Monday, February 11, 2013



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.




A rock in the current, a skull in the river,
time patiently washing away the sidereal silt of my mind
as if insight were alluvial. You can’t keep
what you won’t give away so fling it from you
by the handful, phases of the moon, apple bloom,
fire seeds, eyes that looked through you once into
the secret life of the abyss that glyphed love lyrics
and occult zodiacs for homeless exiles across
the multitudinous firmament like a mystic tattooist
inking ice ages in caves for spiritual Neanderthals
alarmed by the approach of a tedious apocalypse,
dead shamans at the feet of defecating rhinos,
and the hunting magic that expressed the inner life
of slayer and slain in images of blood and burnt bone,
hemorrhagic red ochres of midnight, extinct
as the grammar of fire that once adorned their torches.

You see how I get carried away by the blackwater
of my visions sweeping me downstream
from these arcane symbols of self I can barely remember
except as the vague stations of an ongoing shapeshifter
who knows that all he has in common with time
is its flowing. Evolution isn’t a popularity contest
but some recollections are more violet or vermillion
than others, and I recall the features of several women,
a few kids and an occasional friend who were
more indelible watercolours in the rain than others.

Rainbows made manifest by an auspicious eclipse,
starclusters in the eyes of radiant snakepits,
the brass rings of moondogs on lunar doors
that opened like the first crescent of the knife
you held to your wrist to purge the bad spirits
as you fought for your life in an undeclared holy war
of transfiguring omens trying to seek out
the unsayable syllables of the name of your god.

Estranged lovers of mine still clinging like exposed roots
to the river banks of my shoreless afterlife
moving on in a muddle of stars leaving
dolmens and gravestones in my wake
to say where I once stopped long enough to die
to erect a constellation as a wayward direction
of where I’d gone for those breaking trail
into the available dimensions beyond
the last handprint I spray painted on the wall
of a gate you could pass through to the other side.

Enter at your own peril. No proxies or strawmen,
no voodoo dolls or false idols, no puppet masters,
no witchdoctors with elk antlers or candelabra on their heads
make it this far without being divested of their identities
like shoes at the thresholds of an interminable firewalk
that insists you take your winged heels off
like no vehicles past this point of departure
and walk barefoot over the stars scattered like thorns
along the path of a dangerous initiation no one’s ever mastered.

Here in this mindless realm genuine achievement is measured
by the aspirations of brilliant failures courageous enough
to overturn the sacrificial altars of their conscious expertise
and risk the untutored innocence and polymorphous madness
of their ancient childhoods again, the crazy wisdom
of realizing even on your deathbed as you violate
the first rule of your worst taboo, true to your disobedience
to the end, there isn’t enough time to grow old
when you’re on the run with all you can be carried away by
as eternity opens its coffin like an eyelid on the deathmask of time
and reveals the continuity of all your cosmic beginnings
expanding like a universe that wouldn’t be caught dead
standing still when there’s so much fire left forever to steal from.

Go ask the stars, if you need the affirmation of angels,
where they got their light from, or the demons,
the shining ones, who hide their radiance in shadows,
if you need earthbound followers to believe in your own eyes.
O fool, in your heart of hearts, admit what you already know.
Life is an evanescent stillness that’s been transcending itself in motion
like a secret that wanted to be known when there was no one
to listen but a void with the imagination to create
a selfless reflection of the kind of empty awareness that could.
So we all die laughing in the lifemask of a mirror
that’s never seen its own eyes except as these nightskies
of fireflies and stars we all disappear into like creators
into their own works, like children at play with our bones.