Wednesday, May 15, 2013



When my heart isn’t a hummingbird on a keyboard,
it’s a spider on a guitar. The long fingers of a surgeon
my mother used to say, the air bright with potential
and the creature with a purpose, a future it meant,
a destiny it was born to fulfil like a chain reaction.
Now it’s an error of evolution just to make it through another day.

And nights, sidereal ballerinas leaping like Cygnus at zenith
over the toxic wavelengths in this snakepit of street life.
Blessings on everyone’s head, I’ve shed a few lives of my own,
but I mean the nights, sometimes the nights,
scatter my own ashes over my head in mourning
like a nuclear winter that won’t let me forget.

Now there’s nothing perennial about my paradigms
and the flowers don’t grow as imperial as they used to.
Ferocious weeds spring up among the downtrodden
and swarm the gardens of the sun-king, the cattails
impaled, and the heads of the poppies on pikes by the gate.
I’m looking for new moons in the calendars of chaos
to sow the teeth of a dragon under. Soil made vintage
by the dissolution of the dead who are buried in me
as I keep on living their deaths like an impossible ending
to a recurring dream I haven’t woken up from in years.

Red alert. Don’t climb higher than the mountain is tall
unless you’ve got a star in your eye you’re going to follow
for the rest of your denatured life. But no one’s listening.
They’re all taking polls of bad examples on talent shows.
Can’t stand the artificial lights or the trained hilarity
of the audience defrocking sacred clowns at a cult ritual.
But I found a flap at the back of the circus tent
I like to slip out through and let the darkness
wash the patina of blazing out of my eyes
and encounter six thousand stars whose shining
ease the mind by enlightening its unique insignificance.

I like to blunder my way into places alone
where who I am is nobody’s business but the willows
and they’re not saying anything to the wind
that’s heard it all before. One moment you’re the canvas
and the next you’re a paint rag up to your alligators
in muddy oils trying to save an orchid from its own hysteria.
If there’s any rafter of my life left standing
it’s as fragile as a compass needle wobbling on a thorn.
One moment you’re teaching spiders to play the guitar
without barring their chords, and get rid of
those old harps of theirs that have been collecting in the corner
like dreamcatchers they couldn’t hold a note
if it were a velcro butterfly, and the next
you’re boiling strings like spinal cords in a bird bath.

But alone, where there’s no assent or denial,
and the false redeemers are orphaned
in their baskets and mangers among the hay and bull rushes,
I can juggle the crazy wisdom of myriad worlds
bubbling up in my blood like a playful multiverse
without dropping one of them, and swallow the swords
the moon lays down on the lake in tribute.
No blackboards in my freedom. No chalk fossils
among my crayons, I have been schooled
in the ghettos and still life studios of my solitude.

Here where the river emerges from a larynx of dead trees
I can think my way into the most open-minded modes of death
without having to turn around and go home again
or forget I’m just an organ of light that makes things visible
for anyone with an eye to spare, or the time
to listen to the picture-music where their senses meet
like parallel lives that have suddenly come into focus.




Summer triangle through the leaf cover
of the birches and pines, Deneb, Al Tair, Vega,
a swan, an eagle, and a lyre, and the sun
headed toward Vega at 18 km/sec. Arcturus
sinking into the west. Knowledge disconnected
from the stars. How could they know how
I see them paradigmatically, how they’re shaped
into the legends of our seeing on a starmap,
the powers that have been attributed to them,
though for me my solitude evaporates
into their lucid immensities like dry ice.

I hug my knees on a moonlit outcrop of rock.
More lichens than a suitcase has travel stickers
or a bike gang has patches and rockers. Grey green
and a muted arsenic orange. Alien aspects
of the rags of life from Mars. Cold temperatures
and high carbon dioxide atmospheres and they’d thrive.
Now they’re a wardrobe paupered by the Canadian Shield.
Fossils of moondogs. Decals of lunar seas.
And underneath the pines, a graveyard of compass needles,
rusty eyelashes, amputated hands of analogue watches.
The woods are alive with shaking cattails
and snapping branches, shedding and falling,
the occult hunting magic of the lake
that keeps everything eerie, wary, and estranged
as they take what they need from each other
with a yelp, a howl, a shriek, a squeal to sustain
the lives they’re meant to be living at life’s expense.

You come to mind as the reason why I’m here.
Just a fragrance, the auroral cachet of your image
on the temperate night air. The great blue heron
might embody the silence and the stillness,
spearfishing among the nocturnal water lilies
but me, I’m catching these glimpses of you
like a seance of fireflies among the birch
as if happenstance had a hidden theme up its sleeve.

A resonance, a nuance, as if I blew on a dandelion
and it scattered like a gust of stars out of an urn
into a constellation waiting for me to adorn it
with a myth of origins that might explain it to us both.
The old ashes of the fire pit strewing
dragons of passion again, and it’s ok to speculate
but I keep a bridle in their mouths. I’m not riding
bareback yet. I’m not rescinding my last immolation.
Though there’s something ingenuously thrilling about
the creative commotion of the approach of another galaxy
and the way the fireflies keep stoking my devotion
as if my intensities were about to go supernova
after so many years of emotional implosion, I’ve been
singing lullabies in braille to black stars
just to get to sleep at night without anyone noticing.
I’ve been wearing a halo of X-rays around
the omnidirectional event horizon of a black hole
I thought I’d given myself up to by acclamation
like the incommensurable solitude of a singularity
that had escaped itself into an alternative universe
every bit as absurd as I was, with equanimity.

I’m sick of pain. Too many squalls arising
out of nothing, too many red dawns, too many
shipwrecks turning into coral reefs that rip the hull
out of the moon like Caesarians, hearts bashed
like pinatas at the birthday parties of the sacred cartels
and everyone’s simple, quiet dream of everlasting love
and all its attendant protocols, observed with genuine feeling,
lovers mesmerized by the shadows of the things they want
but can’t quite be. Unconditional love, if its abstractions
are blooded by experience, crueller than
the sado-masochistic discipline of a saint.

Never abandoned love, just somehow came to feel
erosively disqualified, as if my starmud,
though it bore other fruits, yielded harvests
and danced under a blue moon like a scarecrow
left out to face the winter alone, would never bring forth
those flowers again. As they faded
like Confederate money into a more perfect union
of absurdity at peace with itself. Approximately.
Everything being the interpretation of an interpretation.