IF YOU WORRY ABOUT WHERE YOU’RE GOING
If you worry about where you’re going
before you go, you’re not worthy of the road yet.
If you’re not having some black-hearted fun
with your worst nightmares, because they’re
just as surrealistically absurd as the bliss
of your most recurring dreams are, how
are you ever going to avoid taking yourself literally?
If you’re not crazy enough to wander
through a cemetery saturated with the moon
in the early hours of the morning, trying
to organize a choir of singing gravestones,
how are you ever going to recover a voice of your own?
That dowdy wren you let go of when you first discovered swans?
If you ever want to sweep across the lava plains of the moon
in a rush of emotion of a homecoming ocean,
but you can’t feel the tide in a single drop of water,
you haven’t cried enough yet to drown in your own sorrows
and see everybody’s life flash before your eyes
as you go down in retrospect, wiser than bubbles
in the way you descend like feathers trying to smile.
O, it’s hard here, isn’t it. Isn’t it brutal at times?
All your beautiful teeth knocked out against a concrete curb?
Inoperable cancer. The savage inexplicability
of the death of children it would be sacrilege
to even think there was an acceptable answer
to appease the loss, to satiate the grief. And I know stones
I’ve turned over I wished for years I hadn’t, things I’ve seen
that make me wish I’d never been born with eyes,
that have rendered my nemetic courage dysfunctional,
estranged from the Pleiadic radiance of my seeing
as if it were a black farce on tour in Taurus.
But if you want to shine like the fire of a pioneer star
in the clear light of the void, as I keep reminding myself
like a mantra over and over and over again,
you’re going to light up the intensity of hell
as readily as you do the cruel immensity of heaven
when it terrifies you with joy. Be a brave boy, I say to myself,
resolved to live all the lives of the Tarot Pack
and then go looking for the cards the Sufis say are missing,
just to say and smile at the end of time, if only to myself,
yes, I played all the stations of my life
as if they were the winning hand of an inveterate gambler
calling my own bluff in an unbeatable casino.
Seven come eleven, I’ve rolled my prophetic skulls
up against the wall like a printer in inky coveralls
in the back alley delivery entrance of a cosmic newpaper
on its lunch hour, throwing snake-eyes around
like the fang marks of a prison tat turning to Braille.
If you haven’t blooded your sword by falling on it yet,
and hemorrhaged by a river wild blue irises, just to add
a little Zen beauty to your death in life experience,
if you haven’t felt love slash its nadir across your wrist
and worn it like the talismanic bracelet of an unmentored initiate,
how are you ever going to transit zenith
as if you were crossing the threshold
of that thirteenth house of the zodiac
you raftered with your bones to accommodate your heart,
to cherish your own ashes like the mystery
of the afterlives you had to live through
until you burned like a star that had learned
the art of shining is the art of inexhaustibly letting go?
More doubt in our joy than in our pain, if
you don’t learn to ignore your certainty to the point
you disappear into the abyss of an expanding universe,
giving no second thought to whether you exist or not,
with no nostalgic attachment hovering over your emptiness
like the halo of a black hole, how are you
ever going to evolve the mystic green thumb you need
to root sunflowers in the darkness like neighbouring galaxies?
How are you ever going to adapt to the things you cherish
if you can’t endure the transformations that come with them?
If you skip the cocoon and go straight to the butterfly,
all you’ve really done is traded your birds in for a kite
that doesn’t know how to sit or sing on the power lines
it’s entangled in, nor how to negotiate the wind with wings.
You may glimpse the unattainable, yes, like a moth
at a closed window, wondering what it must be like
to be annihilated in a candle like an old love poem,
but the vision’s not sustainable as a way of life of your own
until you’ve set fire to your own antennae like wicks
that are not consumed by the flame, or extinguished in the rain.
Spiritual diamonds don’t forget where they came from,
their perishable beginnings, and though they can shine
like water and rainbows, their clarity smeared
by the chromatic aberrations of their colour-blind telescopes,
they haven’t forgotten how to burn like bituminous coal
in a basement furnace, or melt the intensity of their emotions
like a glass river making its way to the sea or how to use
a meteoric explosion as a way of sowing adamantine insights
like seed stars in an immaculate ocean of enlightened awareness,
the life-mask of the inconceivable assuming form
to express itself as an event in time that outgrows itself
transcendentally without a revolution or message for anyone
but itself, thereby ensuring, given our inquisitorial nature,
that everything from stars to rocks to apple trees to humans,
overhears it as a revelation of angelic gossip
waxing the long after-hour halls of a demonic institution
that was founded synarthritically on the cornerstones of our skulls.
Zen might be the taste of tea. But if you’d rather spice the water,
do it with all the flavours of life, dip an eclipse
in the full moon of your cup now and again,
and let the darkness work its cure upon you like a spell
deeply steeped in your imagination like a school bell.
Attend to your shadows, not as a theft of flowers,
or the clone of a brighter garden you’ve lost your way back to,
but as mute voices with a grammar all of their own
deep enough to show you the stars you wish upon
from the bottom up of a well with fireflies caught in its throat
it articulates like chimney sparks, even at noon,
or when the black sun shines at midnight
through a clearing in the tree-line of the starfields.
The snake that takes your life grows wings
and turns into the bird and the dragon that uplifts it
with oxymoronic lyrics of fire and rain that are as real
as any symbolic gesture that plays suggestively with your heart
in the cauldrons and fountains of being
that elaborate you as you are, slack water in a mirror
that neither ebbs nor neaps, as the tides reverse direction
like a heartbeat or the flow of your breath.
This mysterious third extreme in between life and death
where everything you sought among the mountain peaks
finds you at the moment of your withdrawal
from your circuitous passage through the valley of longing.
And in every emotive thought, the serpentine wavelength
of the immensity of the transcendent silence
overwhelms you with the intimate impersonality
of its approach to you in every risky step you take toward it.