WATERLILIES SOON AND A PLEIKU OF DRAGONFLIES
Waterlilies soon and a Pleiku of dragonflies.
Shipwrecked fleets of the naked limbs of the trees
gone long in the teeth, buried at sea wrapped
in a starmap of the sky they’re anchored in
like the remains of old bridges that made the crossing alive.
I’ll read the runes of the watersnakes
like an indecipherable language that uncoils
like a sacred syllable rolling off the alphabet blocks
and mute rocks of the tongue lying dormant in the sun.
I will thrive on the beauty of life awhile
as a spontaneous counterpoint to its quantum entanglement
with the death stars in the steeples of the white hyacinth
entrancing the bees with honey in the hives of shepherd moons.
These are the killing fields of life empowering
its own annihilation at the expense of its own creations.
I will walk warily around the bones of the muskrat
and the fox, and the feathers of the wild swan
scattered like moonlight by snapping turtles
entrenched in their starmud like World War 1 helmets.
I won’t think about all the Orphic dismemberments
that taught the birds to sing as if there were prophecy in their words.
I’ll follow the same trails I did last year but
they won’t know me as the same man
who wandered here off the beaten path
with a maple branch for a divining rod
looking for something deeper than a watershed,
or the dusty stars kicked up on the Road of Ghosts
gravelled with gravestones. I’ve changed since then
like a mirage of rain in the deserts of an hourglass
that bloomed in a flashflood of unsummoned tears
as if its cup runnneth over like the full moon at sea
longing for its lost atmosphere and its genius for making waves.
I’ll marvel at the windfall of scorched planets
rooting under the leafing boughs of the black walnut trees
and I’ll set up my French easel like a fawn
getting up on its legs and paint the evanescent patinas
on the wings of the starlings in the willows
as if the northern lights were mirrored in chips of anthracite
like the mysterious veils of a woman with black eyes
that shine like occluded sea stars at the bottom
of a widowed housewell bemused by the sunlight,
nocturnal silk on the looms of the mulberry moons that weave it.
I won’t feel precious and aesthetic, radiantly exquisite
in an abattoir of pleading flowers whose petals
have been splashed with the blood of children
like fingerpaintings smeared like poppies on the wall
of an enclosed garden trying to keep the world out
like an embassy of one when a junta’s out hunting.
Just as soon be initiated into the corporate cults
of mystical pharmaceuticals handing out drugs
like the angelic heirarchies of prescriptive states of grace
available to the neo-feudal dimensions of medieval futures
yet to come. I’ll be a post revolutionary in a world
that made a bad start and if my art’s a weapon
I’ll tilt at windmills like jinxed prayer wheels
and swing from bells like Quasimodo playing to the crowd
like a carillon of columbine before the heat grows too intense.
I’ll pretend I’m in Eden again and I won’t
put my winged heel to the snake without making it
my dragon familiar, my spiritual vehicle, not large or small,
who knows the road like a rat snake knows a farmer on a tractor
and reminds me from heartbeat to heartbeat
like a friendly oxymoron that those who like to fly
as high as I do, sometimes find things get so vertiginous
their only recourse is to get down in the dirt and crawl
as if high and low were two wheels of birth and death
on a death cart pulled by dragons plumed with flowers
that only bloom in fire every seven thousand years or so
though the pine cones pray for conflagrations that will come
much sooner than the rejected stones of the pagodas could disseminate.
I’ll trample down a deerbed behind the pale of the cattails
and I’ll rejoice in peace for awhile as a natural birthright
to celebrate a world I’m surrealistically adapted to
like a mother tongue I haven’t addressed myself in
since childhood stopped delighting in its own renewal,
incoherent with wonder at the silence of the stars in its voice.
I will forget I am aging. I will be a medicine bag
of healing metaphors and powerful occult charms
with oracular effects on the crazy wisdom of the inconceivable
and lie down upon the earth in the unassuming grass
after I’ve finished painting, fascinated by the prodigality
of the stranger I’ve become to myself listening deeply
to the picture music of the life of the mind like a kid
with forty-eight crayons and the whole of the sky to draw on
as I wait for the stars to make themselves apparent
in the sweet, sweet darkness that envelopes me
in the green flames and violet shadows of another
vernal martyr to the cause of keeping their fires alive within me,
a dragonfly in a chrysalis, a hermit thrush in ecstasy,
a sulphur butterfly with antennae like burnt match sticks
looking for a light from the lanterns of the nightwatch
reigniting the passions of old poems like fireflies
inspiring the ashes in the urns of the stars to enlighten their afterlife
with incomparable myths of origin that have yet to be written
by the root fires in our starmud breaking out like lightning
fracturing koans like diamond insights into
a labyrinthine gallery of mirrors that see me
with the same eyes by which I see signs
of the disastrous happiness of life in them.