EVERY STEP I TAKE
Every step I take either a crossroads, an impasse,
or a dubious suspension bridge that looks like
the work of spiders swaying over an abyss.
Eerie thresholds that don’t scare me the way they used to.
I take them now as if I were dancing
with clear-sighted surrealistic suicidal abandon
and what used to threaten me so deeply
I laugh at now as if it were just another buffoon
that overdid it, and turned its legend into a farce.
The furies that swarmed me once for things
I couldn’t even imagine doing at my most bitter
have mythically dwindled into black flies of the mind.
Now I smile at them like a miniature Pearl Harbour
dive-bombing a rotten piece of fruit. Malignant pests.
Even in my homelessness, kamikaze pilots
drunk on sake, bad house guests binging
on a divine wind that sweeps them all away
from the brittle sky above the windowsill
that fakes them all out eventually, though it’s sadder
on the other side, to witness the death of birds.
Once you accept you’re going to lose everything
you’re inestimably freer to spit in the eye
of your tormentor, and in that moment of enlightenment
the power and superstition of a madman in the joint
that could scare even Joe Frazier like Muhammad Ali
losing it at a weigh-in, overcomes you as if
your death were already behind you, inconceivably achieved.
You learn to stay ahead of the past, like a star,
shining down on the future history of who you are
even when you’re convinced you’re not anything
whether you win or lose and everything you do
is a risk you must take to keep on deepening your solitude
without shaming the eagles by living like a maggot
who sees a rainbow in a drug-induced mirage
and dreams it’s turning into a butterfly
with the dead-eyed instincts of a bird of prey.
Compassion isn’t the mirage a white flag you hang
like a bed sheet outside the window
to surrender your ego like a weapon.
Like a flower, it’s a sign of resistance that begins
deep underground in the blood roots
of a cult of rain and light that death cannot suppress.
It’s a compact with pain that enlightens the way of the other
by taking the egg-laying turtle of the world off the road
or using your own backbone to splint the broken rafter
of a house of life that could not stand without you,
one light enjoined to another like honey in the heart of a beehive
buzzing with stars. Not an alchemical crack house
freebasing its own mythic inflation like a dealer
tripping out on his product in a riot of vacillating ideals
that wobble like uninhabited planets losing their spin.
Compassion is a warrior. Not a martyr of circumstance.
Or the short straw of the last chance to be someone
on your deathbed like a sword between you and what you loved
as you lay side by side together and dreamed
your courage away by hesitating in the moment.
Sometimes mystic disobedience is a greater sign of love
than all the echoes and shades of our oaths and vows are.
Compassion’s a candle with the heart of a dragon
and it roars into the silence of its imperious empathy
like a black czar at the wedding of the waterlilies,
raising them up like paupers and constellations
or the crystal palace of the Celts wheeling in Corona Borealis
like a Sufi dancing with the dust and the wind at a crossroads
to celebrate his own annihilation in the rapture of his wisdom
to leave every room in his heart open to everyone else
as one of the fundamental conditions of intelligent space.
Not to fit the uniqueness of the human face to a life mask
compounded of enculturated delusions of its just proportions,
but to see in every one of its tears, a locket with the moon inside,
like a ripening lyric to the beauty of longing fulfilled,
a windfall shaken down in a sudden squall of stars
that fall to earth like the seeds of urgent cherry blossoms
to make way for the vital fruits of their unspoken exile.