Sunday, February 17, 2013



When the unsayable supplants yesterday’s wisdom
it makes it look obvious and trivial in retrospect
and you marvel at the spiritual gestures of goodwill
that swept you off your feet for light-years
as the arcana of a discipline you gave up trying to master,
because you could only see into the matter
as far as the light you were given to go by.
And you didn’t know then that when
you blew the candle out you held
pathetically up to the abyss that you did more,
by blowing it out, to illuminate the universe,
than you did when you fed it your heart
to keep it burning like a night light among the stars,
or a lighthouse paling in the full glare of the sun.

Off the path is the way of the path.
How can anyone be lost? Or found, for that matter?
Midways of gurus with their touring freak shows.
Sacred matchbooks of budding sulphur
throwing humans into the Bonfire of the Vanities,
chasing the bank-rolled Renaissance out of Florence.
Terminal literalism, infectious symbolitis
sweeping down the coast like hemorrhagic fever
from the merchant fleets of Genoa. The wild grape vines
of intuitive insight converted into the razor wire
of paranoid orthodoxies. The heretics bear witness
to the madness in the judgement of their abusers,
and scald the clouds with their blood for it.

The spiritual highways cluttered with exiles,
refugee saints, and scapegoats, where is there
a wilderness left where the tourists don’t go
to gawk at the hermits like wildlife? Back
to the birch groves and the cawing of the crows
like auctioneers that don’t have a thing to sell.
No one’s footprints to follow in. The way things
turn out, at best, a wolf path through the snow
gone by spring, or where you bent the waist high grass
by walking through it like the path of least resistance,
unmapped as the wind. What is it all, when
even the seven-tiered tower of the Scotch thistle
is a mental event, if not open, unknown and empty
in the sense of being indefinable, not missing,
as if anything were there in the first place
it was crucial not to lose? Spare your tears.
Life hasn’t got anything to repent or reform.

The mystery manifest as it is and that’s the whole of it.
What more of it is there to reveal, than the rocks
have already said? Real, not real, the flowers bloom nonetheless
and you’re free to make or feel or think or not
about them as you wish. Mourn the ruination
of the flowers in a passion play as old as the stars
or trust your own mind to mentor you in the ways
of not reifying it into a thing among things,
the source and matrix of your most cherished illusions,
the mirage of the dark mother who eats her own like time.
There is no pattern, path, paradigm, psychodynamic
or unified field theory that the mind won’t
accommodate itself to like a child’s drawing of the universe.

You can elaborate the roots of a tree like a fractal into
a morphology of knowledge forms
that sing in its boughs like sparrows
in the black walnuts of the morning
and then consult it like the grammar of a dream
for the blue print or starmap of the house you’re building
like a screening myth with a built-in library.
The magician gulled in the doorway of his own magic,
having lost the key to the spell he cast
when this desert of stars was merely
the vagrant threshold of a tent in the moon’s back yard.

The folly of sages, the wisdom of fools,
what’s the point of enlightening your own freedom
if you’re too afraid to accept it as the mystical mundanity
that’s under your nose this very moment?
You can hunt your own shadows down like heretics
fleeing the hounds of heaven, you can denounce
an eclipse for being a sunspot on your illumination
and polish the mirror for the rest of your life
and still not wash your face off with a paint rag
like a clown in a green room waxing tragic
to counteract the laughter at the expense of his own wounds.

Look into the eyes of the roadkill for yourself
as if no one else in the world can do your seeing for you
and you won’t see anything very shocking to be afraid of.
No spiritual snake-eyes. No hidden meaning
you have to get at the guts of like a turkey-vulture.
And if you feel compassion, and it’s natural you should,
it’s because there’s something communal about the random
you sense has been going on a lot longer
than the last few thought moments when you showed up
to be misunderstood by your own imagination.
You want some good spiritual advice to get you in the habit
of taking it yourself, whether things are sublimely rough
and death is dying into you, or life is trivializing
the palatial playhouse it was born into? When occasion arises,
and when does it not, learn to call your own bluff
and sit down on the ground, and have a good laugh.




What’s beyond the truth always makes a lie
of what you can say about it. You can feel it
even as the words fall from your mouth like a bird bath.
However beautiful, however clear, translucent, well-meaning,
there’s always one syllable more that’s missing
that everything turns on like a black hole at the nave
of the wheeling galaxy, an unsayable singularity.

Love the radiance of the spokes, but where’s
the vehicle you were trying to assemble
from the yarrow sticks in the Book of Changes?
We get as far as the scaffolding we piece together
out of the bones of the snakes and ladders
we climbed up on like monkey bars to paint
our last masterpiece, and when it’s done,
however admired, it’s a paint rag of the original vision
by comparison with what flashed through our heart
like the spearhead of a life-changing insight
into the nature of chameleonic shapeshifters
mimicking our gestures like mirrors in a game of charades.

I’ve spent most of my life listening like a liar
to what I can’t say. The eclipse of an ink blot
on the silence even when the hummingbirds
gather like tuning forks to sample the larkspur.
I can say it like a star, a flower, the black swan
of a new moon making its first incision of light
like the slash of a scalpel across my throat,
but when the summons of the nightbird
stops singing on its green bough, realizing
no one’s ever going to come who understands
the inspiration and the longing, the Slavic solitude,
for all that I’ve tried to express as lyrically as I can,
I still feel the inarticulate urgency of an abyss
with its tongue cut out of what I tried to say
kicking me from the inside like the embryo
of a stillborn sky burial silently mouthing the wind
like the autumn leaves of a lonely death song.

Always an ear out of reach, a flightfeather
of a voice shy of the saying, a secret letter
of the alphabet without a likeness born of the eyes.
As if I used a blackboard and a bullet of chalk
as an understudy for the shining of the stars
or gummed the anthem of the sea like a brittle-lipped shell
I found washed up among the sea stars
like a larynx at my feet. Though I can sing
like the trees in the morning without forgetting
that every aubade is also a farewell to the stars
as sincere a field of nesting skylarks as I try to be,
my earthbound starmud rising like a constellation
of arcane serpent fire burning at the eastern doors
of the black wisdom of life arising out of the death
of what it engendered it. As with the flesh, so the spirit
salvages the detritus of what remains of its disillusions
and labours to enclose its emptiness in a chrysalis
of meaning and matter that might induce a transformation
of nothing into dragonflies. Stranger things have happened.

Truth is, according to the uncertainty principle,
the universe isn’t a metaphor, it’s a simile
for something you can’t quite put your finger on
like mercury trying to keep a starmap together in an earthquake.
I’ve looked into the future through a window
into an empty room no one’s booked into yet
and I’ve sometimes felt the same agony of stillness
being prepared by space and time as an available dimension
life hasn’t arrived to occupy yet, too busy in the present
to anticipate what’s coming like luggage from the past.

Words were the negative space. I worked in absence.
And something would always be missing. Words
were quantumly entangled like fish in the nets
of assent and denial, like spaced out fireflies on their way
to the stars, enmeshed in the torn spider webs
dripping under the weight of the panicked choirs
of dissonant frequencies strung like trashed guitars
with stagefright at the karaoke microphones of the streetlamps.

The medium beats around the message like nocturnal insects
against a window screen between them and a scented candle.
Young, my words were Luna moths and astronauts
that ached to immolate themselves in the stars
but as I got older, looking back over my shoulder
at the ashes of the winged heels of my nobler aspirations
compared to this long firewalk I’m travelling barefoot now,
and the largesse of the mystery that tunes celestial spheres
to the sound of mosquitoes whining in the woods at night
like dental drills and the villanelles of pubescent poets
that set your teeth on edge, I realized, at best,
words were just a way of whistling in the dark
with the rest of the nightbirds when the stars were out
and the moon was casting shadows as revealing as the light.

That’s when it began to dawn on me the worst lies
are always the clearest, simplest, easiest to understand
like straight lines to curves, highways to serpentine rivers,
things seen retinally from the outside like artists
with eyelids like the shutters of cameras with no feeling
for what they were looking at like reptiles
with third eyes that rarely ever blinked at anything.

Eye on the object reality when poets took notes
in white lab coats as if they were experimenting with fruitflies
under a lens instead of experiencing life as a vision
they’re collaboratively involved in like the dream grammars
of zodiacal alphabets written like eleven dimensional starmaps
on the backs of their eyes, hidden harmonies of the unseen
shining from the inside out like an emerald star
in the heart of an apple, under the skin of the sunset,
liberating the seed syllables of new myths of origin
from the straitjackets of a dysmorphic reality
that insists it’s the true shape of the universe
when it’s only another mirage of water trying
to put out a cosmic root-fire of underground stars.

Listen like an empty lifeboat to the mermaids
singing in the fog. Turn the light around and see
the evanescent shadow of smoke emerging
from the urn mouth of the chimney silhouetted
like lyrical dark matter on the roseate field stones
of a new morning closer to the vernal equinox
raising the level of the bright vacancy of consciousness
even as it lowers the dark abundance of the night
in a lock of light across the street opening its floodgates
on the walls of a heritage bank like a rite of passage.

Here on earth I’ve learned to reason surrealistically
according to the logic of asymmetrical similitudes that occur
in the dark of the mind like starfields of fireflies
all talking to each other at the same time
in a conversation about the next constellation
they might possibly be and what to name it after
once inspired by the muse of their prophetic memories
to remember what associative insights they forgot
when they first learned to write like cracks
in the archival creekbeds of their neo-cortex.
Next time you put words to a page like a loveletter
to a mysterious black rose that’s eclipsed
by the light of a one-eyed liar, trust your own nose
and ask yourself if they’re alive enough to smell the silence.
If the absence that surrounds them lingers in the air
like the aurora of an ancient solitude fragrant with light.
If there’s any joy of life in the starmud you blood with insight.