WHEN YOU LISTEN TO A BIRD
When you listen to a bird
you should hear the whole of the sky
just as when you look at a star
you should be a fountain of eyes.
Because you cannot see,
the darkness is not blind
and your consensus of conventional abnormalities
is not reality, is not the source
of the hidden halo of comets that afflict you,
nor the crazy constellations of the fireflies that bless.
I don’t know if I speak for anyone other than myself
but that’s enough to reflect the moon in every drop
of this unvoiced delirium
that surpasses enlightenment and lunacy like old shoes
to walk barefoot across the stars
as if they were no more than cool sand in a desert at night
that’s never been bound to a road,
though every single grain is the cornerstone of the world.
How unsayably me I must be
that so many thoughts and emotions,
so many vital themes of blood and time,
years that have returned their fields to the wild,
have enshrined my namelessness
in this abandoned palace of shadows
I’ve pitched together like a chrysalis out of words.
A true muse is a well
that finds its own way to your mouth,
and I accord mine the perfect freedom to be me,
and drink deeply of the night she pours into me,
until neither of us knows who the other is
though we whisper like leaves on the same tree.
What’s crucial is not to offer yourself up
like a tourist map to the wind
but to let go. To find out where you’re going
not by giving up everything that you know,
but the knowing.
I let my thoughts follow the path
of a snowflake in a blizzard
until they melt like eyes on earth
to show my roots how to flower,
this one a waterlily opening
like a diploma in a swamp,
and that, the devil’s paintbrush.
Should it be otherwise?
Can you turn your eyes back like a clock
and unsee the things
that have looked so deeply into you
the skull of an impersonal space
wears the atmospheric intimacy of your face
like the ghost of an unknown planet?
I have felt poppies of blood
hotter than any prophetic furnace
rend my flesh like starving lions
for things I never knew I believed,
for the heart I laid down like a sword on the altar
to the inexplicable gods of the misconceived,
when I realized that not even my homelessness is shelter
and the only country under the flag of my blood
that might have claimed me as its own
has caged me like an undocumentable alien
in a holding cell of bone.
But it’s foolish to look for passage
when nothing’s in your way,
or seek enlightenment with a candle at midday,
not knowing you’re only washing a mirror with shadows
and handing out wicks to the stars.
And what’s the sound of one hand clapping?
Be compassionate. Be generous. Be kind.
This is the only way to forgive your mind.