IT’S NOT LIKE THE FACE IN THE FLOWER OF THE STAR
It’s not like the face in the flower of the star
grows more beautiful the more times it’s looked at,
it’s just that it’s humanizing
the vast, cold spaces within you
with your own awareness of it so that
when you spot Arcturus shining through the trees
as you have since childhood and call out its name
it’s you that shines brighter
a magnitude more for the moment.
Affable familiars in a big, lonely space
acknowledging each other in passing
as if, animate and inanimate, the same,
what we all hold in common
since we started kicking in the womb
is this life of perpetual exile. Shape-shifters,
driven out of the bliss of oblivion, to bury the bell
of our agony in the stillness of an alien place
and try to love everyone who’ll let us
as if they weren’t a stranger at the gate.
O the appellations the mind applies to its formlessness
in a world of forms to befriend its cosmic isolation.
That fills space up with stars and birds
suggested by its senses and then casts a spell
like a grammar of things to turn them into words
to start a conversation with chaos as if we weren’t all
talking to ourselves. We put lifemasks on everything
like an old Greek play and act out our tragedy
like a dilemma gored on the horns of the goat gods
as if they had a clear grasp of what we were talking about.
Asking a question doesn’t change
the ambiguous nature of the issue
and when no one answers isn’t proof
the silence is divine. Bright vacancy, dark abundance,
nothing includes everything in it
like a table of contents for the mind
that plays host to its own imaginary guests.
The door bell rings and the world’s
standing in the doorway bearing gifts
that have no other meaning other than
they’re addressed to you the way life
nourishes itself on its own emptiness
as if every moment were a cause of celebration
engendered by your own inspiration.
Every song in the distance is the ancestral echo
of your own voice in an abyss
you’re trying to relate to by listening
as if you were sounding the depths
of the mystery you must be to yourself
to live among your own creations as if
someone signed you too. Your name
scrawled in cadmium red blood across
a white canvas of albino eyes in the dark.
Imagination obedient to the freedom
of its own lawlessness to create as it is urged to
on a caprice, a gust of stars, the nudge of an atom,
whole new paradigms of space and time
it will answer to as if someone called its name.
If the same eye by which I see the star
is the eye by which the star sees me,
then who’s the creator, who’s the creation?
So if someone were to ask me the colour of my eyes,
I’d show them a painting I did
of blue weed towering beside a dirt road
or a moonscape I dashed off one starless night
between the clouds. Or even further afield,
if I felt they’d been siderealized sufficiently,
the blue auras of trace elements grinding galaxies
into mirrors they can see themselves in
like leggy gazelles come down to the shore
to drink from their own reflection of themselves
like telescopes alert to the eyes that lie in wait for them.
Everywhere I wander down these pathless ways
through my homelessness, I meet myself
like a mirage at the end of a cul de sac,
and I walk through it like a wall
or two galaxies passing through each other
without disturbing a star, I embody such distances,
and I encounter hypnotists from all quarters
that call themselves seekers of the truth
trying to wake up from their own magic
as if they hadn’t caught on to their own minds yet
and were still underestimating the power of their illusions.
Why wash the stars off the windows, or sweep
the scars of the autumn leaves off the stairs
expecting the enlightened arrival
of the lord and lady of the manor any day now
as if you could get a grasp on the nature
of your own emptiness like a servant
looking for a master in your own image?
Everything nasty and blind,
everything beautiful and sublime
are the facets of a clear jewel
turning in the light of the void.
All that is separated, all that is enjoined,
all that are searching and finding
and losing themselves again like solar flares
on a return journey back to the sun
or rivers flowing into themselves
as if every wave crossed the threshold of itself
into an openness exhilarated by
the expansive gesture of its presence,
are just the hidden secret of you
wanting to be known by a world
you whisper into your own ear
as if you’d never heard the sound
of your own voice before the wind
began to throw the sea into turmoil
and you were swept ashore out of
the inconceivability of your own emptiness
like a myth of awareness sadly in need of an origin.
So you end up creating a world
out of your own inner resources and calling it
mother or father in the hopes it might be able
to explain what you’re doing here by yourself.
And that’s how you get lost in the labyrinths
of your own being, that’s how your wires get crossed
in the short circuits of your lifelines
tangled up in kites like morning glory
that wouldn’t fly. You keep asking simulacrums
of your own creativity about things
that only you on your own, lonelier than God,
projected imaginatively like a lifemask
you created in your own image
onto the formlessness of an invisible space within you,
can be the answer to. The moment
you say I am to yourself and realize
that you’re not even there to recognize it
the little thumb puppet in three pounds of starmud
dematerializes like something solid
into the presence of the real. You revel like a child
in the creative liberty of not keeping your own distance
from anything in existence, knowing
in the crazy wisdom of your second innocence
the only thing that binds you to it
or separates you from it, is a sense of play.
That everytime you say I am without
including the whole universe in it as well
it becomes the wayward paradigm
of another brilliant mistake with feet of clay.
Or as Archibald Lampman said
dead of a heart attack at thirty-six,
poor shining angels whom the hoofs betray.