WHAT I HAVE BECOME AND DID NOT INTEND
What I have become and did not intend.
Is there no end of that deathmask in the mirror?
Glum when I should be shining, bright
when it hurts my eyes. O what little blueprints
my constellations were. Still, I worked like a firefly
with the shadows of the insights I had to go by.
Some nights there’s not a dot of Braille
on a blind starmap eyeless in the east.
I try to stare these ice-age windows into thawing
in the heat of my vision but only an eddy of air
has been weeping along with the lament of my candle
like a stray thread unravelling the atmosphere,
a ghost at the loom of a flying carpet
that never got off the ground. Obviously, down,
I’m rooted like a flower in an urn of starmud.
I don’t fight the shadows. I don’t exalt the light.
I don’t try to embroider my death shroud
with finely stitched vetch. I don’t white wash
my nightmares with the upbeat needlepoint
of sweeter dreams than my prophetic skull can summon.
I offer my absence entire to the enlargement of a space
where the stars are growing further apart
and time is slowly running out of lovers and friends.
I don’t compare my ashes to the fires I could have been.
I don’t ask the lamps of my genies to preside
at the death of dragons. I don’t bear false witness
staring into the firepits of their eyes like niches
in a skull that can see better in the dark than I can
at the end of their wicks like spinal cords tethered to a flame,
something eternal that proved transitory as rain.
I have a seasonal mind. I take the weather as it comes.
Just past the winter solstice now, the days are getting longer.
Last night Jupiter and the full moon so clear
it cut my eyes like the facets of a jewel
in the abyss of a mystery that called out to my soul
with a longing that’s almost more than I can bear to hear
its voice is so impersonal, I’m alienated from the intimacy
of a solitude where I used to entertain a self
with how dazzling everything is when there’s nothing of value
to hang on to. Not an I. Not a They. Not a You.
I can swim like the comet of a Siamese fighting fish
in a cloven hoofprint of rain forever but heave myself
up over the gunwales of an empty lifeboat in any attempt
to save myself from drifting alone in the interminable depths
of another graveyard shift on an infinite sea of awareness,
and I drown like the moon in the undertow
of my own shadows looking for where I’ve gone.
I derive a strange joy from the pain I suffer through in life
like a risk I shouldn’t have taken, but did, and rejoice
in the counter-intuitive act of macrocosmic emotions
that my laughter is a mountain that can sing almost
as deeply as the bird drenched voices in the valleys of my sorrow.
The dead branch where the rivers used to meet
might break under the weight of my sacred song
but I’m not out witching for wishing wells
from the blisters of the stars on my lips to atone
for having tasted the light for myself to know
if it were sweet or acrid. Merely illuminating
or more convincingly fruitive. Bright vacancy
or dark abundance, or a dynamic equilibrium of both
for those of you still foolish enough to conceive
of yourselves as pilgrims on a middle way
mapped out by lightning no one’s ever set foot upon,
the journey’s that abrupt. A Milky Way of fireflies
signalling like ships far out at sea like the spiritual life
of shore-huggers burning their dead on driftwood pyres
that washed up onto the beach. The fire god
comes looking for fire and there’s isn’t a star
that’s out of reach. Make your oblations of ashes and smoke
and snakes will climb the burning fire ladders to heaven
like lunar spinal cords long before the elect of your matchbook
fake their way out of hell. Their candles snuffed by their bells.
Brutal clarities. Homeless thresholds. Unhinged gates
hanging on like the broken wing of a prayer
nobody bothers to close or open anymore
like the last exit out of the labyrinth of yourself
before you enter the starfields like an eye in the dark
to give the light something to focus on
like an over-exuberant loveletter from the wildflowers
wondering why they haven’t heard from you in lightyears.