KISSES INSTEAD OF SCARS IF YOU CAN MANAGE IT
Kisses instead of scars if you can manage it.
Love, not a science. Still an art. Though a dying one.
The discipline of staying a constant beginner.
As if the morning glory had never felt the light before.
You want to love or be loved? Make up your heart.
But you want to sword dance with queen cobras in heat
like a lapwing in a snake pit, two egg-layers
at opposite ends of the same extreme, you better not
step on anyone’s toes, and if you do, hope
the wing you favoured with a false wound
like a collapsed bridge you lay down like a joker
to trump your Tarot pack, is as long as the other
royal flush you neglected to play like a winning hand.
Human, you might be the measure of all things,
but believe me when I tell you, love’s got a bigger wingspan
than Cygnus and Aquila in the Summer Triangle have light-years
to get a fix on the wing tips of their feathers by parallax.
Love with class if you want to make something elegant
of your absurdity, diamonds of your dirt, if you want to
water flowers with your tears without salting the seed bed.
If you want to steal a little fire from the mystery
to enlighten your nightmare, if you want to be the star
that everyone points to in your lover’s eye,
don’t enter it like a dirty needle of light washed up on a beach,
you keep overdosing on like a starmap with a bad addiction.
Love is a retroactive prediction from the past come true at last.
Even after dismemberment, love is Orphic, a prophetic skull
bobbing like an apple all the way to Mytilene from Thrace,
that can still sing the dead back up out of hell
until they realize the light of love’s too strong
for the eyes of gibbering shades and turn around
as if they’d come too far down the wrong road.
As a working stiff, love is kind, generous, trustworthy, loyal,
like the smell of heartwood after a carpenter has built
his own sturdy cross. Not acrid oak, but terebinth.
As a thaumaturge, love works miracles with silver herbs
cool as moonlight laying its feathers on the sacred pools
you return to like a battered salmon or a sword in tribute
to give back in gratitude what was given to you.
O, yes, you can be a nice guy or an agreeable woman
for a moment, and bask in the whole wheat sunshine
of a promising harvest, but love is the blue,
the second full moon in October and it looks down
on what’s been threshed to see what you’ve left for the birds
and if you ever get so drunk in your delirium
you went dancing with the scarecrows as if you
were all martyred by the same cause like a prelude
of watchdogs to the white nights of the living dead.
Love’s a celebrant high on the bliss of poppy wine
but it doesn’t turn the dancing floors of the starfields
into a bride catalogue for impoverished wallflowers.
Love’s got the eyes of a snake, the voice of a bird
and the wings of a vampiric bat in an unpredictable eclipse.
And when love mystically sublimates its appetites
like black ice into more beatific ionospheres of solar flaring,
the poetry goes aurorally absurd, but nobody cares
because everybody’s more awed by the picture-music
of the rippling veils than they are by the face behind them.
You make love safe. You take the danger out of it,
you defang the lightning storm, you brainwash
the theta waves of the turbulent night sea
where the soul journeys alone, into saying aum
every time there’s a breathless squall of stars in the southwest,
though you might think in your lustreless way
you’re throwing sacred holy oil on troubled waters
you’re just another oil slick running a nunnery of pearls.
You want your honey without a stinger. You want
your rose without a thorn. A one-eyed oxymoron.
I’ve made it a counter-intuitive point of survival
most of my occult romantic afterlife
to never fall in love with a woman until I’m absolutely certain
it’s well within her power to kill me outright
without a word of warning. But she abstains
and in that moment of hesitation you can live
three full lifespans on the cutting edge of a black hole
without a fear of lights or vertiginous heights.
You can ride the helical stairwells of your mutual d.n.a.
like the parallel bannisters of two hawks wheeling
synchronously on the twisted ladder
of their thermophilic passions for the highs and lows of love.
When did Icarus ever fly too close to the sun
with a parachute or a safety net? What fool
shot out of a cannon like a fly into a spider web
doesn’t expect to get entangled in the details
of hedging his bets instead of taking the fall on his chin.
If you fall in love, and you’re not a clown,
or someone who bumbled over the cliff by accident,
be prepared to fall deeper than any place
your death has ever descended into before, and darker,
and more intense than the petty sentiments
of people dropping stones in wishing wells
to fathom the abyss by staring into the eyes of a telescope.