Friday, August 30, 2013



I’ve grown old remembering you when you were young.
How much wiser we were then though we didn’t know it
than I am now, or you would have been, had you lived.
Ignorant of the outcome of desire, sometimes it’s better
to drown, than learn to keep your head above water, or swim.
I made a liferaft of my bones to get to the other side
of my heart. Like the moon, one half bright, the other, dark.

I’ve knocked on so many doors the past left ajar,
but for a long time you never answered.
Looked into so many eyes so far from home,
hoping to catch a glimpse of your shadow
moving past the window like a waterbird backlit by the moon,
and though some of them had your mouth, some, your hair,
some your earlobes hung with silver chandeliers of rain
falling from your wings like a broken rosary of waterdroplets,
none of them had your soul, none were as lost
and inimitable as you unanswerably were.

Street rose, how is it my tears are still pierced by your thorns
after all these years? Out of the midnight blue,
without warning, idling among the river reeds,
or rooted in the wavelengths of the mindstream, some star
spears me through the heart like a fish on the barb of the moon
and I have to sit down among the rocks at the water’s edge
with a vision of beauty and love and the passage of time
too unbearably immense for flesh and blood to carry
like so many other empty buckets and sad bells back
from the abandoned wishing wells where the ghosts gather
to recall what it was like to want something once.

Long for someone so badly you would gladly
have endured a thousand spiritual deaths and metaphoric rebirths
as I have done, for one life of being wounded and healed,
exalted and terrified by the mystery of what or who
you truly loved like the eclipse of a moonrise in your blood
more indelibly than death itself appears in the black mirror
when you look deeply into it like a starmap of music
as your last futile hope of bringing someone back
and your eyes freeze like star sapphires deep underground
with what they see like fireflies and lightning in the sockets
of prophetic skulls whose eyes are the jewels of the dead.

Perpetual muse, you, unnamed, who distinguish my words still
with the intimacy of your absence, daughter of the abyss
I was left with when you lost your nerve and collapsed
like a suspension bridge over the moonlit thread
of your spine below when the safety web broke like the illusion
of a dreamcatcher, like the beads of the constellation
the sun belonged to when we first encountered each other
like alien planets driven out like black sheep of the solar system
and looked back at its dwindling light from a long way off
and knew of a certainty, you were, as was I,
alone in this remote space with each other,
estranged companions for life. Was it not so,
and has it not always been in its own unique way as it is now?

Between your silence and my voice have we not evolved
a dream grammar by which the living can speak to the dead?
Do I not hear you in the broken-hearted train whistle
mourning into the distance with no help for its sorrow
and in the long mantra of the wind in the aspens
and the gaping mouths of the waterlilies awed
by the symmetrical similarity of their astonished silence
to that of the stars looking ahead in wonder
at what they’ve been flowering into for lightyears.

Long after your ashes were scattered with beautiful sentiments
mingled like rose water in every one’s tears
to bless the flightpath of a fire bird’s return to the elements
from a precipitous cliff out over the sea at night
as if we weren’t saying farewell to a woman who had lived
like one of us, but were attending the sky burial of a comet
who had made a Tunguskan impact on everyone she encountered,
was it not me, when all the other listeners
thought they’d heard the whole of the message you had to say
and left you alone in the dark in an empty hall
that first perplexing night of being dead among the stars,
who went on listening to your omens as if there
could never be an end of the flames and feathers of meaning
that unfolded in the wake of your passage across
the desolate seas and annulled atmospheres of my lunar heart?

What pain, what joy, grief, loss, enlightenment,
life in death and death in life have I not endured,
what loneliness not embraced as if it were
more deeply exiled from everything it had ever known
than I was when I blew out the last candle of votive fire
like a broken dragon missing one its own in its reclusive solitude?

Even the ashen sages weep like urns of wisdom
for the extinction of the light that taught them
to see in the dark with a compassionate heart
that insight walks the same path delusion does
and attachment, too, is another paling of moonlight
on an open gate that all humans must pass through
to pay homage to the fountains and watersheds
love brings to flower in their gardens and cemeteries alike.

Many times I’ve sensed your tenderness in the sensitivities
of the carillons of wild columbine that rang
discretely in the silence like rain chimes in the spring
and I came to understand it was you, whenever
I wandered along the river like a troubled sleepwalker
through the mystic cults of the woods at night
into a clearing like the third eye of the torrent
that roared all around me like a wounded black hole,

it was you in the sanctuary of your concealment who revealed
that thoughts and emotions like the unsanctified oceans
of tormented stars I wanted to drown in, weren’t
static states of mind where space turns brittle
as the looking glass you get locked into,
but dynamic events of the heart that shatter
our crystal skulls into unknown configurations of light
rising like new constellations out of the regenerative chaos
that watered the old gardens of our starmaps
with the splinters of broken chandeliers that cut our eyes
like tears in an early spring thaw. It was you
as surely as it was the clear light of the void within me
who whispered to me that night I was on the verge
of liberating the past from the future of a bad precedent
that we don’t live separately from the dead,
that each of us is the embodiment of the longing
of unnumbered myriads who released their hopes
and dreams and prayers like smoke and birds
and cedar boughs of incense on the wind
knowing they probably wouldn’t be there
to hear the answer if one ever did come back again.

Where else but now is the future made manifest
by the summons of the past in a voice
we recognize as everyone’s including yours and mine?
Just as I see your eyes in this insight like the occult bliss
of the dawn at midnight writing immanental love lyrics
in the journals of nocturnal wildflowers confiding in the moon.




I’ve gone on threshing wheatfields on the moon
with the last crescent of the smile you left me,
closing the gate behind you as if you never wanted
me to get out of the high starfields where you put me out
to stud and pasture like the Great Square of Pegasus.
And for awhile, after you, it’s true, it wasn’t important
if I knew the name of any woman I made love to.
But slowly, my emptiness adapted to your absence,
and who knows, if it had been written for us to know,
two nothings might have made something of themselves.

Shadowyears with intermittent crossroads of light
Sufi dancing with the starmud dust devils
like the three of swords with its wands and cups
full of feeling as you were at the approaching darkness
as if you couldn’t take anything seriously that wasn’t occult.
You were the raven witch, the herbal beast mistress,
the mysterious singularity at the bottom of the housewells
after the light bulbs had gone out and an ice age
had striated your eyes like big, black, plastic
long playing records, as if you were a widowed queen
sleepwalking through a famished eclipse on the mean side
of what must have been a beautiful dream once,
one lonely nightbird of that sad, sad song in your voice
that always seemed to be calling out to the dead
on some ancient night in a timeless abyss
when you were happier than you’ve ever been since.

Once, like a French executioner with the moon
for an axe, precise, neat, surgical, absolute
when you go under the knives of the clock
for a hydra-headed brain transplant, scalpels
in the oarlocks of the lifeboat you’re adrift in
like the remnants of a supernova shapeshifting through space,
once, for everything, the continuum of an overachieving event
that doesn’t know when to call it quits.

Ignorance tries to understand what wisdom ignores,
and why not play the fool against the sage
like a long shot you have to be crazy to take,
impugn your mirroring awareness for making a mistake
when your eyes turn around and you begin to realize
things caught in the doe-glare of your highbeams
frozen in time, indelible as a razor-blade in a loveletter.

Samsara is nirvana. Cosmology a psychic reading of the stars.
Noumena, phenomena. As with love, so
with the shadows of dreams past we cast
on the wildflowers we’ve forgotten how
to walk naked through without shame
as the willows turn away from our libidinous sorrows
and the shedding leaves, be they poems or the moonset
of your eyelids, begin to compile the laborious history,
the magnum opus, of the posthumous victories
of all those insurgent tomorrows we put to the sword,
once, like a bloodoath we took to heal
the broken vows scarred on our hearts,
the magic runes on the stones and ostrakons
of glacial ice sheets retreating north like the curtains
rising on the last act, the white noise of a record
that’s been repeating itself all night like the cosmic hiss
of the afterbirth of the Big Bang that began all this.

Late in the light eras of my mind when it’s as big as the white ox
of the full moon left to graze among the stars
as it will, on its own, I’ve regressively come to understand
love is looping like everything else through space
like a red tailed hawk carrying a candle
up the stairwell of a thermal of eternal recurrence
where it disappears helically into the third eye of the setting sun
and once is the burning stargate of an afterlife
born of your creative immolation on a pyre
of lightning and fireflies, insights and compassionate lies,
creation myths, legends of your shining
etched like Braille starmaps in the Burgess Shale
as fault by fault, we groped our way up the mountainside
like kings and queens of the hills we were buried in,
looking to get back to our graves like ghosts before dawn
so we could rise like the moon from the corals
on the bottom of our lunar seabeds again.

May the smoke of a sacred cedar fire smudge
the savage silence of the pain that makes oblations
to the night at a seance of constellations love can still read
like a hunter-gatherer, the signage of extinct zodiacs,
as if life were always a valley ahead of death,
like the light of a star, forever a journey behind
where you are when the darkness of love
brings you to enlightenment like a firefly
to the face of a sleeping child that’s just jumped out
of the dream of her favourite hiding place
as if there were still something in the eyes of love
that urgently wanted to be found like a surprise
no one’s ever had any notion of before or after
they stopped looking like a lamplighter in the woods at night
for the muse of the wild white-tailed doe, with her big, sad eyes,
warily breaking cover in the full glare of the moonlight
as if she were taking her lachrymose deathmask off
to drink from her own reflection like the Queen of Cups
from the river of life that pours out of her where
time meets the timeless like a root fire flowering
like a bouquet of blue roses gathered from the Pleiades
floating like a flood myth on the mindstream
coursing into a lunar sea of oceanic consciousness
as the shipwrecks disembark like sailors absent without leave
and the stowaways are lowering lifeboats to answer
the death laments in the s.o.s. of the mermaids on the rocks,
beguiled like seafaring dragons with the subliminal lyrics
of the unbroken circles and recurring bracelets of the rain.
Wounded by love in the depths of a fathomless nightsea,
everything after that’s a matchbook scratching for light
like a galactic starfish trying to make something beautiful
like a chandelier out of an ice storm or a waterproof starmap
out of the pain that opens like an umbrella at a wake
or love on the nightwatch of a flower at daybreak.