Saturday, January 5, 2013



What I wanted to show you,
you will not see.
What I wanted to give you,
you will not receive.
The wind may mourn your passing
like an abandoned dog
and the leaves of the silver Russian olive
may be baffled into silver
by the way you left the gate open
to a bigger, colder, darker world than it was
before you told me you loved me
like an arsonist in a wheat field,
a comet above the willow tree
that wept its way into autumn.

Go. I lay no claims or obligations
at your feet anymore than I would
try to smudge space
with the black rose of the night
that tastes of old eclipses in my blood.
You say ebulliently
you want to know passionately
the depths of love,
but like the fools before you
who blundered into the fire,
you’re only witching for volcanoes
with the tongue of snake.
As well look for fishroads
under the dead seas of the moon
as follow the path you’re on.

And your beauty is no excuse,
your body no sanctuary,
your blackberry heart
no pilgrim to anywhere
you can’t stand in the light
trying on shadows like lingerie
in the mirror of the delusions
you’ve clarified like the skin of a bubble
that has smeared the reflection of the world so long
you think you’re a planet with trees.

You’re a spiritual junkie
jonesing for suffusions of the inconceivable
to animate the dust and galaxies
you have no life or love to breathe into
other than that little wind
you carry around in a bottle
in case you’re ever stranded
without an emergency exit
from all the lies you tell in paradise.

You suffer the mythically inflated gigantism
of your own unbearable insignificance,
and abase yourself prophetically
before the mountain of your own lostness,
hoping for a map
of your wandering in stone
that would authorize your confusion
as holier than the rest.

Lonely for converts,
you tell me I’m sure of heaven.
Just as lonely I reply
if someone like me
were to show up in heaven,
it couldn’t be much of place to aspire to
and how could the blessed
not feel cheated?

But you don’t get it;
you really don’t understand
that life isn’t an auditon of angels
and the black cartoon
you’ve made of yourself
to win a feather
isn’t a prelude
to the main feature
when the lights go out
and the ushers
who conducted the dead to their seats
evaporate in the aisles
and you upstage the movie
with your nakedness
as if God couldn’t see
the snake-flute of your body
dancing with serpents in the dark.

Lust alone would have been enough
to keep us together
but waking from your dream
of forbidden undertows,
washed ashore again
on your oracular island,
you kept trying to weld the right light
to the wrong shadow,
and eventually
even the most exotic futility grows boring.

You dipped the stone-flaked arrowhead
of your aboriginal heart
in the toxic fires of your own undoing
and pointing it at mine
tried to deceive yourself into a direction.

And now you want,
now you long,
now you want to come back
and immerse yourself in the life
you once stepped over
like a drunk asleep on the sidewalk.
You’ve suffered and grown,
you’ve wept and derived humility
from irreparable loss;
you’ve trembled before
the first, terrible intimations of the vastness
of the sky in your heart
like the virgin flight of a lost bird,
and you want to be given another chance,
to surrender yourself at the gate
you once walked through backwards
so enamoured were you of your shadow.

And you promise the river your tears,
the moon your scars, me
the rarest of your orchids in the night.
But when I ask you
what the drunk was dreaming
you still look blankly around the room
as if everything in existence
were merely the baffled clue to your beauty
and the answer
something black and revealing that clings.

You still can’t imagine
how easy it is
to say no to you.




Poetry isn’t a salve I put on my burns,
an ointment of the moon, though it can help
like a afterword, it’s the original shriek of pain itself.
The moment the talons tear into the rabbit,
the rose snarls and bares its thorns and bites
and the owl that seemed so wise in its nest of carrion
turns out to be, no more no less than what it always was,
a feather pillow plumped up around a scrawny raptor.

Sweet dreams. The night tossed in its sleep like a snakepit
trying to get on the same wavelength as the big names
on a starchart though everything ends in a colon
as if something were to follow like a fangmark
or a binary of black holes. If you’re going
to punctuate things, do it like a firing squad.
Born a tiger, born a puff adder, born
with the claws of the moon like an anthropod
clacking across the seas like top heavy castanets,
how did you ever manage to underwhelm yourself
and evolution, and learn to kill like a tapeworm?

Not a morning I’d enter in a new age beauty pageant.
Mercifully grey, but too exhausted to put up much
of a pretence. Mr. Bluebird’s opening a chic boutique
of organic food he’s gleaned from his many years of experience
hand picking seeds out of the teeth of vegetarians
like a sparrow dragonflies in the grilles of cars in parking lots
while the mandalic carpet of the forces of life
are swept from under his feet at his office desk
as neat as a moonrise on his fingernails
is aerated by earthworms the size of vacuum hoses.
Ex-hippie vulture capitalists with their third eyes open
like the fractals of a peacock collecting
emotional enlightenment experiences like the badges
of a cub practising knots he’ll later hang himself with
as soon as he masters a noose. Wonder what the Buddha would think.

I’m not moaning Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani from a cross
or a pigeon with the messiah complex of a dove
betrayed under the eaves of my apartment
and I wish I could forgive everyone for not knowing
what they do, but simply put, this morning, it just isn’t true.
Try a troll under a bridge by the fieldstone embankment
at the side of the Tay Canal trying to spiritualize his anti-matter
by putting a happy face on a total eclipse. Sometimes black
is the only colour my rainbow body can resort to
to reinvigorate my soul, though it’s reticent to admit it.

My mother’s ninety three. Afraid of what that means.
My brother just had his leg amputated for number two diabetes.
I haven’t seen either of my kids in thirty plus years
such that the distance between my tears and theirs
would have to be measured in parsecs and lightyears
and I’m so sick of not having any money
I’d tar and feather another night owl with it if I did.

It makes me queasy sometimes remembering
how wonderful life used to be before I entered
this isolation cell in the name of a solitude bigger than me
that would demand nothing less than everything of me
all the time, so that when I died from all the things
I’ve given up in life to write, I’d have to ask someone
if they noticed an appreciable difference in my line-breaks.

I’m imminently qualified and well published enough
to say that what I do, before another donkey begins to bray
about the anti-social function of my heretical wisdom
sticking the stars in their eyes like the spurs of a man
broken by a winged horse, is unpatently absurd
though I still don’t think there’s any other way to learn
to ride a word like a wavelength instead of a particle
and when I talk to God in the valley at the foot of the mountain
about what she’s doing to me, I’m still humble enough
to remember to always use the indefinite article in her presence.

Though I’ve had love affairs with other muses, poetry
has always been my most committed relationship to life.
Say it beautifully. Say it tragically. Exalt like a stranger
before the open gates of your metaphors. Don’t step
on a crack in the sidewalk that will break your mother’s back,
and when shining comes to zenith like a firefly in a lighthouse,
never respect a threshold that hasn’t got it fingers crossed
or darken a burning doorway with a firehose at nadir
until all the houses of the most influential zodiacs
go up in flames like the taste of a slum in a spoonful of ashes.

And if you get mistaken for a cult leader of one
in a small town of succubi, leave a garbage bag
full of used voodoo dolls one night outside the Salvation Army
and watch the passersby steal the burnt effigies of your childhood
without attempting to save anybody from anything
like the curse that cast aspersions on King Tut’s throne.

I didn’t come to poetry like an immigrant to a foreign country
but I’ve tried so hard over the years just to belong
except for a few benighted souls, no one visits me
unless their unremarkable absence wants something
it’s impossible to give them as long as their hands are full.
I try to balance their bright vacancy with my dark abundance
but how few on a spiritual path ever truly realize
that scales are the first step on your way to feathers
and if you’re not dragon enough to swallow your own eclipse
don’t try the full moon unless you’ve got dental insurance.
Your fangs would break like the first and last crescents
of soft, graphite pencils biting into stone like the fossils
of Anomalocaris in the collected works of the Burgess Shale.
And that’s ok, too. As I’ve often said my brother used to say.
Unrequited goodness is the sign of a successful sacrifice.

Do ut des. I give so that you give. Or, more savagely,
do ut abeas. I give so that you go away. With blessings
on your head and house of course, and a small shrine in my heart
where I keep the relics of all your best ideals
like the needles of baby teeth that fall like thorns
from the mouths of kittens that roar like crematoria
though I’m demonically amused that the flamethrowers
they mistake for real dragons never seem to bring the rain
in time to put their pyres out like new age fire brigades.

Just the same sumac in the fall is still more of an arsonist
than the naphtha of paper birch in the dead of winter.
Knowing what I know about how little much there is to know
about nothing, I won’t disrespect myself by becoming bitter.
Someone asks, I show up like a genie with a lamp
and we talk about matchbooks like the haiku of a dragon
or a crow on a branch in the void bound autumn rain.

I listen to the world dispassionately as if I were
absolutely certain there wasn’t a quantum self to the atoms
that wasn’t certifiably insane according to its own lights,
as I show them my arcane starmaps with albedos of chrome
and carbon, so they can see for themselves in the dark
how much deeper a black mirror is when the lights go out
than a white one that’s in your face all the time
as if it didn’t trust you to take your eyes off it once and awhile
like the broken link of a shepherd moon on a short chain
that wants to howl with the wolves, free of the flock,
still labouring under the delusion it’s got something to do
with where it’s going and where it’s been and tomorrow’s
already so far off the path, every prophecy you ever make
is just the future memory of your erratically inspired aftermath.