Saturday, January 26, 2013



If I ever get to look back on all this
even if it’s just to show me how wrong I was
about so much, how much I risked for so little,
I don’t want to have been mean and petty here,
I don’t want to have lived short-minded
as if my brain never grew to its proper height
and I had to live close to the ground
with burrowing wasps and centipedes
trading toxins in the grass like slumlords.
Tried to live like a magnanimous man
with an open hand whenever my luck kept pace
with my generosity. Didn’t want to die
knowing nothing about the stars, that shining
that grew in time even brighter in the dark within.
Wanted to know the fury and compassion, genius,
the affable kindness, madness and love of humankind.

Used to say we were born to see and be happy,
and if you couldn’t find a meaning that suited you,
make one up of your own. Don’t waste
the great creative potential of the absurd
and try to fit yourself like a little polyp of sentience
into the fossilized coral reefs of the past.
Go for the galaxies. What’s to lose?
If you’re going to fall, fall from a height.
Sooner a brilliant failure than a mediocre flight.
You’d be surprised at what the timing of one comet
falling out of the black halo around the sun
can mean to millions watching down below for signs.

Sensible shoes, or starmud on your winged heels,
Icarus or Neil Armstrong using his foot
to take a big step for humankind, walk your mile
standing up as if you were scanning for leopards,
your simian continuum at a fork in the road.
Danger is a capricious muse, but it can still
rivet you with inspiration. The hunters get eyes.
You grow an exoskeleton, then rib
the walls and rafters of the house and soon
the sun decides where the windows are going to go.
The Hox genes talk, and you’re the topic of conversation.

You start listening as if
you were listening in on yourself,
all those voices and things
for words you don’t understand,
bliss, butterflies, sorrows and assassins,
the victimized heroes of egoistic tragedies,
and the poetry in the pity of unexpurgated passion.
Lovers in the last throes of unmitigated catastrophe.
The rush and turmoil of the picture-music
going on all the time, shapeshifting
from one musical scene into another
and even you with your hands over your ears
sick of listening to the cosmic hiss,
climactic cymbals in the great performance
just waiting to come together like a hadron collider
deep underground where black holes in space
are born of the impact. If you’re not already
too calculating, or mesmerized like a stone bird
by the snake-eyes of the dice, put some money
down on yourself as if you had one to lose,
and if for nothing more than the exercise,
kiss your prophetic skulls for luck and let them roll.

And when you love, don’t approach a seabed on the moon
with a spoonful of water you can both sip from.
Return like an ocean with a convincing atmosphere.
If fools rush in where angels fear to tread
the angels will follow soon enough, with blessings
on the horns of your head. Learn
every gesture of her eyes like pictographic signage,
of her heart, a grammar for two, of her mind
be the no one to lift its veils, of her body,
apprentice yourself to the genius of her starmud.

Everything that lives is a gesture of the absurd
the imagination delights in elaborating
like people with the personalities of apple-trees
or the encyclopedic prolixity of the Burgess Shale.
I am is not the cornerstone of anything.
I imagine. And the wind is the threshold of the tent
that sheds the desolation of a self like a flower
that blooms in fire. Why water a mirage? Live large.
Squander stars on your vision of this, swallow the abyss
to keep your emptiness well fed, let your wisdom
be the private life of space, your time on earth
be passage and transformation, and your heart
cherish the bliss of all, animate and inanimate alike,
who suffer the same dream of being awake that you do.




Half the truth is a fraud of the heart
and a lie kills it outright. The silence
pretends it’s a window, and the night
throws the moon through it like a bad imitation
of the sky. I never tried to make your delusions
mine. Nor ask you to drink from the same
well of mirages I did. Even after we’d been
together awhile you seemed content
to be a rogue planet in your homelessness
without a star to shepherd you to higher pastures
so I never offered you a threshold
you couldn’t cross like the wind in a wheatfield
blowing on the poppies like a wildfire
I thought it was wise to let burn itself out.

Did I love you? Yes. Even your scars
were beautiful. And there was always
something intriguing about your darkness
that made the fireflies and dragons of your mystery
burning every doorway you appeared in
seem uninhabitably alluring and dangerous.
I never made a starmap of your shining,
where the ink didn’t run like the black tears
of a coming eclipse in a reflecting telescope.

Missing you was usually a prelude to making love
in a false dawn, but the effect was always the same.
The stars never paled in the ghost light
and none of our fountains were ever interred
in a fire hydrant like a urn of water
for the eyeless ashes of the self-contained.

Now the shadows that followed you
like a maimed cult of overly-intentioned volunteers
have nothing to fear from the black holes
you were always afraid of being swallowed up by.
Raccoon and muskrat skulls, albino planetesimals
you collected like chess pieces on your windowsill
and wrapped your mind around like an atmosphere
so they could shine again by your reflected light.

After so many extinctions, there must have been
nights that engulfed you like the womb of a tarpit
trying to give birth to a moonrise after a hysterectomy
in your early twenties when your boyfriend
left you in hospital because he couldn’t cope
with disease. Just another plague rat jumping ship
in Genoa. And then a man you later married
left after a month and the ring turned green
and the dog and furniture were gone when you
got home from waitressing at the club, your
art scholarship missing from the joint account.

Then thirty pills like phases of the moon a day,
thirty pieces of silver, and your heart
so severely betrayed, the eclipse indelible,
you couldn’t trust your own derangement
without reading Tarot to know whether
the next stranger who showed up in your doorway
were an exit or an entrance. Or another
rich clown looking for an Egyptian princess
on the black market of the spooky and occult.

I knew from the start you were compelled
to cut things out of your life, that the knife
that had cut you had been thrust like a scalpel
into your hand like a torch in a relay of death masks
with surgical skills. I never blamed you.
Always thought I’d do a lot worse if it
had happened to me like an Aztec sacrifice
that had torn my heart out and offered it up
to the gods on the altar of a hospital bed
to propitiate the blood thirst of ignoble enemies.

Of which I was not one. Nor yet a judas-goat,
as you could have told by the fire and shadows
slashed on my pelt, and the way I kept my claws
indrawn around you like an outdated calendar
of fangs and crescent moons in an ageing arsenal.
Or by the nature of the scars I wore like Mars
when its water went underground like a frozen house well.

I remember the thick, sloppy flakes of the blizzard
I drove back to the farm in that night alone in a black Le Mans,
after the last meal at the executioner’s restaurant,
your absence riding shotgun like a habit
still in shock that it had been broken so easily,
driving like the bullet of a northern pike
through the right temple of the storm as if
I were immortal even at a hundred miles an hour
passing the snails of the lonely snow ploughs
on roads like buttered mirrors I dared to kill me
knowing anything alive or dead or spectral
in the snowblind darkness of that pluperfect hour
that seemed like the past tense of everything real
had more to lose than I already had. So bring it on.
And it did. Through several love affairs after that.

It’s excruciating to watch someone you love slowly crushed
like a black swan in the coils of an anaconda,
or an oracle by a python she used to prophesy by,
the promise of a new moon swallowed by a black hole
of paranoia. I’ve known darkness, made my allotted share
of mistakes in life, but by luck and intuition avoided
most of the major errors of the soul, even my demons
endowed with a kind of largesse I’ve always
been grateful for, not so much for God, or an ideal,
maybe to keep from being keel-hauled by the muse
on the dark side of the moon, who ever really knows why,

but it wasn’t in my nature to betray you, though
you almost seemed to ask. I may have been
an odd kind of wavelength, skewed and twisted
by the spaces I’ve travelled through, bent
by the gravitational eyes that glanced at me in passing,
but it wasn’t in my scar tissue to wound you
as you had been so many times so grievously before,
so nobly, as you truly were, by making you fall
by default on the sword of your most precious nightmare
and even stranger to think it might have kept us together.
What a world of bubbles and thorns that elates
and breaks us. The chandeliers it drowns in our tears.
You get naked as water to go skinny-dipping in moonlight
with someone you love and you end up swimming
through snakes in the rear view mirror for lightyears to come.