Thursday, May 30, 2013



Train whistle then the rush of surf from its wheels on the track
as if it were hauling an ocean somewhere.
Grafitti from North Carolina on tour, one long art gallery
spray bombed by underground American artists
on its boxcars and tankers. When I stopped at the crossbars,
driving cab, I always wished I could publish
a poem like that, one line coupled to another
as if our metaphors were holding hands at a barn dance.
Then on to pick up the next fare as if you were cruising
the red light district for a working girl who called
without a return address, mind-reading doorways in distress
as if you were ambiguously oracular about where you were going.

More sedentary now, the crackheads trust me less
about where I dropped them off and picked them up
than they used to when they knew I had taken
an unspoken street vow of silence like a vehicular priest
who confessed everybody for their indefensible humanity,
on his way to somewhere else that was seldom paradise
with its feet on the ground like a corporate pharmaceutical
wallowing in its own starmud as if someone
had just thrown the shepherd moons of its pearls
before real swine, sometimes, who blackened the reputation
of the death mask they wore as if Zorro were a dealer
fencing with the delusions of Don Quixote tilting at windmills
he mistook for prayer wheels. You don’t know whether
to be mad or sad, or just as bad as the fools that milk
the wrong fang of the snake they’re buying the antidote from.

There’s more loneliness in moving than there is in sitting still.
This road of ghosts is dotted with tasteless pit stops
like a starmap with nuclear, attention-getting
big city magnitudes of light on all night outblazing the stars
like a ferryman on a graveyard shift who’s trying
to stay awake in the wheelhouse by the pilot light he’s been given to go by.
Coffee and cigarettes please, in the snowblind glare
of a lap top that’s got a long, hard drive ahead of it
I play like a keyboard on its knees that’s got
no idea of how to get there from here before it invariably does
through a labyrinth of cul de sacs and train crossings
that don’t attract as many Sufis as they used to
when I was dancing my way deeper into my homelessness
for shelter against the white noise life was humming to me
as I watched the deaf grooving like water snakes to flute-music.

Now I take long, dark walks along the Tay River
where I’m least likely to meet anyone coming my way
as I watch the stars flicker in the river like lures
on the fishing hook of the moon trying to catch the big one
like the legend on a starmap it never fails to throw back
into the sea of tranquillity its awareness jumped from

like a northern pike that arises from the bottom up
like a covert insight into the nature of life eyeing
what’s inspired it to strike like the imagination of a madman
caught a moment in his own highbeams like the ghost
of a white-tailed buck leaping out of the headlights
like enlightenment with no intention of adding itself
to the pageant of roadkill along the back roads
of the shadows of lost sheep in the shepherdless valleys of death.

See how I wrote that like a train passing through town
in the dead of the night like a found poem
I’ve spliced together like the neurons of railroad lines
from all over North America like delinquents with winged heels
rising like waterbirds from a million weak threads
of a river system bound into the strong rope of a spinal cord
you can climb up to heaven on like a fuse or the lifelines
rooted in the palm of your hand like a crosswalk beginning to flower
with zodiacal traffic signs because the mindstream flows
horizontally onward like an egalitarian that will come to harmony progressively
like water seeking its own equilibrium from the same sea of awareness,
each at the level of the thresholds they’ve crossed
like a sword dance with a waterclock that’s always on time
as if it were running on sundials with alarmist hour hands.

Bad dream grammar, perhaps. But I bet there’s
a poet-cabdriver in North Carolina with the same
mad picture music in his heart who understands perfectly
the denaturing of creative humanity from his art
isn’t a short cut to that right side of the tracks no one’s ever
been reincarnated on like the side of a bone box
that didn’t express itself demonically like an exorcism
blessing the empty hearses of dead air in the freight cars
with nothing written on them as if some nihilistic orthodoxy
had freshly painted over the hunting magic
of artistic Neanderthals scarred indelibly
by shamanistic spit paintings of genius with blood
like red ochre and night like soot in the mouths
of their lanterns waiting for the lights to change
from the false dawns of fake songbirds in the sun
to the mystic moonrise in the occult guild halls
of howling bush wolves contemporaneously
packing in the dark like the solos of nightbirds
echoing across the lake like the longing
of an unanswerable response to the sublimity of why
we must live, love, desire and die as we do, written on the fly
like the linear A of inchoate thought trains of subversive water and fire,
hissing like spray bombs of scalded metal whenever we come to a full stop.


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