Sunday, June 30, 2013



I don’t know what I’m here for.
I just write. I just paint. Like breathing
in and out. Inspired expiration. I watch the rain,
blankly, sometimes for hours, washing off the dust
from the leaves of the trees in the traffic.
I stare at the comatose clouds through the grime
on the windows and wonder what the stars
are doing backstage. My skymind
unfolds like a star map and I disappear into it
like a nightbird with a message it doesn’t care
is heard or not, because when I’m singing,
I’m not singing into a mirror. Verbal expression
isn’t thinking, and I’m not spider enough
to hang suspension bridges between
my words and my thoughts to harmonize the web
everybody gets caught up in like packing tape
as my bodymind tunes me up like a guitar
to the electrical buzzing of flaws in my argument.

I don’t know what I’m here for, but I often think
it’s pathetically petty to go looking for a meaning to life
like the light going round and round trying
to catch a glimpse of the shadow it casts like a tail,
when we’re the life of the meaning from beginning to last.
One meaning for everything? One size fits all?
The same collective death mask for every individual?

I fall asleep dreaming and wake up
like a mirage in the morning trying to sort out
the grain from the chaff, what’s real from what’s
merely the facts of the dark matter. But by the time
I’ve rubbed the crumbs of starmud out my eyes
and the lake mists still clinging like hungry ghosts
to my visions of last night have been exorcised
like lunar atmospheres, I can see clearly enough
I’m just the space all these thought waves travel in,
and as they say in Zen, the eternal sky
doesn’t inhibit the flight of the white clouds.

What is space here for? Or light? Or water?
Or the colour, red? And what meaning for love
was ever necessary in the throes of it?
Should this long, dark, radiant firewalk
in our sleep along the Milky Way ask my feet
what the meaning of going anywhere is, why we’re here
extrapolating ourselves back into the past
as if who we were yesterday is who we are today?
Evolution’s given me a taste for the evanescence
of a self that keeps on shapeshifting like space and time
in the live-streaming dreams of a belated Etruscan
watching the river turn like smoke in the air.

Poetry is the art of expressing what you can’t define
though it sounds as if you knew what you were
talking about at the time as everyone listened
sublimely in silence to a nightcreek babbling
through the woods in the dark like the waters of life
in the laughter of a child lost in the seriouness
of playing opposite herself for awhile like a new moon.

Ever wash your hands and feel somehow
you’ve stepped far enough back from yourself
you’re not the one who’s rinsing them off
and something eery and intriguing overcomes you
when you realize not even your fingers are your own?

I don’t possess my thoughts. I don’t own my emotions.
I’m a great creative collaboration with the unknown.
I’m an unpaginated encyclopedia of minor miracles
that come and go like sparrows to a tree.
And when it rains, the eyes of the universe are upon me.

But I don’t know what I’m here for. Does it
matter anymore? When I die is it all that radical
if I don’t know why? All my life I’ve fallen in love
with less reason than that. And do I really need
a philosophy to separate? A modus intendi
to back up my alibis for why I’m not always loveable
when I can see it in my lover’s eyes when she cries
on a winter night like an abandoned housewell
that the lightbulb’s gone out that used to keep her warm
and she doesn’t know what she’s here for anymore.

Nor do I. As we both agree to an honourable death
as if death would otherwise rebuke us for disloyalty
and the three quarter inch copper pipes
slash their wrists longitudinally the way
you’re supposed to when you’re serious enough
about renewing your virginity sitting naked
in a bathtub full of fireflies trying to freeze-dry your wounds.

If you don’t know what you’re here for. Go for it.
Or don’t. Maybe you can start a new religion
of your sins of omission and the left-handed virtues
of all the things you didn’t do, right or wrong,
and won’t. Or win a prestigious literary award
in a cherry-picked succession of unremarkable poets
who hang out like flypaper at night with porchlights
hoping among all the insects they attract
they might find one black dwarf of a first magnitude star
that sticks like a burnt-out match head to their chromosomes,
a mutant cinder of genius that doesn’t get in their eyes
so they don’t have to start crying all over again
like a watercolour in the rain to wash it out.

Can’t find any training wheels on why you’re here,
and all the scarecrows you made out of your spare crutches
to keep the birds from raiding your secret gardens,
are chafing under their armpits like medical skeletons
working on a cure for themselves that doesn’t
come too late to do them any good? Maybe it’s time
to walk out on yourself for once and stand up on your own
among the homeless who have no one but themselves
to rely upon. Or maybe you prefer a life that’s become
a hospital where the healthy aren’t welcome,
and only the worst atrocities of mediocrity
are admitted by the emergency nightshifts
to the asylums muttering in their dreams as if
they’d been medicated by the full moon threshing
short straws of genetically modified wheat?

For the last two years I thought I was here
to walk along the banks of this seance of rivers,
late at night by myself, under the willows and the stars,
revamping the images of old lovers like the wavelengths
of spectral flowers reflected back like old radio programmes
from hydrogen clouds in deep space that kept
their ghosts intact out of earshot of the facts of my life.

Somehow the candles have gone out
in the bright vacancy of noon like the shadows
of sundials and I weary of my purpose in life now
like a compassionate man who has been overly generous
with his lies at the bedside of someone dying inside.
I’m waterclocking my way like moonset into a new abyss
just to pass the time rinsing the blood off my hands
of the hemorrhaging roses I put my heart into
trying to save from the endless sacrifices
they made of themselves on my behalf, but couldn’t.

I hear the voices of dead singers from my past.
Or You tube conjures their images like Merlin
and I know they’re skin and bones by now
and their fingernails have grown out like guitar picks,
and their skulls are more oracular than fallen meteors,
and I am overcome by the poetic sweetness
of the sad shadows that once drove us to drink
as we firewalked the whole length of our lyrical cremations
just to fill our urns with something as inextinguishable
as lace and pretty flowers, dragons in the lockets of angels.

I rehumanize the simulacra of their fossilized remains,
images of pixellated skin, echoes of the refrains
I remember like the mantras of my youth when the dawn
was as shrill as a killdeer in the spring, and nightfall
was a hospital for wounded nightingales
and washed-up phoenixes weeping on their own parades
sat at kitchen tables long into the night ruminating
like candles on the glory days of tragic heroes
making a farce of their legends by living them
like morality plays mythically inflated at the end
by a lot of repetitious zeroes getting carried away in chains.

How strange to be singing a friend’s song to myself
long after the whole world’s outlived them,
and their names are being ushered funereally
like rare antiquities into grave robbing halls of fame.
And who knows? Maybe that’s how legends are made,
what we’re here for, born for, die for, like a vow
of silence we made over the graves of tomorrow
we revel in breaking like a curfew of sorrow today.
Que sais je? Montaigne’s motto. What do I know?
And even if you could. Me and my mantra. Who can say?




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.


Saturday, June 29, 2013



Long day painting by myself down by the lake
where I used to paint with you many years ago,
and now your absence haunts my solitude
as I grey my greens with cool alizarin red
and though the trees and the water are the same
it’s a much eerier world just to know once
you who were here with me, are utterly gone,
and what has carried on without you, though
I’m affably intimate with its creative characteristics
is wholly estranged from the name I’ll write on this painting.

As if an era in art had passed. Dreams and assumptions,
things you take for granted because in living them
you sometimes must, like love and oxygen,
and the presumption of life going on between us,
for the most part unplanned,
but a commingling of waters nevertheless,
a sharing in the other’s quiet amazement
that the other exists as they are in your mindscape at all.

A heron rises from the cattails in the shallows.
A fish jumps at a dragonfly on the tip of a sword
of the wild irises in a muddle of mystic indigo
and a sulphur butterfly struggles in the thick pthalo blue
of the sky I slashed in with my painting knife
as if I were grouting the canvas like a mason
to lay a fieldstone wall that wouldn’t keep the birds out
that have learned to ignore me like a scarecrow
in warpaint ghost dancing at an easel
spreading its legs like a doe
come out of the woods
to drink quietly from its own reflection.

Everything seems thriving and deserted.
The waterlilies still clutter the wild rice
like prolific constellations of the frogs
whose singing doesn’t sound all that bad after awhile.
I’m a curiosity to the fox
that’s been taking a profound interest in my work
all afternoon as if I were some kind of savage impressionist
and it were a cultural savant with a few pointed suggestions.
Two raccoons luxuriating like moss on a femur of oak
behind me, watching me underpaint the lakeshore rocks
like two kids through the wire fence of a construction site.

Events of the day. Transactional armies in the grass,
bees and ruby-throated humming birds
enabling the daylilies like pyromaniacs
and soon, the green dragon of the sumac
will burn in the auto de fe of the fall as well.

But you are not here to mention it to
and compared to the quality of the isolation
I once lived here with you in paradise
the beauty of my painting lacks the highlights
and finished details I used to attend to
knowing how they’d shine by the light of your eyes
as an effect of the atmospherics you brought to the scene.

And though everything appears the same,
it’s uncanny not to be heading homewards
with the shadows and the crows
as you and I did so many nights
well pleased with what
we laboured for all day in the sun
to a farmhouse full of paintings
whose windows cling to the remaining light
as we did like waterbirds for awhile
around a lake full of constellations
as the Eagle, the Swan and the Lyre,
went down behind the abstract expressions
of the sad geometry of the barn roof
weary of rusting like wavelengths of rippled tin,
not knowing whether it’s holding out
against the wind, the rain, the field fires
or still holding something empty
as an urn full of stars
that were scattered like chimney sparks
on one of the coldest nights of my life, in.




All these busy, busy entrepreneurial poets
trying to substitute their usefulness for talent.
If you can’t sing well enough to bear your own voice
to get lovers and applause on your own merits,
manage a band, control those who can,
network like gypsy moths in a Dutch elm,
take two creative writing courses
from a narcissistic mystagogue projecting
the fraud of the Wizard of Oz on the unsuspecting
listening to a firefly of talent talking like a starmap
about shining, about black holes and supernovas
dark energy and gravitational eyes, and the myriad galaxies
he teaches on the lower rung of a swing
in an institutionalized aviary of higher learning
as if the closest he’s ever been to the light
was a dead starfish among the usual relics of a low tide
or sodden firecrackers of insight on a Halloween night.
He teaches you to take out whatever there was never much of
to put in. To strike the definite article
like crab grass out of your well-mown lawn
so you ending up writing in the patois of a robot.

Listen to this swarming starcluster of gnats
in the sunset of the word that’s wondering
where all the songbirds went. Maybe it’s me
and I’ve grown reactionary without knowing it
into a vicious old age but I swear my stomach
can’t turn another page of a saddle-stitched chapbook
that reads the tea leaves in the broken skull-cup of the moon
like a bowl of soggy cornflakes that taste like breakfast haikus.
You can’t live like a maggot and write
like a wounded dragon of the soul. You can’t
paint a tsunami in watercolours and claim you know
what it’s like to be caught up in the emotional undertow
of a tidal pool that threatened to sweep you out to sea
until your guru or your shrink reminded you like a tugboat
you have to sink before you can call yourself a shipwreck.

I think of Van Gogh. I think of the intensity of a man
of immense humanity, and it occurs to me if he were sitting
on your saffron sectional in your coffee-book living room,
going on obsessively about the nutritional value of cadmium yellow
you’d commit the same sin of omission and condemn him
to his solitude like an asylum for the underfed
listening to the voices in their head telling them
they’re better off mad or dead than living on
the aesthetically modified junkfood
you drop in their begging bowls like chump change.
And, o yes, wouldn’t you just be the exception to the rule
who knew how to tell the difference between a sad joke
and the rage of a sacred fool eating his palette like buttered toast.
I think of all the poets that have been crucified
as a proxy for you like kings and queens of the waxing year,
as you try to step into their shoes like the waning twin
who isn’t Orphically dismembered between July and December
to ensure the creative fertility of your cloned cornflakes.
Merd! Rimbaud screamed as he stuck a knife
through the hand of a pompous muse-molesting poetaphile
and abandoned his rational dissociation of the sensibilities,
denying he ever wrote poetry, to run guns in Ethiopia.
A temper tantrum over the point size of your name
on a poetry poster and the publishing hierarchy
that sorts the planets out from the shepherd moons
by the order in which you’ve been asked to read
isn’t the same as the creative demonism of a real enfant terrible.

You can’t rent a ghost in a creative writing class
and then wear its deathmask around as if your persona
were tragically haunted by the past. Or pretend
you’re a bad ass from a bourgeois suburb where
the closest you ever got to a slum
was your Mommy’s makeshift studio basement
and an album cover you shot on the wrong side of the tracks.
Fifteen minutes of fame in a photo op with a candleflame
isn’t enough to shed a lot of light on a regressively darkling world,
or even turn the head of a single sunflower.
You need more than a flashlight to get a rose to bloom.
You might be the loudest toad on the biggest lily pad
in a small pond, sounding off like popcorn
in the lobby of your own double-feature,
but you lick your sticky fingers clean with a long tongue
when you sup with the devil like an award-winning liar
and there’s no long oar of a spoon in your lifeboat.
And even when you claim to be a damselfly in distress
I don’t see any starmud caked on your winged heels
after you say you crushed the head of the snake
that bit Persephone in the spring while she gathered wildflowers.
You might sleep with the Lord Of Jewels, but who said
you could sing? Though I like the bling
of all your dangling participles ringing like wind-chimes
in synch with the dissonant cosmic hiss of universal bliss.

Kunaikos. Dog. In classical Greek. Diogenes the Cynic
asked Alexander to get out of his light, not turn it off
because the music was over and all there was left to glean
were the random seed words of an abandoned alphabet
that will never come to flower like sacred syllables
in the mouths of scavenging birds pecking among the pebbles
at the feet of a crucified scarecrow where the literati
are rolling snake eyes for the emperor’s new clothes.
What did Horace say when he’d had enough?
Terence, this is stupid stuff. As the cynics bark
like barnyard dogs at every shadow and blade of grass
that moves in the dark woods beyond the knotted chains
of their dying dactyls while the wolves bay elegiacally at the moon.

Which page of this book did you suffer the most to write?
Clever the way you put the climax of the narrative on the cover.
Best place to hide is out in the open. And, my God,
just look at the quality of the quotes you’ve
called into court like a twitter account to verify
your inability to write an alibi for why
your works aren’t literate enough to speak for themselves.
Odious the stink of number 2 book paper and hot ink.
Worse the lack of the use of your nose when you’re writing.
Or the way you abuse your eyes by looking at the world
through a glass darkly as if you were aging the wines of life
like a total eclipse of the new moon in an antique inkwell
no one draws inspiration from anymore since the bottom
fell out of the bucket when you replaced the Pierian spring
with an unenlightened fire hydrant in a volunteer fire brigade.

And who more reasonable than you about
all the aesthetic atrocities going on in the world.
When murder is done I know of no one
more eloquent than you about not raising your voice
for fear of polarizing the situation unnecessarily.
But peace isn’t a euphemism for cowardice
and if your words aren’t guilty of precipitating a confrontation
then your critically acclaimed silence is complicit.
When did the sheep start practising hunting magic?
When did the m.b.a.s start chanting like Druids
and the gleemen of the king make a jest of their calling?
Are you still experimenting with taking all those
tiny fractals and digital pixels of retinal experience
and one day elaborating them by cutting and pasting
into a unified field theory of the visionary continuum
that focuses on the infrastructure of the scaffolding
at the expense of Michelangelo who had to scramble up on it
like monkey bars in a playpark to paint the origin of the species
as he saw it in his imagination before the plaster dried?

Here, if you give me an award, I’ll make one up of my own
and give it back to you in return. That way everyone
can feel special about their mediocrity. Watch out, Mozart
here comes the lunar fire of the lime they throw on your corpse
like desiccated moonlight before the dirt. Burn, baby, burn.
The fire hydrants are learning to play the harpsichord like amputees.
And Keats is trying to pick out a more buoyant font
than the lead of his despair to write his name in water.
The roots are dead, the leaves are gone, the blossom flown,
the fruit has dropped and the branches dry and brittle
as an old woman’s bones. Pageants of funeral barges
floating down the Thames like the wilting lilies
of long-necked swans that used to make
the most beautiful compound bows out of the arrows
of their fletched reflections. The timber clear cut
and the underbrush flogged to death by the bush hogs
and snarling chain saws in the mountains of the muses.
What do you think, is Shakespeare still out there somewhere
leafing the stumps with the magic rods of his imagination?
Is all the world still a stage, the airy nothing
he gave a local habitation and a name, or merely the dream
of the crone mother of the muses on her death bed, Mnemosyne,
reaching for a cellphone, trying to remember who she was
before they erased her on facebook and disconnected the internet?


Friday, June 28, 2013



Lost in the gutter, skeleton keys
that used to be people before
they ran out of doors to open.
How many thresholds back from here
to yesterday? And those eyes,
such dark jewels, where can I
get a pair of sharky shades like that?

Ghosts dance around a burning oildrum
where the prophets are boiled in alcohol
for not saying anything of much worth,
like a poem no one wants to steal
the hubcabs off, or a rainfall in November
too late to do the flowers much good
or the working girls on the corner
like cotyledons in hot pants. Indoor orchids
under tungsten grow lights in the snow.

When the mystery wanes unadventurously
and what you see in life asks too much
of your eyes at dusk and moonrise
to look for a black box that isn’t
a voice-over of the stars’ untimely demise,
but might be the genuine you singing to yourself
in your sleep like a hermit thrush
trying to accompany its own silence
with something sweet and sad that beguiles
your melancholy for awhile, the jester
too deep to ever take himself seriously,
the apostate mystic enters a surrealistic circus tent
redolent with the cheap thrills of enlightenment.

He walks around like the ground of being
with a sacred limp believing he’s experienced
a meaningful death much more profoundly realized
than the nocturnal longings
of the wounded street gurus
busking outside the liquor store
like a cult of uncut koans on a Friday night.

What an estranged world this is
that has such exiles in it. Intense heat,
unusual sprouts, and this era’s been unbearable.
Something mean about the water
we’re depleting like our own housewells
of oxygen as we kick the issues to death
for fracking on someone else’s astroturf.
O look, a finger puppet show of gang insignia
spray-bombed like Kufic writing on the wall.
Why is it always the literate who are the last
to learn how to read that? Tomorrow comes
soon enough. And yesterday’s an obituary
with spelling errors. And as for this moment
together with you in the abyss, you’ve got
an imagination. Make it up for yourself.
And I mean that as a gift, not an insult
to the unkept promise of your native intelligence.

Madame Maudlin with her magic phials
of snakeoil and tears guaranteed to restore
your sense of pity like a purgative at the end
of all these endless tragedies, says
there isn’t a watershed in the world deep enough
no matter how far it got her down like Atlantis
she couldn’t buoyantly bubble up from
like something obnoxiously effervescent
about her nature. And you notice her breasts
on the marquee of the matinee, and you know
right away, that’s a double feature of her
dogpaddling on the moon with mythically inflated
waterwings making flightplans for Leda and the Swan
like one of her runaways and a john.

What kind of a coma is it to live dissociatively
in a society where even the emergency opioids
can’t numb you to the recurring nightmare
of orphaning your dream of a better life from sex
like an unwanted child you’re trying to keep clean
by driving it away from yourself like a scapegoat
into a wilderness with the sins of a tribe on its back?

Street wisdom is the occult science
of demonizing the innocent by exalting
the deviant as a special form of the straight and narrow,
the fledgling rain targetting the tree rings
and rootfires in the heartwood of its own arrow.

Here comes another heroic prologue
from the Bronze Age to make a coward
of the text. When you receive a loveletter
you’re always the envelope trying to read
what’s been written on the inside of your eyelids
but send one that unfolds like an encoded flower
and you’ll always feel as if you were putting
your emptiness to good use, your silence
to the task of deciphering your third eye in solitude.

Ever weep and not know why like a waterclock
trying to keep pace and pulse with a time zone
as big as oblivion overflowing the abyss of your heart
like the bucket wish of a watershed appealing
like a housewell to the rain to bail you out by
filling you up until your skull cup runneth over
like a gutter on the moon that cuts through your heart?

Among the lost arts, suffering is the most
ferocious form of compassion the imagination
of a human being can be disciplined in
without any effort on our part at all because
we were all born with a genius, if not
the motive for it, or the experience, from the very start.

In the gutter you can always hear
a sincere young woman singing the blues
like edgy moonlight through a broken window
and later, no crossdraft in a hot apartment,
huddle in the cement threshold of the doorway
where she lingers in the cool of the night
like the smoke of a rebel cigarette posing
like the portrait of a ghost for an empty picture frame.

In the gutter you’re a drop of emotion
in an ocean of chaos and Lady Luck’s
the patron saint of talent, and for city blocks
as far as you can see through the blazing of the blind,
people are either waiting to be discovered
among the bullrushes like illegitimate children
exiled from their own promised land,
or orphaned on the steps of the temple
with blue ribbons in their hands
that meant something much less venal once
than a dynastic return to a pimped-out innocence
riding like a gold rush through a slum
trying to stay an avalanche of starmud ahead of itself,
or the greater vehicle of a medicine chest
of pharmaceuticals hatching out like cosmic eggs
of crackhead serpent fire living the dream
it was cursed by when it got what it asked for,

anathematized by the backfire of the blessings
we don’t bestow upon one another as if
even here in the gutter where nothing matters
given how random forever is, and love
just as seldom and rare as the opportunity presents itself,
o, yes, yes, yes, let none deny it, it especially does.