Tuesday, August 13, 2013



No mystery in the stigma of the misery, regret rebounds
as cynicism and disgust, the way it is with us,
every emotion a life study in a death mask,
every thought the pose of a moment that eludes us,
and the stars hair-braided into the tresses of the willows,
and the bridges we burned like the Milky Way so
no one could cross after us into the abyss,
the prodigal homelessness of our return address,
as our tracks are swept away on the Road of Ghosts,
actions of strategic gestures of peace with ourselves,
a truce, at best, with the dangerous stranger within
that plays host to the dead as if he were one of the guests,
as the ideals we die for demonically bless the means.

The labyrinth lost in us, looking for an exit sign,
the planets spinning their wheels in our starmud,
intractable kings of the hill waiting for the equinox
to light up our bones like kindling in our barrow tombs.
She’s not at peace with herself because she remembers
nothing she hasn’t repeated to her friends like an ally
that doesn’t know who or what she’s fighting against,
seldom for, anymore, that nothing makes any sense
and her life’s spread out like a Tarot pack on the floor,
pondering the destiny of sex with the ex of an old lover.

Nobility among the humble trivialized into the whim
of an action hero trying to live up to the movie
made of him like a two minute trailer
in a Bronze Age scarred by copper and tin.
He’s a voice coach in a choir of echoes
half a note off the ghosts of the nightbirds
that used to send a cold chill through the woods
before the agony of their unadulterated longing,
the infallible sorrow in the depths of the hunger for love
went extinct as yesterday’s moonrise.
His eyes are always busy as a security camera
but see nothing that’s unusual about him
except for the way his ego is always mistaking
his reflection for someone who might be sexting him.

Window-dressing and mannequins of expendable democracy
looted by the firelight of rioting thieves
demanding the same private rights as the key
to the executive washroom the slumlords
and feudal bankers hold over the heads of the peasants
like a watercloset over a common moat.

There in the red emergency exit light,
crumpled like a potato sack up against the door
that only opens one way, would you believe
that junkie used to sing as if she were having
a heart attack on stage like a sparrow hawk
shrieking into a microphone at the top of her lungs
as she went after every note like unsuspecting prey?

What do you say? It’s plagued me most of my life
as if my heart were insufficient, and compassion paled
in comparison with the damage done, irrevocably real,
as the mind takes account of successive images
and mouths some idiotic abstract mantra
about the collateral damage of the tragic element
in a comedy of errors in the eye of the beholder
looking upon the aesthetic desecration of idols
in the modern era like fourth century Christians
gone heresy hunting in the name of the Lord.

Maybe it’s time to upgrade my pagan superstitions
into benign cosmic theories about quantum foam
as if the universe were frothing at the mouth in a fit
of hydrophobia adrift on the waters of life.
Eye-witness to the suffering of others there’s
so little I can do anything, nor have the right, about
love beyond desire has its will bent
by its own redoubtable impotence as its first line
of self-accusatory defence. How many times
have I simply wanted to reach out and touch
the despairing silence in someone’s eyes
with a image of beauty, indelibly undisguised
without its deathmask on and no sign of perishing
from one breath to the next that might reveal
the hidden jewels in the slag of the ore they’re
buried in like exiles in a darkness far from home?

Cults of shadows dance around the lanterns
of the nightwatchman slowly being ground down
like a lens that gives him something to focus on
that’s more starlike than mere reflections
in a window no one looks out of anymore.

Every intention has its effect, but the effect
seems drastically out of touch with the ailment
it was meant to cure and the good deed elaborates
into superficial paradigms of the sacrificially complex.
You end up speaking like a hex of God
upon the freeborn waters of life at an altar with a knife
you don’t know whether to gut yourself with
or drive through someone’s heart like a righteous kill
as you ask out of a lingering sense of feasible compassion
that anyone’s will, other than your own, be done
as it isn’t right now with heaven’s hand
over the mouth of hell like an enculturated cellphone
meming the iconic oracles of the last prophetic skull
we listened to as if our lives together depended on it
like a happier estrangement than anything
our imaginations could have fervently wished for.




Foxfire blooming in the afterbirth of the ashes
that engendered it, green violins of unaged bracken,
the timeless lyrics of life reviving an old songbook
grown hoarse as paddlewheels and swans
making their way upriver by the lights
left on in the ghost towns of familiar ports of call
where breathless singers busked by the wharves
and watergates of the straightforward stairwells
anyone with sea legs ascended like a special form of a curve,
the uncarved block of the ten thousand things
the womb of an unborn guitar attached by its strings
to the abyss in the heartwood of a song that will
never be heard like the wind whistling
through the umbilical cords of a suspension bridge
swaying like an empty cradle in a forgotten lullaby
as if life burns its bridges, not just after, but as often,
before it crosses them to the other side of nowhere.

The words run off track, scuttle on the sandbanks,
dodge the light like fish along the shore, lose
their bearings in a gust of starmud from the bottom
up to the abandoned crow’s nests listing to the left
of the angel fleets like the masts of old growth forests
that put to sea like the skull and crossbones
buried in a piratical cemetery like the teeth of dragons
sown among nautical gravestones keeping one eye open
on the lighthouses waiting for salvage
to wash up on the beach in the red sky
of a false dawn in the morning that gave
sound warning to sailors in the know to pass by.

I say what I mean but the meaning’s drowned out
by the uproar of words with a voice of their own
that pass like carrier pigeons with a message
for their ears alone, the medium, an ink-soaked scribe,
blue as the glyphs of Picts, taking the minutes
at a seance I’m never asked to participate in
regardless of how I tattoo the inside of my eyelids
with the Etruscan zodiacs of the dreamscapes
and shapeshifters gathering at the transmorphic bend
where the river turns like the mindstream
toward the deepest watersheds of its collective unknowing.

The wind behind them, how many have set out
like beautiful schooners in full bloom to be
abused by their lives like garbage scows
after their sails were taken down like shark fins?
Set out to chart the stillness on the dark side
of the moonrise and run aground on the mountainous reefs
of lunar corals like sundials and astrolabes
taking the measure of their own shadows
in the shallows of the floodplains scabbing
for the lack of any volcanic depth to the pre-eminence
of their immanental extinctions. If the head
of the fish is rotten the tail will follow
like a thought wave in the wake that encompasses it all
in a heartbreaking farewell from the deck
of a shipwreck to the last lifeboat to leave the island.

Sooner or late the fire will run out of heretics
and no fat to keep them burning, the lanterns
the orthodox hold up like candles to the sun
to see in the dark will grow thin, dim, and lean
as the lights of the city of God disappearing
over the horizon of a black hole with no regrets.
Gravity the tugboat of the tides our lifelines
are anchored to like barnacles on a rock
we buried at sea, tears we shed at Gravesend,
all hands aboard, moonset to the west
of the unthinkable, sinking nevertheless.

Her pillow is soaked with snot and tears.
Her nose is running like a garden snail
that smears her stiff upper lip. Not the agony
in the garden, but still, a bitter cup to drink from.
He quotes his duty as a cover story
for following the psychological profile
of his desire into the misunderstood bedroom.
Garlands on the altars of love and disdain,
and everyone’s partially wrong enough
to be wholly right, and blame it on the zeitgeist
of the witching hour that has come upon them.

I walk by the Tay River like the grave of an old lover
some nights when the stars are blazing overhead
in the country dark, the infra red aura of the town
glowing infernally on the indifference of the clouds
as if it were putting lipstick on the mouth
of a drunk clown in a coma as a puerile joke
to mock him into laughing insincerely at himself
when he wakes up to wipe the smile off his face.

I’m isolated by the surrealistic absurdity I feel
in the mass appeal of the inexplicably funny
when the joke’s on anyone but this black farce
of common humanity like a punch-line in a morgue.
No epitaphs, but a gesture of living at its best,
Graffiti on the box-cars of our coffins laid to rest
after a few hollow laughs at the corpse’s expense,
the last call and curfew to top up our emptiness
as we steal the Buddha’s purse to buy the Buddha’s horse.
Those are the Buddha’s words. Mine have run their course
like a rootfire in the tunnels of star-nosed moles
digging like archaeologists for a future in the ruins
of their solitudinous starmud baked and glazed
into bricks of lapis lazuli left in the sun at midnight
they can aspire to like the past tense of the light
flashflooding like time and the Pleiades
through the circuitous labyrinths of their black holes.