FOXFIRE BLOOMING IN THE AFTERBIRTH OF THE ASHES
Foxfire blooming in the afterbirth of the ashes
that engendered it, green violins of unaged bracken,
the timeless lyrics of life reviving an old songbook
grown hoarse as paddlewheels and swans
making their way upriver by the lights
left on in the ghost towns of familiar ports of call
where breathless singers busked by the wharves
and watergates of the straightforward stairwells
anyone with sea legs ascended like a special form of a curve,
the uncarved block of the ten thousand things
the womb of an unborn guitar attached by its strings
to the abyss in the heartwood of a song that will
never be heard like the wind whistling
through the umbilical cords of a suspension bridge
swaying like an empty cradle in a forgotten lullaby
as if life burns its bridges, not just after, but as often,
before it crosses them to the other side of nowhere.
The words run off track, scuttle on the sandbanks,
dodge the light like fish along the shore, lose
their bearings in a gust of starmud from the bottom
up to the abandoned crow’s nests listing to the left
of the angel fleets like the masts of old growth forests
that put to sea like the skull and crossbones
buried in a piratical cemetery like the teeth of dragons
sown among nautical gravestones keeping one eye open
on the lighthouses waiting for salvage
to wash up on the beach in the red sky
of a false dawn in the morning that gave
sound warning to sailors in the know to pass by.
I say what I mean but the meaning’s drowned out
by the uproar of words with a voice of their own
that pass like carrier pigeons with a message
for their ears alone, the medium, an ink-soaked scribe,
blue as the glyphs of Picts, taking the minutes
at a seance I’m never asked to participate in
regardless of how I tattoo the inside of my eyelids
with the Etruscan zodiacs of the dreamscapes
and shapeshifters gathering at the transmorphic bend
where the river turns like the mindstream
toward the deepest watersheds of its collective unknowing.
The wind behind them, how many have set out
like beautiful schooners in full bloom to be
abused by their lives like garbage scows
after their sails were taken down like shark fins?
Set out to chart the stillness on the dark side
of the moonrise and run aground on the mountainous reefs
of lunar corals like sundials and astrolabes
taking the measure of their own shadows
in the shallows of the floodplains scabbing
for the lack of any volcanic depth to the pre-eminence
of their immanental extinctions. If the head
of the fish is rotten the tail will follow
like a thought wave in the wake that encompasses it all
in a heartbreaking farewell from the deck
of a shipwreck to the last lifeboat to leave the island.
Sooner or late the fire will run out of heretics
and no fat to keep them burning, the lanterns
the orthodox hold up like candles to the sun
to see in the dark will grow thin, dim, and lean
as the lights of the city of God disappearing
over the horizon of a black hole with no regrets.
Gravity the tugboat of the tides our lifelines
are anchored to like barnacles on a rock
we buried at sea, tears we shed at Gravesend,
all hands aboard, moonset to the west
of the unthinkable, sinking nevertheless.
Her pillow is soaked with snot and tears.
Her nose is running like a garden snail
that smears her stiff upper lip. Not the agony
in the garden, but still, a bitter cup to drink from.
He quotes his duty as a cover story
for following the psychological profile
of his desire into the misunderstood bedroom.
Garlands on the altars of love and disdain,
and everyone’s partially wrong enough
to be wholly right, and blame it on the zeitgeist
of the witching hour that has come upon them.
I walk by the Tay River like the grave of an old lover
some nights when the stars are blazing overhead
in the country dark, the infra red aura of the town
glowing infernally on the indifference of the clouds
as if it were putting lipstick on the mouth
of a drunk clown in a coma as a puerile joke
to mock him into laughing insincerely at himself
when he wakes up to wipe the smile off his face.
I’m isolated by the surrealistic absurdity I feel
in the mass appeal of the inexplicably funny
when the joke’s on anyone but this black farce
of common humanity like a punch-line in a morgue.
No epitaphs, but a gesture of living at its best,
Graffiti on the box-cars of our coffins laid to rest
after a few hollow laughs at the corpse’s expense,
the last call and curfew to top up our emptiness
as we steal the Buddha’s purse to buy the Buddha’s horse.
Those are the Buddha’s words. Mine have run their course
like a rootfire in the tunnels of star-nosed moles
digging like archaeologists for a future in the ruins
of their solitudinous starmud baked and glazed
into bricks of lapis lazuli left in the sun at midnight
they can aspire to like the past tense of the light
flashflooding like time and the Pleiades
through the circuitous labyrinths of their black holes.