SITTING HERE BECOMING WHATEVER DRIFTS MY WAY
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.