Thursday, January 3, 2013



So many mornings I want to be done
with waking up as if it were always winter
and rifling through my pockets to see if
I’ve got enough cash to buy me and the cat
another day or two of life she can spend
chasing paper balls of the poems I roll up
to expend on her amusement, and for me
a microbubble of space and time I can
write and paint in without feeling hungover
from the chronic sobriety of my last encounter
with a swarm of killer bees retooled
from the dirty thirties smuggling prohibition
through the Thousand Islands. Return me to exile.
I’m the King of the Outcasts, a pure blood pariah,
a leper of the moon, a sacred clown who dances for rain
to help him recall how to cry. I’m a blue flower
in No Man’s Land someone ploughed with a cannon.
It’s a kind of protest sign I hold up
like a placard of chicory that means no surrender.

I sheathe the moon in my scabbard like a blood-stained blade.
I am the lunar trifecta of aquiline talons that grasp at nothing.
I labour at life with an effortless effort of intensity
that makes Rasputin look like a slacker among mad monks.
I have been dispossessed by more spirits I’ve never met
except as an anonymous urgency to write something
as if I were here to listen, not speak, and my voice
were merely the microphone everyone popped their p’s in
as if they were French kissing electricity, than any man I know of.

I wholly understand experientially what the Zen master meant
when he said he didn’t like poems written by poets,
cooking prepared by cooks, or paintings done by painters.
Leftover carbon in a half-hearted fire. Boulders of coal
instead of diamonds for the adamantine eyes
of an enlightened snowman wondering
what it might have been like to have been born a scarecrow,
a strawdog, on a hot summer evening in the flesh instead of
made out of stars on an immaculate winter night harder
than moonlight on the lake ice. I’ve found my way
out of this labyrinth of dead ends more than once.
The crows and the wolf gods know all the backtrails out of hell,
but it was a sadder day than I ever imagined
clarity and freedom could be. The solitude is interminable.
And even the moon doesn’t truly understand what you’re howling at.

You’ve probably never heard of Archibald Lampman
but he was the warrior minstrel of the forlorn hope
a hundred and fifty years ago plus in Ottawa
at the Council of the Three Fires where the rivers join
and I smear the same kind of war paint on my face
though the feathers in my topknot I plucked from Pegasus
to see if I’d forgotten how to write with ink and quills.
Poetry is the last sanctuary of savage dignity in the Black Hills.
I’m a hold out from way back when the Chinese
taught the Haida to carve cedar totem poles like the power nodes
of the chakras in their spines. I’ve got knots and nooses in mine.

But the principle remains the same. Having tried
shattering a few celestial spheres into the crystal chandeliers
of a wine glass falling everywhere like the fine mist of an ice-storm
with my voice to see if I could make something habitable
out of this shepherd moon that might surprise everybody yet
with life forms that defy uninspired expectations, I
turned my attention to Tibetan prayer bowls
that hummed in spirals that made a mantra
out of every line of picture-music I wrote after that
placing the emphasis on the assonance of my sacred syllables
I kissed and placed in the pyx and lockets of my consonants
as if I never wanted to forget a face that had meant
something to me sometime like an eclipse of the full moon.

Now I’d never undertake a journey
that didn’t leave me homeless at the end.
That’s what I do in life. That’s how I honour
all the prophetic skulls that have brought me to this moment.
Some things I reveal like a candle in a morgue.
And when I fall like a stone bird out of the heavens
you can be sure Medusa’s been stargazing again.
Pain to me is a naturally renewable resource,
and if I were ever to write my autobiography,
it would read like the Burgess Shale.
Hail, fellow, well met in the flea markets of poetic vision.
Here you can tinker with your revisions like hex-keys and lies.

It’s difficult to know what you’re going to say next
given there’s no connection between thought and emotion
and verbal expression, and you realize they’re not sharing
the same dream grammars when one calls you to prayer
and the other to take notes at a seance of all your former selves.

All I know is whenever it was my turn to jump out of the plane
engulfed by the abyss, to test out my winged heels, it always
seemed like bad faith to reach for a parachute as if
there were something left to save. Be brave, young Icarus,
be brave. Daring said feathers and falling took flight.
Though I’m afraid I’m beginning to repeat myself
like the white noise of an old man remembering the past.

I’ve been plunging with the dolphins on the moon
in this shadowy sea of sentience since I was first conceived.
And it’s not so much that madness became a way of life
as it was a matter of sharing what I saw without asking
or expecting to be believed, if I lived it by myself for everyone.




Shock one bird into taking to its wings
and all the others will fly up out of the sacred woods
into an emergent symphony of spontaneously choreographed words
like rivers reeds dancing in unison to the music of a distant sea.
Fish do the same. And the fans of the corals before the moon
turns them into stone. Listen. Aldebaran
bellows from the heart of the bull sacrificed to creation
like the gift of a gift to itself. It’s raining blood
in some parts of the world. If I don’t look for asylum
in reality it’s because I completely trust my imagination
not to schedule any dress rehearsals for my dreams
as if you could improve the play by upgrading the stage.
And my religion can’t bring itself to believe in a god
that created the world just to let herself be victimized by it.

I don’t take the universe as a sign of intelligence
because I can’t look at a stone without feeling I’ve added
a little wisdom to my thoughts, an earthy, sage laughter
to the unworldly seriousness of my moonrocks.
Life in the universe, elaborating its redundancy
through sex and fractals into an order of complexity
that weaves every wavelength of its picture-music
into a lyrical tapestry that would otherwise
be hanging in hyperspace like a blank membrane. Life
is intelligence in action like a mystic that got up off his knees
to fix the church roof by opening it up to the stars
that keep falling like the mercy of a transcendent rain
to wash the starmud off the roots of life with light
until they shine like lightning breaking into blossom
from the bottom up. Whether things are good or bad
synchronicity reverses the spin of my atoms
like the turn and counterturn of matter and anti-matter
dancing creatively as if love could be measured
in direct proportion to its potential for annihilation.
That’s how things have always gotten done around here.
Someone manages to peel their snowblind reflection
off the mirror like the sunburn of a coronal halo
a throne too close to home, and the night begins
to cool things off with the moonlit salve of a herbal darkness.

Everything lives, animate and inanimate alike,
the lotus eaters, the condottieri of the vulture capitalists,
and in the great reservoirs and watersheds of memory
that generated muses to inspire the living with the fires
of the dead, to keep them from going out, everyone, everything
down to the last mystically specific detail of scarlet paint
flaking off a fingernail as if someone painted a window
to cover up a moonrise with a sunset, lives, endures, thrives
in the well springs of an expansive mind that celebrates
its regeneration out of the magical black holes and top hats
it’s been pulling itself out of like rabbits by the ears for lightyears
while supernovas go berserk with applause just to tempt itself
into finding out how the trick was done by its own sleight of hand
without anyone catching on. Whatever it washes its hands of,
science is still an antiseptic magic that keeps reminding itself
of where it came from the harder it tries to deny its roots,
but there are other vital organs of the body that can
lay claim to being children of the mind as well, not just
this one changeling of a brain child laid on the steps of a temple
or found among the bullrushes. Eye-child, the bird
that lives like a larynx in your throat, heart child,
and the shy child that can feel the light breathing on her skin.

We are the neurons and axons of a galactic intelligence this week
and we’re communicating with shepherd moons and starclusters
that are as alien as we are sending out space probes like genes
unlocking the secrets of the universe like wardens and nightwatchmen
breaking koans like keys to the cosmic eggs where they’re imprisoned
like seven sleepers in the cave of our genome. If you
can put up with that many similes in a row like variations
in the evolutionary bush that might or might not catch fire
like sage brush happy to lay back on the wind and drift, just drift
in the wanderlust of not really knowing what we’re doing here
but taking it on faith, it’s blind luck to be aware of it.

And the available dimensions of tomorrow will have recourse
to these metaphors poured out of the heart like a waterclock
and new dinosaurs will walk the earth among the emotional mammals
in boas of ostrich feathers and suggestive snake-skin sequins
that shimmer like the waves on a lake at night, liquid anthracite,
dark tears with black diamonds for eyes burning heretics
in the unconfessed fires of their adamantine translucency.

Maybe it’s time to let the caves we enter like carbon-based life forms
paint us for a change in colours that have yet to be seen
in anyone’s paintbox like the bulbs of wildflowers about to bloom
in the starfields with a rainbow coloured thumb for gardens.
Let’s turn our astral portraits inside out as if the stars
were embodied within each of us like a starmap
in the crystal skull of a drop of water on a spinal blade of grass.

Mind only. Everything is mind. Not two. Not one. Not nothing.
In every part, in every grain, the whole of the harvest moon.
And the formlessness isn’t inchoate. And the form
is as homeless as the mind looking for its lantern
with its lantern, as if it wasn’t accompanied by its own light
like an honour guard of stars and fireflies the whole way
to the gate and the threshold of an endless beginning.

That’s what’s inconceivably beautiful and playful
about being alive in a mind as aniconicly vast as this.
We only hide the secrets from ourselves
that we must urgently want to be known
like mirages breaking water in the wombs of our wells.
We’re rummaging for grails in our own spiritual lost and founds.
We’re sending telescopes into space like foreign embassies
acting as plenipotentiaries for our eyes only
as if our seeing had to be diplomatic about
the infinite number of ways there are of deciphering the stars.

Make it a loveletter from a bride catalogue of Asian mermaids
if you want to hear the lyrics of what they’re singing to you
about the music of the mind walking on the waters of life
like the Pleiades webbing the constellation of Taurus
among the leafless boughs of the horned locust trees
standing in the moonlight gaping like gored matadors.

Or make up stories to keep the fires within you amused
with a ghost of smoke on a rocky road rising
out of the ashes of its deathmask on a distant hillside
with a nebular glow on its face and a secret syllable
you have to hear with your eyes before you’ll believe its yours
hidden like a jewel in the folds of its veils like a prefix
that isn’t just another false dawn on the mother tongue
of the word for bliss because no one yet has even known
how to say it in the silence of waiting for it to speak for itself.