Tuesday, September 3, 2013



Earth created lavishly here, spread out,
a canvas gessoed with ice-ages of snow,
glacial cataracts covering the third eye
that dreams in the seed underneath the eyelid
of a pine-cone, tacky with fire, of a mindscape
slashed and hacked out of thick paint
with trowels and knives and the double-bladed
lumberjack axe that deforested the moon. Quick,
violent gestures of life clinging in the interlude
of great ages clashing like continental ice-floes
grinding their teeth in their sleep off the coasts
of an unsalvageable consciousness crushed
like the masts of a matchstick flotilla of lifeboats.

Dark ores of a dream brought to the surface
for refinement from the underworld
of a jewellery box in the form of a coffin,
everybody survives by not looking back
like a fox in retrograde hunting a pheasant
that doesn’t cover its tracks in the snow
in the wake of its feather dusting tail
under the ochre smudge of the winter sun,

the yoke of a smashed egg at the foot of a tree
where the birds return like bush pilots
every year to the shattered mirrors of the lakes
like the sacred syllables of unpronounceable native tongues,

the silence still vast enough to be intruded upon
by engines and chainsaws snarling in the wilderness
in an unholy ghost of blue fumes infernally reeking
like motherless demons shadow dancing
around an angry campfire that scatters the stars
like evangelists of greater conflagrations yet to come.

We gouge and we wound. We die with the sun
and revive like the wraiths of thin atmospheres
that wail like the banshees of the northern lights
outside the frozen windows feathered in ice ferns
we look through darkly like albinos at the moon.
Our cultural life has pink eye. Morning here
is a bad fisherman that doesn’t take its own advice
and heed the warning of how nice the weather always is
whenever there’s a false dawn on the horizon
sailing under the colours of another country
that doesn’t take the black sail of the night down
or shroud the dead they bury at sea in the aniconic flags
that navigate by the starmaps of a neighbouring galaxy.

In this arcane darkness you learn to shine
by your own lights or you die in the cold
like an asteroid belt of boundary stones around
the firepit of the hearths and hardware stores
you’re buried under like an avalanche of prophetic skulls
that went out like a chimney fire of daylilies
rooted in creosote, smothered in a seance of smoke.

Human immensities dwarfed like the afterthoughts
of inhospitable harmonies reconciling the savage discord
of impersonal energies still shaping the world
like turtle blood and starmud in the abyss
of a cosmic medicine bag where the waters of life
break like a northern river out of a birth sac
that chews through its own umbilical cord
like a leg hold trap beside of a rose of blood on the snow.

Creation is always the first draft of an inspiration
that’s never finished revising the tree rings
in its heartwood as if the rain were never sure
of the genre of things it was working in
on a loose scaffolding of dead trees uprooted
on a mountainslope better thatched by snow
than water trying to walk across its own land bridge.

Coming home from an alien space
like a prodigal exile from a foreign land
is always like entering a new continent
where the large mammals of the Pleistocene
haven’t disappeared yet, and you can
instinctually feel the lethal glee of the moon
sword dancing with the sabres of a crouching Smilodon
when you relinquish the comfortable airport
of your arrivals and departures, and cross
the dangerous threshold of your homelessness
like a spiritual materialist with a knack for survival,
tricks on how to live like a snow hare in winter
that smokes the unprepared magician out of the hat
like the cherry red stovepipe of a Napoleon airtight
roaring like the ringmaster of a mammoth hunt
in a surrealistic circus of extinct species
that can trace their lifelines all the way back
to the mountainous watersheds of the Burgess Shale,
the Book of Life written in the fossilized hieroglyphs
of starfish patched like the angelic death’s-heads
emblazoned like coats of arms on the Canadian Shield.

Tradition just a path someone broke in the snow
like an offroad short cut through the woods
that wasn’t expecting to be followed by a cult
of snowshoes woven from the sinews of wild deer
like dreamcatchers in a web of empowering mandalas
that hang on every word you say like the suspension bridges
of community support groups across the Capilano River
of their vertiginous disbelief. We sway like silk
in the heights of our ionized ideals, aurorally,
and even when we don’t shed a lot of light on
what’s real at the end of a long winter, and what is not,
most people think we’re beautiful for the way
we treat our apparitions like the fair-minded history
written by the referees of the victors too polite
to crow in the dawn like Chanticleer in the windows
of another culture being exorcised by the teaching nuns
of another genocidal day at native school. The dominion
of Pandemonium where the fallen angels settle
like big, wet kisses of early April snowflakes
on the lips of the crocuses opening like the mouths
of baby birds in the abandoned nests of the great blue herons.

Goose-down and fur. We’re insulated by the covers
of books that were bred for the purpose
on a fox farm of eternal flames to wrap around our necks
and get us through the winter at the expense
of someone else’s nakedness trembling like a death sentence
in a purple passage of frozen poetic prose.

The cold cuts like a Medusa head of whips
biting you in the third eye of your peripheral vision
like the thorns of something toxic that wants,
not out of spite, but reflex, to lay you out
like a comatose junkie shooting burnt out comets
in a morgue full of falling stars and flash in the pan meteors
you can wish upon with one hand on the shoulder
of St. Peter, martyred upside down like a foundation stone
upon which you can build a church or cube the Kaaba
with a little dirt from outer space washed out
of the god’s-eye of a hurricane of razorblades
railing starclusters of cocaine up their nose
like the C.P.R. in the nasal passages of the Rocky Mountains.

There she blows like a narwhale in the Arctic.
Burial huts of gangrenous crustaceans in lobster pots
enflamed by the seaworthy dawn that hauls them up
like stars caught in the net of Indra, mark one jewel
and you mark them all, over the gunwales
of a waning moonboat that will disappear
like a bar of greasy soap left too long in the water
before it reaches the zenith of its swan dive
and goes the way of all snow like a Martian ice-cap
on a globally warming bald spot in the ozone.

Ancestral elephants carved in ivory like the tusks
of a moon that never forgets, iced like collateral damage
in the turf wars of multicultural gangland glaciers
marking the limitless borders of where everyone
came from in the first place like post cards and passports
from the edge of dispossessed nowhere stamped
by the monarchial wavelengths of a bureaucratic blood oath
that approves of your living and dying here
on the dark side of the moon, six months of the year.

Fewer Canadians commit suicide than Scandinavians
because of light deprivation. The raccoons wear
outlaw masks to keep from going snow blind
in semi-hibernation hiding out in the time locked
cryonic vaults in the suspended animation of a dream
where the only safe place is in a house that’s burnt to the ground
when the birds are falling out of the frigid air
in mid January like a Hitchcock movie made
in Hollywood North that couldn’t keep
the medicine wheels of its own spiritual flightfeathers up
let alone the lapwings of the alarmist divas
in the immaculate choirs of shadowless noon.




I live in obscurity with the nightbirds and no one signs the air.
I listen to the click languages of pebbles on the riptarian shore
as one thought washes over another, hand over hand,
as if they were making a pact with one another they meant to keep
this time, one corpse washing the back of the other,
a flowering of hands on the heft of a sword-dancing vow.

It’s difficult to take your silence seriously in a crowd
and not be estranged by it. So many voices looking for a home,
so many gleeman to the king of the oildrum booming
like a bullfrog under the overpass of a careless city
where the poets are more venal than the middle class they castigate
like the sins of their parents visited upon them. Scare someone
meaningfully enough and they’ll atavistically return
to what they know best. Boo! But take it in jest.

Maybe never to have been born is best after all
has been said and said and said and said as Sophocles did
and so little done to make a difference to the tragi-comical
starfish drowning in the tidal pools of their own eyes
depending on the prescription they’re wearing at the time,
oceans in the rose, puddles of turbulent starmud,
or the Hubble wowing us like the rainbow body
of a one-eyed guru born without lachrymal glands,
visions of life lining the highway like roadkill
or moon-toothed muskie dying of thirst in a freshwater lake.

May the anguished eyes of starving children eat your poems
like the junkfood you went bobbing for in the dumpsters
of literary tradition. Gag them on the mouthy paint rags
of your genetically modified masterpieces. Too outlaw
by nature, not inclination, to feel at home in the 4-H Club
poetry’s become, where the cutest piglet wins a blue ribbon,
and a quarter hind of bullshit has its horns manicured
like the fingernails of the moon, so the roses
aren’t gored on their thorns, and everyone clarifies
the creosote clinging like polyps to the strings
of their cardboard voice-box guitars to sing like starlings
caught in the throat of a cold chimney in spring,
I live out here like a hermit thrush untroubled
by the peripheral visions of co-habitable women
who make no bones, like muses, of what they do
and do not want. It’s good to give as good as you get
and a bit beside if you’re trying to make a spiritual point
to somebody’s lies, but, in private, in savage solitude,

I howl at the moonrise on my own terms like a bush wolf
and the hills reiterate the forms my longing takes
when something deeply wounded inside, opens my mouth
like a waterlily in a nunnery of muses when the pain of what
it’s gangrenously rooted in breaks its vow of silence
like the oracular fortune-cookie of a madwoman
losing her virginity to the godhead of a koan
that possesses her faculties like the oxymoron of a unitive life
reconciling opposites in a coincidence of trivial profundities
and the Longinean lacunae in the anonymous lives of the sublimely absurd
as if she were trying to put the pagan back in the cult and coven of the word.

I look up at the night, sometimes, in a wanderlust of wonder
among the willows down by the river, and I name
the constellations I remember like bubble-gum space cards
from my childhood, and I swear I can read the occult tattoos
on the flesh of a blue Pictish witch jumping naked
through fire of the Pleiades as if there were no urns to be afraid of
but the ones that choke on the ashes and smoke
of the expiry date of their smouldering desires
trying to smudge their ghosts with sweetgrass
like astroturf above the flower arrangements
of their matchbook pyres, like undertakers
at a careerist impasse for words synonymous with love
as they have, like the Inuit vocabulary for snow,
read backward in the breathless mirrors
that pronounce them enigmatically dead
as the paradigmatic da Vinci code deciphered
like a loveletter they were afraid to throw into the flames
for fear of depriving literary culture of twenty six ways
of avoiding a word for their fear of death, as fluently
as the sacred seed syllables that can be derived
from the alpha and omega at the beginning and end
of a work of love, not self enhancement, deep in the woods,
in the vernal shadows of the moon, under the catkins of the aspens
because long before the leaves started publishing
their spring and autumnal memoirs, poetry, like the love of life
depended upon nothing, not even the occasional hermit thrush
in a black walnut tree, pouring its solitary heart out to the Pleiades.