AFTER THE LONG LABOUR OF ASHES IN THE RAIN
After the long labour of ashes in the rain
the phoenix is shrieking like fire into life again.
I can hear it in the valleys auditioning the mountains
like a voice torn out of the heart of pain.
My shadow is in complete empathy with the ghost
I cast like an imaginative projection of myself
into the emptiness of my crowded solitude
where everyone is recognized by the inside of their faces
in the light of the return journey to the seasoned innocence
of my homelessness beyond the gates I’ve passed through
like an earthly garden blooming in the star fields.
Singing again, as if the stars knew all the lyrics to the song
long before I opened my mouth to swallow their fire
without setting myself ablaze like a funeral pyre
gone supernova in a neighbouring galaxy.
As if a lighthouse off the dark coast of the shipwrecks
knew that timing was the medium of the message
and it was time to rise again on the updrafts
of these buoyant adagios of picture-music,
like a heart immersed a long time in the depths
of its own crazy wisdom abounding
in the bliss of an unknown treasure
rising like a lost continent that drowned in its sleep.
And even in the weeping for things that have passed
through the immensity of the solitude I was the last to leave
like the captain of a lifeboat going down on the moon,
an undiscovered joy in the way I learned to breathe underwater
in the ocean of sorrows that overwhelmed me
like the beauty of a rose that burned
like a torch of blood in the rain.
I’ve given up trying to save the world like a moral ransom
I pay to the one-eyed pirates of circumstance
for the redemption of a self that was more a mirage on the moon
chained like an empty cup to a wishing well
than real water that flows like the tears
of diamonds thawing like glaciers from my eyes.
And may all the wildflowers of this circuitous blossoming
astound the nostrils of God like a fragrance of music
growing like white sweet clover along the roadside.
May every firefly and lightning bolt of insight
illuminate the whole universe like the flaring of a single match.
Let the dead whose souls I bear toward the south
know that I remember their names like loveletters
I’ve sent on ahead like the return address of the future
that waits to encounter them again like birds
that came to the windowsill of this burning house of life
like the notes of a song from a voice well beyond
these spinal cords that bind us like kites to the sky.
I scatter my cremations like ashes on mirrors of ice
for those who would follow me to ground
like the cornerstones of a tent
pegged to the wind like a flower.
I gnaw on the dice of my bones
like a wolf above the timber line
mining the white gold of a motherlode of marrow
and I let tomorrow sing of the things tomorrow brings
like hungry lovers to the round table of feasting stars.
And bless the sword that guts me like an envelope
that bleeds like a wound of love that never scars
the words that are written on a magnanimous heart
that doesn’t pace the rate at which it gives itself away
like a poppy dreaming in a field of leonine dandelions.
And though I fall like an oak on a hill in a lightning storm
let me not live on my knees dumbstruck by the revelation
that burns in my heartwood like a calendar of fire
where somebody’s fixed the dates of spring
as if they didn’t want to forget how to be taken by surprise
like a scholar that can’t bring himself to believe
in the chameleonic nature of his own eyes.
Though I fall like a waterclock of rain from the sky
into the deepest blackholes of time, let no root say
it was ever denied access to my watershed
that even the dead were the guests of a living host
that welcomed them like the voices of a familiar solitude.
Uplifted by spirits of fire, stone, and water,
I’m flying through stars with my wings ablaze
like a comet that exalts in jumping for the sheer joy it
from the black halo that encircles the beatified sun
like the prophetic zero of the final outcome.
And I shall not set my circumpolar throne
on the hills of the skulls of my traditional enemies
nor abide by the jinx of the birds on a prayer-wheel
turning in the direction of cosmic destruction
like an ill wind fouled by the contagion of time.
Every moment of the day, every era of the night
I shall remember the infallible atrocities of blind religion
that gouged the eyes out of the light like gravediggers
cooking rocks in the shovels of the backhoes
rummaging through the remains of the resurrection
for the relics of the names on vandalized gravestones
weathered by the acidic rain of the great desecration.
A little bit of joy balancing on a perilous precipice.
I know about falling. I know the risk. Not a mandate
nor anything I choose to take as if the danger were all mine.
But just a little sweetness in life, a wild grape, the eye of the wine.
A moment stolen from behind the backs of the calendars
like a man in space, with no time to reflect on the outcome
of being younger than when he left. Not listening to signs
but resonating with the hidden harmonies of myriad symbols
arranging picture music for the eye and the ear and the tongue
like dew in the night, whole notes and semi quavers
on the staves of the dreamcatchers and spiderwebs
when the shining comes to the morning as unprepared as swallows.
All my Platonic ideals, the black matter of desire
in a goldrush of the heart that can’t hold anything back
in a Zen panic to stake its claim on nothing
as the fairest jewel of all to give back
to the ocean of awareness you retrieved it from
and hope the moon among the corals appreciates the gesture.
Buddha, too, had an ill-advised attachment to the unnattainable .
I won’t starve my delusions, just to please my insights.
My mirages drink at the same well I do without condition
and it’s ok if they want to leave their veils on too.
And I’ll observe an ethical truce with society
But more goes on in the dark, inconceivably,
than even the light could possibly visualize
on a cold seeing night from a mountain top
with an asphalt road that coils all the way around
like a serpent doing research into the seven ages of man
trying to keep its credibility up with the times.
On my left palm, the star of Isis, keeps me from drowning,
and in my left ear, enough gold, if I’m washed ashore
on some galactic island after another shipwrecked exemption
to burn me down by the sea on a pyre of stars this time.
I want to ingather my ghost out of the smoke, and watch it shine
like fireflies in the fog, like lighthouses along the coast
off the starboard side, looking for moonboats
on the slopes of the swells heaving easily
like bells full of emotion swinging out over the edge
to prove it’s not afraid of falling back
to the ground it arose from like a boy
daring the devil to an apple fight
in the crowns of the trees to see who
can climb high enough to scare the other down.