Friday, August 30, 2013



I’ve grown old remembering you when you were young.
How much wiser we were then though we didn’t know it
than I am now, or you would have been, had you lived.
Ignorant of the outcome of desire, sometimes it’s better
to drown, than learn to keep your head above water, or swim.
I made a liferaft of my bones to get to the other side
of my heart. Like the moon, one half bright, the other, dark.

I’ve knocked on so many doors the past left ajar,
but for a long time you never answered.
Looked into so many eyes so far from home,
hoping to catch a glimpse of your shadow
moving past the window like a waterbird backlit by the moon,
and though some of them had your mouth, some, your hair,
some your earlobes hung with silver chandeliers of rain
falling from your wings like a broken rosary of waterdroplets,
none of them had your soul, none were as lost
and inimitable as you unanswerably were.

Street rose, how is it my tears are still pierced by your thorns
after all these years? Out of the midnight blue,
without warning, idling among the river reeds,
or rooted in the wavelengths of the mindstream, some star
spears me through the heart like a fish on the barb of the moon
and I have to sit down among the rocks at the water’s edge
with a vision of beauty and love and the passage of time
too unbearably immense for flesh and blood to carry
like so many other empty buckets and sad bells back
from the abandoned wishing wells where the ghosts gather
to recall what it was like to want something once.

Long for someone so badly you would gladly
have endured a thousand spiritual deaths and metaphoric rebirths
as I have done, for one life of being wounded and healed,
exalted and terrified by the mystery of what or who
you truly loved like the eclipse of a moonrise in your blood
more indelibly than death itself appears in the black mirror
when you look deeply into it like a starmap of music
as your last futile hope of bringing someone back
and your eyes freeze like star sapphires deep underground
with what they see like fireflies and lightning in the sockets
of prophetic skulls whose eyes are the jewels of the dead.

Perpetual muse, you, unnamed, who distinguish my words still
with the intimacy of your absence, daughter of the abyss
I was left with when you lost your nerve and collapsed
like a suspension bridge over the moonlit thread
of your spine below when the safety web broke like the illusion
of a dreamcatcher, like the beads of the constellation
the sun belonged to when we first encountered each other
like alien planets driven out like black sheep of the solar system
and looked back at its dwindling light from a long way off
and knew of a certainty, you were, as was I,
alone in this remote space with each other,
estranged companions for life. Was it not so,
and has it not always been in its own unique way as it is now?

Between your silence and my voice have we not evolved
a dream grammar by which the living can speak to the dead?
Do I not hear you in the broken-hearted train whistle
mourning into the distance with no help for its sorrow
and in the long mantra of the wind in the aspens
and the gaping mouths of the waterlilies awed
by the symmetrical similarity of their astonished silence
to that of the stars looking ahead in wonder
at what they’ve been flowering into for lightyears.

Long after your ashes were scattered with beautiful sentiments
mingled like rose water in every one’s tears
to bless the flightpath of a fire bird’s return to the elements
from a precipitous cliff out over the sea at night
as if we weren’t saying farewell to a woman who had lived
like one of us, but were attending the sky burial of a comet
who had made a Tunguskan impact on everyone she encountered,
was it not me, when all the other listeners
thought they’d heard the whole of the message you had to say
and left you alone in the dark in an empty hall
that first perplexing night of being dead among the stars,
who went on listening to your omens as if there
could never be an end of the flames and feathers of meaning
that unfolded in the wake of your passage across
the desolate seas and annulled atmospheres of my lunar heart?

What pain, what joy, grief, loss, enlightenment,
life in death and death in life have I not endured,
what loneliness not embraced as if it were
more deeply exiled from everything it had ever known
than I was when I blew out the last candle of votive fire
like a broken dragon missing one its own in its reclusive solitude?

Even the ashen sages weep like urns of wisdom
for the extinction of the light that taught them
to see in the dark with a compassionate heart
that insight walks the same path delusion does
and attachment, too, is another paling of moonlight
on an open gate that all humans must pass through
to pay homage to the fountains and watersheds
love brings to flower in their gardens and cemeteries alike.

Many times I’ve sensed your tenderness in the sensitivities
of the carillons of wild columbine that rang
discretely in the silence like rain chimes in the spring
and I came to understand it was you, whenever
I wandered along the river like a troubled sleepwalker
through the mystic cults of the woods at night
into a clearing like the third eye of the torrent
that roared all around me like a wounded black hole,

it was you in the sanctuary of your concealment who revealed
that thoughts and emotions like the unsanctified oceans
of tormented stars I wanted to drown in, weren’t
static states of mind where space turns brittle
as the looking glass you get locked into,
but dynamic events of the heart that shatter
our crystal skulls into unknown configurations of light
rising like new constellations out of the regenerative chaos
that watered the old gardens of our starmaps
with the splinters of broken chandeliers that cut our eyes
like tears in an early spring thaw. It was you
as surely as it was the clear light of the void within me
who whispered to me that night I was on the verge
of liberating the past from the future of a bad precedent
that we don’t live separately from the dead,
that each of us is the embodiment of the longing
of unnumbered myriads who released their hopes
and dreams and prayers like smoke and birds
and cedar boughs of incense on the wind
knowing they probably wouldn’t be there
to hear the answer if one ever did come back again.

Where else but now is the future made manifest
by the summons of the past in a voice
we recognize as everyone’s including yours and mine?
Just as I see your eyes in this insight like the occult bliss
of the dawn at midnight writing immanental love lyrics
in the journals of nocturnal wildflowers confiding in the moon.




I’ve gone on threshing wheatfields on the moon
with the last crescent of the smile you left me,
closing the gate behind you as if you never wanted
me to get out of the high starfields where you put me out
to stud and pasture like the Great Square of Pegasus.
And for awhile, after you, it’s true, it wasn’t important
if I knew the name of any woman I made love to.
But slowly, my emptiness adapted to your absence,
and who knows, if it had been written for us to know,
two nothings might have made something of themselves.

Shadowyears with intermittent crossroads of light
Sufi dancing with the starmud dust devils
like the three of swords with its wands and cups
full of feeling as you were at the approaching darkness
as if you couldn’t take anything seriously that wasn’t occult.
You were the raven witch, the herbal beast mistress,
the mysterious singularity at the bottom of the housewells
after the light bulbs had gone out and an ice age
had striated your eyes like big, black, plastic
long playing records, as if you were a widowed queen
sleepwalking through a famished eclipse on the mean side
of what must have been a beautiful dream once,
one lonely nightbird of that sad, sad song in your voice
that always seemed to be calling out to the dead
on some ancient night in a timeless abyss
when you were happier than you’ve ever been since.

Once, like a French executioner with the moon
for an axe, precise, neat, surgical, absolute
when you go under the knives of the clock
for a hydra-headed brain transplant, scalpels
in the oarlocks of the lifeboat you’re adrift in
like the remnants of a supernova shapeshifting through space,
once, for everything, the continuum of an overachieving event
that doesn’t know when to call it quits.

Ignorance tries to understand what wisdom ignores,
and why not play the fool against the sage
like a long shot you have to be crazy to take,
impugn your mirroring awareness for making a mistake
when your eyes turn around and you begin to realize
things caught in the doe-glare of your highbeams
frozen in time, indelible as a razor-blade in a loveletter.

Samsara is nirvana. Cosmology a psychic reading of the stars.
Noumena, phenomena. As with love, so
with the shadows of dreams past we cast
on the wildflowers we’ve forgotten how
to walk naked through without shame
as the willows turn away from our libidinous sorrows
and the shedding leaves, be they poems or the moonset
of your eyelids, begin to compile the laborious history,
the magnum opus, of the posthumous victories
of all those insurgent tomorrows we put to the sword,
once, like a bloodoath we took to heal
the broken vows scarred on our hearts,
the magic runes on the stones and ostrakons
of glacial ice sheets retreating north like the curtains
rising on the last act, the white noise of a record
that’s been repeating itself all night like the cosmic hiss
of the afterbirth of the Big Bang that began all this.

Late in the light eras of my mind when it’s as big as the white ox
of the full moon left to graze among the stars
as it will, on its own, I’ve regressively come to understand
love is looping like everything else through space
like a red tailed hawk carrying a candle
up the stairwell of a thermal of eternal recurrence
where it disappears helically into the third eye of the setting sun
and once is the burning stargate of an afterlife
born of your creative immolation on a pyre
of lightning and fireflies, insights and compassionate lies,
creation myths, legends of your shining
etched like Braille starmaps in the Burgess Shale
as fault by fault, we groped our way up the mountainside
like kings and queens of the hills we were buried in,
looking to get back to our graves like ghosts before dawn
so we could rise like the moon from the corals
on the bottom of our lunar seabeds again.

May the smoke of a sacred cedar fire smudge
the savage silence of the pain that makes oblations
to the night at a seance of constellations love can still read
like a hunter-gatherer, the signage of extinct zodiacs,
as if life were always a valley ahead of death,
like the light of a star, forever a journey behind
where you are when the darkness of love
brings you to enlightenment like a firefly
to the face of a sleeping child that’s just jumped out
of the dream of her favourite hiding place
as if there were still something in the eyes of love
that urgently wanted to be found like a surprise
no one’s ever had any notion of before or after
they stopped looking like a lamplighter in the woods at night
for the muse of the wild white-tailed doe, with her big, sad eyes,
warily breaking cover in the full glare of the moonlight
as if she were taking her lachrymose deathmask off
to drink from her own reflection like the Queen of Cups
from the river of life that pours out of her where
time meets the timeless like a root fire flowering
like a bouquet of blue roses gathered from the Pleiades
floating like a flood myth on the mindstream
coursing into a lunar sea of oceanic consciousness
as the shipwrecks disembark like sailors absent without leave
and the stowaways are lowering lifeboats to answer
the death laments in the s.o.s. of the mermaids on the rocks,
beguiled like seafaring dragons with the subliminal lyrics
of the unbroken circles and recurring bracelets of the rain.
Wounded by love in the depths of a fathomless nightsea,
everything after that’s a matchbook scratching for light
like a galactic starfish trying to make something beautiful
like a chandelier out of an ice storm or a waterproof starmap
out of the pain that opens like an umbrella at a wake
or love on the nightwatch of a flower at daybreak.


Thursday, August 29, 2013



Spots on a paint rag trying to figure out
if they’re part of a larger picture.
Daubs and smudges and smears of black and red.
Topographies of dry thick ridges of blue acrylic,
peach-coloured mesas bruised
by the encroaching violets of dusk in a painted desert.
Are these the wanna-be windows of life
who failed to achieve a whole and harmonious view
of what they’re doing here swiping off knives
thick with the gore of cadmium red,
cleaning off brushes that get to go out
on the field to caress and poke
stars and trees into being? Waterboys, not players.
I say the word, life, and I feel tonight like
the heaviness of a bell that’s supplanted my heart.
The right root, but the wrong blossom.
Even though I’d melt that bell
back down into raucous cannon
to defend the concept to my very last breath.
But tonight I’m tunnelling under the foundations
of the cornerstones of life to bring
the walls down on top of my head,
like an avalanche of prophetic skulls
to just get a peek inside the grand paradigm,
the white light of the gessoed underpainting.
The secret garden with low-hanging fruit
on easy street with the sacred whores of Babylon.

An existential sadness, deep as a death-wound,
as if I’d just been stabbed in the heart
by the hands of a clock that mistook me for an intruder,
undermines me from below, a pyramid built on quicksand.
As if all those who had drowned in life
like fish up over their gills in water
were swimming in the watershed of every tear
that almost makes it up over the top of the dam
I try to throw up like a manly front to what
I know I won’t be able to hold back for long.

And there go the villages in the flooded valley
I tried to live among like a neighbourly mountain
come to Muhammad on the way up and down.
It’s cold and lonely and the air is thin
at the peaks of experience, with only
a star and a cloud for company.
The hard diamond in the rough I used to be
has grown mushy over the years. Tears.
Imagine that. Warm, salt seas with undulant tides
of emotion coursing in and out,
the way we breathe, the way we live and die,
unite and separate, pour our shining
down an inexhaustible black hole
like Parthian gold into Crassus’ mouth
in the hope of efflorescing like the bird fountain
of a better world on the other side of hyperspace.

Armed with some decent human attitudes,
and a few that are wholly out of bounds,
no reason my mind can catalyse out of chaos
that I should feel the sorrows of the discarded colours
on a paint rag like the afterbirth of the universe
that’s gone on to greater things than road kill.
I feel the deep grief of widowed eclipses
and the creeping shame of sunspots
that were born into a maculate caste
of estranged birthmarks on the forehead of a lighthouse.
Space is warped like water by some unknown
disturbance in the pond. And I can’t discern from here
whether it’s a crack in the dam
or a birth sac ripe enough for its waters to break
and wash me out to sea like
the flotsam and jetsam of a shipwrecked lifeboat.

I hear the lilac whispering into blossom.
I see the starlings building their nests
in the corners of my third eye and the spiders
weaving mandalas between the witching wands
of the aspen saplings trying to transcend their roots.
Still, time seems studiously impersonal
and more matter-of-fact about suffering
than perhaps it really is. The mind is an artist.
Able to paint the worlds. As they say in Zen.
And I can see so clearly even through this cloud of unknowing
the kind of world I’d love to live in,
giving it my full assent in peace and contentment,
as long as I never lost the hunger that desires these things
and no one else had to live like a ratty old towel
abused as a paint rag by the shroud of Tourin.

Yet I can’t help feeling I’ve spent
my whole life trying to piece a lost constellation
back together again from leftover stars
that don’t have a clue what they’re shining amounts to.
In the stained, marked for life, castaway things of the world,
in the eyeless dreams of aborted inspirations,
in the twenty million dollars an hour we waste on war,
in the eyes of the twenty-five million children a year
who are starving to death globally in civilizations
based upon agriculture, I’m looking
for the trashed masterpiece of a paint rag
soaked in the blood of hemorrhaging roses
that might have parted our eyelids like the Red Sea
or a gallery on opening night to a vision
of what they might have done had they lived
to do things differently and their genius and beauty
not been squandered like blood for oil
or the waters of life learned to mingle more olaceously
with oil slicks in the womb of the dark mother
like an alternate medium of creative expression
that wasn’t shunned like the evil skin of a shedding rat snake.

There’s an expanding emptiness in my heart,
a vacuum nature abhors like a miscarriage
of what I hoped to wake up to the day after tomorrow
like the smile of an enigmatic Mona Lisa
that didn’t die in childbirth married to a banker.
What faces reside in a paint rag
I might have fallen in love with at first sight,
what mind, moon, sea, sky and landscapes
might have sat on my easel like windows in space
that might have shown me a way out of here
like the eye of a hurricane at the end of a telescope
that made things at a great distance appear
larger and more astronomically intimate than they seem
when no one’s trying to paint the other end of the lens
by wiping their glass slippers off on the grass
as if the princess just stepped into a mess of Hooker’s green.

Disoriented hues of colour blind rainbows, who knows
how many faces have been wiped off on a towel
with the big, sad, musing eyes of luminous gazelles?
How many cardinals nesting in red cedar trees
were wiped off the canvas like lipstick on the moon
when the sun went Puritan, midnight at noon,
and scourged the scarlet letter of the kissing stone
until nothing was left of humanity
but the purged shadows of an abstract divinity
that burned a hundred thousand women
foxed out like witch hunts in the seventeenth century
at the stake of a principle that stood up to the flames
like the backbone of a heretic
with a streak of Payne’s Grey in her nature
slashing at the orange sunset
with a painting knife in her hands
at those who resented the concupiscence
and dark innocence of her sacred body and soul
and saw her go up in flames
like a bouquet of sable paintbrushes
stacked at her feet like the pyre of the phoenix to come.

Sooner transform the emptiness into something
as absurd as it is meaningful, than ponder the waste
of a good mirage trying to look
for real water down a wishing well.
Sooner try to patch the tear in the sky
that rips me open under full sail running before the wind
and lets all the stars come pouring out
I was saving for a rainy day, with a paint rag,
a discarded face towel sadder
than viridian pine trees in the distance
with an aerial perspective of pthalo blue
gentled and blanched by the intervening atmosphere.
That said and done until the sky drys
I’d rather wear the patches of a compassionate clown
like paint rags on the Sufi blue of my cerulean robes.
I’d rather walk in a pauper’s clothes to show
my solidarity with the cast offs of creation,
not just finished canvases with artsy attitudes
in stiff upper collars and colours
that match the wallpaper like seasonal mood swings.

Sometimes it breaks my heart from the inside out,
it guts me like a tube of alizarin crimson
to see all these fledglings strewn at the foot of my easel,
my tree, my loom, my lean to, like the paint rags
of crumpled, ruined, leftover lives
that couldn’t quite make it as flying carpets.
But I’m not going to forget the ashen sorrows
and habitable earth-tones of starmud
under the winged heels of inspiration.
As for me and my zodiacal house of ill-repute,
my renegade observatory on the wrong side of the tracks,
I’m going to ride this wavelength of light out to the very end
where the wildflowers open
like the complementary loveletters
of a colour wheel, a rainbow come full circle,
unbroken just for them.
The donkey looks into the well.
The well looks back at the donkey.
Art. Life. Zen.
When the line turns round
the donkey at the end is in the lead.
Yesterday’s bleeding paint rag.
Tomorrow’s aesthetic creed.




A good day to enjoy being lost, adrift.
A monarch butterfly skirts the heritage stone
of the bank across the street for good luck.
Hectic palette, it’s good to see the badge
of your shadow smudging the gridwork
of predictable brick. You made it through
the pesticides, the milkweed’s been good to you.
Small relief, tender loveletter may no one
ever scrawl return to sender across your envelope.
May no one ever tamper with your pollen.

Sweet rapture of not giving a damn for a day
and meaning it. I’m an offroad aster, a wayward
English ox-eyed daisy that’s thrown off the yoke
of all the burning bridges I’ve crossed, trying
to grind the chaff in the hand of the sign
I was born under into broken loaves of starwheat
cooling on the windowsills of my ersatz ideals.

It didn’t take me long to learn by living me
to be afraid of everyone else. That every moment of life
was death-defying in extremis, a high wire act
on a spinal cord stretched like a single filament of a spider-web
between one abyss and the next. I’ve been a poetic wino
dizzy with mystic vertigo, slumped up against the door
of a stranger’s threshold that kept sweeping me off the stairs
like a mirage of junkmail, leaves and stars
that could foretell by the agony in my eyes
I was born to live a life in freefall as I have,
no hell below me, no heaven above, and earth,
the shakey footstool of an unstable mountain
on the back of a turtle that seldom sticks
its neck out for anyone who can play
self-fulfilling Orphic threnodies on a tortoise shell harp.
Choreographers who know how to teach totem poles
to dance to the picture-music of the sacred fires
that still burn, branded by spring, in the tree rings
of the heartwood they refuse to pile like pyres
around the feet of native martyrs singing death songs
at their own sky burials. Life’s a bird bone flute,
a syrinx, a lute, a harp, a cithara, a guitar, Lyra
in the summer sky, not the trumpet of a dying swan.

Good day to let go of my mind like a kite
or a weather balloon, give up beating on
this old drumhead of a trampoline like an erratic pulse
and jump six times higher on the moon
like the photon of a third eye of a spy satellite
in a chromatically aberrated orbit that sheds
more light on the secrets of life than it keeps to itself
like private data deep in an unsightly black hole.
I don’t want to candle out like the parachute
of a daylily the higher I rise into a spiritualized atmosphere
wigged out by its haloes and comets. I don’t intend
to wait like a dragon in a wax museum for someone
to show up with a wick to give a little spine
to the votive candles in a shrine of gummy prayers.

I’m going to take charge of events like a fisherman
caught in a Pacific storm, and take my hands
off the wheel of birth and death in this great nightsea
of awareness and roll with the dice on the swells of chaos.
Seven times down, eight times up. Such is life.
Even if I’ve got to chart my course through life
like a starmap of snake-eyes, I’ll make a constellation
of matchbooks that will set the zodiac afire
like an arsonist inspired by the cult of his own
heretical martyrdom. I’d rather burn sincerely
for something I don’t believe in than give my assent
to the false confession of a poem I didn’t write
from the inkwell of a heart I threw at the devils in white
like blood on the snow of a savage sacrifice
of a life that arises from life, not the death wish
of a cold, cold rose with thorns of ice on its frozen eyelids.

A good day to cherish the innate heresy
of creative freedom I was born into like the natural medium
of imaginative extremes I keep violating
like a snake with wings on a burning ladder
of hierarchical taboos laid out like crosswalks
with traffic lights to supervise the way we came back
like shepherds down from the mountain at night
with a flock of judas-goats in painted tiger-stripes
and sheep we fleece for their carnivorous clothing
along the same path we’ll labour back up in the morning,
like pale stars that bleach their torches in the eyes
of albino crows with silver irises for moondogs
and a skull’s way of looking at things that makes you shiver
when there’s no one else in the room but you
and what you’re becoming as the older you grow
the more you realize, how little you have to do with it.

A good day to sit enthroned in my own brain coral
like a gleeman in the absence of a dynastic bloodline,
free to laugh at myself as the urge overcomes me,
or cry like a ghost of rain on a spreading root fire.
Good day to take my deathmask off another man’s face
and throw it away as if neither of us ever
looked good in it, and the mirrors lied behind our backs
as if our hearts were blind to what our minds were up to.
Intellect blossoms. Compassion is a moonboat
with a cargo of windfall apples riding like a low-hanging branch
on the waters of life, as the stars pilot it into port.
No born again cuckolds pushing the eggs out of my cosmic nest.

A dragon with the wingspan of space, time can’t keep up
with the pace of the stars I keep panning out of my ashes
like nanodiamond insights into meteoric splashdowns on the moon.
Good day to stay crazy and let wisdom follow suit.
Good day to go down to the river and watch the beaks
of the white-throated waterlilies open like the mouths
of baby birds that burn with hunger to be consumed
in the fires of their own appetites, young candles
preening their flames like the feathers of falling stars
that forego their fixed place in the great scheme of things
every time a child makes a wish upon them,
and the serpents at their heels puts the plumage
of the highest on the lowest and in a union of opposites, flies.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013



My words taste of the flavours of the lives I’ve lived.
I cauterize my wounds on the stars. Runes, cuneiform,
scars, I’ve even found a way to use spiderwebs
like the fridge magnets of an exoteric alphabet.
Everything’s written in sand, in water, on the wind.
In the cursive script of the Kufic treeline. So many leaves.
So many mother tongues. Ciphers of the nightcreek
whispering to itself sleepwalking through the woods.

I may hold flowers now, and the fragrances of petunias
and coleus waft down the street, polluting the carbon monoxide,
but my heartwood, though scorched, is still steeped
in the firewater of a whiskey barrel I was once
keel-hauled over like the hull of the moon for being
a drunken sailor absent without leave. I indulged
my madness in the spirit of a dragon that couldn’t
hold anything back. I didn’t smoulder like a man
who expected to be the victim of an adage, I burned.
In the perfection combustion of my inspiration
I left no soot on the wings of the discoloured butterflies.

Sincerity was wild and angry, sacrificially cruel,
the sacred thorn that rent the third eye of the rose.
If you weren’t living and dying as ferociously as you could,
you were a fool. An inquisitor with a dunce cap
in the corner, or a balancing act with a fear of heights
with your head in a noose and your feet firmly planted
on a two-legged footstool. Sorry for the roar
of overconfidence, of course, I am, most of it was bluff,
but it seemed like a necessity at the time
and a lunatic’s got to do what lunacy does
to renew its blood oath to the moon on the edge
of a sword it pulled out of the stone of its own heart.

It wasn’t about eviscerating the living on the altars of art.
It was a severe initiation into my own estrangement
into the occult mysterion of poetry that makes you feel
more unworthy the deeper it enters your bloodstream
like a dream of darkness and stars, as you bond
like a blowtorch or a comet welding your eyes
to the darkness and the stars as a rift in your skull
opens like an observatory on a lonely mountain
to the immense intensity and solitude of it all
and your mouth is pryed apart by the voice
of a wound as old as inchoate creation itself.

I look into the abyss, watershed, void, dark abundance,
bright vacancy of the emptiness ahead of me
as space accelerates locally into a starless night
and I haven’t blinked yet at the darkness growing inside
like a new moon burying the bones of its dragons
at a sky burial under the gravestone of a constellation
shining like the ashes of a firepit you won’t find
with the aid of a starmap, and I wouldn’t call it
a change of attitude, or the recantation of a false confession
I never made to ease the torment of my mean-eyed inquisitors,
(they never had a clue about what to ask me anyway)
but I approach the genius of my left-handed solitude
with more gratitude than I once did, and my sense of wonder,
though it never put on airs, gapes in humility
at the gravegoods that grace the wake of this horrific beatitude.




My little book’s out there being read by someone
I hope somewhere like the plank of a shipwreck
with my name on it, the flyleaf of an artificial coral reef,
you gotta go deep, you gotta drown your book
on the moon, an underwater, island, barrow tomb
so you can bury your death in the life it gave shelter to.
Hey, little fish, welcome to my wake. I won’t say
I sank for your sake, but, here, where my oracular bones
are being pearled at the bottom of the Sea of Tranquillity,
it’s good to see you thriving as if evolution
were a high end colourist with a mad palette of hotspots
and at night, schools of argent insights emerging
in moonlight like the leaves of the wind in
the silver, Russian olives that lyrically mentored me on earth.

And, you, squirmy worm, literrateur, you can tunnel
through me like a blind, star-nosed mole boring
black holes for what was most illuminating about me
to leak out of like the shadows of the shadows you see
as you follow the crumbs of the feast deeper into
the labyrinth you’ll never come to the end of
like a wandering scholar following its tail back to its mouth,
the spitting image of a vicious, disappointed sentimentalist.
Have a happy. The party’s on me. Knock yourself out.
Can’t you hear the moon bawling like a large mammal
from the ice age in a tarpit on the dark side of life?

My little book’s out there being read
like the poetic genome of some potentially
extinct species of some hominid who knew
it wouldn’t be long before he was the last of his kind,
and spit-painted his handprint like the negative
of a silhouette he never coloured in with lifelines
like a starmap that might have led the gypsy palmists
astray like a ghost with a candelabra in an open doorway.
My little book’s out there, indelible as hardback and ink,
sporting the vision of life I once wore like constellations
tattooed on my eyes so my tears couldn’t wash them out
like the flood myth of a watercolour I never meant.

My little book’s out there shining like a fossil
in the eyes of the graverobbers on the black market
of the Burgess Shale of my sedimentary starmud,
indexed in the Dewey Decimal System in the library
of Ashurbanipal. Cosmetic scalpels like the birdsfeet
of sandpipers scarring the lyrics of their song
in wounded clay left out to bake in the kiln of the sun.
It’s healthy to mock yourself like the fool
at the foot of a throne the peasant’s revolt in you
was always inclined to abdicate like a gravestone
after Richard the Second lied to Wat Tyler in l381.
Even if you’ve made a sacred clown of yourself
doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun
in a dans macabre with death when it takes you
way too seriously like a terminal literalist who expects
you to mean everything you express as if
you weren’t just skywriting among the stars
like a ghost declaring how much it loved so and so,
no boundary stones like the prophetic skulls
of the turf wars we make of our global evanescence.

My little book’s out there somewhere, a petal of flame
that blooms in fire once every seven thousand years
like the pine-cone pagoda of a Zen monastery
with its one good eye on enlightenment, and the other
on the shadows of God it casts like gravegoods into the abyss.
Nothing more rapturous than an heretical arsonist
being burnt at the stake of his own auto de fe
like a scapegoat on the pyre of a left-handed sacrifice
as the anti-venom to the toxic innocence of the orthodox
who purify themselves like smallpox among the natives,
guilt by infection. Better to eat your own ashes in hell
than contaminate your neighbour’s spiritual housewell
with the decaprified horns of the goatsheads
that poison the waters of life with lies about the clarity
of waterlilies festering like nuns in virgin swamps.

I’ve never had an agenda for what I wanted to achieve
when I fell in love like a hole in the road on my way
to someone else, as if I had an errand to run that
my life and death depended on arriving in time
with news of the misdiagnosis of everything
I thought was wrong with me in a gnostic moment
that turned me into a happy docetist in the urn
of old papyri buried in a cave until a goatherd came along
and woke me up like a genie in a lamp
burning like serpent fire in the snakeoil
milked from the paps of Medusan amphorae
as if there’d been a mass mastectomy of breasts
that could kill as easily as they healed the visionary fevers
of the poetically snakebit. My little book is out there
somewhere like a binary star system doing
a ghost dance around a firepit that blossoms
like the eternal flame at the sacred forks
where the sacred rivers join like the tines
of a snake’s-tongue searching the air like lightning
for someone to strike like a root-fire of revelation.
Until the autumn oak breaks into a conflagration of leaves
how else can you shake a windfall of acorns down to earth
for the wild boars to keep growing the tusks of the moon
you’ll have to pay death one night for your passageway
to the other side of your unsalvageable Orphic descents?

My little book’s out there somewhere like a liferaft
in an hourglass with nobody on it, riding the thought waves
of strange seas of awareness where the stars
go pearl diving and come up with the moon.
The same mindstream I was carried along on
like an autumn leaf, cutting through a stranger’s woods.
Flightfeather of a book in a gust of stars like Cygnus
that can open its wings and fly like a cross
or land a high dive like a wild swan on a river,
threading the eye of the needle between an eagle
and a flying horse. My little book’s nocturnal
but it’s not morose. Aesthetically infernal, but not an urn.