O THE WOMEN, THE WOMEN, THE WOMEN, MISTRUSTED SACRIFICE
O the women, the women, the women, mistrusted sacrifice,
who led me to the altar in a garland of stars
and left me to my own device to figure them out
which I never have. It would have been rude
to declare that kind of solitude resolved in your heart
and inside their urn and hourglass bodies
there’s a kiln of a firewomb and furnace weeping
like a window into God’s eyelids like a rose
with thorns they took out of a lion’s paws
as a simple act of mercy for that much wounded power
you couldn’t say in any other way if you weren’t
so rigidly contemporaneous, than flower, moon, claws.
Man is an abacus of prophetic skulls that have learned to count.
Woman is a rosary of infinite chakras and prayer bells
that plough the starfields when they’re melted down
into chandeliers and candelabra that have gone
witching for light as if there were a watershed of it nearby
or a housewell the grass has covered up like a veil
of green flames as if you just threw salt in the fire
that flared into a genie of apple boom and green leaves
then disappeared like an apparition nobody believes you saw once.
But you did. Like kleenex on the kitchen table
and the smear of red lipstick and the impression
of her lips as if she’d been kissing a bleeding snail
and then the darkness followed as she slipped
between the pages of the Burgess Shale like a loveletter
she decided by then not to send because it would be better that way
and you knew enough about women, at least
by the end, not to argue, but try to make a friend
as best you can. And watch how the river runs
your mindstream across your heart like a whetstone
that sharpens you up like a prophetic skull again
for what’s to come that there is to sing about
which is everything if you learn to sing it right to the end.
Tra la, tra la, tra la, like the live ones have forever sung
or whatever kind of kyrie eleison comes to mind
like water to your lips that tastes like distant rain
in a desert of stars she’s left you wandering in
as an adequate substitute for time when it grows sublime
fecundating the white mares of Libya in passing
like the north wind bringing the mail to Africa
like a million birds with a return address to what
she left behind her in a moment of sadness
when she looked into her heart and all the songbirds were uncaged.
Woman isn’t a sentiment. And man isn’t an adage.
But you’ve got to say it as if you crossed your heart
with a fire ax that a dragon set on fire like the house of life
in a crematorium that celebrates the great event
as if you really did live once and had a chance.