Wednesday, April 3, 2013



The words make it sound breezy, but experience
chafes our visions of love as if it were sandpapering
our eyes with stars. Graduated grades of carborundum
grinding our parabolic mirrors into subtle refinements
no more than half an angstrom wide. So we can
see each other more clearly out in the open away
from all the light pollution. You want to see
God from this distance you’ve got to stand
on the top of an immaculately dark mountain and wait
or turning the light around meditate like an observatory
with an immanental self-reflecting telescope on clock drive.

Until you see the Beloved in a stillness and silence
deeper than your own solitude, the abyss within you
can’t be fulfilled by her presence resonating through space
and we remain as we were at the gates of her mystery,
intimate strangers with our own intelligence
because we long like nightbirds in the spring with our mouths
not our hearts set aflame like flowering stars.

You can research the sacred syllables of arcane dream grammars
until you can’t help but sing in kells of dragons and grape-vines
that bind your lyrics in golden tendrils as securely as chains
to the age they’re rooted in, as if now were all time to come,
but the wind knows the deserts of love better than to elaborate abstractions
beyond necessity. True blue star sapphire seekers travel light.

Love is tough. Not the downy fluff of a nebular flightfeather of light
you can brush off your shoulder like a snowflake
but the arc of an eagle-eyed arrow with an obsidian point to make.
The heart burns, it doesn’t smoulder like a tear-soaked loveletter
trying to get a fire started in the rain. It’s first mandate,
the acceptance of pain and courage in the face of happiness.
I’ve seen more cowards run from joy than fear.
Union is an oxymoron of the far come near. Love pours
stars in your ear like the flavours of dreams
you can taste on your tongue when you wake in the morning
urgent to write your love lyrics down like a falcon of blood
the hood’s just come off, and the dawn rising
like an English skylark that’s been nesting on the ground too long
trying to remember all the words to the song it used to sing
before it perched on the dead bough in the aviary of its voice-box.

Love is the white heal all of the moon in early April
not a way to rustproof the lilacs from decay nor yet
an hermetic science for mutating into the immutable
turning your back on evolution and change
like the first principle of a dead language in chains.
Or a miracle that’s outlived the ghost of its afterlife
like a candle watching its soul drift away like smoke.
The mystically specific details of love are not smudged
by mundane generalities blurring the starmaps with chalk dust
on the Burgess Shale of a blackboard fossilizing sea stars
inspired by a Cambrian explosion of alternative life forms.
From the alpha of the male to the omega of the woman
who gets the last word in like a farewell that says it all,
from the beginning to the end, love is always protean,
shapeshifting like stemcells repairing wounded hearts
like wishing wells the bottoms fell out of like buckets.

The bower of love isn’t a waterbed of writhing wavelengths,
not the warp and woof of a loom weaving snakepits
into a flying carpet the waning moon unravels at night
like a strong rope into a million sectarian threads
staking Gulliver to the ground in the Land of the Lilliputians.
Love isn’t petty like that. It’s fulsome in its shining.
It’s closer to your jugular vein than Occam’s razor
in the hands of God pruning roses in her secret garden,
not by the number of thorns they sport
but by the flagging eyelids of their dozy blossoms
that couldn’t stay awake long enough to see the moon rise.

Beware of love’s excruciating unconditionality
if you’ve never suffered transformatively in the name of it
and you’re happy enough o happy enough with the shame
of the truce you signed and sealed in the blood of a rose in the snow
that will never get to root deeper in your heart
than the permafrost that isn’t thawed by the hilarity
of the spring run off riding its own impetuosity to the sea
in the glee of daring the danger-fraught mystery
of whitewater rafting its own mindstream at the flood,
taking a chance your yellow, plastic, hockey helmet
might be dashed like the yolk of an egg on the rocks,
or overturned and swept out of the eye of the hurricane downstream
you’ll come up under a death trap of overhanging trees
and drown in your own odyssey beyond the Pillars of Hercules.

Could happen. So what? Love isn’t the slow erosion
of a cultivated lifestyle you’re hanging on to like a kayak
or a paper birch canoe gathering wild rice in the moonlight
for a wedding of warriors with the brides of a ghost dance
whose euphoria has been unwisely tempered
by a pragmatic approach to misery that surrenders the whole
heart by heart to the crows like bitter chokecherries in the fall.

Inspiratrix of scarlet maples when the trees burn
their poems in the bonfire of the vanities in an oil drum,
love isn’t consumed in the flames of its own intensities
but rides a dragon out beyond the wild starfields
where they pasture the winged horses they put out to stud
Libyan mares turning their backs on the north wind,
as if they were playing hard to get like gypsies in the caves
above Malaga, dancing to the snap of their lobster castanets
as they stamp their feet crushing hearts like cigarette-butts in disgust.
Sometimes love flaunts its freedom like a death sentence.
As the quality of the inestimable golden fleece
can be assessed by the character of the dragons
innocence summons to the nightwatch to guard it
like skeleton keys with a mouthful of tabooed eye teeth.

Whether you call it a spell or a force, love
is the strong magic that binds the atoms together
like shepherd moons alchemically experimenting
with the waters of life heated by the fumaroles
of volcanic puncture wounds hemorrhaging with life
like the black new moon of the Mithras bull
letting go of the rose that bloomed in its heart out of love.

A sacrificial silo of grain the snake and the dog and the scorpion
all partake of as if love fell like rain in a desert
on everything alike, as the pyramids melted like quicksand
or castles in the tide, and the wetlands of our starmud
were silted by alluvial flood myths in the deltas
of our Aquarian afterbirth that made it all the way
on the crests and troughs of her breaking waters to the sea
of sidereal awareness beyond the split hairs
of our distinctive nervous systems piloting our mindstreams
from conditioned consciousness into the creative extremes
of chaos thriving in the unlimited freedom
of immersing itself wholly in its own fathomless depths
without fear of drowning in a world that floats.




I belong to an invisible cult of the air, a seance
of fragrances, a coven of spirits exiled like sparks and stars
from a fire they had to steal for themselves from the gods
before they could heretically burn in the flames
of their own flowering and feel at home on the thresholds
of their sky burials roaring like dragons on their deathbeds.

I’ve sat here at this desk for fifty years like a runway
of Nazca lines and tarantulan geoglyphs guiding
more advanced extraterrestrials than I am like a starmap
of power-totems I intuitively puzzled out of my shining
that keep shapeshifting like the zodiacs of mandalic sand paintings
as my colourist deserts at dusk keep going abstract on me.

Thousands of faces, dead and alive, phases of lunar apple bloom,
sages like fallen leaves, strangers I cherished once
with a familiarity that assumed I knew them, though
the longer they live with you like constellations
that follow you home to your doorstep as if it wasn’t
as much your house as already theirs inside your heart,
you realize how uncannily unknowable anyone is
whether they’re lying there in front of you in their death mask or not
waiting for you to wash their corpse in the living room by the fire
or follow you up the highway in the rear view mirror
disguised as a ballet of ball lightning showing off.

Solitude puts everything on an equal footing
like an egalitarian diaspora of gypsies around a fire
whispering to them about legends of smoke and mirrors,
and every breath I take is a vision of life
as I imagined it a moment ago, about to to expire
like a candle that’s come to the end of its tallow in the dawn
and all that’s left is this little black priestly heretic of a wick
kneeling like a forest fire in the ashes of its own starmud
having been struck by a lightning bolt of serpent fire
so it could see, like a star whose history runs ahead of it,
who it was dancing with in the dark like a firefly
to the picture-music of shadows on the far side of the moon.

As a poet, what an estranged community of misfit angels I belong to
and runaway demons who aren’t willing to take
anyone’s word for hell, without jumping from paradise first,
each in their own little cave skull in this desert of stars,
living on locusts and honey among decapitated prophets,
scapegoats driven out into the wilderness
through no fault of their own, wounded imaginations
they wear like medicine bags and bells around their necks
to let everyone know they’re coming like the black sabbath
of an evil eye warning people away from them like bad bread
as if that were the only way a pariah could respond compassionately
to the dark night of the soul that had descended upon it like a taboo
only the most obedient could break like a koan with impunity.

Poetry’s a dangerous business once you’ve finished unravelling
the conditioned chaos of the screening myth that conceals
rats behind the arras to find your own way out of the labyrinth
like the thread of a strong rope that once dangled you
like the horns of a lunar anchor over the dead seas of the moon
swaying like the metamorphic caterpillar of a butterfly
on the wind with a bird’s eye view of a vernal abyss
that might look like a kiss at a distance, but, in fact,
eats its joy on the fly like a broken promise of bliss.

Outlaws write better than sheriffs because sheriffs
have no idea of what it’s like to live your life
as if you were getting away with it like a theft of fire.
I sit down on the ground twice a day with my fellow miscreants
though we live lightyears away from one another in a thieves’ world
where we recognize each other by the constellations
that have been tattooed by barbed wire and rubber tires on our chest
and break into gales of laughter at our deepest felt alibis
like crows on the autumn boughs of enlightened haiku
breaking into blossom long after we’ve shed our eyelids
like the masks of black roses with blood on their thorns.

Not in the habit of asking for approval the path
of a heretic through life is lonelier and holier than a saint’s
living up to an example that’s easier to follow than lead,
no one’s footsteps but your own painted on the dance floor.
So, yes, it takes a rebel to see where they’re going
by their own light like a firefly off road into the dark
like someone unique among stars, exploring the face they had
before they were born like a myth of origins in Braille
they could read like a dream grammar of the Burgess Shale
with runic fingertips in an avalanche of Rocky Mountain gravestones,
the long bearded breakers of ancient oceans that long ago
washed up on these coasts of consciousness like empty lifeboats
to give the lighthouses of the imagination a purpose in life
warning seafarers to watch out for falling rocks
like Mayan calendars and the heraldry of cometary messengers
with news of astronomical catastrophes like pink mornings
on the horizons of the false dawns of evolutionary Armageddons.

Fifty years tilting at scarecrows in this unholy jihad
to uphold the honour of a blessing I was called upon to forgo
to be worthy of like a wandering warrior laying his sacred arms down
mutilated to be of no use to anyone after him
in tribute to the sacred pools of dying salmon
that swam upstream against the flow of the waterclock
like a constant beginner keeping something inestimably alive
by refusing to go along with time’s incapacity to reverse itself.
Haven’t you noticed yet out in the dark woods
how eventually even the permafrost goes soft on itself
and the most fragile of wildflowers with blue and white petals
as shy and cool as moonlight on your flesh bloom
like tiny love lyrics to life even in the cataclysmic doom
of the November duff reliving itself all over again
like the reincarnation of a poet who dropped out of death
in the early spring when the red-winged blackbirds returned?

If you listen with an imaginative heart and soul to the lachrymae rerum,
the tears deep down in things long enough to wonder why
the world’s always crying over a house it burnt to the ground,
eventually you’ll stop drying the eyes of mirages
and apprentice yourself to the long, lonely discipline
of an enlightenment path of the rain weeping behind its veils
like housewells and watersheds to ease the private hells
of other people’s root fires burning them like cedars at the stake.
You learn to kiss their burns like the head of a snake,
or dice for good luck, as you look deeply into their eyes
like a nightbird that refuses to turn into stone out of a lack of love
by denying the dragon within the use of your wings.
Show me an angel thatched with feathers that wasn’t
shingled first in scales, the lowest of the earthbound
that isn’t the quicksand foundation stone of the highest paradise
where Gabriel reveals himself as pure light
emanating from the dark eclipses of the cloaked ones
like the eyes of fluid diamonds pouring out of the wounded ore.

Sometimes you’ve got to pry the stone out of the sword
to see through the eyes of a prophetic skull
how the blind jewels of the underworld can rise up
like the Pleiades in the crowns of the black walnut trees
that have shed their leaves like posthumous love poems to the earth
by going down Orphically into a shady world of gibbering voices
and singing your heart out like a hermit thrush in a birch grove
to draw the poison out of the snakebite on their winged heels,
remembering, like the mother of muses, even among those
you cherish the most, looking back is the sacred path
in the afterlife of a holy ghost and no one returns
to the surface of their oceanic awareness like a bubble in the multiverse
of a warm-blooded mammal coming up for air, without feeling
deliriously light-headed and mysteriously empty handed
like a thief that left the new moon in the open window,
like the black pearl of an outdated calendar
illuminating gnostic annihilations of the soul
when Spica, Saturn and the moon are in spiritual syzygy
like three muses at the spring equinox of midnight and noon.

Everywhere the light getting us through the night of the mind
in a union of opposites greater than the sum
of all our hearts put together like tributaries
of the same dendritic mindstream that binds us like water to each other.
O sister I can hear you sighing like a candle in a skull
leaning on the crossbones of your arms on your windowsill
from here, wishing on a star of broken promises, and little brother,
my unfaithful alpha-male comrade, how many times
have I plucked the thorn of the moon out of the paw of Leo
like porcupine quills out of the nose of a dog that refused to learn?

Indefensibly human, homeless trolls living under the bridge
with creatures we couldn’t help becoming eventually
in transit like shepherd moons imprinted by an uninhabitable planet
from one extreme to the other as the cerulean blue of the sky gods
red-shifts into the chthonic demons that drink
libations of blood from our skulls like the crones of Kali
renewing their virginity in the birth waters of lilaceous lotus girls.

I know the wyrd of night owls practising at night in their towers
to make the carrion of dead snakes leaf again into wings
like powerful dragons sleeping in the hollows of dead trees
waking up from a dream of latent magic splitting the wishbones
of lesser songbirds like divining rods struck by lightning
over an unfathomable watershed of oceanic awareness
labouring to give birth to Venus like a pearl in a cosmic seashell.

We’re all reading the same writing on the wall,
Graffiti Botticellis all, trying to tell it like it is
to the best of our imaginations without pandering
to realistic lies that have to call on the facts to back them up
when any true delusion would have stood its ground alone,
third eye to third eye with the standard model of the universe in the way
and cataracts of rose petals would have fallen from the sky
like scales off the unarmoured visions of the blind
who can see through their veils whether you know who you are or not.
Whether you’ve triumphed over your own snakepit,
staring the Medusa down without turning into your own headstone
or realize you can sometimes milk human kindness
out of the opposite fang and breast of the moon like anti-venom
when you stop holding your shield up like a mirror to nature
you neither intend to come home carrying, nor be laid out upon
despite what mother said by way of farewell to her first born.

Do you not see the poets, how they wander into every valley
and their right hands of power do not obey their mouths
except those who remember much what there is to be grateful to
like a star you greet every night on the same long, dark road you’re on.
Ten thousand pilgrims. Eleven thousand shrines.
Not counting the temples tangled in the vines of their own lifelines
like low flying swallows in the bird nets of dream catching spider webs.
Not really so much a community as a migrant tribe of hunter-gatherers
following the herds of white buffalo stars across the sky
in a loose confederation of ghost dancers handing
the same inexhaustible peace pipe around like a talking stick
imbued with the power of thousands of songbirds
emerging out of the dark silence of the urgent morning trees.
I still tend to trust the picture-music of scratched guitars
as if their lyrics bespoke a common broken heart
to the bling and polish of more immaculately lacquered
tones of voice without any dawns or sunsets to speak of.

And I know how inconceivably far it is from one heart to the next
but I swear I would have lost my way long before this
if I hadn’t taken the wind home after a blissed-out firewalk
among the summer stars without leaving a path in my wake
anyone could snail down like the silver track of a tear on a cheek
or break like the trail of their own creative freedom
like a comet in the wilderness slagging the impurities
out of its diamond insights upon first impact with the earthbound.

Spaced out, scattered like disparate stars in an expanding universe,
introverted black dwarfs, explosive supernovas
with mercurial sensibilities and touchy detonators
that would rather blast than bless their way
through the world mountain standing in their path
like a moonrock in the old shoe of the heart
that kicked it down the road like the winged heel
they’d bruised by walking on it as far as they could
like oceanic eagles and sidereal swans out of their usual element
before flying off in all directions like arrows from the bows
of waterbirds reflected in their own snakey images.
Spiritually undulating on the waters of life like membranes in hyperspace
we twist ourselves into party balloons to welcome the prodigal
back to his homelessness like a surprise beyond
the dark doorway of a shipwrecked ark that turned the prayerwheel
of birth and death over to the pilot of a storm
to weather the sea like a prophylactic starmap
for overturned moonboats scuttled on holy mountain tops
without a commandment to show for all their trouble
or swept like dead starfish onto the shores of galactic islands
spewed out of the calderas of volcanic black holes.

The lanterns burn late in the mystic scriptoria
water-gilding the alphas and omegas of our myths of origin
in gold leaf so thin it would sublimate into a smudge of dust
like a dragonfly wing between your thumb and forefinger
if you even so much as blinked hard to see
what was written there in light and blood and tears and fire
like watercolours of the rain on caustic windowpanes
trying to heal broken-hearted stained glass
with long leaden scars of unredeemed base metal
that nevertheless keep the big picture together
long after the last philosopher’s stone has lost
the lustre of its vision of life like a Midas touch.