Sunday, June 30, 2013



I don’t know what I’m here for.
I just write. I just paint. Like breathing
in and out. Inspired expiration. I watch the rain,
blankly, sometimes for hours, washing off the dust
from the leaves of the trees in the traffic.
I stare at the comatose clouds through the grime
on the windows and wonder what the stars
are doing backstage. My skymind
unfolds like a star map and I disappear into it
like a nightbird with a message it doesn’t care
is heard or not, because when I’m singing,
I’m not singing into a mirror. Verbal expression
isn’t thinking, and I’m not spider enough
to hang suspension bridges between
my words and my thoughts to harmonize the web
everybody gets caught up in like packing tape
as my bodymind tunes me up like a guitar
to the electrical buzzing of flaws in my argument.

I don’t know what I’m here for, but I often think
it’s pathetically petty to go looking for a meaning to life
like the light going round and round trying
to catch a glimpse of the shadow it casts like a tail,
when we’re the life of the meaning from beginning to last.
One meaning for everything? One size fits all?
The same collective death mask for every individual?

I fall asleep dreaming and wake up
like a mirage in the morning trying to sort out
the grain from the chaff, what’s real from what’s
merely the facts of the dark matter. But by the time
I’ve rubbed the crumbs of starmud out my eyes
and the lake mists still clinging like hungry ghosts
to my visions of last night have been exorcised
like lunar atmospheres, I can see clearly enough
I’m just the space all these thought waves travel in,
and as they say in Zen, the eternal sky
doesn’t inhibit the flight of the white clouds.

What is space here for? Or light? Or water?
Or the colour, red? And what meaning for love
was ever necessary in the throes of it?
Should this long, dark, radiant firewalk
in our sleep along the Milky Way ask my feet
what the meaning of going anywhere is, why we’re here
extrapolating ourselves back into the past
as if who we were yesterday is who we are today?
Evolution’s given me a taste for the evanescence
of a self that keeps on shapeshifting like space and time
in the live-streaming dreams of a belated Etruscan
watching the river turn like smoke in the air.

Poetry is the art of expressing what you can’t define
though it sounds as if you knew what you were
talking about at the time as everyone listened
sublimely in silence to a nightcreek babbling
through the woods in the dark like the waters of life
in the laughter of a child lost in the seriouness
of playing opposite herself for awhile like a new moon.

Ever wash your hands and feel somehow
you’ve stepped far enough back from yourself
you’re not the one who’s rinsing them off
and something eery and intriguing overcomes you
when you realize not even your fingers are your own?

I don’t possess my thoughts. I don’t own my emotions.
I’m a great creative collaboration with the unknown.
I’m an unpaginated encyclopedia of minor miracles
that come and go like sparrows to a tree.
And when it rains, the eyes of the universe are upon me.

But I don’t know what I’m here for. Does it
matter anymore? When I die is it all that radical
if I don’t know why? All my life I’ve fallen in love
with less reason than that. And do I really need
a philosophy to separate? A modus intendi
to back up my alibis for why I’m not always loveable
when I can see it in my lover’s eyes when she cries
on a winter night like an abandoned housewell
that the lightbulb’s gone out that used to keep her warm
and she doesn’t know what she’s here for anymore.

Nor do I. As we both agree to an honourable death
as if death would otherwise rebuke us for disloyalty
and the three quarter inch copper pipes
slash their wrists longitudinally the way
you’re supposed to when you’re serious enough
about renewing your virginity sitting naked
in a bathtub full of fireflies trying to freeze-dry your wounds.

If you don’t know what you’re here for. Go for it.
Or don’t. Maybe you can start a new religion
of your sins of omission and the left-handed virtues
of all the things you didn’t do, right or wrong,
and won’t. Or win a prestigious literary award
in a cherry-picked succession of unremarkable poets
who hang out like flypaper at night with porchlights
hoping among all the insects they attract
they might find one black dwarf of a first magnitude star
that sticks like a burnt-out match head to their chromosomes,
a mutant cinder of genius that doesn’t get in their eyes
so they don’t have to start crying all over again
like a watercolour in the rain to wash it out.

Can’t find any training wheels on why you’re here,
and all the scarecrows you made out of your spare crutches
to keep the birds from raiding your secret gardens,
are chafing under their armpits like medical skeletons
working on a cure for themselves that doesn’t
come too late to do them any good? Maybe it’s time
to walk out on yourself for once and stand up on your own
among the homeless who have no one but themselves
to rely upon. Or maybe you prefer a life that’s become
a hospital where the healthy aren’t welcome,
and only the worst atrocities of mediocrity
are admitted by the emergency nightshifts
to the asylums muttering in their dreams as if
they’d been medicated by the full moon threshing
short straws of genetically modified wheat?

For the last two years I thought I was here
to walk along the banks of this seance of rivers,
late at night by myself, under the willows and the stars,
revamping the images of old lovers like the wavelengths
of spectral flowers reflected back like old radio programmes
from hydrogen clouds in deep space that kept
their ghosts intact out of earshot of the facts of my life.

Somehow the candles have gone out
in the bright vacancy of noon like the shadows
of sundials and I weary of my purpose in life now
like a compassionate man who has been overly generous
with his lies at the bedside of someone dying inside.
I’m waterclocking my way like moonset into a new abyss
just to pass the time rinsing the blood off my hands
of the hemorrhaging roses I put my heart into
trying to save from the endless sacrifices
they made of themselves on my behalf, but couldn’t.

I hear the voices of dead singers from my past.
Or You tube conjures their images like Merlin
and I know they’re skin and bones by now
and their fingernails have grown out like guitar picks,
and their skulls are more oracular than fallen meteors,
and I am overcome by the poetic sweetness
of the sad shadows that once drove us to drink
as we firewalked the whole length of our lyrical cremations
just to fill our urns with something as inextinguishable
as lace and pretty flowers, dragons in the lockets of angels.

I rehumanize the simulacra of their fossilized remains,
images of pixellated skin, echoes of the refrains
I remember like the mantras of my youth when the dawn
was as shrill as a killdeer in the spring, and nightfall
was a hospital for wounded nightingales
and washed-up phoenixes weeping on their own parades
sat at kitchen tables long into the night ruminating
like candles on the glory days of tragic heroes
making a farce of their legends by living them
like morality plays mythically inflated at the end
by a lot of repetitious zeroes getting carried away in chains.

How strange to be singing a friend’s song to myself
long after the whole world’s outlived them,
and their names are being ushered funereally
like rare antiquities into grave robbing halls of fame.
And who knows? Maybe that’s how legends are made,
what we’re here for, born for, die for, like a vow
of silence we made over the graves of tomorrow
we revel in breaking like a curfew of sorrow today.
Que sais je? Montaigne’s motto. What do I know?
And even if you could. Me and my mantra. Who can say?




If you worry about where you’re going
before you go, you’re not worthy of the road yet.
If you’re not having some black-hearted fun
with your worst nightmares, because they’re
just as surrealistically absurd as the bliss
of your most recurring dreams are, how
are you ever going to avoid taking yourself literally?
If you’re not crazy enough to wander
through a cemetery saturated with the moon
in the early hours of the morning, trying
to organize a choir of singing gravestones,
how are you ever going to recover a voice of your own?
That dowdy wren you let go of when you first discovered swans?

If you ever want to sweep across the lava plains of the moon
in a rush of emotion of a homecoming ocean,
but you can’t feel the tide in a single drop of water,
you haven’t cried enough yet to drown in your own sorrows
and see everybody’s life flash before your eyes
as you go down in retrospect, wiser than bubbles
in the way you descend like feathers trying to smile.

O, it’s hard here, isn’t it. Isn’t it brutal at times?
All your beautiful teeth knocked out against a concrete curb?
Inoperable cancer. The savage inexplicability
of the death of children it would be sacrilege
to even think there was an acceptable answer
to appease the loss, to satiate the grief. And I know stones
I’ve turned over I wished for years I hadn’t, things I’ve seen
that make me wish I’d never been born with eyes,
that have rendered my nemetic courage dysfunctional,
estranged from the Pleiadic radiance of my seeing
as if it were a black farce on tour in Taurus.

But if you want to shine like the fire of a pioneer star
in the clear light of the void, as I keep reminding myself
like a mantra over and over and over again,
you’re going to light up the intensity of hell
as readily as you do the cruel immensity of heaven
when it terrifies you with joy. Be a brave boy, I say to myself,
resolved to live all the lives of the Tarot Pack
and then go looking for the cards the Sufis say are missing,
just to say and smile at the end of time, if only to myself,
yes, I played all the stations of my life
as if they were the winning hand of an inveterate gambler
calling my own bluff in an unbeatable casino.
Seven come eleven, I’ve rolled my prophetic skulls
up against the wall like a printer in inky coveralls
in the back alley delivery entrance of a cosmic newpaper
on its lunch hour, throwing snake-eyes around
like the fang marks of a prison tat turning to Braille.

If you haven’t blooded your sword by falling on it yet,
and hemorrhaged by a river wild blue irises, just to add
a little Zen beauty to your death in life experience,
if you haven’t felt love slash its nadir across your wrist
and worn it like the talismanic bracelet of an unmentored initiate,
how are you ever going to transit zenith
as if you were crossing the threshold
of that thirteenth house of the zodiac
you raftered with your bones to accommodate your heart,
to cherish your own ashes like the mystery
of the afterlives you had to live through
until you burned like a star that had learned
the art of shining is the art of inexhaustibly letting go?

More doubt in our joy than in our pain, if
you don’t learn to ignore your certainty to the point
you disappear into the abyss of an expanding universe,
giving no second thought to whether you exist or not,
with no nostalgic attachment hovering over your emptiness
like the halo of a black hole, how are you
ever going to evolve the mystic green thumb you need
to root sunflowers in the darkness like neighbouring galaxies?
How are you ever going to adapt to the things you cherish
if you can’t endure the transformations that come with them?
If you skip the cocoon and go straight to the butterfly,
all you’ve really done is traded your birds in for a kite
that doesn’t know how to sit or sing on the power lines
it’s entangled in, nor how to negotiate the wind with wings.
You may glimpse the unattainable, yes, like a moth
at a closed window, wondering what it must be like
to be annihilated in a candle like an old love poem,
but the vision’s not sustainable as a way of life of your own
until you’ve set fire to your own antennae like wicks
that are not consumed by the flame, or extinguished in the rain.

Spiritual diamonds don’t forget where they came from,
their perishable beginnings, and though they can shine
like water and rainbows, their clarity smeared
by the chromatic aberrations of their colour-blind telescopes,
they haven’t forgotten how to burn like bituminous coal
in a basement furnace, or melt the intensity of their emotions
like a glass river making its way to the sea or how to use
a meteoric explosion as a way of sowing adamantine insights
like seed stars in an immaculate ocean of enlightened awareness,
the life-mask of the inconceivable assuming form
to express itself as an event in time that outgrows itself
transcendentally without a revolution or message for anyone
but itself, thereby ensuring, given our inquisitorial nature,
that everything from stars to rocks to apple trees to humans,
overhears it as a revelation of angelic gossip
waxing the long after-hour halls of a demonic institution
that was founded synarthritically on the cornerstones of our skulls.

Zen might be the taste of tea. But if you’d rather spice the water,
do it with all the flavours of life, dip an eclipse
in the full moon of your cup now and again,
and let the darkness work its cure upon you like a spell
deeply steeped in your imagination like a school bell.
Attend to your shadows, not as a theft of flowers,
or the clone of a brighter garden you’ve lost your way back to,
but as mute voices with a grammar all of their own
deep enough to show you the stars you wish upon
from the bottom up of a well with fireflies caught in its throat
it articulates like chimney sparks, even at noon,
or when the black sun shines at midnight
through a clearing in the tree-line of the starfields.

The snake that takes your life grows wings
and turns into the bird and the dragon that uplifts it
with oxymoronic lyrics of fire and rain that are as real
as any symbolic gesture that plays suggestively with your heart
in the cauldrons and fountains of being
that elaborate you as you are, slack water in a mirror
that neither ebbs nor neaps, as the tides reverse direction
like a heartbeat or the flow of your breath.
This mysterious third extreme in between life and death
where everything you sought among the mountain peaks
finds you at the moment of your withdrawal
from your circuitous passage through the valley of longing.
And in every emotive thought, the serpentine wavelength
of the immensity of the transcendent silence
overwhelms you with the intimate impersonality
of its approach to you in every risky step you take toward it.