Friday, February 8, 2013



No honey in the hive of the lantern,
no flower, no flame, no light, no people
in the warmth of the windows with a sales-pitch,
I sit at my desk in front of this computer-screen,
the snow outside a million gentle pixels of white,
and I wonder if the dead buried in this page
are sensitive enough to feel it on their graves.

And I’m weary of lifemasks trying to achieve
the desired effect while the living eat neglect
and mediocrities are trying to speak
like best-selling books where the stars are just words
and the bees have been culled for humming sacred syllables.

Numb with stasis more than a month now,
no scalpel like the waning crescent of the moon at my wrist,
muses of static electricity jumping from my fingertips
to startle a few dozy lyrics into life, my lips
cracked and cloven by the archaeological air,
I’ve been painting waterlilies and blue dragonflies
to keep something green and liquid alive
in the desperate urns of my soul on the windowsill.

I’m a ladder in a tar pit walking up the down escalator
rung by rung, threshold by threshold, foothold by foothold
feather by feather, salmon by salmon and if there’s a pool
at the top I’m meant to pay regenerative tribute to
in some eternally recurring dream of time
with my black and blue battered life,
and this bent wavelength of my crooked sword, so be it.
I’ll haul myself up like an inevitable lifeboat
to the rescue of my imminent shipwreck
though every nanosecond of the journey’s been
a crisis at the crossroads and I’ve learned to proceed
as I did as a kid with my wings outspread as if I could fly
from one thermal of a dust devil to the next in a back alley
where I used to kick stones down the road
like prophetic skulls I took for granted ahead of me.

If you were born into poverty as I was
and you couldn’t afford inspiration or you sensed
it was an elitist dream that hadn’t been blooded by life
and you stood aloof from it, half wary, half longing,
like a fragrant trap, you could always rely on your ennui
to get things done just to keep from being masticated
by your shelf life as a child. As I do now
experiencing myself as a highly trained doorway
to nowhere in particular as I walk from my easel
to my desk, my desk to my easel, trying to liberate
my disobedience like a caged truant in an aviary
of peacocks and pheasants that strut the fanfare of their tails
like comets stood up like bridal bouquets
at the pale altars of their unmarriageable daybreaks.

Nothing morbid, petty, self-pitying, or vindictive
in my solitude, no secret martyrs trying to beatify
the death of art, no ecclesiastic heretics breathing
hellfire and brimstone like scripture from their matchbooks,
I listen to the rasp of the same man I heard last winter
shovelling snow off the sidewalks in front of the bank
and the first drugstore ever established in heritage Canada
as if he were scraping off a canvas down
to the grisaille underpainting to start again and again
and again, as the storms pass over like a living
and I bond with him, how could I not, no one awake
but he and I, as a self-disciplined Sisyphean familiar,
labouring as anonymously as I am to do something useful
as hauling an avalanche uphill into a snowbank
where the heads of the parking meters are protruding through
like iron daffodils and frozen rat snakes too comatose yet
to dream of the vernal equinox liberating the sidewalks.

Almost six. The quick fix of the dawn soon calling it quits
for the nightshift that lives underground, and I’m still
caught in the coils of my genomic stairwells like the coils
of oracular pythons high on the volcanic fumes
of poetic caldera preparing to explode
like the igneous flowering of a magmatic watershed
gone supernova like an old luminary withdrawing into itself
like an emotional neap tide before a tsunami of starlight
beaches me like the ark of the Burgess Shale
high in navigable mountains of nautical rocks
after forty days and nights on a frozen sea of insight.




If not knowing is a sign of the depths to which
I’ve penetrated the darkness with a handful of fireflies
aspiring to a constellation of their own, something
more shapeshifting than these eighty-eight paradigms
of fixed shining, and managed to lose the starmap en route,
then I’d be urged to say I’ve been negatively illuminated
by every black hole I’ve ever fallen into. How is it with me?

I’ve been pearl diving for singularities and nacreous eclipses.
I have no idea of what I’m looking for that isn’t eventually
going to find me, but I’m a hybrid of wonder
and an agitated curiosity that makes me feel
I’m wasting some crucial element of life
if I don’t go take a look for myself or listen
to the picture-music flowing through me like a mindstream
through the woods at night more acutely than my eyes
can see enlightenment right under their nose
that can tell what it is by the smell. Larkspur or sulphur.

Witness to a dynamic awareness I’m more and more certain
isn’t mine, though it bears my name, I resist being tempted
by a partial fossil of thought to lay claim to it
as if it went to all that effort just to be me. Not self-abnegation,
which is like trying to sweep a mirage out of a desert
with a broom you haven’t learned to ride, but immersion
in an abyss that dwarfs the universe with inconsequence.

I’m more intrigued by the life of meaning as it expresses itself
as a creative medium for the ten thousand meanings of life
scattered like eyelids of apple bloom by the wind
than I am in divining provisional parameters
to rationalize the superstition of reality that regards
its own unactualized potential with an evil eye
that has to be occluded for the sake of pregnant goats.

Just to be here is the most magnificent achievement
though whether you pulled it off or not is definitely moot,
and I tend to intuit when the silence is comprehensive enough
I’m participating in an interdependently originated
creative collaboration where creation is the past tense
of what we’re about to do next without knowing it.

We exit by the entrance. Even spoliation and ruin,
the withered root, the amputated stump, the delinquent blossom
that left it too late, the imaginative context, the seed bed
for the speciation of new life forms arising out of the dead
like a child with flowers in her arms who can’t imagine
what it’s like to be old and see yourself in the doorway
asking where you keep the crayons like stubby buds
in a drawer with a rainbow she wants to draw for you
if you’ve got lots of red, and, as it happens, you do.