Saturday, March 23, 2013



I’ve seen what can happen to people in life,
the broken man, his lack of will not a decision he made,
the crying child no one answered, the woman
who realized her marriage was a post-mortem effect.
Loneliness and misunderstanding so vehement,
separation so cruel, though people were only
a razor-blade apart, adolescents grown psychotically geriatric
with disappointment, yesterday’s victors who saved the world
dismantled erosively like rust in dry dock, casualties
of having lived so intensely for awhile for one another,
the best steel that went through the forge of war
is beaten into ploughshares that till the moon alone
like scars that were sown, but nothing came up
because of the salt that was thrown in the wounds of Carthage.

Good people, innocent, resplendent as Monarchs
among the lilacs in the spring, the kindness of souls
that would give an evil man a moment’s pause,
just enough of a taste of what it means to be human,
not to regret what he is, nor long for what he’ll never be
for another ten thousand lifetimes yet, but intrigued
by being at peace with his own nature as if nothing mattered,
absolutely nothing, everything achieved by just being here
to watch the swept-winged swallows scramble
to intercept the dusk like top guns among the gnats
in aerial combat with the Bolshoi Ballet. Utterly destroyed
by a whimsicality that challenges you to find a reason
it’s more merciful to lie about, than believe in.

Modes of suffering. Tones, wishbone, tuning forks
that can shatter a voice-box with a ballerina on top
like glass, elaborations of the atrocities with
university educations, that can come of knowledge
without love, green apples and gripe, with no idea
what the frost and sunlight can do to sweeten their attitude,
sharp-edged humans that can slash mirrors with their smiles,
for whom wonder and awe, even in the face
of their own awareness, never appeal to the acquisition
of manipulative facts because they don’t confer power
on anyone. Graces of the imagination, Venus,
delinquently radiant in the sunset above the shopping mall,
fireflies in a valley of fog after a thunderstorm
as the stars come out to consult them like a think tank
for innovative constellations, and the richness of the air
redolent with life, as the earth releases a fragrance
you can almost see with your eyes, more indelible
than the sickly sweetness of death. Sentient delights,

raptures of awareness, the inconceivable joys of intelligence
chasing its own tail without a purpose to its play.
I’ve witnessed and experienced these things every day
and even on many eyeless nights of my life when I could see
but couldn’t say what I was looking at because it was cloaked.
I’m not unmindful of how much kids like sugar.
How everyone yearns to live a life of happiness
they never tire of, love, as if it had pride of place
in the periodic table, a sine qua non of the elements
that sat down together around the sacred fire
at the joining of many rivers they’ve travelled down
from the mountain, assured of their dreams of the sea.
Peace-pipes all around, three osprey feathers in their hair.

But there’s an inviolability to suffering that puts a scar
to shame, an eye on a snake that doesn’t blink
even if you turn away from it like a disconsolate flute
that gives up trying to make it dance, gamma ray bursts
of experience that eradicate anything in its path,
that bury you so deeply in your sense of life,
you could open up a private school for meteor showers
and avalanches assiduously scribbling down notes
like the last words of a guru that entered satori,
but never came out of the coma again though
he talked incoherently in his sleep as if he
were chattering with squirrels and pileated woodpeckers.

I’ve seen starlings nest in death bells they feed
like the open mouths of the morning glory
even as they’re tamping down the soil on the grave
of a man they just buried like a potato in his own starmud.
I’ve seen the lowest snatched like a baby rattler
right out of the cosmic egg bite the highest flying eagle
with the keenest insight right in the leg because
it forgot that innocence can be as toxic as experience
especially when you’re trying to put a dragon on the road
that’s oxymoronically immune to the quantum entanglements
of the moon baring her fangs like a gateway drug to bliss
you can’t teach other people to run from like an anti-venom
to the rush of the thrill coursing through a nervous system
like a root fire of white lightning slowly killing you
with a tinfoil facsimile of a less enlightened life that nevertheless
shines brighter than Lucifer showing the Buddha the morning star,
doesn’t it, admit it now, o my brother, my sister of the moment, confess.

I wrote once I seek the eventual forgiveness of the dark.
Not that it needed to be. But it was a place to start. And
by dark I don’t mean the ghoulish antics of teenagers
digging up corpses like dogs in the cemeteries of Smith Falls
and smearing black lipstick across their mouths. Ooo, bad,
black bubbles without rainbows, anti-heroes of the dead,
do you ever get the bends when you’re coming up
from the Gothic depths of all your ruined cathedrals?
Do things pop like a weasel when you gore your thumb
on a real thorn you hadn’t anticipated like a cotton mouth
under the rosebushes someone planted around an otherwise
unremarkable gravestone? Got some advice
that probably won’t do you any good to absorb
but don’t cheapen the dark and it won’t take you so lightly.

When you’re thinking positively you can be sure
there’s some negativity inciting it like a chthonic muse
pouring blood libations over the body parts
of the king of the waxing year before he evolved
a symbolic imagination. Tropical islands owe a lot
to the slag of volcanoes. You can’t dis the chrysalis
without diminishing the lustre of what comes out of it.
What fool ignores the bud as any less of an event
in the life of a flower than a total eclipse
is integral to the art of being the full moon.
Panning for asteroids or the amino acids of life
it’s always wise to start with the ore. Given time
diamonds can come of dandelions, a star sapphire
light up like enlightenment in the crystal skull of corundum.

Accord the same integrity to pain as you do to joy.
Like the night sea in an unexpected storm
learn to respect your own weather by turning
the wheel over to the waves like a pilot you trust
as much as chaos to navigate by the stars a way
to pass between the whirlpools and rocks of yourself
unscathed by the windfalls of anchors and liferafts
you’ve dropped in the water like the fruits
of what you want to be known by, inverse crucifixes
attached to chains, the first crack of light
under the eyelid of the new moon to wake up in time
to greet the ice burg like a white whale you’re growing
spiritually fond of like the enigmatic co-sponsor
of a salvageable doom as a prequel to the aftermath
of the dangerous, rosey-fingered dawn keeping you afloat
one plank of your lifeboat at a time as if
you were always slumped like a half-drowned, mystic drunk
your life flashing before your eyes like fireflies in Andromeda
on the thresholds of your interminable homelessness.




A feeling in the heart that overwhelms thought.
Can the stars feel our pain like distant neurons?
Thorns blunted in moments like this, the hands of time
almost folded in prayer like the wings of a nightbird
whose lament has seized the air with something
so sad and true, everything that lives,
and everything lives, can sense it,
even though they can’t think it or say it.
The vigil of sentience is arrested by the same
mysterious note of suffering that binds us to everything
in the courage that it takes to live it beautifully
by burning with insight to flower compassionately
in the midst of the heretical flames of our own damnation.

The presence, the friend, the blaze, an affable familiar,
enlightenment or an expedient delusion of an hour or two
when pain isn’t the personal possession of anyone,
and a vision emerges that supersedes empathy
when even the demons cry alone for things they can’t explain,
too deep for tears, though they’re never far away,
when a kind of peace overtakes you from behind
and there’s heart break in the clearing of the clouds
and you know you haven’t lived humbly enough
to see it without fear, but you open your eyes
and look anyway and they’re seared
by the dragon of awareness looking back at you
as if you could feel every mystic detail of hurt in the world,
time past, present, and to come, all at once,
a bolt of black lightning splitting your bones open
like an oak to expose your heartwood to the stars
as if the scars just fell off a chronic wound that never heals.

And there’s no injunction behind this devastating insight
into the pervasive depths of the grief that must be endured
as one of the terrible conditions of life if for no other reason,
and reason’s always a small guess, than to live to be aware of it
and try to love one another better than we’re capable of.
To fail at what we’re trying to attain from the unattainable
because there’s no love in the acquisition of anything
we can get our hands on in a world of forms and dream figures
that are always passing away from us like roads
that leave us walking alone with the moon
for our only companion, wondering where the others went
who used to chatter in the trees like homing birds
about whether you were a threat or just another lost soul
going anywhere in the defeated hope that he might be found
even though what he seeks is doing the looking
and there’s nothing retroactive about our eyes
that can creatively repeat the immediacy of our seeing.
Eternity wounds the children of time like wild flowers
at the end of autumn, and the harvest dance is ruined by death.
And whenever and whatever we celebrate, it’s as much
of a protest singing through our tears like light
in the false dawns of our candles and chandeliers,
as it is a party. If we act happy, maybe that’s half the proof
we were born to be, even alone at night in the woods,
saturated with decay, trying to convince ourselves
all passage is the prelude to the renewal of a recurrent dream.

And may it be so. May it be imaginal and necessary.
May delusion always be the cornerstone of enlightenment
and the impact of meteors always splash us in diamonds
like the tears of the fires of life that don’t wash off.
May what’s already been given to you always outweigh
the reward of what you think you laboured for
so your gifts perpetually exceed the limits of your just deserts,
and the praeternatural walk beside you like the dark sage
of everything that remains to be known but can’t be
until you learn there’s nothing to master in the stillness.
In the silence. In the essential grammar of the abyss
which is us trying to express ourselves like mediums
of our own minds with these nouns of sorrow, verbs of bliss
of the whippoorwill, the hermit thrush, the barred owl,
the starling and the mockingbird singing without meaning
anything to anyone but themselves like an artist or a child.

The heart of the petty is always a compass needle
Zen-duelling over the proper direction of prayer
as if it were swinging a sword over your head,
but among those born demonically blessed enough
to be self-defeatingly great in the name
of a few noble absurdities they’d prefer to live than explain,
this feeling that flows through you like electricity
through a glacier, that fills you like a silo of suffering
is the spear head that’s embedded in the starmud of your heart
you can’t pull out and you can’t push through
given there’s no exit, no entrance on the enclosures of life,
whether it be a secret garden, or a famous grave,
or you just want to be let off your leash like a playful dog
to chase the nurses like gulls on the terminal night ward,
or not cry out in pain to prove you’re a Mongol of the soul,
this emotion that makes you feel so empty
in the light of the truth of the enormity of the pain
that’s been overcome by life through the agony
of everything that’s been endured for no one’s sake
to vitally accommodate the unassessible transformations,
of sentience adapting to its cruellest mutations,
and so surfeited with it all in the shadow of a lie,
this is the birthmark of that counter intuition
that makes life worthy of being lived against the odds
of ever being able to justify it to yourself or God, the zeitgeist
or anyone else in need of a proxy or a paraclete
to moderate the human divinity that’s been bestowed upon us,
at the very least, by virtue of our suffering
and the unknown voice in the void of its release.