FEEL LIKE A BIG RED ENAMEL BILLBOARD
Day 7: Little shakey this morning. I think it’s the meds
they’ve got me on. Corduroy road. Is that close to Tobacco?
And typos, swarms of them, blackflies
flying into my eyes and mind like cinders
and space capsules and moths in degenerating orbits
As I am. Caw, caw. Death’s firesticks.
I think I’ll make a kite out of them as long as I can.
Decamethsedone. if you say it fast enough
it convincingly sounds like a train coming your way.
This is the drug that sobers me up when
I firewalk to the other side of the moon, and this
is the drug that keeps me from throwing the last one up.
An angel who saved me from a month long Mafia of migraines.
But this tumour is acting like a competitive poet
in my brain who’s ferociously mad at me
for being the older, better published poet
and I am, at least for the next little while
or he bumps me off he can, and he can’t
and he never had to but he doesn’t know it
not just yet, that dawn is sometimes grey
as a religious order of cigarette butts, and that’s ok.
It can’t always be catacombs, urns and Auschwitz.
And I don’t mean that at all casually. I say it with respect.
Thank you. Thank-you so much for teaching me
what I’ve really never been able to quite as
convincingly learn from myself before
and this isn’t emotional baby oil I’m smearing
all over your heart like a mirror in the shape of your body
that was once the universe. I really mean it.
Or maybe you like the oil better. But either way
I’m trying to let nothing ever come between us
so I’m writing this right out in the open
where the lightning likes to play with arrows
from a war bonnet with Druids of mistle toe
like the streetlights on Douglas St. In Victoria.
God, a I miss that seagull now. That’s natural. And human.
Which is what I want to be with you, not
Heartbreak Hotel, or Hill or bone box at the end
of an equatorial meridian that once a year
kisses the skulls at the other end of the hall
on the forehead like a long shot with a cue ball
of prophetic skulls tucked in for the night. The kids
are all right. But if it’s got to be that, too,
you don’t need to steal the Buddha’s purse
to buy the buy the Buddha’s horse. I’ve got
a bag full of gold in my head that sings
like a waterbed of rattlesnakes that strike like a rose
when their aroused. I’ll be the voodoo doll.
I’ll take the fall for all of us. I used to jump
bareback mares up at Beaver Lake, holding on
by the waves of their manes for dear life as I am now.
Thanks for unbeaching my heart like a dolphin
that’s washed ashore out of a storm of torn fishing nets.
I’m blundering through a labyrinth of life and death
on the internet, and I used to meet each of you
coming down the other side of the road
like Buddha Pinnochio whose nose grew longer
with every truth he told, but now you walk beside me
like a blood and shadow travelling companion
to God knows where (Allaho Allahim) and I’m
grateful, o yes I am, I’m so grateful for the company.
Feel like a big red enamel billboard I painted
once for a pizzeria to advertise out on Highway 7,
two three quarter inch plywood sheets, sticky
hot paint that sweats, I leaned up against
the abandoned four car garage, spiders and tires
and wrenches and spanners I didn’t have a clue
how to use, rusty fans from Precambrian summers ago
and boxes of nails and screws, baby snake fangs
that have been collected over thousands of years
like poisonous punctuation marks, or gravegoods,
in an abandoned hippie organically abandoned farmhouse
that left a lot of pickled fiddleheads and Jerusalem
artichokes ready for a market they obviously
hadn’t made it to in Perth Saturday morning in the parking lot
where half of everybody who gathers there
gets real capitalistically muncipally unmerciful about selling
their wares off as if they were trying to tempt Jesus in the wilderness
and the other half just come to see the Middle Ages,
have a pageant of fun for a change, get out, put a little
colour on their face that doesn’t look like warpaint.
Jerusalem artichokes in bloom O they were beautiful
that hot red afternoon when I kept picking the dragonflies
out of the paint with the tip of a very slim painting knife
to trowel them out like tumors in a red, Burgess Shale,
Vietnam all over again but with a jeweller’s wings
this time, and solemn, yes, but does that black wall
have to look like it’s assuaging your guilt as if someone just
stuck a Scotch thistle under your saddle or
a whole constellation of them like a bouquet of Velcro burrs?
No slurs here, no slurs, please, and if I’ve desecrated
anybody’s feelings and they’re beginning to hear
the roar of savage indignation as the crowd rises
to its feet to savage somebody for being who they are,
well, it’s happened before. (Interjection. A mind spear.
I’ve finally figured out what all these little signs
on the page like little black, squirming, alphabetic maggots are,
and I don’t mean this in a mean way this time, are really all about.
Hoofprints. Cloppitity. Clop. With Siamese fighting fish in them
for a day, a day, a day of life I’m a rocking horse
who aspired to Pegasian elevations that would give
Icarus a nose bleed of mystic fire from a dragon’s mouth
that spared the butterfly by mythic comparison.
And Perseus still carrying that old decapitated head
of a snakepit around as if he’d been part of the French Revolution
or Verinus in serial Rome after his wife committed suicide
to prevent him from committing an honour killing
sporting some kind of new Parisian hair do
with his arm stuck out like a stop sign on a schoolbus
in his Christmas tree saddle, or is it a life line?
Please somebody, help, though I say this more
in expectation of what shall we say, accuracy and art?
That’s got a way with it. We’ll go with that. Accuracy and art
as long as I don’t have to paint it on a billboard
that sings like a gravestone. Who’s this? The sacred clown.
Or spotted tanagers at a ghost dance. This is too much fun
with words for the picture music going through my head right now
to believe it’s madness, and even if it is, it’s
liberating and hilarious in a heartless kind of way.
Some cheap surrealistic circus is in town with its crumby parade.
And I’m drifting oarless too far off shore to make
the continent of a point I was trying to drive across
less obvious than a cattle herd, heard. There. That was a rimshot.
Now let me tell you about the darkness I was
swallowed by like a humid, hot, brooding mouthful
of silence as if it were about to chew on me like a cashew word
with a millstone hung around its neck for good luck,
as if I’d ever let any kind of luck fool me now.
I watched Star Trek. Just to say it makes me feel
all warm and fuzzily nostalgic inside to go on playing
Jim Morrison anymore. Hamlet’s too affectionate
and I like Jim Morrison too much to hurt his feelings.
Blackness, the black dwarf, the black hole, the black matter,
shows up like a bead in transit for an unknown name of God on my rosary,
the one Qasem brought me all the way back from Kuwait
that gate country to God knows (allah ho allah him) where but the way
he so gently and slyly gave it to me still feels good
after all these lightyears I think I’m going to honour
it with an eclipse and a clip of Canada geese out of a Tom Thomson painting
after he stopped painting them with a geometry set
as if he were engineering a highway instead of a snake,
a rosary, or the river of life as it makes it way south
in the bodies of birds I’ve been comparing to urns lately
because I can have fun with the image turning it
in the light of an image I think I stole from Georgio once
but I’m not sure any more and it doesn’t matter anyway.
He’s a priest. And I’m not so sure about all of that.
I take an interest. And drink deeply and passionately
out of the skull cup as a sign of respect for my host
and I’m still wheeling like a universe of Sufis
at the crossroads of my little galaxy here trying to follow
the golden ratio like a sunflower as if it didn’t do very well
in math at school. And I did. But not well enough in my own estimation.
I haven’t been like the old woman Muhammad mentioned
unweaving a strong spinal cord into a million
feeble nervous systems as I keep repeating to myself
my head’s still in the stars as surely as my feet
are still planted on the ground, though I don’t want
anyone to take that quite literally just yet. When
a galaxy’s not ready to bloom, you don’t take a crowbar
to open it anymore than you do a flower or a woman or a child
or pet. Do you get the point? The nebula
tinctured by a moondog of medical grass will blow away
on its path to ignition and the Pleiades will do the rest.
Stars, stars, stars. What is it about them that since that first
night on my mother’s back porch trying to see them
through the Macmillan and Bloedel pulp smoke
that was killing all the flowers I had stolen for my mother
like geranium fire from the gods. O my good
Promethean son. God, how I’d love to hear that now.
That fifty-seven years later I still feel startled
in my heart, soul, mind, body, eyes, blood
tears, joys, terrors, mystic and otherwise, as if
the clouds just broke without meaning to on
the Queen of Heaven’s face and she lifted one
of her veils, though their was no return address
on the envelope, she smiled, I swear to God she did,
into my face as if she really meant it. And I’m not talking
about a flying saucer here I saw one night, She really meant it.
Back to the billboard. To break out of this trance
and be lovingly numb in a weird human kind of way
about emptying the ashtray like a Virgo indulging himself
with a little comfort order in his life he doesn’t have to feel
sorry about like a scar that’s more of a doctor
than the wound itself in a surgical theatre that
keeps whispering in my ear this isn’t like having your tonsils out
and it’s a long chaos between here and the garbage can
I bought to throw them in one easy swing of the arm
as if I were some sort of gazelle of a outfield catcher.
Caught it. Cancer. The crowd roars. Foul ball. I’m out.
And London bridge falls to the ground exhausted after
an extraordinary effort to hold itself up as long as it can
as a tragic clown with a heart as honest as he can make it
thinking that might make a difference somewhere sometime
for somebody else like an old blossom of a baseball cap
that somehow fits them just perfectly like a gift from a stranger
or the gods, if you want to make more of it than
it really deserves, it’s just a baseball cap, for God’s sake.
O, ya, that stupid billboard floating around in mind
like a raft I’m still carrying around on my head
gerrymandered out of these scraps of life lying around
from last winter when I made my penultimate attempt
to get to the other side of nowhere and everywhere in particular
but here. Which is the ultimate ride. When it makes itself
vertiginously clear I’m not here, nor are you, we never have been
and yet this dream’s been swirling around us like a river of stars
that had to get somewhere just the same. Five miles. Left at the next exit.