Thursday, March 14, 2013



The neglect he had to impose upon his life
to write, to pursue an earthly excellence
to make up for the childhood he was told
was blighted by the time he was seven as if
to be angry in the age of innocence were
a culpable sin of deficiency. A sin of omission
worthy of an imagination pariahed by the truth
not to be as idylically blissful as other people’s expectations
demanded you smile as a child while your heart
was being torn out for adult reasons
by the people who said they loved you
but only as a matter of manners, not fact.

The want and humiliation he endured. The snakepit
of anxieties he slept on like a waterbed
that moved under him like a sunami
as he tried to dream his way back to the stars
to step away from the earthbound nuclear reactors
that kept melting their bells down
into the bullets of a firing squad trying
to make the point it was heresy to act
like a wavelength among so many sub-atomic particles.

Pleasures foregone. The women and kids
who looked at him like a shepherd moon
without any shopping malls. The killer bees
that swarmed his heart like an asteroid belt
when they left for good as if love didn’t matter
anymore than quality had a leg up
on what was being fobbed off as the real thing.

A succession of noble acts by an underdog of integrity
that had to live ten times more dangerously
than the couch poodles with pampered emotions
to express the dark oceans thriving
with unknown life-forms in the depths of Enceladus
within him, or a housewell he dug
like a grave for himself that filled up
like a black hole of galactic mirages
that bloomed in a desert of sea stars
everytime he lowered his heart like a bucket
to draw water he could drink from the skull
of the moon at a Zen tea ceremony with Aquarius?

A hermetic chrysalis in the life of a caddisfly,
always, it seemed, in preparation for a transformation
greater than himself, making a gift of a gift
that didn’t fool people with the mere lustre
of an empty stone that skipped out over the tide
like a pulse that died as if the sea had been crying
all over it even as it tried to revive it mouth to mouth,
but dark matter with a star sapphire for a third eye
embedded in the slag heaps of ore like an eye sore
to those star-nosed moles that couldn’t look upon the light
without wincing. Nightwatchman glowing
like a lantern fish by its own light in the depths
of Pisces, or feeble as a prophet in the belly of Cetus
suffocating under its own weight beached
on the unchained rocks of Andromeda rescued
by Perseus standing up to monsters like a dolmen?

Ambiguities of an echoless vocation, nothing less
than everything all the time, the hidden headwaters
of multi-headed clepshydras that flowed
faster than the towers of the hollyhocks
could bring their microwaves to blossom
as if they couldn’t speak for themselves
without pinging someone else’s thoughts
like bees and hummingbirds cleaning
the wax from their ears. Frogs and anthropods
in the tidal pools and shallow ponds
of the waterclocks dabbling in mosquitoes
like haiku at the beginning of the food chain
as if someone had sucked the enlightenment
out of life by thinning its blood hemotophagously
with feverfew and heparin and a needle exchange
that gave less than it could take fishing for the heart
like a pregnant junkie getting ready to lay its eggs.
Apostate veganism as a radical art of decay.

The jade rabbit sleeps in the clouds at the edge of the sky
watching them prune the tree on the moon with bush hogs.
He stayed up late and wrote like a candle doomed
to die at first light, when the hermit thrush
packed it in with the stars like posthumous insights
on the graveyard shift that dispossessed him of his demons
at an exorcism of fireflies and major constellations.
His eyes began to droop like medicine bags and bells
over the lightyears he travelled alone with his sorrows
trying to enlighten the past with backward looking tomorrows
that always arrived too late to do him much good.

The secret garden he cultivated on the moon
never found a way to put a gate on his solitude
that wasn’t worth walking through alone
like the tusks at the entrance of a kraal,
or a gauntlet of crossed sabres of first and last fangs
that enclosed love in lunar parentheses like an aside
some shadow of a sundial made under their breath as if there were
only a beginning and an end of time, and no eternal moments
in between one heartbeat and the next ad infinitum.

Such were the serpentine mainsprings of inspiration
he drank from like golden ratios of water when the moon
shed her skin like white petals of wind blown peonies
and Apollo lyrically tightened the strings on his turtle shell
as he sang like an abandoned housewell enthralled
by the mysterious voices of the birds on a prayerwheel
lucky enough to be blessed by the jinx of their calling.
Angels dancing on the heads of the pins
in the eyes of a voodoo doll plummeting like Icarus
through the false dawn of the sun toward nightfall in paradise.




Sitting in the night at my desk, trying
not to intrude on my silence and solitude
I’m beginning to glow like a motherlode of gold
hidden deep in a heart of dark, dark ore
as the gas furnace cracks its pipes like the Tin Man
learning to play drums with brass knuckles on
and my cat chirps in her sleep beside me
and the goldfish are grazing on oxygen
at the surface of their becalmed tank,
three flames of a water ballet hanging
like the bent tines of a trident or the inverted candelabra
of some flower that blooms in fire as if
a quiet comet were passing through the room
uncertain whether it’s an arsonist in a library
or a funeral home, depending on the ghost you talk to.

Big night out there. No stars. Nothing moving.
The clouds are holding a pillow of snow
over the face of the town as it sleeps.
I can’t see anyone’s eyes and there’s
nothing I can say to the dreamcatchers in the windows
about the quality of the picture-music their listening to
that’s making them feel like spiderwebs other than
spring’s coming, the butterflies will be out soon
and we’ll all hang out like flypaper sticky with stars.

But in here where I’m witnessing my awareness of I am
as if I were swimming in a sea of nocturnal sapphires,
the first draft of a deciduous starmap caught
in the vertiginous eddies and whirlpools of the black holes
and supernovas exploding like fireflies and lighthouses
in distant island galaxies trying to warn me away from the rocks,
I go along with things like moonrise on a lake when there is one,
or mermaids singing like the Burgess Shale on the mountaintops
of lunar shadows creeping across their dead seabeds
like the long wavelengths of an outgoing tide.

The life of the mind isn’t mine though I’m
still delusional enough to think I’ve taken
possession of my heart. Let the wind blow
like the spiritual broom of an enlightened rehab center
and try to sweep my mirage away like stars
from the stairwells of a desert, let it huff and puff
as it will, no matter, it stays like a mirror that’s been kind to me.

It’s as important to have a fool in your life
that makes you laugh at yourself or at least break a smile
you can be loyal to, as it is to honour a wise man
with garlands and laurels and words he has no need of.
I’d rather be denuded by the fingertips and lips of love
than skinned by the manicured nails and scalpels of clarity.
Or let it make this scarred wolf-hide into a drumhead if it must
but once the duststorm in the hourglass has passed
and time has come to the end of its traplines like a good thing
that couldn’t last, I’ll still be standing here as I am tonight
in my tattoos and starmaps with the tears I painted
in my own blood under their eyes like ripe plums
about to thunder like a pulse in the ears of the abyss.

The banshee of the train whistle goes looking for her lost child
like an orphan she abandoned in the woods. Even
under the duff and detritus of last year’s works
the wet night bleeds of light by putting leeches on their eyelids
to draw the four humours of their infectious visions out,
I can feel the wild-eyed crocuses blooming
like the cervixes of spring unashamed of their sex.

I can feel the heat of the sun like a bemused caress
on the grey cedar driftwood of my arm as if
all these puppets in chaos beside the lake
were made of flesh and bone as small snapping turtles
lay their shields against the gunwales of a half-sunken log
in the warrior hall of a Viking funeral ship on fire
at Lance aux Meadows in Newfoundland
watching the ice bergs drift by like lazy, white whales
in search of the Titanic and the Pequot caught
with their lifeboats down like the typical hubris
of an anachronistic biblical death wish
to drown like Narcissus in their own ship-wrecked reflections,
like critical questions left unanswered
by the Attic dialect of a chorus of satyrs
celebrating life at a sacrifice of tragic scapegoats.

Imagine that as if you were one of the voodoo dolls,
strawdogs, or a scarecrow of smouldering hay
that smells like methane in the sun as the snow
rots around you like an archipelago of lunar leper colonies
trying to imperialize the moon as they lose
sight of the last of their shorelines to global warming,

I say to myself in compassionate tones of Wilfred Owen,
the poetry’s in the pity, not the wherefore of the atrocity.
Mine moves in like the shapeshifting wraiths of a cool fog
into a no man’s land of dead trees sticking out of the lake
like crucifixes and stakes where my ghosts
can breathe freely like comets at their own wakes
in a detoxified upper atmosphere of northern lights
whose veils are neither a seance nor a summons
to a mystic exorcism in the green sunsets of ochre mustard gas.

I lay a wreath of cedar boughs down on the lake
like a poultice of moonlight to remember them by
and cool their eyes kissing each of them to sleep
to keep them from feeling like bats smoked out of an attic
where we keep the dismembered toys of our childhood memories
we’re not in the habit of playing with anymore
as if we grew bored with trying to destroy them.

A shudder of cobalt blue in the sky, and here comes
the sun like a burning bush of vagrant tumbleweed
in the ghost town of a deserted zodiac, thinking
it can tell me what to do again like a prophetic errand boy
with messages for a pharaonic reality of lesser magicians
trying to drive the golden chariot of the sun
like corporate executives and spin doctors of Amun Ra
through the gunshot slums of a great wound in the side
of the Red Sea in the morning that’s about to overwhelm them
in sunamis of fanatical holy blood on the wings of a burning dove
consumed by self-immolations of savagely righteous indignation
that the night should end in exile, and the day
that’s journeyed so far from what it used to know
wake up alone and homeless as a love lyric in ashes to this.