Wednesday, February 13, 2013



Unlost when I’m writing, the going’s enough
and any path will do for the shining. Everywhere
space for the mind to move of its own accord,
dead bodies in the tide, waterbirds returning to the lake.
The pictures crowd together in the flames
and a flower blooms in the fire the fire cannot burn
and myriad themes are mingled in the same fragrance.
How else say it? I’m an alloy of stars, a weld
of metaphors that healed stronger than the original wound.
I don’t wholly understand this, but I’m changing
bodies on the fly, dying even as I grow,
and the more radiant I become the less visible I am.

The mindstream in its flowing is a flying carpet
woven of eddies and currents, of thought, of feeling
the heaving, fall, and rush of many waters
animated by the going, inspired by the approach,
and some bring an easel, a loom, a telescope
and when the moon is shining, there are feathers
scattered on ten thousand lakes at once
as the night writes starmaps on the eye of the seeker
all but the most middling minds follow like a dancer.

I live between the coming and going like a gate,
like the breath in my throat, the systole and diastole,
the ebb and neap of my heart, between the open sky
and the canning jar of a telescope full of fireflies
like a prism in a spider mount bending light through my eye
like a goldfish in water. The full moon, a coin
lost in the river that cannot be retrieved from the river
unless you grasp it without using your hands.
The way a bird on the wind enlarges a space within
and you can hold it a moment like the sky it disappears into.

Comes a swallow at dusk and a nation at noon
and you feel the easy parity of the two as if
they were both of the one intangible fleeting substance,
a birth-sac of dew about to let its water break
and bring forth the world as the youngest child of all.
An abacus of tears, worlds within worlds,
oxymoronic unions dispersing like somnambulant bells
into more inclusive realms of understanding
where every grain of sand is the cornerstone
of the cosmos elaborated out of it as if
neither small nor large, partial nor whole
one word is a myth of origin, and two,
the whole of its long history without end.

Transformative stillness, kinetic mutability,
I refine the ore of an old wisdom
in the crucible of my heart and pour it out like stars
into the available vacancies of space and time
waiting like a waterclock of begging bowls
for their emptiness to shape the tools they’ll use
to plough the moon with a sail and a rudder into fish.
How life gets around is the way I’m moved to think
in fireflies and maple keys, nebular intuitions
of the Pleiades rooting like rain in clouds
and clouds of unknowing where there’s nothing
to take on faith but the small voice on the hidden hill
calling out to you like an empty lifeboat
drifting through the autumn fog an eerie morning.

I lay my madness bare and offer you a scalpel
like the bud of a narcissus, and say cut here, cut there,
slash at me like a corpse in a surgical theater,
remove my skull cap like the lid of a cookie jar,
break it open like a fortune-cookie or a surrealistic lullaby,
a lottery you couldn’t lose, or American pie,
and don’t say anything teleological to me
about what you find, if there’s anything to find at all.
And then add me to the sum of educational body parts
on a river barge that’s going to scrape them off the plate
far out at sea in a feeding frenzy of marine life.
Star meat, my flesh, I’m adorned by the mud of the earth,
and my mind, who could find that, when
there’s so many more places to look than to hide?

Lightyears back I blundered into the open
like a tree on a hill in a field, running from something
ahead of me, when I discovered in a flash
of Druidic tragedy just how vulnerable words were
to the emotions I invested in them like ashes in urns.
Great dragons of passion that imploded on themselves
like caldera and women and meteors on the moon,
kissing stones subsumed in their own wombs
like nanodiamonds of insight into the impact.
And I might seem a lot gladder than I used to be
but there’s still too much to forget to be happy.
And I’m not truly certain I have the right to flaunt
the strange gifts that have given me the most joy
when the night comes on like the pheromone of a firefly
and I hear the unmighty groaning in their rooms to endure.

No trick to this. No elixir, no potion, no Latinate abstraction,
no apprentice, master, or skill, I could be making
straw hats among the enlightened conifers of Japan
on a mountainside where the old stones break into laughter
and the samurai class of the grass wants me to teach it
how to fight without regard to winning or losing
no matter how many times I’m killed unceremoniously
like the Buddha in the way of some fool’s redemption.
And if the king comes to your house, don’t
put out a serving, put out a feast, and move on
empty-handed as a man who’s given it all away
just to spite the keepers at the gate searching your exit.

You can buff a Druid into a gleeman like cut cocaine
and then you can step on it again like a court jester
and if you really want to feel sacrilegiously holy
you can burn him like a martyr at the stake of a cause
that accuses him of going to extremes to avoid the law
and then invite him to a reading to scatter his ashes on the wind.
And then beatify his spirit like a white stag you hit with an arrow
fletched by sparrows with the charisma of crows.
And that’s an end of what was so mysterious about him.
That’s an end of his ambiguous glaises, alphabetic trees
and golden sickles castrating fertility gods so there
was dew on the grass in the morning when the moon
gave birth to a swan in heat before the wheat
could turn from green to gold, and the Fertile Crescent
was fecund with dismemberment and bleeding mistletoe.

Death of a poet. What a small shadow among the gloom.
The eclipse of a lunar pearl in a coalpit.
And the greatness of the perennial mystery
that seeped into his blood like the effluvium
of the dark mother’s afterbirth, merely the cosmic hearsay
of what he hoped it would be, up close and intimately.
And his star, now, a cold furnace, and all the warmth
of his violated human nature, a curious atrocity
of the times that are these times just as readily.
I salute the madman addled by creative chaos
like a spear of light in a storm, like a spiritual warrior
who fell upon his own heart like a hand grenade
to save some ingrate his delinquent day of reckoning,
to temper the karma by rounding out the crucials
with compassion and liberated tolerance
as swiftly as his savage indignation killed
the nude empress of pornographic frogs with a kiss
back into her old life in the nunnery of a neurotic narcissus.

And he looked for the moon in a window of a room
in a brothel of experienced muses who didn’t
beat around the bush when it came time to ovulate.
St. Francis dances in the dust at the crossroads with the Sufis,
talking to the birds like David, and consulting the wolves.
Rasputin gorges on the flesh of the rainbow light body
glowing in a mystical aura of sex and death
like the dark rapture that embraces him
in the circular bow of the angel of infernal revelations.
And his accusers whip his eyes
like bi-valved goose barnacles
flagellating their feather dusters in the corals.
But there are some things that move inevitably like glaciers.




And should I ask forgiveness, who do I ask it of
and for what, being unredemptively what I must be?
Descending into moonset or failing to rise?
Maybe my eyes let the stars down somehow,
for all the years I’ve been intrigued by their shining,
sat by rivers in the deep woods, cherished their names
like the legends of jewels in a thousand and one Arabian nights,
but wasn’t dark enough inside to feel them
burning in my blood, reconfigured like a starmap
that turned the light around so they could see,
not just the radiance, but how I’ve embodied
their shadows as well. No part left out, included
so many eyeless nights, so many occultations and eclipses,
the broken plinths of the all the sorrows of a lifetime
attached like thorns to the charred rose of my heart.

I was the child whose innocence was cast aside
like a momento mori of a lethal sword dance
that wished without intent I was buried along with it
because it was pain to look upon me and remember
the union of blood indissolubly holding hands in me
when I was a symbol of happier, more hopeful times
and it didn’t hurt so much to love me. Human enough
in the mysterious irony of being cast out
like the collateral damage of incommensurable lovers
trying to turn their evanescence into tangible flesh.
By seven, I was already a failed experiment
and the sea that surrounded me like an island,
a desert of salt on an alien planet for wounded pariahs
that had been driven out by other people’s sins of omission
at the cleansing of the temples. One of the untouchables.

I hope it’s wisdom that it doesn’t matter much anymore.
That I don’t accuse the universe for the way things are
and, perhaps, who knows, had to be because
that’s the way they irrevocably happen when paradise
is flawed enough to have a falling out with itself.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger for more of the same.
You end up ploughing a garden on the moon with a bayonet
to avoid the plagues of locusts that beset the earthbound.
You come to regret your strengths in a left-handed solitude
that leaves you stuttering like the vocal cord of a nightbird
struck by lightning like a weathervane in the heartwood
of a burning guitar. Absolute among zeroes your compassion
grows cold as the world view of a telescope
with a diamond lens that will eventually melt
if you look at the stars long enough from a parapet
on a palace of salt where your mindstream meets the sea
like a waterclock of myriad moments where time
has no future to speak of and the past is the mere muttering
of troubled rocks in their sleep in a homeless shelter
for dispossessed rivers of thought, besieged by exiles.

Once you’ve suffered through your own life enough
your eyes are clarified, though you don’t know why or how,
by the blood that’s been flowing from them for lightyears
like the secret wound of a prescient mirror
that picks up the pieces of a war torn chandelier
and reassembles them into the shattered menagerie
of a starmap smeared by the silver lipstick
of morning snails fallen to the ground like the dew
of dirty kisses sticky with life in a Sunday cemetery
where the dead are buried like teen age Neanderthals
with gravestones on their chest under an avalanche of cherubs
the ice and the rain are performing crude autopsies on
like the cadavers of roadkill along the byways back to heaven.

That said. A young man shows up at my door,
at eight in the morning, a brain-blasted poet,
surfing his dopamines like a shipwreck jumping
from plank to plank in a torrent of free association
to borrow fifty cents and read me a poem
he’s written for me in praise of an elder mentor.
Not bad for a voodoo doll in a bullfight with a matador,
pierced through the heart by the seven swords of the sun.
He used to belong to a cult of treacherous doves
but now he realizes how clearly the fire of love
burns in the solitary intensities of a cold-hearted dragon
that never wasted his life by not telling him the truth
about being driven out of the nest like a scapegoat
bearing the impurities of wingless serpents
that sting like poisons crazing your heart
with the terror of going mad alone like a mirage
in a desert of salt with an open wound that pours you out
like the taste of bad water, toxic as the skull of the moon.

I can tell by by the unhallowed soil, the carved turtle,
the crow feathers he’s placed in the medicine bags
under his eyes, he’s suffering. He’s disintegrating
like the golden ratio on the event horizon of a black hole
pulling him down into the grave of his messianic devastation.
He talks about the anti muses of his creative dismemberment
as if things were about to go Orphic. He’s bitter and resentful
but tries to pale his feelings like black dwarfs
in the dawn of transcending everyone he’s ever tried to love
who’s misunderstood him, through the new salvation
he’s discovered in his heart like the false promises
of poetry and painting. I listen, unemotionally compassionate
as if I were thirty years younger than tomorrow.
He says he’s amazed I’ve lived as long as I have
like a hermetic revelation in a cosmic cave in a desert of stars
which makes me feel like an astronomical gnostic gospel,
but I can read the loss, the sorrow, the confusion in his eyes
like a dead language no one’s ever spoken before.
And it wasn’t a bad poem at all, so I say,
by way of returning the gesture like a subliminal question
trying to play on my vanity like light on the surface
as if I still had any faith left in my susceptibility:

Young, you’re a passionately, excitable mammal
apprenticed to the evanescence of your heart.
Older, and more of a non-entity than when you were born
you look upon this long discipline of life and art
through the clear eyes of a master of selfless beginnings
with the equanimity of a reptile born of rock.