Tuesday, May 21, 2013



At peace with the sadness of my solitude
I sense your presence like the estranged music
of a mood drifting out of a miasmic abyss
that almost overwhelms me as intimately as it did
lifetimes ago when the thorns were still green
on the rose and I wasn’t quite as sure then
as I am now they’ve hardened enough to penetrate
the heart with how immensely someone
can long for the dead like an empty lifeboat
appearing out of the soft glow of the fog
in a blur of moonlight, the fragrance of an apparition
that ferries me back in the undertow
of oceanic emotions like an s.o.s. at a seance
intimate with the prophetic sincerity of your absence.

More springs than I have left to live
I gave up judging the insufficiency of my love
to break the generic grip of death
you so severely desired to die in the arms of.

I see you in the feathered war bonnets
of the new leaves of the trees I’ve forgotten
the names of since I stopped sitting under them alone
too numb to be troubled by the lightning,
too cold to rise above the absolutes
like a thermometer filled with frozen blood.
Land-locked among the ten thousand lakes
of a shattered mirror I held up to my broken nature,
I followed you as far as I could like a train whistle
into the distance where time and silence
are indistinguishable destinations, and then
I sat down like a drunk with a lantern
at the side of the tracks, and I waited, o
it must have been eras for you to come back
before I lifted my head off the rails
of our parallel thresholds and returned
to the spiritual hovel of my homelessness
grateful to touch something solid again
as if all I had to lose was a key to a door
that didn’t recognize me on the inside anymore.

Nor would you any of the death masks I’ve shed
like the eyelids of the white peony of the moon
scattered in diaspora on the waters of life
when I woke like a ghost from a recurring dream
of the way I once imagined you returning
to the surface like the buoyant skull of a moonrise
asking me if I still remembered your face
and could I love you now like a leper colony.

It’s still easier for my heart to make sense of your love
than it is for my mind to attribute a meaning
to your death as you once said it wouldn’t have.
But whenever I grow weary and irritable at
the chronic torment of casting lifelines out to you
that have inadvertently rescued many for your sake
like dolphins cut out of the fishing nets of the constellations,

I bury you in pearls like new moons among the coral
in the lunar gardens of dead seas swaying
to the music of water snakes among the shadows of kelp
beyond the range of the wavelengths of the nightbirds
that haunt my voice like a mindstream whispering its way
through the hidden watersheds of the willows
with stars in their hair as bright as they were in your eyes
when these clouds of unknowing were dispersed
like nebulae breaking into light with every breath
you took in and let go like a woman swimming away from shore
as if we’d all learn to live out of our depths at last.

Diving bells among the shipwrecks that don’t ring
when they mourn. Foghorns that don’t bother to warn
ships in the night there’s no shallow passage
when they encounter each other on the Road of Ghosts
like the lights of Port Angeles across the Georgia Strait,
heavy with a cargo of imported coffins, and the heart,
as always, ballast they’re trying to throw overboard
to lighten the load and rise above the waterline, float
like waterlilies umbilically moored in our starmud
or the Little Dipper of the north star bailing glaciers
like delinquent waterclocks out of a sinking lifeboat.




Waterlilies soon and a Pleiku of dragonflies.
Shipwrecked fleets of the naked limbs of the trees
gone long in the teeth, buried at sea wrapped
in a starmap of the sky they’re anchored in
like the remains of old bridges that made the crossing alive.
I’ll read the runes of the watersnakes
like an indecipherable language that uncoils
like a sacred syllable rolling off the alphabet blocks
and mute rocks of the tongue lying dormant in the sun.

I will thrive on the beauty of life awhile
as a spontaneous counterpoint to its quantum entanglement
with the death stars in the steeples of the white hyacinth
entrancing the bees with honey in the hives of shepherd moons.
These are the killing fields of life empowering
its own annihilation at the expense of its own creations.
I will walk warily around the bones of the muskrat
and the fox, and the feathers of the wild swan
scattered like moonlight by snapping turtles
entrenched in their starmud like World War 1 helmets.

I won’t think about all the Orphic dismemberments
that taught the birds to sing as if there were prophecy in their words.
I’ll follow the same trails I did last year but
they won’t know me as the same man
who wandered here off the beaten path
with a maple branch for a divining rod
looking for something deeper than a watershed,
or the dusty stars kicked up on the Road of Ghosts
gravelled with gravestones. I’ve changed since then
like a mirage of rain in the deserts of an hourglass
that bloomed in a flashflood of unsummoned tears
as if its cup runnneth over like the full moon at sea
longing for its lost atmosphere and its genius for making waves.

I’ll marvel at the windfall of scorched planets
rooting under the leafing boughs of the black walnut trees
and I’ll set up my French easel like a fawn
getting up on its legs and paint the evanescent patinas
on the wings of the starlings in the willows
as if the northern lights were mirrored in chips of anthracite
like the mysterious veils of a woman with black eyes
that shine like occluded sea stars at the bottom
of a widowed housewell bemused by the sunlight,
nocturnal silk on the looms of the mulberry moons that weave it.

I won’t feel precious and aesthetic, radiantly exquisite
in an abattoir of pleading flowers whose petals
have been splashed with the blood of children
like fingerpaintings smeared like poppies on the wall
of an enclosed garden trying to keep the world out
like an embassy of one when a junta’s out hunting.
Just as soon be initiated into the corporate cults
of mystical pharmaceuticals handing out drugs
like the angelic heirarchies of prescriptive states of grace
available to the neo-feudal dimensions of medieval futures
yet to come. I’ll be a post revolutionary in a world
that made a bad start and if my art’s a weapon
I’ll tilt at windmills like jinxed prayer wheels
and swing from bells like Quasimodo playing to the crowd
like a carillon of columbine before the heat grows too intense.

I’ll pretend I’m in Eden again and I won’t
put my winged heel to the snake without making it
my dragon familiar, my spiritual vehicle, not large or small,
who knows the road like a rat snake knows a farmer on a tractor
and reminds me from heartbeat to heartbeat
like a friendly oxymoron that those who like to fly
as high as I do, sometimes find things get so vertiginous
their only recourse is to get down in the dirt and crawl
as if high and low were two wheels of birth and death
on a death cart pulled by dragons plumed with flowers
that only bloom in fire every seven thousand years or so
though the pine cones pray for conflagrations that will come
much sooner than the rejected stones of the pagodas could disseminate.

I’ll trample down a deerbed behind the pale of the cattails
and I’ll rejoice in peace for awhile as a natural birthright
to celebrate a world I’m surrealistically adapted to
like a mother tongue I haven’t addressed myself in
since childhood stopped delighting in its own renewal,
incoherent with wonder at the silence of the stars in its voice.

I will forget I am aging. I will be a medicine bag
of healing metaphors and powerful occult charms
with oracular effects on the crazy wisdom of the inconceivable
and lie down upon the earth in the unassuming grass
after I’ve finished painting, fascinated by the prodigality
of the stranger I’ve become to myself listening deeply
to the picture music of the life of the mind like a kid
with forty-eight crayons and the whole of the sky to draw on
as I wait for the stars to make themselves apparent
in the sweet, sweet darkness that envelopes me
in the green flames and violet shadows of another
vernal martyr to the cause of keeping their fires alive within me,
a dragonfly in a chrysalis, a hermit thrush in ecstasy,
a sulphur butterfly with antennae like burnt match sticks
looking for a light from the lanterns of the nightwatch
reigniting the passions of old poems like fireflies
inspiring the ashes in the urns of the stars to enlighten their afterlife
with incomparable myths of origin that have yet to be written
by the root fires in our starmud breaking out like lightning
fracturing koans like diamond insights into
a labyrinthine gallery of mirrors that see me
with the same eyes by which I see signs
of the disastrous happiness of life in them.