Wednesday, March 27, 2013



Compassion is the sweetness that enters
the wounded apple of knowledge after
you’ve taken your first bite out of it.
It’s not an antidote to the facts of life and death.
And you should know by now if you’ve suffered at all,
and it’s impossible not to from the moment you open your eyes,
the night is not a reward, nor the lantern of the light
that goes before you on a graveyard shift of the stars.
Compassion is the oldest instinct of the heart
and first muse of the mind that can taste only
the blowing blossoms and bitter green apples of the spring,
gripe brain, before it ripens like a sunset in your blood.
That’s why the heart knows more about it than the head.
And I expect, on that basis, no one is more capable
of loving us who must doubt that we’re worthy of love
to live up to the truth of it than the dead who can open
the tiny koans of the seeds at the core of things
like the lockets of fortune-cookies that break
like twisted cosmic eggs in a rush to spread their wings
like waterbirds who write the lyrics of their songs on the fly.

Words for the eye. Words for the ear. Words
for the voice of the wind like black walnut trees
and kites in a storm. And if you really know how to listen,
I mean if you can hear the wavelength of a black snake
swimming across your blood like a mantra
of terrifying, beautiful wisdom that keeps its secrets
to itself, or hear the unfathomable oceans in the black rose
whose petals and eyelids are always smashing
like white eyelashes in a squall of sunbeams
against the breakwater of a white dawn that passes
like an albino eclipse in a moonlit leper colony
of extinct black rhinos. If you even remotely
hear what I mean when I speak like this sleepwalking
through a dream grammar like a prophetic skull in a trance,
words that dance like light on the mindstream
rejoicing in the clarity of the voice that expresses
the hidden message encoded in the genes of the fireflies.

You have mouths. Speak for yourselves.
Some like lighthouses along the banks of life.
Some like thieves with searchlights for eyes on a bomber’s night
when everyone is underground and the bummers are out
plundering the evacuated houses of the zodiac.
Might be the ravings of a star struck maniac talking to himself
to make sure nobody else is listening. Might be
the surrealistic lament of a Dadaist night bird
singing out loud in its sleep for things it doesn’t know
it longs for, or maybe a lunatic is waxing prophetic
in a labyrinth of his own echoes trying to sound his way out
of the mountains without end he’s being trying to befriend
like a cloud or an eagle silvered a moment
like the ore of a dream in the corner of the eye
of a moonrise coming on like a hurricane
with a black pearl in its teeth. The eclipse of a sacred lie
compassion concedes to an alibi without a myth of origin.

Compassion is the child of imagination that identifies
with its simulacra of suffering by applying the heart
like a bloodbank to the wounded eidolons of eyeless images
that didn’t know how to bleed, or breathe, or cry or see
until compassion tempered their impression of themselves
as paradigms of rationality, by shedding real tears
in an ice age of lenses that kept their illusory distance
from the stars that came out after the rain, wet and shining,
laughter radiating through our tears, because life isn’t a dry fire.
It’s the hand on the rudder of a lifeboat
that keeps you from drowning from the day you were born
in the undertow of the tides of the new moon
until the night of the full when you haul everyone aboard
who’s been swimming through glaciers of tears
like baby mammoths for the last twenty-five thousand years
afraid of extinction if they ever stopped to catch their breath.

Compassion is accepting everyone’s death as a portion of your own.
Everyone’s life as your third eye, a vital organ of your own body.
Compassion is an undisciplined action of the heart.
Compassion arises like a moonrise of inspiration
in the eyes of the older sister of the muses
who walks too much alone as if she’d devoted her solitude
to the suffering of a wounded stranger she met along the way
when she let her hair down like willows of rain
to cool the scorched earth and slake the roots of pain
until they bloomed like foxfire in the shadow of her passing.

Most poets sit around the lesser fires of their art
trying to divine the smoke of what’s burning in their hearts
like autumn leaves they’ve heaped into books
that smoulder in tears more often than they break into flames.
But if compassion turns her eyes toward you
like a star in the darkness beyond your blazing
the Milky Way runs like a bloodstream through your veins
and you see in terrifying clarity the great mystic details
in the deep watersheds of picture music efoliating
like wildflowers and galaxies, grails, fountains,
lunar herbs, and starfish raised up off the ground
to take their place among the shining, radiant with life,
in the low valleys and high fields of an imagination that heals.




The grey rain riffs on the windows
as if it’s been listening to too much rap.
Fragrance of gasoline blooming in the gutters.
People all look like daffodils in baseball caps.
Wish I wanted something enough to buy it again,
and it’s been a while since I’ve been with a woman
who wanted anything for me. I’m inside here
dethorning the intensity of the black rose
imploding under its own mass as its core
condenses in a withered star like a heart
whose light’s run out. The fire in my blood
took it all one nightshift further than red
and now I can see in the dark like a black hole.

Nightvisions in broad daylight. I can see the stars
shining through the smudged pearl of the sun
trying to glow its way through the clouds.
I can see the skulls of insurrectionist dreams
deep underground in the cults of my cells
trying to assess the direction of the bomb blast
to insure the maximum damage. Not all roads
are trying to make friends with people
who walk them like cowpaths littered with road kill.
It’s better to be lost as the lesser of two evils
when clarity scorches the heart radioactively.
Dissociation, Deconstruction, Disintegration,
I’ve evolved like a language into a grammar
of oxymorons just to keep my thoughts and feelings
together in a syntactical world of unpunctuated scalpels.
Alloys of a stronger metal are not estranged
like copper and tin from the cutting edge of the sword
by the colour of their skin or religion in the Bronze Age.

Love comes at me in the darkness of these depths
like a crossroads of light from all directions at once
by which I know the radiance that’s found me
is not just another flashlight that’s still looking.
And there are Sufis whirling like weathervanes
in blue woollen robes, and enlightened Zen masters
gently picking the fleas out of their chest hairs
and thanking the thieves for leaving the moon in the window,
and demonic demons with the insight of black diamonds
all telling me you lose control if you hesitate in the moment,
or stand up, sit down, walk, or run, but whatever you do
don’t wobble. And I plunge into the galaxy with both feet
hoping to make a big splash in the red tide of the stars
and I either drown in the light, or I end up
blowing hyperbolic bubbles into a bulky multiverse.

I haven’t turned my senses into lenses,
starmaps, and spectrographs, but I’m not blind
to what’s living under my eyelids in a chaos
of crazy-wisdom playing picture-music
in a band of clowns, just to get a good laugh
out the oracles that are prone to never
take their own advice so seriously
they couldn’t change their minds.
You can’t refit a round suggestion
into a square meaning, and it’ cruel to try.
I have long wavelengths of thought
that burn like iodine and salt in sea kelp
but I don’t whip the eyes of the tide
just to get things flowing like tears my way.
I don’t throw acid in the faces
of tomorrow’s beauty queens learning to read
the writing on the wall as just the wall’s way
of threatening you into letting it protect you.
I don’t boil kids in their mother’s milk
and I don’t practise the kind of spiritual judo
that uses a person’s best ideals against them.

Especially as I get older, I would rather be
obliterated by wonder and gratitude
that I got to be all this without any effort of my own
than have my awe underwhelmed
by petty renditions of the black farce
that welds some people’s eyes shut like
an eclipse stronger than the original bond.
But there again, if you’re happy being a scar, mend.
What could it mean to the stars
if you can’t see them during the day?
And I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again
to those of you who have taken a more radiant path,
blazing is a kind of blindness too
that keeps you from seeing the diamond in the coal.

Yesterday oxygen was alien ore as toxic
as the love apples of superstitious tomatoes
two hundred years ago it was death to eat.
And it’s poignant to remember that any ground
you plant your flag in like a flower without a root,
like a placard without a rally, is
a charged particle field that reverses spin
synchronistically like a revolution
in an hourglass relationship with what it overthrew.
Consciousness is necessarily bifurcated by its blossoms
into two points of view, but deeper down
in the bloodstream of its darkest roots
it doesn’t make a distinction between an I and a You.
Subject and object aren’t separated
by a skin of water empty as the mirage
of a bubble within and lustrous as the stone
that broke the window without. This world
isn’t happening to you from the outside
and you’re not making it up within like a lie
you can tell your children about being alive.

No one’s wholly wise who still possesses a mind.
No one’s totally ignorant if they give
a red cane to a blind traffic light to see it coming.
I don’t trim the wicks of my comets
as if they were candles at a black mass.
I can breathe fire like Draco at the North Pole,
but when I’m not axially aligned with the earth
I can look into the eyes of my fiercest dragons
and see at the bottom of a telescopic well
millions of fireflies lost in a labyrinth of mirrors
looking for an insight into the nature of life
that would true all the others like crystal eyes
caught in the eleven dimensional net
of enlightened lies where time and the timeless intersect
and synteretic sparks ricochet like spiritual eagles
off the slopes of mountainous eras of grace.