Saturday, March 2, 2013



The snow lays a white bedsheet, a faceless funeral shroud
over the buildings and the cars parked for the night at the side of the street hoping
the irresistible force of the snowploughs will respect them
as immovable objects, and leave them buried in their foxholes at the Battle of the Bulge,
everything taking on the mordant atmosphere of a ghost town trying
to keep the furniture from fading, dust off the velvet armchairs
until some unknown owner returns from a long journey
that’s demanded his absence for the last hundred and fifty years.

Sick of the train whistle moaning it way past the War Vets Hospital
like a wounded dog outside the window of a heart attack
at four in the morning, chronically grieving what’s never coming back.
More mystery in the way the bush wolves howl or the wind
when its knocked off the caps of the Selkirk chimneys
silver towers of moonlight when it’s out, a syrinx of empty whiskey-bottles
a drunk’s playing solo in a back alley to amuse himself
until the liquor store opens like the ochre rose of dawn from the inside out.
Like me he’s trying to remember all the words to the song
that makes us companion night owls together perched
on the same leafless bough of the clock. Who? Who?

As if we were both interrogating our own emptiness sychronistically
about where everybody’s gone and having lived this long
why we’re still denied access to our forbidden childhoods
though they were meant to be lived by our eyes only
and the corollary of tears that invariably follows knowing for sure.

If you’ve got a thorn in your heart, a worm in the rose your bloodbank
like a bullet you haven’t been able to remove since World War II,
if you don’t pluck it out like Androcles and the Lion, in the course of time
the body will nacreously adjust to it like a holy relic, a nocturnal pearl
of a black madonna weeping dark tears into the pyx of a total eclipse
that opens and closes like an eyelid on a sacred coffin.
But tempting as it is to have something private to cry about like a train
don’t turn it into a religion until all the chimney sparks
and starmaps have been wholly disclosed like the flipside of revelation
lest you start trafficking in black holes that will suck all the light out of your fireflies
and leave you spiritually destitute in a vacuum nature
doesn’t give a damn about let alone abhor enough to bury you decently
in the dark abundance of your distinguished starmud in a tarpit of bright vacancy
if that isn’t too oxymoronic to grasp like water and sand
passing through your fingers like a waterclock in an hourglass, bottoms up.

Here’s to time. And all the surrealistic spearheads it thrusts like a hour hand
through the heartwood and tree rings of all the things we stopped cherishing
like the return of spring to a hilltop oak that’s been struck by lightning twice
as if one pin in the eye of a voodoo doll weren’t enough for the angels to dance on.

Can you hear the mandrake shriek when it’s uprooted? Or how
I cauterize my pain with vicious herbs like stinging nettles
that aren’t any less medicinal just because they burn
like the horns of dragons ground up into a ferocious cure for what ails me?

Dogen Zenji once said if the medicine doesn’t make you dizzy it’s not strong enough.
And I’ve been wheeling like a galactic Sufi around this black hole most of my life
in a gust of stars I wash out of my eyes in luminous tears
that taste of a hidden rapture imploding into jewels of insight
in the intensity of my suffering like starlings nesting
like lightyears locked away in the ores of creosote
in the Burgess Shale of a dead chimney that wakes you up every morning,
spring in the bedroom of an abandoned farmhouse in the backwoods of the zodiac,
to listen to what the night brought forth as if it had taken the words
right out of God’s mouth like a simultaneous translator speaking in birds.

By the time you’re mad enough to understand your life
it doesn’t matter all that much anymore. Exit or entrance
you stop throwing rocks at coffin doors to see if anyone’s awake yet
to come to the window and tell you their dreams
like a sleepwalker on this road of ghosts the way
a river talks to the stars when it’s alone in the woods far from home
trying to realign its solitude to the waterbirds in a moonrise
welling up in tears at the reproach of a beatific mood
that asks in telepathic silence if you’ve dug enough graves yet
to understand the waters of life ripening in the bells of your sorrows.




No joy in the night, none expected, black ice lacquered on asphalt outside,
March slush before the two week warm-up, black coffee, cigarettes,
I sit where I always sit, snowblind Inuit in front of a glaring computer-screen
letting my mind fly eyeless through a hurricane of stars, no pilot
in the keyhole of the door, staring through the windows,
trusting in the sincerity of their slow, brittle tears
calving like glaciers in the craters of a lunar landscape
railed by the snowploughs like razors on a black mirror
into lines of coke weeping hot tears into the gutters that cook them
like the faces of young women in a small town who grew up milking cows
raging at the boredom of their sorrows in a riot of cherry blossoms and stinging nettles.

Peace for awhile this time of night, skinless in my solitude,
my restlessness intrigued by the stillness of my estrangement
from everything that moves with a purpose in chains of thought.
Dying swans in a Bolshoi of smoke from a puff on a cigarette
I watch how they uncoil like a path through their afterlife
disappearing into the air like the albino auroras of the northern lights
untroubled by their exorcism as soon enough I, too, anticipate
being dispossessed of the dream in my heart that keeps me awake tonight
as if I owed it to life to be here, just as I am, without trying
to better my diminishment like a mirage in a sea of awareness.

Dawn, the suicidal blue of a homogeneous mass of indistinguishable clouds,
and the unfortunate buildings coming into focus, eyebrows
of fieldstones over the gaping eyes of their disinterested windows
like the eyesockets of the skulls of dead oracles fixed
on the one prophecy of continuous extinction that came true
long before it was foreshadowed by the random course of events on the inside
of the abandoned rooms they’re fronting for like a visionary tradition.
I can feel the pragmatic madness of a thousand utilitarian farmwives
getting up to start the fire like sleepwalking ghosts inured
like a habit of smoke to a dream of not being dead if there’s still a voice
snapping in the larynx of the cedar like God from a burning bush.
People using their panic as an excuse, the busy, busy day begins,
bullied by obligations and chores, debts, repetitive emotions
sighing competitively for something more from the world
than the world’s prepared to give in compensation for enduring it.

And they, too, serve who only stand like parking meters, lamp posts
and fire hydrants in the snow and perish, each according
to the lack of urgency in their convective lives, everybody
imagining there had to be more to them as they’re remembered retrospectively
after they pass and the patina of time and compassion for the dead
puts a little make up on their face in the minds of those who live
dreading the same fate as if life were an amphibian on a lilypad in a snakepit.
Though they’d deny it with earnest apple piety and I mean
no insult to any exit or entrance they lived and died by,
not having a grave of my own yet to get back to
before the stars beyond the squalls of the snowflakes pale
like the tungsten candles in the lanterns of the nightwatchmen
going out like streetlights in the waxing din of another lustreless beginning.

Black noise at night, white noise by day, too much permafrost yet
to be out digging graves, but maybe I can engage my spirit
that knows me well enough by now to overbid the odds
as the only chance we have of staying alive, to remodel
this elegy like the premonitory mood of extinction crossing
the waning wolf moon you can’t see, into a few sparse birds
of an aubade that didn’t go south for the winter. Absurd, I know.
But what does it hurt to drink mirages from a wishing well now and again
and vitiate the tactless clarity of mundanity by celebrating
the great variety of the means and modes of insanity
available to a creative imagination that can’t find anything lyrical
about road kill, but is in the habit of listening to people sing next door
like extraordinarily ordinary metaphors for the joys of life
that make no sense to anyone they weren’t meant for.

I see the three pots of Arum ivy on top of my closet
have picked up again since I watered them, green, green, their leaves,
what is it that wearies the heart of a human so much
that I envy their intent to live? Why do I always feel
I’m contributing to something collaboratively vast I’ll never be a part of
or indulge this tolerant affection for the mystic peculiarities
of the things in my apartment like a prisoner that’s learned
to pay attention to the smallest things in life that slip through the bars
he regards with the unpossessive curiosity of unobtrusive love?

I bluff the infinite with the intimacy of a knife I hold to my throat
like a crescent moon to the voice box of a nightbird
I’ve never known the name of nor felt the need to ask
as long as it’s singing as if neither of us had a care in the world.
Uncompelled, I remember the recent dead incredulously
as the embodiment of so much longing and pain
swept away like reflections from the puddles of starmud
on this back country road we’re all walking down alone together
where even the animals are dubious about accepting us for who we are
whatever that means. Are. To future phantoms making plans for now
as if it were already yesterday. How can it be we’re
mere bubbles of awareness in an abyss full of thorns
when we spend all our lives like fireflies trying to shine
like stars in the dark for a glimpse of the going before we’re gone
to less inept enlightenments than these we’re trying to stay afloat on?