Tuesday, August 27, 2013



After you left your absence turned into more of a muse
than your presence seldom was. Sat at my desk
and fell on my pen over and over again like a samurai sword
until I got the knack of gutting myself properly.
Last of the summer’s late blooming poems,
black-eyed Susans and asters, monosyllabic tragedies,
dutiful domestic farces demanding a coven of doves
be sacrificed to the darkness I was remanded to,
my heart a cross between a spiny sea urchin and a voodoo doll.
And at night, the beautiful, September stars, my God
who would have thought something so distant
and impersonally uncaring could have hurt like that?

Loved you well and faithfully while you were around,
and gave you my assent when it was time
for you to go, blessings on your head and house,
you be the one who goes off down the road
to fulfil the promise of a new life without me,
and I’ll be the one, my last sacrifice, who
stayed at home and died because it would be
neo-romantically rude not to, without you.

Functioned by rote, the reflex habit
of a lifeboat drifting in the abyss. Too much
significance to everything, especially the things
your hands had touched, mythically inflated sublimities
that scorched my fragile equanimity with gamma ray bursts
to the third eye as my vision of life boiled off
like the last forgivable atmosphere
of the brutally habitable planet I was living on at the time.

I was precise and grateful for the hidden solace
in the ritual commonality of simple human chores
from feeding the dogs and the cats, to
shaving my face with a razor blade
and cutting my reflection a hair shy
of its jugular vein to see which one of us
would blink first. Freedom bound, I liberated
as many chains as I could. I kept the bird-feeders
full of sunflower seeds when colder nights
began to come on. Dusk was always the worst

between the prelude of the beginning,
with a couple of false dawns to start with,
and the epilogue at the end, like the last word
of the day in the twilight of the bardo state
in between when everything you are is behind you
and what you’re about to become is still nothing,
and you’re standing beside a leafless locust tree
that’s all thorns, and the stars are emerging
as the darkness saturates your mindscape like black lung
mining diamonds of adamantine insight
in an emotional tarpit with an occult sense of humour
that leaves you as bruised and numb as if someone
had just inoculated you against the constellation
you were born under like a pathogen that can have
a mystic effect on those who have not been exposed
to it before, and all you can do is stand like a fever
in an ice-age and gape, just gape through the gates
of separation at how immaculately lethal forever can be
when you’re still trying to cling to a relative state of mind.

Time can be ambidextrously ironic or it can
stare at you like a bad joke waiting for a laugh at the end
and all you can feel is something remotely eerie
and exhaustively incomprehensible about the way it grins
like the skull of the moon rising over the sacred groves
of unmummifying birch trees where we buried
the barn cats the fishers and coyotes got, placing
large boulders on top of their corpses to keep
the dogs from digging them up again. Bast
the cat goddess look over them and the white flowers
of the bilabiate catmint you planted for feline
and butterfly alike, keep blooming in the thickets
of the thousand small kisses you left them where they slept.

The dream’s moved on since, but one night up there,
I wept the stars out of my eyes like an ice storm
of glass splinters as if the plinths of the light
were all that was left under the brittle calyx
of the deft rose frost bit by the fangs and thorns
of the cold that sliced my lips like a paper cut.
For awhile after the last rose had died,
my solitude began to taste like blood on the snow
in a backwoods winter abattoir. And then the spring
and the long impassable roads of starmud
waiting for the rain to pack them down.
Love hurts most when it begins to thaw out
like the frozen fingers of a child with its hands to the stove.
Marrow aches like slush in the bone, the agony
leaves nothing to the imagination to play with.
Endured, it passes like the death of a favourite cat.
Meow. Hope I purred around you more than I roared
because there was always so much more
to thank you as I do than forgive you for.




Show me the cloud that berates itself
because it isn’t a rainbow. Sometimes
it’s a firefly sitting on the throne of the star
in your eye, sometimes it’s just a distant
farm light through the trees. Universe
in a grain of sand, one grain of sand,
the mass of the universe, who talks about
a feather’s weight of sky or two and a half
millilitres of tears when you cry? When
things turn toxic it’s often safer to drink
from the mirages than it is the water.
Illusions don’t always pollute your reflection.
And the truth doesn’t always set you free.
Sometimes it puts you under house arrest
for lightyears in a penal zodiac of required tattoos.

Ah, sweetness, this is the fourth time
in three months he’s left you half-destroyed
inside and you’re the strawdog he throws
on the pyre after the ritual reunion
when the water burns and you reach for
a magnum of fire to slake your thirst for love.
I know he fills your pillow full of doves
when you lay your head down to rest at night
but, child, every time you wake up you’re
alone again in a snakepit, flapping like a lapwing
to distract the danger from the fledglings
he’s already swallowed like a dragon the moon
to bring on the rain. You, weeping in despair.
All the songbirds of your most tender emotions
detected in a no fly zone of dove-seeking missiles
fired from a nuclear birthday cake offshore.

You’ve given him a lot more than much,
and he forgot you were born. What does that tell you?
His heart isn’t on you? It’s probably true
to judge by the watercolours streaming from your eyes.
I’m your older, groovy, mentor-friend, whether
I like it or not and I mostly don’t because
it’s a straitjacket. I’m not a bird net meant to catch you
on the fly when you fall out the nightsky
like an asterisk from the starmap where you’re
trying, Sisyphus would have been proud of you,
to shine like a constellation of votive candles
you were born under like the wing of a prayerwheel.

You’re a pudgy teen age girl but that’s just
patches of snow in the spring of global warming
and they’re dwindling like ice floes in the Arctic.
You’ll be a glassblower with an hourglass figure
by the time you get out of the kiln. You don’t
have to take a blowtorch to the roots of the rose
you’re becoming to thaw them out before their time.
You don’t have to take a crowbar to the petals of the flowers
to get them to bloom any faster. Summer’s coming
and the wild grapes won’t be too fat on the vine.

Leave him. Abandon his shrine to the scorpions
and snakes. Let the wind whine like a ghost
through that portcullis with lockjaw he bared
like iron teeth at your idea of turning him into
a rose arbour over a passageway that didn’t snarl
like thorns in the mouth of a siege skull.

Yes, pain for awhile, separation, severance, ordeal,
arbitrary lightning strikes that have nothing
to do with karmic retribution, but stop
standing like a phoenix in an urn of your own ashes
as if your heart were guilty of some hidden heresy
every time he accused you of witchcraft
for jumping naked through your own fire
like a tigress in a circus act with a ringmaster
who likes the sound of his tongue cracking like a whip.

In the unified field theory of love, men are relative
but women are still the high priestesses of the absolute.
Introduce him to your absence. Quit revising yourself
like the endless re-write of the first draft
of the loveletter between the bed sheets
of the empty envelope you’ve been inspired
to approach like a muse who thinks it’s dishonest
if she doesn’t offer the whole of her mystery up
like a feast of the harvest moon to the famine
of the seven lean kine that prefer their own
scorched earth policy, cooking in their own juices,
to the plenty you put on the altar like a bad bet
on your best ideals. Don’t you know yet, little moon,
love is subliminally darkest when it’s new,
and he’s suppose to make the sacrifice to you?

I’m not an artificial lung, but I’ve been
sleepwalking like a poet through this
long dreamtime of love like a poet lingering
in the doorway of several houses of life
that took my precession of the equinoxes in
like a zodiac of women who kept the porchlight on
for me to wander in out of my dazed homelessness
like a Luna moth crazed with a desire to singe
the witching wands of my antennae off
like burnt matchsticks in a raging forest fire.

That might not make any sense to you now,
but trust my scars when I say, inspiration is
the merest taste of your dark abundance,
the remote cachet of a nocturnal rose as
dangerously intriguing as the ocean of an afterthought.
Love isn’t a sunami. It’s an undertow,
the whisper of a distant nightstream that promises
to show you a way out of the woods like Beatrice
or a pagan water sylph that isn’t salmon farming
mermaids in the sacred pools love dies in
wholly gratified in the eyes of its own interior vision
like those who have been summoned to swim
through stone to the summits of the highest
from the depths of the lowest the mountain
casts like the shadow of the valley of it flows
down into from the source to the roots of itself.

So you’ve been rejected by a cult of indifference
like the rerun of a power play from the early sixties
that’s made it like the half-life of a radioactive element
as far as your generation to turn the milk of human kindness
green with jealousy you haven’t been curdled yet
by the b.s. that soured the cow that jumped over the moon
and ran away with the coke spoon? Everybody’s
going to fake the moment was more dramatic
than it was, if they were there, and you were not.
Generation after generation, the ingenues age
like waterclocks all on the same wavelength
as they make their way back to the sea like fingerlings.
As with love, what’s culpable about life
isn’t that slander about original sin, but
the perennial spontaneity of its innocence.
A dream without precedent, authority or experience,
strangers from the first encounter to the last,
no history of solitude to consult, no hagiographies
of the embodiments of the mystery when it takes a form.

Love is foolish to the wise, wisdom to the clowns,
a chemical to the biologist, a white plague to the cynic,
inspiration to the poet, prophecy for the blind,
Love moves, sometimes mountains, but it’s not a motive
anymore than a river is. Even less an alibi
for the criminal negligence of a negligible heart
or even one as full as yours is, that vow of apple bloom
you made to the windfall to come, punishment
for trying to love someone so much you believe
their sins of omission are the faults and errors
you’re deceived by in the mirrors of the nightmares
you’re playing solitaire with in an isolation cell
as if the terrors of paradise were your only solace in hell.