THIS LATE IN THE DAY
This late in the day, could I love you, could you
love me? If I made a black rose of my blood,
redshifting into the dark, and gave it to you,
not knowing what to expect, would you counter-intuit
the wounded watershed of the poetic imagery?
Younger I was a lot more dangerous than I am now,
though I wasn’t trying to be. Dragons raged in me
in infernal crusades of the bad against the worst
as I stood at the flaming gates of the vulnerable
and said to their worst nightmares you shall not pass.
I used my horns and scales to empower the innocent,
trying to turn a curse into a virtue, the atrocities
of the left-handed legacy of my condemned childhood
into something even a stranger might be proud of.
In Zen it’s said that nobody likes a real dragon
and even among those I came to the rescue of
like a Viking long boat with runes like scars
chiselled into stone, and well-seasoned swords
that backed up my word down to the very least detail,
even among the exiles who felt compelled to love me,
even among those who didn’t want to be seen
as hypocrites of their fashionable memes if they didn’t,
I could see people backing away from me
like an expanding universe running on dark energy
and that was ok, I was raised to bite the bullet
whenever my heart was liberated by amputation.
Free of me, I am unencumbered by concern.
I can solo in the night skies I return to without fear
of estranging the stars with my intensities.
Now there’s more mage than king in my immensities,
and time, sorrow and death have blunted my edge
like broken glass rounded in the turmoil of the tides
and Merlin has returned Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake,
I feel more like a rodeo clown in a barrel
with a funny hat, a painted tear, and a flower on my head,
a floppy poppy in red, trying to turn the crescents
of the moon bull on me like a Mayan calendar
to keep from goring the fallen who were mounted
above me like heroes that took a fall. A dragon
sheds its deathmasks like petals of the moon.
So if I presented myself to you as I am
could you learn to love an enlightened buffoon
with the injured nobility of a distinguished demon
guarding a small boy’s notion of doing
some good in the asylum of the raving world,
intrigued with the urgency of innocence
to redeem itself like a mutant gene in the fuse
of an occult chromosome that’s always
about to go off like a bomb buried
in the Milky Way of a fanatical supernova?
Was a time I’d hang the heads of my enemies
like Al Ghoul from my earlobes if they dared
to threaten anything I loved that couldn’t defend itself.
Was a time I’d start a fight at my own funeral
just to stand up for someone when I couldn’t.
Now I’m hemorrhaging like amaranthus
on an infernal summer day and my heart
is a coal bin of all the things I used to be
and there’s more tears in the diamonds than blood.
I don’t dip my pen in the trough of the world,
and I don’t shepherd wolves to graze on the mountain.
Even when space turns to glass, and water leaks out
of the reactor like a constrictor from an aquarium
I endure the inverted question marks
of the hooks I hang on in a deep freeze
as if just to endure were to spite in spades
the cruelty of conditions taking their natural course.
Seven come eleven, but I can look at things
through the snake eyes of frost bitten dice
and not end up piping on a stone flute.
I was born standing in the doorway of an exit
that glowed red at night like a miscarriage of the light
but still the road sign of a back way out of hell.
So if I wrote you a poem you couldn’t understand
would you exalt in your power to unman me
or would you feel the tenderness of the beast
behind the eclipse of the black lion that wears
the corona of the sun for a mane, a sunspot for a face?
Would you trust that the darkness is full of eyes
and some are hunting you, and some are shy
in your presence like wolves that have been shot at
because they’re wild and as cunning as life?
Would you bait the meat with poison in a leg hold trap
or would you defang me into affability
and teach me to lower my voice when the moon was full?
Would we lie in the same bed with a sword between us?
I could befriend your fireflies. I could mitigate your thorns.
I could get behind whatever you dream
like dark matter behind a light filled universe
and when you were sad, let the rain play my scales
like a harpischord or a guitar with a black hole
in the middle of it I would descend into
like an Orphic underworld to sing you back to life.
I would lift all my taboos for you and give you
an exemption in the night to approach me as you wish
and even if your hand weren’t brave enough to ask
I would fill it full of jewels with magic properties
that tempt the thieves of light to risk the labyrinths
of the inviolable graves on the dark side of the moon.
I would beatify you like a grail in a secret society
of warrior saints that haven’t had a drink in years.
And if your chandeliers ever had a nervous breakdown
in a lightning storm, I would dig up the bulbs
of the crystal skulls I buried in your garden for next year
and let you talk to them yourself about your fears
of what’s to come, and how to heal the shattered
with the dark clarity of compassionate crazy wisdom
drifting on the oceans of your tears
like a hydra-headed lifeboat empty but for you.
I would plunder spiritual islands in the wake
of extinct volcanoes to bring you
the rarest herbs of insight prophecy could afford
to see you dancing again like a constellation
rising over my event horizon with no fear of the abyss.
I could do this, I would be this, and will and more
and mean it if you’d let me. I could be the quicksilver
water of life and you could be the white sulphur
substance of the great work, its spirit and activity.
Or the other way around, if you like, given I was born
on a Wednesday with wings on my heels and head.
I could be the dragon trickster, infernal and divine
the hermaphroditic hidden secret
buried in the earth, creature of fire and air,
and you could be the salt, the anima mundi,
the philosopher’s stone, the light of the soul,
the wisdom that gives life and energy their forms,
mistress of the planets and the stars, the divine energy
that moves all things around to bring things about.
What an experiment we’d make, what an art,
what a conjunction of life and love and bodyminds
what signs we could reveal, what prophecies scry,
what freedoms take we could be burned at the stake for.
And the sand paintings we could pour through an hourglass
that would blow away like the dust of the road
and the comets that fell from their black halo
around the sun, and the lifting of waterbirds
in the pewter moonlight feathered on a lake
we could observe, and the scores of new constellations
we could form like new houses of an alternative zodiac
for the dispossessed stars of the homeless
burning their hearts out around oil drums under bridges
that span them like the Egyptian sky goddess Nut,
and the poems that would flow like spiritual transfusions
into the carnal bloodbanks of the burning rose
with a needle exchange of thorns, and the transmutations
of base metal into gold and back again, of dragonflies
gleaming like anthracite in the birth fluids of their chrysales
drying the filigreed silver of their wings in the sun,
paper clipped to the waterlilies like pencils behind their ears,
and the light years of passion and devotion
this would take to be done in unison, in chaos,
in wonder and bliss, in fingertips, eyes, skin and lips,
two alchemists in the Vas Hermeticum of a conceivable abyss.