Wednesday, March 6, 2013



On a big, big scale, what does it amount to, these words,
this cooing, grunting, shrieking, howling, moaning, laughing
in a zoo at night like caged animals trying to get out of themselves?
These academics who write like yoked oxen trying to convince themselves
they’re ground breaking tractors trying to get their seed in on time
by sowing the conceptual grime of their immaculate fingernails with salt.
English ox-eyed daisies about as wild as it gets. Dead, dead, dead,
they all go into tenure arguing over what someone else said
who never had the money to live as comfortably as they do
with another man’s dread. Maggots in the eyes of the corpus literati
delectating over the cadavers of the ghost dancers who lived
off the reservation, not like the sixth pressing of palms and grapes
at a wine and cheese party, so poetically politic they’re suspicious of cutlery
even as they lick the spines of books that have broken into visionary print
inspired by the works of hallucinogenic toads that jump like popcorn
on rainy roads at night, caught in the highbeams of mesmeric headlights.

not the meaning or the madness, what torrents of love and blood,
what zeniths of agony, what nadirs of beauty endured in transit,
all the Gibraltars of doubt they had to pass through like kidney stones
through the pillars of Hercules. What was worshipped here
in these abandoned temples, these shrines and niches, altars to the heart
that was torn out of them like sacrificial judas-goats in the name
of terrors that raked their flesh with the claws of the moon,
extasis in death, life in the urns of their self-immolations like flowers
that bloom in fire once every seven thousand years, and the tiger
not betrayed by preying villagers who couldn’t kill it eye to eye.
Among the bones and broken pillars of another man’s devotion,
what are these nasty wrens and sparrows twittering about?

A writer dies and there’s an eclipse of black mold and mildew
that grows over his life as his body ripens in the earth
like an empty medicine bag denuded of the vital organs and totems
he lived by like hope against hope he hadn’t wasted his life
chanting slogans at the moon to propitiate its mutability.
Do ut des. I give so you give. Do ut abeas. I give so you go away.
Parrots of a false dawn, swinging on the faculty rungs of an aviary.

Semini sectores of editors trying to get laid like scalpels and footnotes
at the bottom of a page of mediocre notoriety radical
as the taste of radishes for six packs and cleavage. Rhinoplasty
to amputate the smell of shit out of their noses as they broach the truth
of what a poet has to live through to sing like a hermit thrush
in a snakepit of plastic surgeons under the knives and toxic anaesthetics
of their fangs and ossifying glances assessing the chances
of anyone making it through creative writing school without turning to stone.

Slim to none. The Great Barrier Reef of English Literature, dead polyps
on your larnyx, tiger mussels in the Great Lakes, semi-quavers
with their tails cut off like three blind mice playing music on the effluvial gates
of our fecal waste like Aeolian harps, I tell you, Aeolian harps
with iron staves like the baleen of expurgating blue whales
throwing up the krill they couldn’t keep down that a lecture will later distill
into the cloaking devices of perfumes that would put even Ibn Attar’s name to shame
with the stink of enlightening lies. The mythic deflation of generative stars
into planetariums of flashlights that can see about as far into the dark as flatworms.
The Beth Luis Nion Druidic tree alphabets conveniently repackaged as toothpicks
by chainsaws trying to get at the truth of the heartwood of old growth forests.
Chainsaws for the timber. Bush hogs for the underbrush.

How to make a vocational career choice out of a noble calling,
by learning to bite your tongue in the presence of a padded bibliography
stuffing a pillow of dipiliated flightfeathers like down in the mouth of the muse.
Who plucked your eagles in the forest of Teutoburg? Who crushed
the cosmic eggs of your nesting crows on offshore islands
to keep them from squabbling with the morning robins outside your window
while you were trying to sleep like a sabbatical from yourself?

Sa Bat, the evil eye of the Sumerian full moon when women bled
in isolation so we could have holydays that still don’t ring true,
and football weekends and hunting trips out in the woods
among the critical roadkill as the goats dropped their kids
to be cooked in their mother’s milk. You lay flying carpets
down in the library to cut back on the noise of life while you focus
on articulating your Latinate abstractions like a seance writing
a treatise on the history of silence in all of Shakespeare’s plays,
and six of Basho’s haiku. Que sais-je? What would you say
did your Catullus walk that way? Emperor penquins
giving singing lessons to skylarks like asmatographers with croup.

Poultry and shards of pottery with gold fillings like broken
Chanoyu teacups you’re trying to pour the ocean in one
shore-hugging tidal pool at a time like a waterclock of bottled water
without ever having gone sailing for yourself in
a savagely indignant Pacific storm because you’ve
always been the stalwart lighthouse of the norm
not the lifeboat that gets overturned in the dark night of your soul
like an oilslick of sharks with sundials and guitar picks for fins.

Cockadoodle do, my Chanticler, barnyard birds afraid of the fox,
the fisher, the wolf, the hawk, the staple-toothed serpent
on the paper trail of your peregrinating ovulations
trying to keep the rain out of your cathedral
like Brunelleschi’s Florentian dome or the polar ice caps
of the Medicean moons of Jupiter with its third eye open
like a methane hurricane rose window into Renaissance banking traditions.
Money-lenders in the temples. Banci, benches outside
the time locks on the vaults of your prodigious erudition.
Spring ahead, fall back, on your daylight savings plan as you must
like interest on the eternity of other mens’ afterlives
pressed like wildflowers in the starfields between the pages
of the encomiums of your last words like poppies between
the gravestones of funereal anthologies that taste like round-up
to the crab grass and dandelions spread like starmaps across your lawn

or the lime you throw like moonlight after they’re irrevocably dead
on the thirty-seven and thirty-nine year old bodies
of Mozart and Van Gogh thrown into a pauper’s black hole
or if that doesn’t work for you as an oxymoronic objective correlative
stop excising flesh and blood, heartbreak, and humanity
in the surgical theatre of your pathological criticism of the dead
like an authoritatively authorless first edition of the absurd
by rephrasing your experiment with poetry into the experience
of John Clare, Or Christopher Smart beatifying his cat in Bedlam,
Osip Mandlestam on his way to the gulag, Mayakovsky after midnight,
Sylvia Plath turning the gas on because Daddy you Nazi you will not do,
John Keats coughing up blood under a hawthorn tree in a mailman’s backyard
like the tongues of nightingales, Rimbaud running guns in Ethiopia,
Villon, the priest killer, mouthing his testaments to the prison walls
as he’s waiting to be hung. Ever take a dagger in the eye like
Christopher Marlowe in Deptford at the hand of Walsingham’s MI5,
be summoned like Hafiz before the Mongol vizier of Samarkand
for trading that and all the gold of India for the mole on a slave girl’s cheek,
or Raleigh in the tower after getting back with no gold for the king
from the Amazon, telling his son to give them all the lie
before he was decapitated like an acephalic iamb by the axe of James the First,
and maybe worse, Emily Dickinson suffering the lugubrious death
of lightning buzzing around like a housefly among the patriarchs of Amherst?




Be a fatalist, but move your feet, good Chinese advice.
I’m sitting here looking out the window into the dark night
polluted by the town lights, long eyes peering down the halls and corridors
of my red shifting thoughts. Relax. Ruminate. Reflect.
My way of trying to stare down a double-bladed crisis
like the axe of the moon about to come down on the nape of my neck.
Should I paint? Board’s primed and toned on the easel. Ready to go.
Or give in to another poem that isn’t going to help pay the rent and hydro
because people buy things they can touch and own, not so much
the insights and emotions they’re touched by and can never take hold of.
Don’t want to rant about it anymore like sheet lightning talking to itself.
Don’t want to take a knife and cut myself in the calf again
to suck the poison out of the snake-bite before it goes to my heart.
Not trying to make chain mail out of my scars anymore.
I’m a lot less vulnerable walking down this road of thorns skinless,
me, my evanescence and my cat, travelling light, bobbing for apples
like shepherd moons or prophetic Orphic skulls, a windfall
of dismemberments, floating like depression glass Japanese crystal balls
free of the fishing nets in this sea of awareness,
drifting pianissimo on the calm before the storm all the way
from Thrace to Mytilene in Lesbos where Terpander and Sappho
used to live. Radioactively resigned to the torment, maybe
I’m living my half-life now. I’m stable as lead. I don’t want
to write another poem where I’m sticking my head in a vise
to make me confess to things that never even crossed by mind.
No more inquistors. No more confessors making accusations.
I never could make any sense out of advice that smarted like a penance.

Salt in the wound. I’d rather brine my back with stars,
be keel-hauled across the hull of the moon like a shadow of myself
than be erosively rasped to death by termites, tapeworms, and maggots.
A bit harsh. But as I said. Radioactively resigned to the Tathagatagarba,
the Thus Come of it all. Maybe I could do a ghost dance
that will bring the people and the buffalo back if I can leave the reservation
in my thousands without making anyone too nervous. Make a war bonnet
out of my winged heels, let Pegasus lead a diaspora of wild horses
across the plains as an alternative to the wheel of birth and death.
I could shaft and fletch my arrows with alder and eagle weathervanes
that could finally fly as true as Aquila arcing up in the west
or hold my finger up like a lightning rod to determine
the direction of prayer on the wind from moment to moment.

I must have been an East Indian kalpas of afterlives ago
because I’m always trying to go cosmic as I approach
a condition of zero and eternity starts creeping into my thoughts
like an abysmal incommensurable that puts pi to shame.
One of the great graces of the empty pockets of space
is they never shortchange the stars so the light’s not living
in a chronic state of doubt. This is That. Flat out. Poems and paintings
don’t diverge as much like the tines of snakestongues, forked lightning,
witching wands or roads in a dark wood. I am the tendrils
of the wild grape vines overtaking me like poem. I am
the dancing brooms, the braided manes of my paintbrushes
trying to capture the living spirit of a wayward mirage
as the light falls upon it instead of trying to sweep it all under the rug
of some flying carpet that never gets off the loom of the moon
undoing me a night thread by thread like the strong rope of a spinal cord
to keep me from hanging myself from a starmap of northern chandeliers

or tying myself up like the hawser of a lifeboat to a fire hydrant
so I’d never have to come to my rescue again, emotionally unmoored
like the noose in the eyes of the hurricane on Jupiter
that’s been raging for the last three hundred years like a knot
in the heartwood, or the skull of a rock parting the comma, coma, comet
of a hairy star plunging into the midnight sun like the light
of my mindstream evaporating like tears of dry ice
into the air, into the ether, into the arms of a great reservoir of fire
long before it gets there like the ashes of a dispassionately posthumous loveletter.