Monday, March 4, 2013



The mystery doesn’t come with windows and points of view,
errors of perception, smudges, smears, labyrinthine fingerprints
on grimy glass, half-legible runes of names people longed for
last year, breathless palimpsests under a glaze of nicotine
varnishing the pane like an old masterpiece to keep it
from being washed away by our tears. Nothing to argue about.
Nothing to sour your clarity over by washing your eyes out
like mirrors with vinegar, instead of tears, wine, and blood.
Nothing to feel impure or unworthy of if you go home
to take a bath and you turn the faucet on and stars don’t pour out.

If you’re standing in a field of broken corn stalks on
an immaculate winter night looking up at the ferocious radiance of the stars
wishing you could trade your feet of clay in for winged heels
as you go inside to attend to being mortal and notice
the wheelbarrow stuck in the ice like a baby mammoth in a glacier
flowing like frozen time to calve in a sea of awareness,
your insight is no more or less pristine than a fish monger
watching the sun going down in the smog of Beijing.

The mystery floats into your field of view like a gravitational eye
that wraps itself up in a skin of oleaginous space like the silks
of the aurora borealis, a bubble of life that parts the light a moment
like the wavelengths of a lover’s hair. Comets, curtains, veils,
rivers of red cedar, the flowing of the mindstream around
the rudder of the rock, the shark fin of the circling sundial,
just to add the buoyancy of a bell to the emptiness without
weighing you down with the gravitas of starmud in the human heart.

It humbles and exalts simultaneously. Nothing to crow about,
no need to wake the neighbours up, nothing to found a cult upon
like a meteoric foundation stone entering the upper atmosphere
like a flashback of Mars throwing a rock through the window
of a glass house it doesn’t live in anymore. The wings of the housefly
and the scales of the oilslick are no less stained by rainbows
than the rose windows in the eyes of the most famous, beatified cathedrals.

Do you see the ruby-throated hummingbird at the larkspur,
the maggot eating the meat of your tongue like a sacred syllable
you could never pronounce for fear of choking on the name of death?
One’s not enlightened and the other ignorant. One doesn’t
cancel the other one out by adding a blessing to a curse,
an acid to a base, Gomorrah to Gethsemane, to nullify the bad
with the good like a pillar of salt the wind doesn’t waste time on
sowing the seeds of life like rapturous wildflowers and apocalyptic blights.

Seeing deeply into the mystery of life isn’t a matter
of choosing one eye over another. What discipline has to be mastered
to see a tree, a star, the moondog haloing the detached retina of the moon?
Life doesn’t summon you to a burning bush like a fire extinguisher
to put the fireflies and chimney sparks of insight out for fear
they might catch on. Look at how long the field fires of the stars
have been burning like revelation in the ashes of a waterclock of urns.

There’s no lost skeleton the light’s looking for to unlock
the keyholes of your pupils to open the door to the darkened room
where you live like a recluse behind your eyelids like a rose-bud
that’s going to bloom any day now if you die faithfully long enough
trying to second-guess a cultivated vision of what’s just outside your window.

What’s the difference between a deluded mujahdin
and a corporately funded cosmologist trying to tailor
the desert of stars in the hourglass wombs they were born in
to the mirages they kill professionally like scholars in the name of?
There’s no holy war between the silence and the solitude of what you see
when the mystery of life opens the eyes in your blood
to deepen your ignorance of the ineffable by suggesting in secret
there’s no need for the visionary to transcend the visual
like a moonrise on the waters of life it’s reflected on,
no need for the fish to ask what’s true or false, far shore or near,
about the oceans of wary sentience it’s swimming in.
When was the last time a dream ever lied to anyone?
How often have you known a nightmare to tell the truth?

I look at Vega in the constellation of the Lyre in the summertime
and I see the birth of a fossil of light. In the winter,
walking brutal country roads, I’m the altar of a sacrificial mailbox
shot full of black holes like rusty stigmata without a return address.
I can smell the incense of loveletters burning in the flames
at the autos da fe of old roses martyred by venerable heresies of the heart
and like a river as it approaches the sea from the wellspring
of inspiration on the mountain top it’s all one continuity of flowing
like autumn leaves and cherry blossoms on the same mindstream.
Haven’t you ever felt there was something draconian about butterflies
and pellucid about crows ever since their feathers changed from white to black?

The lustre of the empty stone, the jewel in the eye of the ore.
The bright vacancy, dark abundance of our quantum entanglement
with the full moons and eclipses of what’s arrayed before us here
like a hidden secret that wanted to be known in the stillness
of a liberated heart alone with the Alone walking beside a river
running like a starmap of ancient sky burials and resurrections of the mind
as the Pleiades go down dancing into exile like homefires on the waters of life.




The night with the personality of an indelible ink blot
that just leaked into my pocket no doubt trying to print its own money
as a fast lane to prosperity as the dumptrucks, snowploughs, snow blowers,
front loaders raise and lower their blades and buckets
like weightlifters with a grunt and a thump, authoritatively
clean the streets of Perth like an occupation army after curfew.

Too many windows looking back at me with nothing in their eyes
but half-priced mannequins wearing black sequined dresses
like the scales of wet rat snakes anticipating the spring.

Signs of attrition everywhere, no stars, every third store
empty or on the verge of economic seppuku, two in the morning,
purged of people, I’ve lost interest in trying to befriend
the fire hydrants, garbage bags, crosswalks and traffic lights
that never stop talking about the importance of having a function in life
as a measure of human worth while I’m going incalculably mad
irradiated by too much chronic sanity hermetically sealed
in a downscale upstairs apartment like a mason jar of firefly jam
put up in the meltdown of autumn by people who know how
to look ahead to yesterday in the eternal recurrence of tomorrow.

I’m writing poetry in self defence. I’m bailing my heart out like a lifeboat
trying to stay afloat in a squall of undermining metaphors
that want to kick the stool from under my feet like the sealegs
of a man trying to drop anchor on suicide watch trying to weather it out.
Bring on the rocks. Bring on the mermaids I once heard singing to me
in an avalanche of meteors that buried my species alive.
Of what use am I when I’m the Mohican omega of my kind? I survive.

Driven out into the wilderness to live among the scapegoats and the prophets
on honey and locusts, staghorn sumac, bitter choke cherries frozen in the snow
and not even a local Salome to go dancing with every Tuesday night
before I serve my head up to her on a platter to prove she has no reason
to be jealous of the menage a quatre I’m having with the three sybillant muses
of my solitude, silence and stillness. It’s only a lyrical fling
with the freedom to despair as I please without consulting anyone
since I was nineteen. I’m beginning to look up to myself when I’m down.

Go ask the river I nose my way along like a lone bush wolf
looking for muskrat in the cattails. No waterlilies walking on water
like jumpy stars in a telescope, I can bloom like the sail on an iceboat
skimming a patina of moonlight on the thin ice of a lake about to break
like a fortune cookie with no risk averse wisdom inside. Luck
of the abyss, I guess, because necessity says when you’ve got to jump
you’ve got to jump and you’ve got to get it right seven out of ten times
if you want to live on the razor’s edge that close to your jugular.

No odds on your side but the counter-intuitive fact
you haven’t got as much to lose living on your own
as you do when someone you love is walking out the door
because she can’t be famous in your shadow or live off the superflux of nothing
like a mystic with a fat soul. But over the intervening light years
of shining over my shoulder into the dark behind me
I’ve come to appreciate the constancy of the discontinuity of love
like the ever-fixed mark of an asteroid belt as the north star of a sonnet
whose height has to be taken with a plumb bob in a dry wishing well.

As above so below. It keeps me from being embittered by the truth
after these last fifteen years in hell paying for the virtues of my youth
bleeding out like the oceans in the rose of a matador gored on the horns
of garden snails with floral sensitivities. Now I carry two swords
like the hands of a clock in the sash of a samurai
living up to the Zen code of a warrior jester with a laughable hope of delusion
and when the hour comes around again to draw straws at midnight
I emotionally eviscerate myself on the shorter blade to save face
in the long run of so much pain I have to take a short cut
through a heritage cemetery to get to where I’m going on time.

Ah, if only it were the dark, dark, dark, of another starless winter night in Perth.
And not the measure of a man opening his heart up like a pinata
to see what his life was worth after years of living dysfunctionally
like a nightwatchman in the black holes of nirvana, trying to keep the lights on
in an eyeless space with big dreams of never waking up again.