Friday, March 15, 2013



If I ever get to look back on all this
even if it’s just to show me how wrong I was
about so much, how much I risked for so little,
I don’t want to have been mean and petty here,
I don’t want to have lived short-minded
as if my brain never grew to its proper height
and I had to live close to the ground
with burrowing wasps and centipedes
trading toxins in the grass like slumlords.
Tried to live like a magnanimous man
with an open hand whenever my luck kept pace
with my generosity. Didn’t want to die
knowing nothing about the stars, that shining
that grew in time even brighter in the dark within.
Wanted to know the fury and compassion, genius,
the affable kindness, madness and love of humankind.

Used to say we were born to see and be happy,
and if you couldn’t find a meaning that suited you,
make one up of your own. Don’t waste
the great creative potential of the absurd
and try to fit yourself like a little polyp of sentience
into the fossilized coral reefs of the past.
Go for the galaxies. What’s to lose?
If you’re going to fall, fall from a height.
Sooner a brilliant failure than a mediocre flight.
You’d be surprised at what the timing of one comet
falling out of the black halo around the sun
can mean to millions watching down below for signs.

Sensible shoes, or starmud on your winged heels,
Icarus or Neil Armstrong using his foot
to take a big step for humankind, walk your mile
standing up as if you were scanning for leopards,
your simian continuum at a fork in the road.
Danger is a capricious muse, but it can still
rivet you with inspiration. The hunters get eyes.
You grow an exoskeleton, then rib
the walls and rafters of the house and soon
the sun decides where the windows are going to go.
The Hox genes talk, and you’re the topic of conversation.

You start listening as if
you were listening in on yourself,
all those voices and things
for words you don’t understand,
bliss, butterflies, sorrows and assassins,
the victimized heroes of egoistic tragedies,
and the poetry in the pity of unexpurgated passion.
Lovers in the last throes of unmitigated catastrophe.
The rush and turmoil of the picture-music
going on all the time, shapeshifting
from one musical scene into another
and even you with your hands over your ears
sick of listening to the cosmic hiss,
climactic cymbals in the great performance
just waiting to come together like a hadron collider
deep underground where black holes in space
are born of the impact. If you’re not already
too calculating, or mesmerized like a stone bird
by the snake-eyes of the dice, put some money
down on yourself as if you had one to lose,
and if for nothing more than the exercise,
kiss your prophetic skulls for luck and let them roll.

And when you love, don’t approach a seabed on the moon
with a spoonful of water you can both sip from.
Return like an ocean with a convincing atmosphere.
If fools rush in where angels fear to tread
the angels will follow soon enough, with blessings
on the horns of your head. Learn
every gesture of her eyes like pictographic signage,
of her heart, a grammar for two, of her mind
be the no one to lift its veils, of her body,
apprentice yourself to the genius of her starmud.

Everything that lives is a gesture of the absurd
the imagination delights in elaborating
like people with the personalities of apple-trees
or the encyclopedic prolixity of the Burgess Shale.
I am is not the cornerstone of anything.
I imagine. And the wind is the threshold of the tent
that sheds the desolation of a self like a flower
that blooms in fire. Why water a mirage? Live large.
Squander stars on your vision of this, swallow the abyss
to keep your emptiness well fed, let your wisdom
be the private life of space, your time on earth
be passage and transformation, and your heart
cherish the bliss of all, animate and inanimate alike,
who suffer the same dream of being awake that you do.




In a darkened room I see shadows in the hall
moving under the door like an astronomer
counting the planets around a distant star,
transits and occlusions and axial perturbations
of insight into the possibilities of life.
And more than life, it seems, at times,
the cosmic odds of love not being the victim
of the way it has to live to preserve itself.

Yevtushenko writing Lima Junction, first line:
As we get older we get honester. Most of us
either exhausted into the truth, too lazy to lie,
or trying to make an anonymous impression upon life
like the Burgess Shale on a grailquest for oxygen.
How much can be made of so little. Predators
growing eyes and prey encased in exoskeletons.
Pikaia drops a thin lifeline into the waters of life
and everyone’s been climbing up their spine
like scarlet runners and serpent fire ever since.
Burning siege ladders storming the parapets of heaven.

Thermophilic cyanobacteria the hard drive of the planet
look at the software that’s evolved from that
like happy apps to keep our left front parietal lobes amused.
I never planned on a purpose in life. I think
all paradigms of the truth are potential liars.
There’s something more honest about an iron chain
than a gold. One smells like blood on the snow,
the other, too much cologne on a sunset. Religion,
art, science, the disclaimers of secular spiritualism
like a ghost denying the gene pool it’s hovering over,
all well and good, the junkie’s got his moonrock,
and we’re well protected by an umbrella
of intercontinental, ballistic Clovis points,
and the shepherds of the black camel, obviously oil,
are raising tall buildings in the desert like the horns of unicorns
among the obelisks and minaras, and I’ve got
more ways of expressing myself than I’ve got
things to say, but, hey, it’s the twenty-first century
and still the heart’s the mushroom cloud of a stromatolite.

Lady I wish it were stars and fireflies with me too
all of the time, windfalls of golden apples
in the orchards of the Hesperides, ripening
like the halos and auras of moondogs
and mystics wheeling in their shadows
at the crossroads of sundials in a vertiginous trance
at the thought of meeting you like a willow at midnight
at the zenith of a bridge in an aquatic garden on the moon
where the mindstream is always at ease
with the oceanic night sea it’s flowing into
and the poppies in our blood were dancing like solar flares
to the wild timbrels of the savage celebration
of the conflagration of life they were returning to
like a watershed of light. Fire flows in the dragon’s veins
and a corona of solar flares turns into a rosette of flame-throwers.
Fossils flower in our starmud as the earth’s answer to constellations.

No suffering. No salvation. And the physician left
to heal himself. First from his ignorance. Then the wound
of salvation itself. Private conjuring put on public view
is propaganda, not spiritual art. I have a symbolic mind.
A paleolithic future. I wear the hides of my insights
like wolfs’ heads. I die like a shaman in front of my paintings.
Bury my bones under the hearthstones like a pyre of kindling.
Spit paint my portrait in red ochre like dried blood
bound by animal grease. There are elk horns
in the middens of my starmud, mother of pearl in my eyes
like another moonrise whispering strange dream grammars
that express the solitude of the creatures of night.
And an inexplicable longing to understand the mystery of sorrow.

Were the first hominids troubled by the birth signs
of the new mindscape they were emerging into
as most of us migrating with the big-game stars into
the available futures of our vagrant imaginations
looking into an abyss of gaping astonishment and silence
at ancient galaxies rising like smoke from distant fires,
realizing we are not alone with our genetic codes
like surrealistic poems looking for happy mutations.

Relative to the future memories of stars yet to shine,
we’re all troubled apes in prime time trying to crack
cosmological koans with the rocks of good ideas.
Sponges filtering the krill of the stars through our pores.
Wisdom teeth pushing up through our jawbones
under the molars of the bi-valved goose-necked barnacles
of our observatories on wilderness mountaintops
several mirrors closer to deciphering the stars
as the creation of the intel of our own senses.

No dirt. No pearl. Whether you throw it before swine or not.
The true harvests of the soul are still sown
under the fertile crescents of your fingernails.