Sunday, April 7, 2013



It’s been tried before, evil come to the door
to school me out of my muscular optimism,
my seven times down eight times up approach
to not throwing the fight, the agon of life, until I’m dead.
And even then, even then I’ll probably end up wrestling
with the angel in the way, strategically growing stronger
with every honest defeat. I weld my wounded heart,
the crack in my skull cup into a deeper bond
with these challenges in life that flatter me
with the quality of the enemies I’m known by
just as much as my friends. A medicine man
is only as strong as the wounds he’s called upon to heal.
Physician, rise from death. The dragon’s real.
Though the princess is fictitious and the knight’s
overdressed for combat, what difference between
the slayer and the slain when they’re both quantumly entangled
in the same ghost dance of the sun and the moon for renewal,
the bull and its matador with seven cloaked eyebeams
driven into its back like serpent fire as it kneels
in the garland of its own blood like a rose
releasing its dark abundance from the sweet meat
in the mouth of its wound. Horns and thorns,
the moon gored on its own sword to pour starwheat
into the empty siloes of mammals, crustaceans and reptiles.

Defeat as a sacrificial act of love that shames its victories
into more self-abnegating modes of power that flex
their generosity without knowing where the gifts come from
or who they’re meant for, but uphold the rhythm of giving
like a waterclock determined to make it through the rapids ahead
like a thread through the third eye of a needle
trying to stitch up the rift between the discontinuity of chaos
and the narrative theme of the space-time continuum
that keeps unfolding like the manifest destiny of a bad guess.

If you don’t feel stupid and foolish and empty a lot of the time
trying to attain the unattainable you’re not much of a wise man
or a woman in her craft. The genius and jester
of your own crazy wisdom, enlightenment comes
every spring to the locust tree like unlikely blossoms and honey-bees,
to teach you to respect the unpredictable absurdity of returning to joy
like a dead garden on the moon looking for its way back to life
suddenly breaking into light like a starmap of dandelions.
The destroyers hate the irrepressibility of life
and they’ll come with the Tetragrammaton around their necks,
undertakers with eyes like available sky burials to the dawn
chanting elegaic aubades over the afterbirth of the stillborn
like black laughter at life’s irredeemable inconvenience.
Even the little fires can’t empathize with their trained indifference
to burning in the name of anything the stars aspire to
but an urn of ashes like the fortune-cookie of a crematorium
that begins where it ends like an adolescent geriatric.

You can carve a guitar out of rotten heartwood
and teach it a few chords and a sense of timing
like two minutes with a hook at amateur hour
but that doesn’t make you a singer with a gnostic turtle shell
for a lyre. The destroyers are endlessly tuning
their eye-puncturing guitar strings like spiders
mending fishing nets for the big catch
their nasty boy selves riding Apollonian dolphins
are going to sheepdog toward shore like pitbulls
as if Rubick’s cubes and Moebius strips of feigned emotion
were the necromantic tricks of arcane magicians
they never got out of their own nets to see how vast the ocean is.

Any poet worth their stars has always intuited
a bridge is the third bank on the river of life
and kept reaching out for their opposite extremes
like the wingspan of a waterbird in oxymoronic unions
of disparate elements, hammering the slag out of their words
and tempering their fire like the swords of the vows
they made to the mindstreams of life like an unbreakable alloy
held in trust and tribute until the night they drown
like a reflection of fireflies in the eyes of the stars
sitting lightly like the laurels of Corona Borealis
on the crowns of the black walnut trees that oversaw the fledglings
fly from the nests of their leftover begging bowls
as if the earthbound were holding out its arms
to offer the gift of a gift to the sky from the bottom
of the watersheds it’s rooted in like black swans
among the counter-intuitive waterlilies anchored in our starmud.

No other way to say it or hear it without contamination
except to express it faster than you can think about it,
before your shadow can get a leg up on the light,
or the past starts writing epilogues for a future
that spends its life longing to happen
as if something were always missing
like the truth of a man lingering on a bridge
watching the waters of life pass beneath him
like the picture-music of a sacred verb in a dream,
waiting to encounter himself coming the other way
like the faces of everyone who’s ever crossed to the other side.

The destroyers will always try to live like legends
of something that’s already been tragically achieved
and off-handedly left conspicuously behind them like a rootless tree
so the screening myth goes, walking casually away
from its fruitless windfall like Elvis leaving the building.
They hate the infinite creative potential of stem cells
with no identity of their own so they can live on call
like organ donors with a healthy respect
for the heartfelt failures in life who don’t know why
they tried, but did. And in so doing, fell toward paradise,
feathered by the light, riding their thermals
like inspirations of the earth and the air toward nightfall.
Solitary hawks as clear-eyed as the stars they’re dancing around
like the fires of Cygnus and Aquila in the east
and the burning Lyre we’re heading toward at
18 kilometers a second as the Great Winged Horse
springs from the severed neck of Medusa wishing
happy contrails to the underwhelming grandson of Sisyphus.




However we embrace it intimately to humanize it
and make it ours, ingratiate it into our hearts and minds,
to understand it, and through understanding befriend it,
suffering remains impersonal, oblivious to tenderness,
faceless, a dragon without compassion for our appeals.
As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods:
they kill us for their sport. Shakespeare. But suffering
is not what we think about it, not the way we feel,
or the little human why of the fact that it exists at all
we shriek into the unlistening abyss, or keep to ourselves
and cry behind whatever lifemasks we care to put on it
as if it were happening to someone else we didn’t recognize.
These are my eyes and they’re weeping blood.
This is my mouth but the tongue’s been torn out
like the flame of a black candle at a mass for the mute.
And the holy men say suffering purifies. The poet
makes something transformatively creative out of it
as if he had a reptile for a muse that can shapeshift
all around him like a caduceus but doesn’t cure his ills
however he try to dull the pain with an anodyne of symbols.

Two women electrocuted in a pool of water running
to rescue a woman in a car on fire that’s just
brought down a powerline like a cobra from a branch.
The noisy bliss of a school bus smashed at a train crossing
like a beer can in a drunken fist that spares no one,
regardless of age, innocence, karma or the satin in the coffins
to prove that heaven’s a better place than this one
where all we ever see is bloodstains on favourite cotton dresses
little girls with ribbons in their hair are killed in every day.
I’ve opened myself up to the suffering of others
and I’ve seen the waterlilies of compassion
gaping at the stars as if waiting for an explanation
that would make it all beautiful and sane again.
I’ve seen friends go methodically mad trying
to gnaw through the glass lenses of the telescopic eyes
they feel they’re caged in like a spider mount
or a live rat in an aquarium with an exotic trophy snake
blunting the bullet of its head off the walls
until one of the ricochets strikes its exhausted mark.
One man’s agony is the way another makes up for
a personality deficiency by enjoying the kill.
Thirty dead wolves in a pick-up truck culled
by two redneck goofs with egos like guns
to protect the cattle on their way to the abattoir.

And when I drove cab, every morning from six
until noon when even the shadows had to turn away,
I was amazed at how many sick and injured people,
young and old, I drove to the hospital as if there were a war
going on somewhere not far from here,
but the only way you could tell was by
the number of wounded and refugees being carried
back from the front lines to the War Memorial Hospital in Perth.
I was the mobile stretcher bearer for the pilgrims
of the Canterbury Tales seeking salvation from pain
in a secular shrine of excruciating cures.
And I grew angry at a god I don’t believe in
that so many, if not all, were born to suffer
in this way at the whim of a psychopath at play.
And for what? To refine a bit of character
like a nugget of wisdom out of a ton of dark ore?
To attribute a loving cause to a tragic effect?

Clinging to desire in a passing world
might explain a lot and get you by for awhile
in the specious present of mirroring thought-moments
but when you realize you’re just dogpaddling in space
off your leash, and that attachment too is a Buddha activity,
who would dare sit at the bedside of a dead child
and void bound in its absence, quote desire
as the cause of nine cancer treatments
that didn’t send suffering into remission?

War, genocide, disease, poverty, ignorance, perishing,
lock-step ideological synchronicities of power-mongers
murdering whatever they set out to govern
that uphold the very principles their power base
was founded upon by the opinions of their inferiors.
And lovers on either side of the river, their hearts arcing
like bridges Running Bear and Little White Dove
will later jump off of. Pain as transcendent as oxygen.
Mice nibbling through the insulation of the wiring
between the walls like the nervous system of an arsonist
shorting out like a chemical fuse to burn
this hovel of a fire trap in ashes to the ground
and rise from annihilation like a culpable mystic in hell.

Maybe I wasn’t raised to be a good bell, a fire-alarm,
or even an air raid siren hoarse with warning,
and my voice is as useless as a lighthouse on the moon,
and I don’t know enough about any gods
to spiritually gossip behind their backs about
who’s on the nightshift of the terminal wards
and who’s shining like a night light in the morgue
and who’s walking in soft shoes as if
the whole world were a hospital that could attend upon
but not mend a heart that’s ticking like a time bomb
walking through a minefield covered in snow
pushing an electric chair to the edge of futile despair
intent on giving suffering some of its own medicine
like a lethal injection of what we’ve been compelled
to live through with smiles on our deathmasks most of our lives.

I want to see the horror in its eyes, I want it to become
the empath I have, I want it to taste its own tears
pacing a widow walk on its hand and knees
waiting for the sea to give up the drowned.
I want to wound reality for making the pain the rule
and the joy of life a school that doesn’t maintain a teacher
to ask a guru how to dance again without fear
its happiness is going to be shackled to a spider
by a dancing master on the other side of the mirror.