THE RELENTLESS INDIFFERENCE OF THE WORLD
The relentless indifference of the world
to the monkeys who think they’re in charge.
How does a human skull not rot like a feral dog’s
killed by wolves? Babies die like a carillon
of columbine above their cribs. I see
through the camouflage of my little hill
of a vantage point, ants on the Ho Chi Min Trail
carrying away the piecemeal wings of the butterfly
for scrap metal spare airplane parts. We’re
on the menus of all other forms of life.
Poachers would kill the white elephant
of the moon for its tusks, black bears
for their medicinal livers, stem cells for body parts.
All branches of knowledge, frayed ends
of the lightning unwinching its bucket of rain
on the root fires of dendritic axons in the garden.
Dark matter perishing into its moment
of radiant flowering like English ox-eyed daisies
and stars. Maybe being born into this world
is the shallow death of a black hole in labour?
As much of the elm underground as there is above.
Six million leaves in the beaming sunshine
feeding the dark that scatters them like birds
from a fountain, words from a poet’s mouth
that grow old and die like solar panels erected
on the far side of the moon that lives on starlight alone.
Death can be as useful as roadkill to a turkey vulture.
Hominids lapping marrow for bigger brains
from the charnel houses of the predators
they most fear when they risk extermination
out of the trees being culled by the encroaching grasslands.
Everybody’s too busy running from it
to look death straight in the eye to see
deeply into the black mirror they can’t find
their reflection in, as if you couldn’t shine
without a shadow telling you what time it is.
If I lose my eyes do you think that will
bring about subtle, but lasting changes in the light
adjusting the filaments and stamens of the way
things flower for reasons you were meant to take
as a guess you could build on like a tent
with a portable threshold like a meandering crosswalk
instead of institutionalizing your creation myths?
I have an innate mistrust of the lies that back up
certainty, including the lie behind the alibis
of the tenured sceptic. Dubito ergo sum. Doesn’t
leave you much of a leg to stand on
like a mountain village gathering foundation stones
from the last earthquake. Or a Mongolian
pyramid of skulls promising you an afterlife
to assuage your surrender. Some are washed
in the blood of the lamb and some the goat.
What was pagan about the Romans who bathed
in the blood of a bull? I wash in my own tears
and that’s as close to capitulation as I ever get.
No doubt I may be about to blend into the Great Mystery
with a lot of regret, but, to hear my mother tell it,
I wasn’t too happy when I got here anyway,
and except for a few malignant Catholics who
imputed sin to my original nature, if, in fact,
that’s where things begin, I was innocent as far as it goes
in a world that cuts off its nose to extol
the righteousness of its toes in an infantile mouth.
May be a blessing. May be a curse. Maybe
one foot in the boat, one on shore, and a topknot
tied to a low hanging bough on the tree of life
like a ghost with a dislocated hip and a limp.
Who cares? The river’s running full out of the garden,
and the leaves are better poets than the wind
ever imagined them to be according to modern standards.
They don’t seek awards for the folly of their calling.
They don’t keep track of the anthologies of foliage
they’ve been published in. They just give themselves up
to the mad genius of the wind like the flames
of wax candelabra in diaspora that don’t equate death,
like seeds, with exile. The harvest moon in the hands
of the sower without the plough of the Big Dipper
to show her how. And yet there’s grain in the arms
of the Virgin as if her lover were a scarecrow,
driving its equally innocent twin of a scapegoat
further and further out into a wilderness
where the six and eight pointed stars
thrive on the trash of the universe recycling itself.
Maybe I’ll be the reason sacred dung beetles keep rolling
the starmud of the planet up into a larger cranium
to accommodate the fatty abyss they’ve sipped
from my marrow as the ants who drained
the wetlands and watersheds of my eyes
are beginning to conceive of the bigger picture
my mind painted when I look at them like a visionary
that didn’t believe you had to stick to the beaten path
of somebody else’s pheromones, that you could
put out your own little blossom of stargrass
like a sign of amazement you’re still alive and aware of it.
That death wasn’t a closed door anymore than life
was an open gateway into a garden of wild delights.