ACUTELY AWARE OF THE ONCENESS OF LIFE
Acutely aware of the onceness of life, one
of the many shadows that followed me for lightyears
was the terror of wasting it on myself and not
the mystery of what it is to be here knee deep in starmud,
up over my head in a fathomless atmosphere of awareness,
knowing I was going to leave my body behind
one day like gumboots. Any moment now.
The green light of the firefly about to change to red.
In the last flash of insight to cross my mind,
which could well be, as it has been here,
the foundation stone of a whole new universe,
I didn’t want to get caught, one foot in and one foot out,
trying to weather the storm like a lifeboat
still moored to the dock like an apple in winter
on the tree of life, not risking what I had to let go of
like seeds that abandon the rafters of the tree to be true to it.
Some people trip, some fall, some plunge,
some swan-dive into the abyss. I made
a big black hole in my heart and let all the stars
leak into it like the creative side of the light when it
turns around to look at itself without being rebuffed
by its own reflectivity. I’ve danced under the chandeliers
in the blue-white palaces of the Pleiades
when the air was full of mirrors, and that was
as elegant as a graceful woman on the verge of tears,
and often, I’ve worn my eyelids like hoods and eclipses
over the falcons of my eyes to keep the lunettes of my talons
from seizing the heart of the dove like a bouquet of blood.
Like the gutter receives the spent flames of the leaves
and the Japanese plum blossoms, like the baleen
of a blue whale harvests the krill and knows
by the taste in its mouth whether it’s autumn or spring,
when they were tired of shining, I let the stars
go slumming in my humanity as if I were a spiritual nightclub
where they could let their hair down like black dwarfs
sick of photo-ops and burn out alone at the bar
like bruised black and blue flash bulbs any way they wanted to.
I brought the stars back down to earth as often
as they raised my skull up like a grail
they poured themselves into until my eyes
were brimming over with their radiance and never once
did I ever hear them say when. Or enough is enough.
My capacity for emptiness was and still is limitless.
How else could you hold all that shining within yourself
and not go blind? How could you ever hope to know
what hour it was like the zeitgeist of the times at home
in a material eternity if you didn’t live space
like an intimate experience there were only the stars
and a few nightbirds you could tell it to who could understand?
Though the signs were everywhere like a secret
that wanted to be known. All you had to do
was open your heart and take a look through the third eye
of a black hole dilating in the middle of your iris like a new moon
climbing the rungs on a ladder of event horizons
as if it were crossing the thresholds of each house of the zodiac
back into the burning arms of the black sun no one could see
that wasn’t intrigued by the mystery of the dark eyes
behind the veils and lifemasks of the light
that paled them like nightwatchmen making
their final rounds on the grave yard shift
turn their lanterns down like stars in the dawn.
Acutely aware of the onceness of life,
I cherished my fingertips, not what they touched.
I exalted my seeing, not what it saw. I honoured my voice
for the nobility of its calling, not what was said in my sleep.
I gathered up all the myriad thoughts and facets of mind
like wavelengths of the omnipresence of the universe
like fireflies and lightning, and delighted and horrified
as I was by what they revealed, looked deeply into the eye
of the one jewel of the world concealed behind all the shining.
I’ve firewalked the Milky Way on a pilgrimage
of ghosts and smoke and taken the hands of many lovers
as if they were my own like an Orphic leper
come back from the dead like a moonrise silhouetting
the green boughs of a tree that had suffered many dismemberments,
to revel in the return of life to my limbs like an orchard in spring,
not the windfall of the fruits of the earth that fell out of their sleeves
like cornucopias, wishing-wells, and the caressable magic of lamps.
Though I praised the fountains and goblets, the flowering
of the starfields after the ice-storms of Orion thawed
like a chandelier over the candelabra of the trees
I drowned in the godhead of the dark watershed like the source
of the great rivers of my life returning to the sea
like the stray threads and frayed deltas of my blood
reworked into new flying carpets on the loom
of the lunar ebb and neap of my tidal heart
seminal with life along the island coasts of consciousness
when the moon is in the corals like a sower in the fields.
But more than desire itself, I celebrated my heart,
not for what it longed for, but the art of love that mastered me
like a down and out stranger I once met in West Van
when he saw I was out of cigarettes, and opening his hand
like an ashtray of butts he’d been picking up off the streets,
and saving for himself, picked the longest one out
and gave it to me as freely without forethought
as any highroller ever shot the stars as if he had no limits.