THE LIGHT DOESN’T TALK TO THE FLOWERS ANYMORE
The light doesn’t talk to the flowers anymore
the way it used to. I can feel a lot of shadows touching my face
as if it were written in braille. Acid in the rain.
Tears of dry ice in the housewell. Weathervanes
knocking at the door to get out of the storms
they used to revel in, and the storms themselves,
no kamikazes riding a divine wind against the Mongols,
at best, a mango-flavoured tempest in a Japanese teapot.
And even Zen can’t put an edge on the full moon
to cut through everything like a harvest being threshed.
No songs from the birds that used to wake me up in the morning,
only these spiders weaving their smokey laryngeal webs
like a voice that got stuck in the throat of a chimney
when it forgot, when you sing from the heart,
you don’t need a medium or a seance. Not even an art
that’s interested in what you’re saying unless
you’re obeying a grammar of headstones that don’t know
what you’re talking about until it’s not worth
bringing up anymore in anybody’s language
whether the metaphors are living or not. Words in a bonebox.
Locks and bars on our eyes. Dumb-bells stuck through our tongues
like someone was doing voodoo on the leaves
or the baton of a drum major in a parade
that’s never going to come, afraid to leave home on its own.
Since I was a boy in the late Cretaceous,
I’ve always wondered about the timing
of the asteroids and comets and why
they had such an impact upon the dinosaurs.
But I hear they were already on their way to extinction
because of the earth’s own volcanic activity,
and, at worst, the asteroid just accelerated
the flywheel of birth and death a bit.
Bad spin on an antiquated myth of origin.
Better luck next time, but right now the mammals
have evolved so far beyond that they’re destroying themselves
in a long, slow nuclear winter of attrition
that’s putting a pillow over everybody’s face
like the cloud cover of a screening myth with an air force
that buffers the light with our own ashes
and much prefers smouldering to ignition.
What did Berryman say in a letter to Wang Wei,
centuries after the fact, just before he jumped from a bridge
into an ice-covered river with the Pulitzer Prize in his hands?---
O to talk to you in a freedom from ten thousand things.
Be dust myself pretty soon. Not now. Or words to that effect.
But just the same, it’s hard to get into the skull
of the man anymore without the flame of a candle or a dragon
to see where you’re going in case you nudge an atom the wrong way
and bring on another astronomical catastrophe inadvertently.
Minefield covered in snow like a pioneer cemetery
buried on the hilltop of an avalanche with a view of the valley below.
Dangerous, too, to move among the stars freely
like a rogue planet without a starmap, causing perturbations
in the orbits of the shepherd moons on an exploratory flyby
to see if there’s any kind of intelligent life you can identify with.
The nights are getting darker. The stars are moving further apart.
Sooner or later everything tends toward empty space
until there isn’t even any room left in it for itself.
And nothing ever dawns upon you there but endless entropy
and time comes to a sudden halt where spaces runs out
and the bones of the fossilized stars are left like empty chairs
in a dark auditorium with bad acoustics.
I’ll write it on the wind now, while I have the chance.
I’ll write it like a fire in smoke at a ghost dance.
I’ll write it in blood and tears and rivers and stars.
I’ll write it in scars and wounds as deep as roses.
I’ll write it on the skins of the snakes that I’ve shed
like serpent fire running up the lunar thread of my spinal cord
like a lightning rod tattooing the clouds of unknowing
with the insights of fireflies into the mysterious darkness of life,
who know that one glimpse is enough of a Big Bang
to satisfy even the blind who go looking for their eyes
with their eyes like a windfall in a thunderstorm of picture-music
though they’re still hanging on to the same old lifeline
like an umbilical cord between the backdoor and the barn
in blizzard of stars and butterflies. I’ll write it in light.
I’ll write it on the eyelids of eclipses and occultations alike.
I’ll write it on the foreheads of the mute rocks
in runic striations of glaciers retreating north in tears,
I’ll write it on my bones before I’m buried under the hearthstones
with a big rock on my chest like an asteroid
rolled over a cave to make sure I’ll never rise again
like Jesus and Muhammad said I would if I was good,
or Ali Baba and the forty thieves muttering their shibboleths
on the thresholds of an artificial paradise, in case I wasn’t.
Now is the light. Now is the loving and the living.
Now is the hour for the hidden nightbirds to raise their voices
in the sacred groves of the moon to celebrate
the brevity of their own longing for the unattainable
blossoming on the dead branch of their aspiration.
There’s only so much time, and then, in a moment or two, forever.
The heart sings awhile like a red-winged black bird on a green bough.
And then the eyeless silence of the stars
who have looked down upon nothing for 14.3 billion lightyears
and watched the fireflies dancing to the music
of their own tiny hearts, lockets of light, of insight,
that open like seeds and eyes sown into the abyss
to let all winged things, and even star-nosed moles can fly,
out of the cages of their earthbound solitude like dragons
taken down like occult books from their hardwood shelves,
with the wingspan of constellations singing in the night to themselves.