Monday, June 24, 2013



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.




Sitting here becoming whatever drifts my way.
Cedar boughs smouldering in an attic to smoke the bats out.
Thought-watching without looking for the answer to anything.
Spiders like badges walking on the waters of my mind.
The autumn’s new, but it’s the same old passage of things.
Apples like bells in the trees of the steeples, shepherd moons
of sloppy solar systems strewn on the ground
with seeds that are going to take them down
a notch or two yet before they make a comeback.
Seven times down. Eight times up. Such is life.

I watch the picture-music flowing through my mind
like a home movie that’s happening as fast as I am
playing the role of everybody else in the universe
all at once as if every ray of light incarnated
in the emanation of an essential existential insight
into the nature of every mystically specific human being
could all be traced back to the root of the same star.
And what does the star do when the many return to it
if not apocalyptically go supernova into transcendence.
Just because the ashes sleep sweetly in their firepits and urns,
doesn’t mean they’re not dreaming and scheming
to wake up from themselves

I’m firewalking in the ether like a sad volcano.
I’m alone in life and it’s not as bad as I thought.
Prolonged solitude blurs the distinctions between
the trivial and the sublime. Beauty seems
the most engaging waste of time I know of.
I think about love more as an event than a thing,
and I’ve made enough attempts in my life
to convince me it wasn’t for lack of trying
that I’m walking alone with the Alone like Plotinus
trying to keep my telescope in focus and stay open-minded.
But as John Keats said. If it come not as naturally
as leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all.

Space, too, has its sirens. And time, its lamias.
A gust of stars and the desert’s full of fantasies.
A star blooms and a comet falls from its dark halo
like a queen bee looking to start a new hive
and I’ve seen enough oases with hourglass figures
turn into bag ladies in paradise to stay shy of gardens
that don’t have any weeds in them that might
uproot me as so many have like a botanical mistake
as if I were some kind of hallucinogenic angel of death.
Amanita ocreata. A mushroom in the death cap
of a nuclear winter when all I am is interspecially creative
in the way I adapt to my extinctions. Attentive and tender
toward the flora and fauna that inhabit my solitude.
Though the peduncle is always lost in the ensuing phylum
as I am like the star in the eyes of the women
who’ve drowned me like a firefly in their tears,
I still send bouquets of constellations to the asylum
like the last of the New England asters this time of year.
Sanity might smudge the tomb with a noose of sweetgrass
but the madness stays clear as the waters of life
in the womb of enlightenment giving birth
to bubbles in hyperspace that can spontaneously pop
as easily as they cohere like skin to the shape shifting multiverse
for better and worse, and all the permutative modalities in between.

God bless them all. Each, a rite of passage
I stumbled through like the blessing
of an excruciating ordeal that seasons you
for what’s to come, or who. I must have loved them
better than I thought to miss them as much as I do
now that I do not. Incubus, muse, sphinx, witch,
oracle and water sylph, I gave to each my crystal skull
they could wear around their neck like a prophetic locket
to remember what we were to each other once
before the moon in the corals fossilized the shipwreck
to set sail on this sea of shadows without a star to go by.

Amor vincit omnia. Maybe. But I’m more a pirate
with the eclipse of my third eye for an eyepatch
and a parrot that’s teaching me to keep my mouth shut
than I am a navy even if there isn’t a rudder on this lifeboat
or a bay to sail into of my own. And I’m not looking
for a northwest passage to Cathay through a periscope
that’s stayed under too long to know where it’s going
without a starmap. I’m not interested in exploring decay
from the inside out like some submersible in a lunar ocean.
I’ve sailed under the skull and crossbones all my life.
And I’m not about to strike my colours like the maples,
lay them down like the burning blades of the angels
at the gates of dying garden. I’m going to hold out
long after the irises have surrendered their rainbows
to a retinal circus without any sacred clowns or animal acts
where the judas goats train the tigers to jump
through the brindled hoops of their own screening myths of fire.
It’s wise to tread cautiously among the duff and detritus of death
like a protocol of your own instinct, good spiritual manners
among the extinct so the dead don’t sink into oblivion
like a garbage barge. I revere the autumnal exorcism
as much as the vernal summoning to a seance.
I’m as sincere about my farewells as I am my hellos
as I watch the wavelengths shift from blue to red,
lowering the frequencies of fountains into watersheds
as if a musician were putting his guitar back into the coffin
he carries it around in. Green bough. Dead branch. Same song
as far as I’ve learned to sing to myself in the dark coming on.
The snakes can tie themselves into knots and hibernate
as long as they want, and all my summer visions
can turn into hard cold facts. I’ve still got a dragon of serpent fire
walking my spinal cord like a high wire act
without safety nets because I’ve always made it
a point of balanced awareness along this dangerous coast
to sail with the wind behind me like the light of a star
a wingspan ahead of my fall. The ghost of a battle scar
that’s made it this far into a wounded future
without a pyre or a lighthouse to chart the course
of my desire not to live like yesterday’s flowers
strewn on the corpse of tomorrow’s hearse.