Friday, April 5, 2013



I’d rather learn to sing from the river and the wind
than second guess what some conceptualist is elaborating
like a busy fractal in a labyrinth taking his mystagoguery
way too literally to be lyrically credible to the nightbirds.
Crutches might be the skeletal structure of lapwings
like model airplanes we used to build as kids
as we jumped from cliffs and ran down hills
to get a lift out of our Icarian descents, to be swept
if only a little way before the inevitable crash
up into the air, this sack of flesh hanging like a doorknocker
in space, and freedom, do you remember it, tasted
so deliriously exhilarating only the fledglings
of the returning swallows could understand what we meant
when we said daring said feathers and falling took flight,
but a flying buttress can’t teach a cathedral to soar.

I used to take a telescope, a cat, and a journal of poems
up to the rocks of Heartbreak Hill late at night
when most of the dangerous drunks were crashed out
on carseats upstairs in the triplex next door
and sit alone for hours staring at the stars
intoxicated by Keats pressing joy’s grape against his palette
bleeding to believe that beauty was truth
though the truth I knew wasn’t always beautiful.

The silence, the solitude, the unattainability
of a young man’s aspirations to say the stars
deeper than they’ve ever been said before
in Arabic, Greek or Latin, as I wrote down the sacred syllables
they whispered to me in tongues you could only hear with your eyes
have sustained the exquisite beginning
of everything I’ve cherished over the lightyears
I’ve spent exploring the abyss ever since.

I drink to the lees this full measure of an hourglass
as if time were a housewell in a desert of stars,
a bottomless bucket that sips from the watersheds of the muses
and then pours a third back toward itself as a sign of respect
I learned from Dogen Zenji who wasn’t aware
he was being observed by someone eight hundred years after him.

Not a studied charm, but a great grace of gestural significance
that teaches you how to think with your heart
without believing your mind’s gone slumming
because there’s so much emotion in the inspiration
of your insight, there’s no distinction between
the diamond and the coal in a snowman’s eyes.

My spirit’s still a beginning that never grows old.
I’m a dangerous child playing by myself on the moon
many days of my life in red-shifting moods
arrayed like the rainbow body of a tantric chameleon
blowing moondogs like smoke rings in the night.
Stars, stars, stars, and the fireflies I’ve included
in their ranks of equal magnitude in the shapeshifting zodiac
of any starmap eschatological enough to conceive of ends and origins.
I’ve never been wounded by a senile childhood
with a career plan for its voodoo dolls. Cursed retroactively
or beatified anyone whose compassion wasn’t heretical,
whose wisdom wasn’t crazy enough to transcend itself
like a reason for dying, whose hidden secret didn’t burn
like the return of the one to the many. I refuse
to throw a wreath of roses on anyone’s coffin lid
or good heartwood on the pyres of the Ganges of their ashes
if they weren’t blooded by the thorns of their unimaginable beauty first.

I’ve listened to lies that were far more beautiful than the truth.
I’ve wept the stars out of my eyes at the death
of a delusion I mourned like the passing of a mirage
my root fires mistook for the approach of a sudden downpour.
It’s takes more genius to make a brilliant failure of life
than it does to desecrate it with a mediocre success.
To the death! To the life! To the intensity
that transmutates the stars in the crucibles
of the human imagination soulfully intrigued
by the black magic of its wonder cloaking its radiance
in robes to turn down the light enough to see in the dark.

Paradoxes, oxymorons, ambiguities, doubts, nuances
that pour poison in your ear like sinister love potions,
lightning flickering like a snake over the rose-garden
abusing its fangs like a choker of thorns so death never forgets
it’s never very far from beauty, not the labyrinth
of counter intuition that’s fallen into habitual conceptualism
or the despair of a man who hasn’t realized yet
that if he’s singing it isn’t a false dawn, not
the flypaper lacquered with sticky sentiments
as if it shared the same chromosomes with Venus,
not the ferocious blackholes that make farcical absurdities
of following the light over our event horizons
to go pearl diving for singular moonrises
you can’t bring to the surface to show anybody,
despite the mental lampblack and creosote of wet fires,
looking at the world through a glass darkly,
the inexhaustibility of that early beginning
has never grown weary or disappointed with me
though the person who purports to be me often has.

There’s a voice. It speaks in a language of things.
A hidden secret that wanted to be known so chaos
created a universe to communicate like a mother tongue
the atoms share with the atmans. Stars with the dark
and the silence. You hear it once and you’re
singing it for life the long way home knowing
the light doesn’t need to take short-cuts. That
it’s touched you with a vastness that annihilates measure.
You’re nothing. You’re everything. You’re so
creatively free to express the mystery of this awareness
after sleeping on it like wine for awhile, you begin
to feel grateful when you wake that you’re meaningless.




I was thinking about absurdity, the unnamed muse
of nine in the fifth place in the Book of Changes
when the daughter of black matter came to my door again
wired and crying as she tried to smile
like tiny serrated edges of pain as she said
she couldn’t find a bar tender or dope dealer
that wanted to talk to her as if there wasn’t a black hole
in the middle of the third eye of the Medusa.

I could tell right away by the way she was swaying
like a suspension bridge hanging by a last thread
out over the abyss like a torn spider web, she had dark fears,
unenlightened shadows with no mystic noon
on her indelible sundials to draw their fangs in like the moon.

I was thinking about absurdity as if that wasn’t absurd enough
in and of itself, but she’s not the first mermaid
to sing an ode of alluring laurels derived from her sorrows
like wild columbine sitting like a hair transplant
on the rock of my skull as if I were an exemplary habitable planet
more water than granite in my attitude toward humans.

I’ve been here before. I’ve put pomade on the frayed ends
of her snakes coming out of hibernation now that spring’s here
and she’s starting to groom her image in the mirror
from the first bud of lipstick on the mouth of the rose
to the last pout of the downcast shedding of a black defoliant.

And she’s insecure about what God sees when she imagines
what He sees she’s done to his creation like a doll of herself
she took things out on instead of talking straight about it
with a spiritual weathervane to get the lightning she harboured
out of the heartwood that was always being ripped
and set aflame by a drug-induced revelation. I was
thinking about absurdity for once without feeling as if
I were going to my own execution and seeing how much easier
it would have been to have been demonized as an heretical saint
than try to bless a sinner with stained-glass paint
so her eyes aren’t boiled away like hot tears into space
in the death valleys where her mirages are immensely proportional
to the intensities of the shadows they’re casting on the new moon
she hopes to make of herself like a total eclipse in rehab.

Don’t get me wrong. I love her dearly. She’s a fashionista
on the catwalks of backalleys when the moon howls
like a vicious feline in heat with crescents she hooks in your eyes
as if she were fly fishing. Back in the day, lightyears ago,
she could reel Moby Dick into her lifeboat with her longing,
she was so dangerously endowed with a talent for innocence
but now when she calls her fan club of sailors to the rocks
the silver spoon jumps over the moon and runs away with the cow.

Someone scorched the grapevine. The wine tastes burnt.
Watered down with blisters to age the bouquet.
Who needs to think about tomorrow when you’ve got yesterday?
It doesn’t matter what we talk about. She listens to me
the way a snake listens to music like a spare guitar string
and resonates metaphorically like the tines of a tuning fork
and I tell her about a man who fixes the wings
of owls, osprey and red-tailed falcons up around Westport
then sets them free again, and she says he must be
a good man to care about birds like that but I can tell
someone shut the cage door on the false dawn of the aviary
she’s been singing in like an encore into karaoke at a nightclub
where all the side men want to be front men
and all the front men want to go home and damage their voices
while the echoes pursue their fifteen minutes of fame,
number one with a bullet that ricochets around the room
so every one gets a turn to burn like their very own starmap.

I was thinking about absurdity, sublimely,
when my light on in the window summoned a muse
out of the dark like a black mass to the candle of a Luna Moth
that singed her antennae like lightning rods on an analogue tv
still playing reruns of the way things were supposed to be.
I was trying to take myself seriously like a sacred clown
at a ghost dance of one in face paint appealing to the stars
to return me to a solitude that didn’t make me old as a child.
Everything written on my forehead I wanted them to see
through my eyes, at the other end of the telescope
where it’s impossible not to receive more than you give.
Not out of ingratitude. But more in the way of deepening
the mutuality of our estranged visions of one another.

When the one without metaphor returns to the many
some have blood, some have fertile crescents of starmud
under their fingernails, others, moonrise on their thumbs,
but hers sparkled like small town fireworks at a festival of fireflies.
Time had stopped sowing seeds on the wind to fall anywhere
and put down roots in the vernal equinox in her eyes
and you could get an occasional glimpse of wood violet
under the duff of her eyelids as if every exile needed
a home address to cover her tracks in long-sleeved zodiacs.