LUCID BLUE HOUR OF LEAVES ON THE RIVER
Lucid blue hour of leaves on the river
drifting by like constellations on a starmap at last.
Falling, they sank to the heights of the unattainable.
Life, for all we try to order it, no less random
than death. Does the becoming ever stop?
Too nice a day to argue ethics with my skeleton.
No end term. But let my bones have the final say
on whether I lived as I had to, not should,
or covertly fulfilled a spiritual vacuum
when I entered my grave like a guest in the doorway.
Lucid blue, but a chill in the air, and everywhere,
the going and the gone, the perishing in the name
of a good cause, same time, same place,
come the spring when the seed dies into
its own flowering gesture of longevity.
I can still hear the birds singing long after
they’ve flown. I’ve got their voice boxes
like empty heron’s nests in the female crucifixes
of the dead trees in a breeding swamp
of runic trinities. Saint Hillary was a Druid at heart.
I was an impoverished golden boy with a Mongolian will
to transcend my uneager beginnings as a fatherless khan.
I brought a new level of reality to the word, mirage,
but now it doesn’t even matter why I’m alive
as I grow like a beard on the wind, cedar smoke
from these pyres I keep starting like root fires
I sit around with my hands apart to the flames
like the wings of a bird rising from its own ashes
in a strange emblem of prayer to a god
I’ve never even heard of before riding
its own updraft like the soul of a man trying
to warm his solitude up a bit with a conversational fire.
The river’s babbling somnambulistically on and on
about how effortless the dreamers think flowing is.
It’s noon, but I see the moon flashing
its sabres of light on the redshifting waves
of the mindstream as it labours like a calendar
to keep up with life. Divide and conquer
and the house falls like Tarot cards unmindful
of their own fault lines. Sequestered in
this hovel of starmud, outside the walls
of a palace of water, I watch the cattails explode
like the stuffing of old couches, the royal thistle
suffering a fluffy kind of senescent dementia.
And it doesn’t matter whether it’s got something
to do with me or not, whether I’m the protagonist
of the ghost stories I keep telling about myself
to the eyes gleaming in the dark like first magnitude stars
taking it all in like absorption spectra, or
they’re making me up on the fly to appease the shadows
that keep protesting why such darkness should
be born of the light as if there were a G-spot
on a single-petalled wild rose you could touch
like a bee that would make it all right as rain and honey.
Take the pain, the darkness, the despair, the struggle
to live inside yourself wholly alive
like a bed and breakfast for suspicious boarders.
Let a little danger ransom you from your ennui
as you grow more homesick, looking at the stars
you left like a pilgrim going off to a war
it was holy to lose, victory to die in the midst of
deluded by the rumours of virgin belly dancers
who said they were more in love with the carnal
than the nuances of the latest eclipses of an enlightened mind.
Pick any night you’ve ever lived as if
you couldn’t live anymore without spilling
out of the moment like tears of bliss
from a housewell deeper than the watershed that fed it.
One life. One encounter with yourself
like a stranger without fingerprints to say
you ever existed, as all those torments
that blasted you like clay brick in the deserts
of an hourglass settle like pyramidal dust on a windowsill.
Look at the leaves blowing down
the abandoned broadways of life like feral playbills
that barked like a dog outside a tent
you had to pay to get a seat in like a first row of teeth.
Sleep on a bed of nails if you have to
and have religious wet dreams of
the linghams and the yonis, the jewel
in the lotus, the yin, the yang, the coincidence
of the contradictories in quantumly entangled
oxymorons who never swore on the light sword
between them to keep a vow the optical illusion
of a bifurcated consciousness made for them.
Don’t give your word like a mighty oak
and then break it like a twig. Even if you regret it
later. The grander the entrance, the cheaper the exit.
It gives the story of your life a chance
to be true to you like an exception to the rule.
But don’t force yourself. Integrity’s the preference
of an aristocratic taste for the excellence
of a blue-blooded wine over a mouthwash of ditch water.
Don’t disappoint the scars of your younger heroics.
When you see the way people suffer as you suffer
and you need a word beyond righteous absurdity
to express how you feel about the mindless agony of life
or die in a futile attempt to shriek it at the stars
as if you were a magnificent bird of prey
with an arrow in your wing, don’t reject
the folly of love you’ve been chosen to die in the name of.
Even the moon’s a maggot that can sometimes
disinfect the trough of the wound
by ennobling the foodchain with a coat of arms
that honours the housefly with a set of wings
for not reviling the running sore of the earth as corrupt.
Waterlilies rot like skunkweed. It’s clear enough.
And it’s true there aren’t many who want
to turn over the occult skull in the prophetic duff
to see what’s going on underneath the impressionist table cloth
they’re picnicking on with courtesans in the grass
as if the waters of life had never heard of autumn
as the nightbirds pine for paramours beyond
the stations of their voices like troubadours in vain,
longing and desire, the ghost in the flame
ignoring the storms that will blow its candle out
like a lighthouse that disobeyed its own warnings
and, at the very least, deepened the madness of being alive.