BASKING IN THE SILENCE OF THE COOLING DAY
Basking in the silence of the cooling day,
sunset in the blood of a snake on a rock,
coiled into its own thermal like the hawk
in the twilight eye of a peacock past its prime,
I go out of my way, by the railroad tracks,
where the adolescents lay their lives on the line,
to accord it the dignity we all hope for in time.
The acrobatic swallows have finished
their aerial attack on the cults of the gnats
and now the nightshift relinquishes the sky
to the dog fighting gypsy moths
and the stealthy dive-bombing bats.
Every evening, the same, their finest hour,
shooting each other down in flames,
and the stars and heritage lamp posts looking on
as if they couldn’t be any less concerned.
Crackheads in khaki shorts pass me,
caps askew, and smile nervously at my earring,
though they’re baffled by the cowboy boots,
but it’s got nothing to do with me
whether they can read the memes right or not.
I just want to mesmerize the ocean
of lunar commotion in my brain
by the rhythm of walking as if my body
held sway over the tides for awhile.
Rage, sorrow, love, my judicious attention
to being fastidiously kind especially
if I suspect I don’t really like the person,
just to keep the record clean with myself
and outwit my pettiness just because I can.
Goes with being a poet trying to live generously
among thieves who’ve never heard
of magnanimous humans weakening themselves
like the chiefs of the Potlatch as a sign
of power leap frogging itself to the top of the totem
by giving it all away with an expansive hand.
Not really sure I understand it myself,
but I live a life of isolation in between
trying to make things mean way more
than they deserve to or not just to hear
the scarecrows mocking my absurdity
like straw dogs on the pyres of existentialism.
Voices like scalpels in my head,
chainsaws in my heart, razor blades
nicking my starmud like cuneiform
into a library of Assyrian incisions
made by Ashurbanipal to cook the books.
Living in the twenty-first century
has taught me to mistrust all the others.
Double back to the health food store,
up the road to Sunset Boulevard
that taught me how to paint moonrises,
five miles to Glen Tay and back again.
And if I’m lucky there shouldn’t be anything
left of my brain by then but a reflexive flunky.
Someone’s addiction is following me
like a rat in the shadows of my ancestors.
My rotten father maybe, his rubber cheques,
that deaths head of brutal alcoholics
with the insolvent grin on its face
that said I have nothing to give you
but violence and heart benching wretchedness?
Or my saintly mother the day she turned on me
for nailing Michael Jones square in the third eye
with a stone David would have been proud
to have thrown with such authority and finesse?
And I still am for the way he transgressed my fort
by throwing dirt at it like the Taj Mahal.
My legs are growing heavy and numb
and I’m running a gauntlet of road kill
through an ordeal of toads and turkey-vultures
unravelling the complexities of the dead
thread by thread until the loom is dismantled
that wove the big picture of the details
into a prayer rug of sectarian wavelengths.
Man of my age, or son of an old adage,
someone once said I was born a hundred years
too late, though late for what is lost upon me,
if I’m already a century ahead of my time.
The lucky day is when you discover it’s all one day.
This specious thought moment of the mind.
It’s all emanating out of the same radiant
simultaneously. Nothing gets left behind.
Haven’t you seen how the mountains
synchronize their spontaneity to the birth
of butterflies like waterclocks of being-time?
There’s no hour of doom for every era of redemption.
My ends aren’t shorter than the beginnings were long.
Eternity’s the rule of thumb and time’s the exemption.
Ten miles just shy of two hours whether you
measure it in tame avalanches or rogue asteroids.
Coming back the way I went as if I’d gone nowhere at all,
blueweed in the ditches, and loosestrife
in the moonrise of the river through the drowned trees.