
or a lighthouse paling in the full glare of the sun.
Off the path is the way of the path.
How can anyone be lost? Or found, for that matter?
Midways of gurus with their touring freak shows.
Sacred matchbooks of budding sulphur
throwing humans into the Bonfire of the Vanities,
chasing the bank-rolled Renaissance out of Florence.
Terminal literalism, infectious symbolitis
sweeping down the coast like hemorrhagic fever
from the merchant fleets of Genoa. The wild grape vines
of intuitive insight converted into the razor wire
of paranoid orthodoxies. The heretics bear witness
to the madness in the judgement of their abusers,
and scald the clouds with their blood for it.
The spiritual highways cluttered with exiles,
refugee saints, and scapegoats, where is there
a wilderness left where the tourists don’t go
to gawk at the hermits like wildlife? Back
to the birch groves and the cawing of the crows
like auctioneers that don’t have a thing to sell.
No one’s footprints to follow in. The way things
turn out, at best, a wolf path through the snow
gone by spring, or where you bent the waist high grass
by walking through it like the path of least resistance,
unmapped as the wind. What is it all, when
even the seven-tiered tower of the Scotch thistle
is a mental event, if not open, unknown and empty
in the sense of being indefinable, not missing,
as if anything were there in the first place
it was crucial not to lose? Spare your tears.
Life hasn’t got anything to repent or reform.
The mystery manifest as it is and that’s the whole of it.
What more of it is there to reveal, than the rocks
have already said? Real, not real, the flowers bloom nonetheless
and you’re free to make or feel or think or not
about them as you wish. Mourn the ruination
of the flowers in a passion play as old as the stars
or trust your own mind to mentor you in the ways
of not reifying it into a thing among things,
the source and matrix of your most cherished illusions,
the mirage of the dark mother who eats her own like time.
There is no pattern, path, paradigm, psychodynamic
or unified field theory that the mind won’t
accommodate itself to like a child’s drawing of the universe.
You can elaborate the roots of a tree like a fractal into
a morphology of knowledge forms
that sing in its boughs like sparrows
in the black walnuts of the morning
and then consult it like the grammar of a dream
for the blue print or starmap of the house you’re building
like a screening myth with a built-in library.
The magician gulled in the doorway of his own magic,
having lost the key to the spell he cast
when this desert of stars was merely
the vagrant threshold of a tent in the moon’s back yard.
The folly of sages, the wisdom of fools,
what’s the point of enlightening your own freedom
if you’re too afraid to accept it as the mystical mundanity
that’s under your nose this very moment?
You can hunt your own shadows down like heretics
fleeing the hounds of heaven, you can denounce
an eclipse for being a sunspot on your illumination
and polish the mirror for the rest of your life
and still not wash your face off with a paint rag
like a clown in a green room waxing tragic
to counteract the laughter at the expense of his own wounds.
Look into the eyes of the roadkill for yourself
as if no one else in the world can do your seeing for you
and you won’t see anything very shocking to be afraid of.
No spiritual snake-eyes. No hidden meaning
you have to get at the guts of like a turkey-vulture.
And if you feel compassion, and it’s natural you should,
it’s because there’s something communal about the random
you sense has been going on a lot longer
than the last few thought moments when you showed up
to be misunderstood by your own imagination.
You want some good spiritual advice to get you in the habit
of taking it yourself, whether things are sublimely rough
and death is dying into you, or life is trivializing
the palatial playhouse it was born into? When occasion arises,
and when does it not, learn to call your own bluff
and sit down on the ground, and have a good laugh.