Friday, February 1, 2013



Old sorrow, I’ve forgotten your name,
you’ve been with me so long, pouring
the iron in my blood into the heavy bell of a heart
that’s climbed back up this sad tree of my spine
so many times out of the afterlives of my windfall,
these sad planets collapsing in on themselves
under the decaying weight and water of their own tears
from the inside out, and gone to seed
like a small fleet of lifeboats in this floating world,
trying to make it up out of these watersheds
to run the vertical deltas of this autumn orchard
whose roots I keep falling upon like a radical place to begin
climbing back up toward the stars again,
until one night I’ll raise my sail
like the moonrise of a blossom on the Milky Way
and be gone like a ghost ship in the fog of a nautical legend.

Old sorrow, I know you like the smoke of a thousand fires
I’ve danced around alone like the only child
of a midnight sun that abandoned me on the threshold
of a black hole I orbit like the rain in a broken mirror.
Who did you bury that we weep for, what
did you aspire to that you were too earthbound to reach,
what love of yours was so betrayed when it had
its eyes pecked out by the song birds
you never sing anymore when the bees
are in the locust trees, and the ants are opening
the peonies like loveletters from the Pleiades,
except there’s a wound in your voice the lyrics
are bleeding out of like a thorn in the eye of a hurricane rose?

Old sorrow, are you the tears deep down in things,
the lachrymae rerum that fill the wishing wells
with oceans of disappointment like the run-off
of our hopes and dreams descending the world mountain
after we’d talked to God like bathyspheres
trying to get to the bottom of our tears
like glass bubbles in our crystal skulls,
our third eyes frozen like the lenses of a telescope
fixed on a star above a shipwreck in Arctic ice,
looking for a northwest passage out of ourselves
toward a mythic Cathay beyond our continental shelves?
And what did God have to say that you kept to yourself
when you came back down from your tete a tete,
and returned your commandments like a library book
that was way overdue in Alexandria?

Old sorrow, I can sense in you how many seasons
have scarred you like a calendar of crescent moons
as you hang like the pine cone of one dolorous note
of the silence you sustain like a blues guitar

ripening in the corner of the room where the spiders
are writing music you’ll never play like the wind
in the hair of the willows down by the Tay River
when the black walnuts are floating by
like the scorched planets of sunless solar systems.

Old sorrow, I know you like a heavy boot cloyed in the starmud
of all these roads we’ve walked together to get
nowhere in particular but wherever we are now
in this graveyard of shadows
that talk to the stars who have none
about how to wash our names and faces off
like deathmasks that are tired of trying to light up the darkness
like a candle at a black mass at high noon
with an eclipse high overhead the flowers won’t look at
for fear of burning their eyes. Compendious companion,
you bend my boughs toward the earth
with the low hanging fruit of a giving nature
seasoning your inconsolable wisdom with compassion.

Immovable buddha, are you the ancient echo
of the birth pang of life, the groan of sentience
being torn up by the roots out of the indwelling forms
of things you used to take shelter in like lenses and mirrors
you could blow into bubbles of the mind
like the multiverse through a keyhole into the abyss of hyperspace?
Old sorrow, were you rounded like a shepherd moon
in the undertow of time, your teeth blunted
like the molars of the asteroids eating stoney wheat
growing wild in the starfields of the neolithic grasslands?
Sometimes I can feel you possessing my heart and body and mind
like the corpse of an ancient ancestor, my spirit
like a prophetic skull on the dark side of the moon
lamenting the loss of its atmosphere like one of its eyes.
Other nights, I look upon you like the ruins
of a palace of water that once greened this desert of stars
like a Persian gardener that ruled an empire of flowers.

Venerable exile, do you despair of ever
finding your way home again through your lion gate
or have you encamped like so many other nations
to weep like Zion beside the rivers of Babylon?
Is your diamond corona occluded by the protocols of coal
that sully your face like the memory of darker days ahead?
I shall call you, friend, given how long
we’ve known each other like shadows of the valley spirit
blinded by the sundials of the unaging mountains of the moon.
I shall open my heart like a fire to you
and we can share the silence together for hours at a time
on long winter nights when the wind is howling outside
and there’s no need to speak of things
that neither of us understand about why
the fountains with the deepest watersheds
are always sadder than the last of the flowers
in a late autumn rain, or the willows along the Tay.
Slowest of rivers, you can sit saturnine and soporific,
red shifting into the longer wavelengths
of the oldest of your dreams, if you still dream yet,
and I’ll work on a poem in the shipyards of the mindstream
that will displace its weight in tears, and hopefully,
though you probably know better, keep us both afloat
like a paper boat shooting the rapids of a waterclock
that’s been running a little late like the two of us for light years.




Nothing mystically intriguing about misery
but I do the best I can with what there is to work with
when I’m down, when I’m blue, it’s not azure,
it’s a stormy Prussian waiting for the sky to clear
and array a starmap of lapis lazuli freaked
with flecks and fuses of gold. Add a touch of cobalt
for aerial perspective to give myself a little space
to wander in while I remember not to short-circuit
the tarpits in the shadows of my depression
or under estimate what’s so extraordinarily ordinary
about the lifemasks I’ve shucked in the mundanity
of my middens, the museums of arcane waste
I’ve squandered over the years like garbage on nothing.

Just because someone drove a nail through your eye
you keep insisting is a sliver of the true star
might wallpaper your imagination like Matisse
but doesn’t mean you’re a one-eyed messiah
crucified like a Cyclops by a red hot stake
from your own fire, or that your tears are somehow,
because of the quality of your crying, better aged
than New York City tapwater, or the ensuing darkness
is necessarily prophetic. Could be a black hole
or the heavy lift of the cast iron lid of the total eclipse
I used to remove like a shark’s pupil to look into
what I imagined the sun must be like on the other side
without my eyes evaporating in the blaze with the hiss
of water droplets falling on my mother’s wood stove
when I was a blistering kid. Uncannily shaped
like this archaic desk I sit at now trying to write
my way like a counterintuitive backroad out of hell.

The train through town is trying to howl with the wolves
but it hasn’t got the agony for it and I’d rather
not know where I’m going despite the exuberance
of the gnostics who indict the same appearances
they’re enlightened by like apparitions in shallow mirrors
though I don’t mean anymore than they do by it.
It’s like art, love, life, the less you know about it
the more you’ve taken it to heart. If the whole
is in every part of what’s been broken, then mastery
must be as well. The human brain a ballet of cotyledons
performing swan lake on tour rising from the stage,
flowering out of death with the unfurling of a leaf
with a twist to it like the turning of a page by the wind
trying to read what it wrote behind its own back
when no one else is looking to see what it sowed
in arable rows of boustrophic print on the moon.

Like thornapples and rabies, I’ve cured my own disease
at times, with home remedies that very seldom,
if you live through them, leave you feeling
like the happy lunatic of a creative psychosis
inspired by a compendium of excruciating transformations
learning to swim hydrophobically in the Burgess Shale
as you say to evolution, physician heal thyself,
and somehow like a snakey faith healer miraculously
it does by killing entire species of itself off at a time.

Where are the fireflies in this ice fog of nuclear winter?
Why is the moon sleepwalking with the dead?
Who’s pulling my wishbones apart like crutches
that nothing depends upon not even my struggle
to wrestle with the dark angel in the way,
the prophylactic shaitan keeping me from
harming myself in the apprentice years of Lucifer
fulfilling the prohibitions that were expected of him
as my railroaded emotions walk away with a limp?
I’m screaming for red. I’m going through
ultra-violet withdrawals from life at dangerous frequencies.
I’m boiling like a kid in its mother’s milk.
Who cut the tongues out of my deaf mute cowboy mutes
and left me nothing to say in a sign language
not even the abysmal silence up ahead where the road
leads me into a wilderness with keener eyes than mine
nods, empathically, and bows its head like a sunflower
mimicing a streetlamp and says, yes, I think I understand.

My heart’s been torn out of my chest
like a canal root of starmud at the hands
of a Mayan dentist pulling my back room wisdom teeth out
like the molars of astronomical temples he had to abandon
like the calderas of extinct volcanoes impacted
like chimney fires of lava and creosote on a shepherd moon
marking the cards that bluff genetic codes into signs
of thermophilic life to prove we’re not freakishly alone
with the dark energies of quantumly entangled light
upstaging the dawn by clinging to the gunwale
of a lifeboat waiting to be salvaged by a coffin.