MY PAST WHEN IT TURNS ME AROUND LIKE THE LIGHT
My past when it turns me around like the light
to compel me to look back upon it
like a mountain the valley it dug like its own grave
I’m ascending out of, an Orphic ghost from the underworld
empty-handed with a habitable solitude for a companion,
Hermes, my sole pilot light and messenger,
seems like a Sufi patchwork of purple passages
winging it like a multiverse of flying carpets
or the sudden emergence of birds from the summer wood
trying to synchronize themselves to the same flightplan
membranous wavelengths in creative hyperspace are on.
Sometimes I disturb the graves of old books I’ve published
in a cemetery of shelves, and I flip through pages
and pages of sedimentary starmud, refleshing fossils
with mnemonic stem cells at a seance of yesterdays.
Time’s running out of itself, and then who knows what
flips the polarities of the hourglass and death
reserves a garden just for you to return to
as your body relaxes like candle wax letting go
of the coffin you posed for. The empire you were
comes undone, does it not?--- fragments, and the feudal warlords
that are heir to your last dynasty, plague rats on crusade,
jump ship in Genoa, and splinter like true relics
of the skeleton they nailed you to like an albatross
to a crossbow. The arrow of time is the measure
of the spatial distances between order and entropy,
the direction all flowers are perishing in like the quibla
of existence aligned like the stillness of the North Star
with the provisional polarities of chaos. The stars
are disappearing like beauty marks on a mythically inflated balloon
that’s got to pop sooner or later like a weasel
chasing its tail around a prickly pear, given
how addicted conceptual ratiocination is to thorns.
What kind of an afterlife longs to live forever, impersonally?
I’ve held the abyss closer to my heart than that.
And I’ve got the bloodlines of these ancient poems
to prove it, though I still remain the missing link
of all I wrote back then as if my life depended on it.
Who could have guessed, the way the mindstream wends
and the heart bobs along in it like an apple
in the mouth of a prophetic skull poetically dismembered
like a prescient addition to a superstitious family,
I’d be standing at this bend in the road of ghosts
looping back on myself like the retrograde motion
of the false idol of the shadow I cast across my path
I eventually caught up to and passed like a somnambulant
Knights Hospitaler on an emergency offroad pilgrimage
going the wrong way like a light year unaccustomed
to the country dark my eyes hadn’t adjusted to
like a starmap blazing high overhead. Timing is
at least as important as content, and the rest
is just the corpse of an excuse you enshrine
as a learning experience you can chalk up
like the white cliffs of Dover to the size of the blackboard
you had to learn on like the Burgess Shale.
Hail, fellow, well met in the flea markets of poetic vision.
The muse hasn’t remaindered me yet.
And the daughters of memory dance upon my grave
as lightly as they ever did. I still prefer
the nacreous midnights of black pearls in the silks
of the northern lights to the opalescent dawns
of the abalone shells that smile like jewels of milk
when the moon is in the clouds and the stars
shine down upon the earth like pale imitations of the real thing.
I once thought I knew the man who wrote these lines
as if I experienced more of him than I could ever
know at the time, or now, once I gave up asking
what’s gone, why, or the approach of the dawn,
bluing the windows with unobtrusive skies
that kept to themselves like lapis lazuli damselflies
with bruised eyelids ripe as plums, when.
If all I’ve done over the course of a lifetime
in these wild starfields is bring a small bouquet
of poppies enflamed by a gust of the wind
to this pageant of perishing picture-music
on the midway of a game of show and tell,
is it the gut of a spinal cord tautly strung out
like a highwire act across the resonant abyss
of an empty tortoise shell, or a compound bow
muscled with bone? Despair, never a welcome house guest,
o the times I wrote into the wind trying to bridge the gap
between water and its mirages like a causeway
of lifeboats the fish had no use for. Still don’t
believe not caring is an effective meme of self defence.
And if the love boat mutinies, so what,
every siren’s got an island of her own
you can be washed up on like salvage of the mystery
all this is taking place after you drowned on the moon.
What I’ve said, let stand. You can’t unsay the dead.
Autumn sheds the Library of Alexandria like leaves
unglued from the perfect binding of its brittle books.
Whether I shall rise out of the ashes of the flames
like a dragon of staghorn sumac, more a thorn
in my own eye than a viper under the rosebush,
or I’ll be blessed by the fire for the heretical attitudes
I took toward the unctious beatitudes of entrenched hypocrisy,
no matter. Write reductio ad absurdum on my gravestone.
If I wouldn’t lie on my deathbed, why make a liar
out of my epitaph? If the dawn was false
what are the chances of being able to trust the dusk?