THESE MEMORIES, SHOES I’VE WALKED IN TOO LONG
These memories, shoes I’ve walked in too long
and worn out, holes in the bottom of my universe,
watercolours fading in the glare of my mind,
the ghosts of vivid sunsets overshadowed
by the mystique of the stars like New England asters
caught by surprise in a shock of blonde hay
or pawn shop poppies selling their dreams cheap.
Cool bliss. More joy in the dark watersheds of my heart
than these abandoned housewells I keep swimming in
like a garter snake lapping the rain with the tines
of its lightning tongue, not sure, like the fireflies
and the moon, I can rise, smoke from a chimney,
the same way I got in, a wavelength of the sun
that shines at midnight in the depths of a nocturnal mirage.
I don’t know much about success. My life has been
a rear guard guerilla action against the odds
of even achieving an orderly retreat from
the invasive armies of inanity I’m surrounded by
like drones fighting a holy war without caring
whose side they’re on like a retinal response to reality.
I can’t count the times I’ve been collaterally killed
by hungry blue whales in the sky screening for krill
like a food chain with its tail in its mouth.
My flesh gets passed around like a torn loaf of bread
though my aspirations are more galactic
than messianic, it all comes down to atoms in the end.
The small things you remember, the enigma
of a distant star winking intimately at you
through the boughs of the black walnut trees in the fall
as if there were more to the encounter than you can second-guess.
The crumb of a dream some lover rubbed from the corners
of her eyes as she woke in the morning, her hair
flowing like night rivers down into the bays of her eyes
washing the stars out from the evening before.
The thorns of the rose that nicked your heart
like scalpels of cuneiform that baked your starmud
in the kiln of a book fired like a clay urn.
Is it sacrilege to pour the ashes out on the wind
that scatters you like a narrative theme on the roots
of a dragon that doesn’t want to be burned alive again
on the pyres of the sumac and daylilies expiring
by a river of sorrows that tastes of a thousand
self-immolations in the cold furnaces of love
we all stand prophetically in like heretics
who could see their fate painted on the lenses
of the telescopes of the orthodox who insist
the moon isn’t pitted like rings that have lost
the initial sparkle of their jewels and the the sun
isn’t maculated by dark spots. What use now
these gnostic starmaps I sited through an astrolabe
of fireflies, if it isn’t to start a fire in the morning
to take the chill off these desert nights
and warm up the leftovers of my daily bread?
Memory is the mother of the muses but she recalls
visions, not photographs trapped in their own image
like the Burgess Shale. The absence of so many
people and things is still a transformative event
that keeps on growing within me like an expanding universe
where every star is a diaspora of one driven
by the dark energy of some occluded insight
into the oblivion of lovers who have become
so interspatially out of touch with each other’s
lightning and fireflies their eyes atrophy
because of a lack of light and the company
of strangers, and you, no less of a stranger
to the intimate distances of the dusky solitude
you disappear into like a crow or a mourning dove
into a sky with an infinite wingspan whenever you open
the gate on the aviary of your hooded heart
and every love letter you write after that
sounds like the silence of a flightfeather in an envelope
cresting like a wave breaking on the shore
of some island galaxy you’ve been washed up on
like a sea star with a new way of shining
that doesn’t throw a light on anything but is
blazing with life that reveals a lot more than can be seen.
Things don’t die like gravegoods around you.
They take the same journey you’re on
like a ka gun pointing at Osiris, the dog-star, in Orion.
Whether your embalmed or dismembered
all the parts are assembled once more as if death
were only a bad joke no ever catches onto
until they can hear laughter on the other side
of the black mirror you’re peering into
that doesn’t recognize the new identity
you’re dreaming in your sleep as if you were
awake again, and none of this had happened yet,
great joy, great pain, and the freedom to forget creatively
even when you walk alone by your own light
you cast thousands of shadows.