AND THESE LINES
And these lines like the opening wake of a boat I’m not in.
Or is it the opening of an old wound unsealing itself like a loveletter?
Or the world held up to the lips of this fever like a spoon?
There are shadows in the valley of a scar
that sometimes mistake themselves for leaves
and turn their sewers into wine
and reel in the unmoving delirium of a black noon
when the hands of the clock disappear
into the cool centre of their turning
and time is sheathed like mercy in the darkness.
Suffering shadows my blood like a map
and so I look for joy in everything
as if my death were already achieved and behind me
and I could linger over the morning and end of everything
like a wet winter fog that doesn’t try to cling.
The tree outside the window in my writing room
is the axle of existence
and every ring of its heartwood
is the expanding wheel of the world,
as it is with every breath. But this is precisely where
I keep losing myself in the ineffable urns and ashes
of the unsayable beyond, not just of death,
but of all that life hasn’t been
to one who loved it like his only chance.
A firefly agitates the darkness more
than all the lightning of my awareness
when I consider the spectral vagrancy of my thought
calling to me like a hill to an unmoored lifeboat
to see if anyone survived the last sinking of the moon.
And my sorrows are bells of water that toll like the sea
for all the incredible dead who are buried in me
like marrow in the bone.
Which is to say no more than another
labouring under the weight of being human.
And I know of a lyrical clarity that’s free to sing what it wants,
that lifts the snake up with wings
and enfolds it in the infinite solitude of the sky
and lets it shine eyes beyond the reach of the light.
Here words jump like fish on the moon
and the dead branch is an orchard in bloom
and yesterday picks up its shoes and roads behind it
and there isn’t a shadow born of the light that can follow me
and tomorrow isn’t the ambassador of my next breath
arriving with urgent news
to wake up the dead
like a poppy or an ambulance in a nightmare.
Here the lucidities ripen like eyes with every eclipse
and the bright vacancy of the glaring moonskull
is broken like the bread of a dark abundance
that feasts in the seed of everything.
I watch the snowflakes fall randomly outside
and try to assess the chances
of finding the moon in an oyster,
remembering the unattainable has no threshold
to blunder my way across like spiritual junkmail.
The world is a drop of water flowing out of its own eye.
A squirrel natters and gnashes its annoyance
at my propinquity and for a moment
affirms that I exist by the intensity of its denial.
And it wasn’t just seas that the moon lost, not just seas,
but the sky that softened her stars as well.
The thought falls like a key on rock,
a fly at a winter windowpane,
forgetting what it once could open,
and I let it take its place at the table
like a ghost of salt that looks a lot like me
because we both mourn for the same lost sea,
born of the same bell. But let the starmud settle,
the dust compose what it will, thoughts fall
like the flightfeathers of passing birds
that do not stop to sing because my voices
echo in the cocoons of ten thousand transformations,
and who I was in the prelude that just walked past,
is now the likeness of my dissimilarity,
hobbling like a bridge on crutches downstream
or a disoriented pilgrim on the smokeroad to fire
as all the Gothic glaciers evaporate like churches.
Do you see how space conforms me like the wind
to the shapes of my own faceless emptiness
as I stand over the silence like a heron or a pen
waiting for fish that slip away like waves on the moon?
Madness or enlightenment? Asylum or shrine?
I have deepened my ignorance enough not to care.
My flesh, a wardrobe of ghosts.
My mind, the gesture of a star in the dirt.
My heart, blood on the thorn of the moon.
And still, my spirit cries out like an abyss
for the dead wasp on its back on the windowsill,
as if there were a will to my foolishness
tangled like wild morning glory
in the trellises of the constellations
where the great roses of the night
are enthroned in their bloodlines,
and do not acknowledge the passage of the small urgencies
that are dotted like periods at the end of their own sentences.
I accord the wasp, the squirrel, the tree,
full rights to my identity
in this agony of being,
this fellowship of suffering,
and with no more authority than the spontaneous value
a jest of compassion attributes to my clownish humanity
and the solitudes of anguish it must endure
to keep on approximating its life
like the long draw of the straw in a hurricane.
I have lived and wept long enough
not to trust any insight
that doesn’t feel the pain
growing eyes like a gate in the rain.
How have any of us not suffered
and cried out in our alienation
I am human, I am human,
as if our despair could voice
the violence of our relentless insignificance?
And when I say this, understand,
there isn’t anything it could possibly mean
if it doesn’t heal, if it doesn’t say
to the widow alone for the first night
or the scar of the moon in the window,
or the child savaged by atrocity
who was left torn and alone in the dark,
there is no one to whom we can plead,
no one who could hear
the scream of the hell
poured from your blood
like the iron voice of a misshapen bell,
no one who can unseed the life you’re rooted in,
no one, not even you, to know your need
for intimate fires in the ashpits of your stars
that suddenly flare up like flowers
to consume that which surpasses itself in wonder,
but when you’re wounded by the horsemen in the night
who trample you like a pulse, know this, I bleed
like the same resonance of ruptured atoms
and my harp is split like a wishbone
and my heart is the wilted lily, the failed parachute
of a sidereal hemorrhage, and I
am darker than the eyelids of the gods
with anger that you should suffer so
and not know, not know
the delirium of the seed
that is buried in your wound
like the herb of the eclipse that lived you like enlightenment.