SOMETIMES YOU START OUT DIGGING A GRAVE
Sometimes you start out digging a grave
and it turns out to be a black hole that fills up with stars like a house well.
Sometimes you want to write something insightful, beautiful, sad,
and you end up scribbling death threats to yourself
in the margins of an eclipse. You ask the rain for a dance
and you bleed to death waltzing with a leg-hold trap in three four time.
I burn my sermons from the pulpit of a sun dial
and then some cult of shadows I’ve never heard of before
steps forward and says why did you do that?
I set out to love you barefoot on a long pilgrimage to an unknown shrine,
walking on stars, thorns, rose petals, broken beer bottles,
roads cobbled with prophetic skulls like uninhabitable planets
that don’t know what I’m talking about when I open my heart about life
and every move I make explodes like a minefield covered in snow.
I say something crazy off the top of my head
and the plagiarists accuse me of being too original.
I read through an entire library of windows just to deepen
my understanding of Orion shining over the rooftops
and I’m inundated by a flashflood of glass in a downpour of weeping chandeliers.
Try living a life of purpose as if you made a vow on a star
you intended to keep and your last words will be those
of a freak in a flea circus of the absurd on tour.
One foot in the boat, one on shore, your topknot tied
to the overhanging bough of a willow like a sacrificial comet,
salmon swimming all around like wise-cracking Druids
and you’ll break like a wishbone where the rivers meet and the roads divide
and everybody forgets what they asked for, what you died for
as if it were all for nothing. And the wildflowers in the starfields
shocked by the worst frost since the beginning of death concur.
Metamorphic wavelengths in a snakepit of terrors
that keep you awake at night like a gnawing death wish without respite
like a scarecrow banging off punchlines like a stand-up comic for crows
that sets your nerves on edge like the uprooted molar of an oak with bad teeth.
Creatively bound to the quantum entanglements of the felicitous agonies
that inspire my life, I can never tell from one desert to the next
if I’m witching for water with a hazel branch or a mine-detector
as the long nights stretch time out like an hourglass full of tar.
And, o, don’t think for a moment, I don’t try reconcile my selves
and anti-selves in a conjunction of marital bliss between
my animus and anima like the nightsweats of fire-breathing dragons
in the crematoria of dead star parts and stealth butterflies
but I’m beginning to think my blood is deficiently unpositive,
either that, or I’m trying to keep too many eyes open at the same time.
O, what I’d give to be happily unambiguous about the lies
I tell myself to get through another night of vacillating
like a suspension bridge between the tender and gruesome
where the skydivers dispense with their safety nets
to commit suicide like adrenaline junkies teaching spiders to fly.
Why, why, why is life so relentlessly this way
all these sacred syllables I keep throwing into the Bonfire of the Vanities
keep rising out of the flames like the incinerated papyri of ancient ravens
that persist in playing genetic scrabble with the cartouche
of my untranslatable name. Was there a time I believed in one goddess
pervasive as darkness like black Isis behind the multiplicity of the stars?
I feel like the obelisk of a famous gravestone carved in scars.
Late at night, in the Rubrick’s cube of a confessional
to distract myself from listening to the rats scratching
at the continental shelves of the plaster in the walls
that dried too soon for a fresco or cuneiform, I hear
the mantras of old lovers trying to brainwash their young boyfriends
with platitudes of love and life and light, and more power to them,
I don’t say a word, wryly remembering when I was with them,
barring the occasional fiasco of joy, the sweetness of life
always seemed to peak like the Mons Veneris in a hive of killer bees.
Just the same, I lick the sticky-fingered honey of my bittersweet memories
like an oilslick off the feathers of my black swans
with honourable grace and generous obsequies that bespeak
the largesse of the latent surrealism in my late Romantic ideals
about love being big-hearted enough to understand
why the intense pleasure of the mysterious rose
is pierced by the inglorious thorn of some unknown militancy
that insists it’s more existentially germane to be
excruciatingly right all the time than unconditionally loved
in a contingent democracy where everyone gets a fair shot
at being fanatically wrong. Peace, peace, peace, my troubled spirits,
my mystic orchids, my deadly nightshades, my urban guerilla sunflowers,
I’m not trying to wipe your makeup off like the face of the moon
in the two-way mirror of the muse that looks at life from both sides
not to make a one-eyed liar out of a two-eyed truth
like icing sugar on a blue-blooded steak. Eat what you need.
I’m flattered by the unnecessary attention I receive
from the two sylphs of my silence and solitude
I’m teaching how to paint rainbows in a bloodbank.
One mounts candelabra on my head like antlers on a shaman in an ice age
so I can see what I’m painting at night without being gored
on the horns of the stalactites of limestone and ashes I work in
like a the visionary medium I’m most apt to be adapted to,
or accidentally eviscerating myself on a stalagmite
like a vision of the moon trying to save her many-petalled face
by committing seppuku on the throne with the slash of a last crescent
she keeps in her sash precisely for that ghastly purpose.
And the other one? She’s a natural genius that does
watercolour portraits of me in sepia tones of rust and dried blood
then washes what she found inexpressible about me
off her brush like a sunset hemorrhaging in a coffee can.
I celebrate the likeness of her art to the heart of life
that creatively imitates a negative space that eliminates the best part.