THE UNREFORMED LIFE OF A POET THICK WITH SCAR TISSUE
The unreformed life of a poet thick with scar tissue.
What did I write forty years ago? O ya, la, la,
the live ones sing, la, la. Always knew it meant more
than I could discern at the time but it’s lasted
as I have a lot longer than either of us thought we would.
If you persist in your ruination sincerely enough
light years from here, creation gets quantumly entangled
in your root fires and things begin to bloom like a moonrise
you never suspected was a flower down on its luck.
I don’t care where you’re hiding, everybody’s
got something to fear, but I know you can hear me
though I’m not asking you to show yourself,
stay where you are. I’m not the answer to
all those secrets you keep up your sleeve
like an aviary of parrots you’re trying to teach to talk,
but have you ever given any thought to being here
at the indulgence of a dark mystery you embody
in flesh and blood, starmud sullying the light
on the waters of life with hermetically unstable intelligence?
I gave my word to the X on my spotted heart
I’d fall on it like a sword in the name
of the most dangerously compassionate art
that demanded nothing less than everything of me
all the time like a renewable Promethean sacrifice
chained to the altar of a rock by a long, dynastic bloodline
of hot-fingered thieves of fire. My votive candle
of self-immolation. Though I’m compelled to say
ashes are ointment on my eyes now that my tears
have boiled away into the more vaporous emotions
of less revealing gnostics lost on a sea of awareness
without so much as a moon or a lifeboat to stand on.
It seems it’s got to be this way somehow for reasons
that happily elude me in my pursuit of the perfect illusion
to offset my sense of being an enlightened eclipse
among fireflies trying to throw a blinding light
on the best of my intentions. If that accounts for anything.
Wolf, when I’m noble, bush dog when I’m not,
I can change totem poles like a shapeshifting dolmen
when the moon is new and I’m scavenging my way
into an ongoing exploration of the life of a human
with an unwieldy mind that keeps toppling on its axis
like Neptune bobbing bottoms up like a duck,
or a waterbird, to put it more gracefully, into its own reflection.
Is this narcissism, or the slippery slope to solipsistic idealism
in the first person singularly alone in a peculiar universe?
It’s never been a purpose of mine to make a precedent
out of my absurdity like a law of life that doesn’t
inspire people to disobey it freely so they can come into their own.
Nobody else can do your flowering for you and expect you
to grow to fruition. The green, bitter apple in the chilly dawn
of its fair beginnings is sweetened in time by the loss
of its blossoms, and the erotic pulse of the windfalls of autumn.
Pain. Was there ever a poet worth reading that wasn’t
a worthy candidate for what they hated the most
until they were house-broke into being the accommodating host
of it, instead of the nervous guest? Work with it
like a cat kneading a pillow into a loaf of bread
or a white-tailed buck trampling the grass into a deerbed
for the night. Take a hands on approach, and grab it
by the throat like a hydra-headed python
with nowhere to anchor its coils like an oracular genome
that gives the secret of its extinction up
like the open-mouthed blossoms of the hollyhocks
swaying to the bird-bone flutes of the wind.
It’s ok to be a snake charmer with a silver tongue
as long as you don’t milk your own fangs
to anoint yourself in snake oil instead of serpent fire
or die of smoke inhalation in a vain attempt to put it out.
Burn, baby, burn. You can’t be beatified until
we see if there are any ashes in the urn
worth scattering among the stars like flames
that played you like the patron saint of dragons
that remained true to the heretical alchemy of their nature
like the angels that eventually evolved their flightfeathers
out of the repitilian sky burials of their hereditary scales.
Angels bear the souls of the dead south and west
like geese and undertakers in folksy vests
with a timepiece like a goldwatch that stopped ticking
cremations ago when the ground got too hard
to mine it like a grave and death had to take to the air
like a transmigration well before the invention of back-hoes
that permitted people to be buried late in the year closer to home.