Sunday, July 7, 2013



Someone lingers in your absence like an icon, a gate
to an open field where the white horse
that stood in the tall grass, grazing on its solitude
like a phase of the moon come to earth
is gone. A bird, a purple martin with so much
distance and disappearance in it wings
and the open vastness of the skies it was absorbed by
I can barely hear you singing from here
over the raving of an unkempt wind on a crazy night
when the ghosts are rioting in their graves
like old leaves without attachments at the feet of the new
and gravity receives the grave goods of the tree
as do I these strange epiphanies of you
that haunt me retroactively like apple-bloom.

And the depth of the emptiness that informs
the substance of my imaginings, devastates me
like an eclipse slowly swallowing my heart
like a black cataract of snake skin I keep
trying to shake like a cosmic egg without much luck.
As if I were bleeding out like a rose after
the green thorns have hardened into fangs
that are killing and curing me at the same time.
Some nights I just want to join my emptiness to yours
and be done with it, no more of this, no more.

No more of watching the beauty of the world
burn out into a dark radiance that makes me
want to gouge my eyes out so I can see it without wincing.
Without feeling so wounded by the abundance of the rose
that blooms and disappears like the auroral apparitions
of a widow in veils of spider webs and black lightning,
thinking it might be you under there somewhere I can’t go
without losing you again. Check-mate. Pain.
And it isn’t anything either of us can do anything about.

It just goes down that way. The absence of your shining,
small nonrenewable gestures of your heart and hands
vividly recalled like modest butterfly volumes of poetry
blowing down an abandoned street at night in the rain, you
sewing a patch on my heart with the delicacy of a needle
mending a flying carpet grounded like a wavelength of light.

As I am now that you’ve become that rip in my heart
all the stars are pouring out of like a puncture wound
I let go right through me like needles and gamma rays
piercing the heart of a voodoo doll of dark matter
that makes me feel like wooden puppet of light
carved out of one of these black walnut trees.

Endure. Participate. See. Wonder.
Praise. Celebrate. Mourn. Do the next best thing.
And when you’re hurting your worst, sing.
And even when I’m soldiering my way through stone
like a flying fish in the wrong medium,
or walking alone with the Alone through the woods,
just to meet you where you ask me to when you call
and I come like a burning bridge down to the river,
wondering if I might have lived here once in another lifetime,
I do say these things to myself like medicinal chants
and preventative medicine, healing totems with benign effect
hung in the medicine bag slung around my neck.
Sweet grass and a pinch of sacred earth, just in case
I forget how to dance on my own grave
with grace and flare and style and an enigmatic smile
that really means it if it really means anything at all.

Or not succumb to this ice-age of a bell
my tongue is stuck to like a child’s to a wire fence,
or this black diamond nightbird
that cuts my darkness to the quick
because it’s got nothing to sing about
that can answer the call of the living for someone
on a foggy hill to come to the rescue of the empty lifeboat
drifting like the corpse of a dead swan downriver,
except the dead air of this strange place
where space is indelibly bruised by the passing
of the beauty it once contained like stars in a Mason jar.
Like a candle in the lantern of a skull
I’ve carried before me like a nightwatchman
on the edge of a dangerous precipice for lightyears
until I lost my footing and fell in one night,
as I once did into love, and learned to see in the dark
I was growing wings where I had none before
and looking up from the bottom of an empty wishing well
noticed the dead still blooming like stars
in the white shadows of the sun at midnight.

And out of the corners of my eyes
when what I can’t see what need to know about being alive
comes looking for me like the sacred syllable
on the lips of a pearl diver on the moon in total eclipse
like a kiss out of nowhere, comes like the singing bird
to the dead branch in my heart
that’s having trouble remembering how to blossom
after a long winter, as if you’d summoned me to the trees
like a purple passage in the Book of the Dead,
to teach me how to take the pain
and through the alchemy of the grief
that flows through my heartwood like light and rain
turn it into life again, as if every leaf
were a new loveletter from the dead
I’ve been saving for years like expurgated starmaps
illustrated by exiled constellations in Braille
to a spiritual lost and found at my fingertips
where they know who you are, and they’ve seen you
like a soft moonrise glowing through the willows
down by the river that weeps like a black mirror
for the stars and waterbirds in passing
that appear and disappear each in its time
and you wait for me like the longing of the dead
to make some kind of sign, however simple and austere,
the withered star of a wild rose without a flower,
that let’s me know you’re near, you’re here
rooted in me on earth where we’ve both come
to renew our shining from the bottom up to the blossom.




Counting the bricks in the wall across the street.
Full sunlight. Noon. Blue sky. Bikers
revving their throttles like angry sheets
snapping in the wind on a clothesline
as if they had their hands on the throats
of their ex-girlfriends. No gender bias intended.

I can’t hear the pigeons cooing under the eaves
over the snarl of old men on fourstrokes.
I’m just sitting here like the flagging waterlily
of a collapsed parachute that doesn’t want
to jump up anymore like a dandelion seed
at the least gust of wind. For the moment, at least,
no more descending toward paradise
like a counter-intuitive guess at which way is up.
I’m tied like a hooded hawk to the arm of a swamp.

Icarus is not all that unhappy with where
he crash-landed in a farmer’s field. Could
have been a kite in a powerline, a bat
velcroed to the burdock in a porchlight
that messed up its flyby. Here is there everywhere
if you’ve got enough imagination to lose yourself
in the extraordinary ordinariness of things
close to your heart. The eery patina of time
is always as young as once and once only
and like eternity, gone in the flash of an eye,
casting its shadow of now or never over everything
with the urgency of a fire hydrant
that thinks of itself as a heart transplant.

Lightyears left to go in my winged heels
without a flightplan to deliver the messenger,
but it isn’t the journey, today, it’s my shoes, my shoes
that are wearing me out where the rubber
hits the road like a poem late at night on
a hot asphalt highway reeking of dead frogs
like popcorn in the cinematic highbeams of a joy ride.
My feet sore as if I’d been firewalking on asteroids
down some long dirt road that would sweep
a biker right off his wheels if he cornered too sharply.

An intensely temperate day. The great sea
of awareness is not displeased with its own weather,
though I can hear the rootfires of dragons
growing underground like the cosmic eggs
of island galaxies about to hatch out
from the crude ore that’s being refined
like the psychodynamics of a sacred volcano
in my subconscious, I’m more curious than perturbed.

I’m going to stretch out here in the grass
at the side of this road. Let the ants worry
about how to get me back to the colony piecemeal.
Only the dog on a short foodchain wants to get away.
I’m going to dump this heavy load I’ve amassed
like a god-particle backpacking along the trail
like an alloy of a red wolf and a coyote weary
of keeping the shepherd moons around here on their toes
without meaning to in the struggle to survive.

I’m not even going to bother to lick my wounds
like a herbalist among the wild roses and the words
that sting like the antiseptics in my mouth
and the thorns I usually staple them up with
without leaving too much of a scar on the moon.
Physician heal thyself. Either way, let the roses bloom
or bleed out like red skies in the morning
that burn like iodine, or put lipstick on the clouds
at twilight to the delight of lovesick sailors.
Just want to lie here like the figure head of a fallen tree
or a shipwreck in port with a cargo of failures for awhile.

What I must be only a fool would try to do
anything about. The rain falls and the housewells
are full. I raise my crystal skull to the stars
like hidden secrets veiled by the light and I drink it
down to the lees of an emptiness that tastes
like the cast off afterbirth of wine on my tongue.