REMINDING MYSELF TO KEEP IT CLEAR, KEEP IT BRIGHT AS STARMUD
Reminding myself to keep it clear, keep it bright as starmud,
keep it dangerous and liveable, creatively unimaginable,
not to fall asleep at the wheel of birth and death,
drift off the soft shoulders of a sleepwalking road in this
starless fog of unknowing tallowing my highbeams
like candles dipped in beeswax. Keep leaves on the tree
as long as I can, though yesterday’s younger than I am,
bring this sunset to fruition for the sake of the seeds
I sow in my wake on the moon as if all those dead seas
might bring forth yet. If I fill up every moment of my life
with the whole of me, no phase left out, am I not
a waterclock as young as I am old, as wise in childhood,
as I am foolish as an old man dancing in a graveyard
as if he had no more care in the world than to fall down
and get up again, laughing in elation at getting away
with the hilarious outrage of being himself. Death
shows me its birthmark and I show it mine. We
read each other like signs of things to come. It
keeps me serious about the joys that ripen my life
and I lighten it up like a skeleton with a funny bone.
Alone, I hold myself in common along with everybody else.
Together, I’m severing umbilical cords with my teeth
to show people burning on the pyres of their kites,
how easy it is to fly on your own by just letting go.
Daring said feathers and falling took flight.
I’ll meet you again on the wind. I’ll ride your bannisters
as I once did your arms, like spiral stairwells
all the way to the bottom and loop back up
like a flourish in the cursive script of my skywriting
when I sign my next love poem like a ghost of smoke
in a Joseph’s coat in a dusk scarred by the contrails
of my fly-bys as I flaunt my freedom like a swallow in the sun.
Sorrows galore, to be sure, abounding tribulations
taking their toll on my prophetic skulls like a carillon
of funeral bells, despair sticking like creosote
on all my constellations like stars to flypaper,
patinas of soot settling like the shadow of an eclipse
on all the Gothic eyelids of my rose petals
as if the paling picture-music hadn’t been exposed enough
to sunflowers to keep a smile on things like a blue jay.
So what? The blossoms are not antithetical to their roots.
I’m a Dutch elm. I’m growing up as much
as I’m growing down. I’m most out of touch
with the things I’ve always had a good grasp on
like Ophichus and Serpens, its oracular python.
I can’t name as many flowers anymore as I used to
when I wandered through the starfields
like a rogue planet with nothing on my mind
but the sound the Milky Way makes in the distance
like a white water rapid I’m approaching
on a prayer and a wing upstream of the mind
to shoot on my own, an arrow from a compound bow that can sing.
I still have an eagle’s eye and a classical supernova
for a heart Sagitta’s pointing at like a diamond cursor
frozen to a blacked out starmap in the blitz of London
and I can fly as well as I ever could aerobatically
like a phoenix through the mystic firestorms
that sweep over me when a tail wind feathers my flames,
but there are sky burials I lay wild asters on
anonymously that seem to grow deeper
than these valleys I’m passing through like a stranger
in the shadows of mountains cast like the sundials
of the dead I keep looking over my shoulder for
the longer I mourn, like a moonrise in the east
as if there would always be the midnight call of Canada geese
in the autumn farewells I make to the windfalls
of wheat and apples in the smiles of departed friends.
Yet even among all these asteroids that threaten
to strike me down like ostrakons and the first thrown stones
of the hypocrites who never learned to shine
by a light of their own, I’m still more of a rosary
than I am an abacus of the debts I owe to society
for tolerating me like a scapegoat at home in the wilderness
I was driven into like a photon for giving off light
even as I jumped from one heresy in paradise
to the next blessing of an angelic parachute in Pandemonium.
Orbitals of rain like an encyclopedia of tree rings
that resonate like the tuning forks and witching wands
of springs past and yet to come budding in my heartwood
like the fledgling flightpaths of new poems in residence
in the abandoned cockpit of the heron’s nest they wear
like laurels in the eye of the storm waxing lyrical
about the crowns in the homegrown coffins of the dead trees
as the moon blossoms like a white owl on a green bough.