Wednesday, September 4, 2013



A good day and night on earth for me would be
hurling paint at an eight by four foot canvas
propped up on a rusty hay rake for an easel
on top of a hill by the soft basswood trees in late September.
A thin thread of blue smoke rising from the farmhouse
down below, somebody home and a satisfied ghost,
rising idly like a spirit from the heartwood of a log
of two year old maple I cut and split and stacked myself,
ten cubic cords of habitable planet to make it through the winter.

A good day and night on earth for me would be
like the early Muslims under Umar ibn al-Khattab’s caliphate,
knowing the angels were going to visit the town
around four in the morning, knowing everyone on earth
were given bread and flowers enough not to go to bed hungry tonight, 
that everyone had something they wanted to get up for in the morning
that made it easy and exhilarating to be alive, wild asters
saturated with sunlight and the humming of clumsy honey bees
just below the window apprenticed to a telescope.
Short focal length, Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector
on an equatorial mount with a clock drive synchronized
to the wheeling of the earth like a moonrise in Virgo.

A good day and night on earth for me wouldn’t be
knowing I was loved, but looking back over the tree rings
in my heart like the history of rain that left its mark on me
like every woman I’ve ever loved, sad, mad, bad, beatific
or indifferent to the fact she could make a locust tree bloom
as if it were enraptured by its own crucifixion, the crowns
and stigmata of the thorns it wore with prophetic distinction
like the first heretic ever burned by the new moon
who could taste the mystery of life in the ashes on his lips
when she kissed him one last time, and to steal a line
from Jim Morrison, turned his blood to mystic-heated wine.

Not to assess how well I was loved, but to feel extinct
knowing I gave everything I had to love and still fear
it wasn’t enough. It’s an indelibly memorable mode of madness
I may have fallen into like a habit that stuck like the La Brea Tarpit
somewhere along my antediluvian way, but I hold
the onceness of forever as lovers step away from each other
like an abyss on the downside of a dangerous precipice
up to my jugular vein a razorblade away from where Allah says
he is when I have no reason to disbelieve him. Love
is a sword dance with a waterclock in three four time so

a good day and night on earth for me would be
out walking with the stars alone through the high summer fields
quilted by wildflowers as the moon came up like a water-gilder
and breathed a skin of gold around every one of the tears
they’ve ever shed in joy when some cosmic egg cracked
like a koan in a dragon’s jaw and they were set free
like a winged horse beside Aquila and Cygnus to ride
their own eyebeams in the free range of the sky anywhere they liked,
when the wind throws off its chains like the rain
and I feel forgiven like a starmap for the times
they stubbed their hearts on my life like an asteroid belt
they couldn’t see in the dark on their way to the black market
of a species exchange on earth for something completely different.

A good day and night on earth for me would be
advancing backwards through all the stations of my childhood
and father myself like the man I always wanted to be
like some kind of playful wizard who knew he was
a great fool to squander his life on joy, but knew how
to stop the bleeding in a boy by uncuffing his life from a bike chain
or at least, when the lifeboat goes down, keep him
from feeling like salvage that should have stayed aboard to bail.
I want to mend that wound in every adolescent heart with gold
like the midnight sun smiling on good starwheat in the siloes
of a radiant end to a dark start. That what I sow outlives me well.
Like morning glory in the lobby of the Hollyhock Hotel.

If it were a good day and night on earth for me, it would
have to be for everyone else as well. I’d have to see
the homeless wearing new thresholds on their feet
that welcomed them at the door like prodigal sons and daughters
that didn’t want a black sheep slaughtered in their honour,
and every young girl weeping in the corner of a restaurant
right now so her friends don’t see her nursing a broken heart
like a voodoo doll gored on the horns of a heavy curse
might rise from her gloom like the moon-rise
of a Minoan bull leaper vaulting through the crescents
of her dilemma and landing on her own two feet on the other side.




Time grieves in me, autumn in the apple.
Warm sugars in the dusk, my body mourns
the flowering farewells of what has passed,
the eerie twilight smiles of ghosts at the gate
I haven’t seen in lightyears, heraldic seabirds
this far off the coast of an approaching landfall
where I’ll step out of the lifeboat claiming
nothing in the name of anyone who doesn’t
already live there like the private diary of a sundial,
whether they cast a shadow or not, or time
loses its sense of direction in eternity between
one thought-moment and the next, and the waterclock
I was will say out of what I remember of being human,
no destination, you’re free to drift as you wish.

Or if the arrows’s broken for good, the weathervane
doesn’t crow anymore like a cast iron rooster
in a dawn that doesn’t distinguish its voice
from the silence of the darkness that absorbs it
like the white noise of the mute and the dumb
as back up singers to the background cosmic hiss,
let space do the flowing as a change of pace.

Sit on your hands. Unborn. Unperishing.
Embrace your own stillness like a starmap
making plans not to do anything more for the night,
knowing space is as important as timing used to be
to content, when you were all creation myth
in the beginning, and untimely allegory of perishing
at the end. And the young? How you baffled them
lingering in the doorway of an abandoned house of life
they ran to for sanctuary like an old man with nothing
but room on his hands. Be a sea to the waterbirds.
Be a sky to the stars. Death the measure
of how far we’ve walked together without ever
coming to a fork in the roads where we parted company
and birth, the second innocence of the return journey,
better than the first, because, like the flowers of earth,
didn’t we always cherish those most that bloom last?

Oceans ago. When we took the height of starfish
to know how far we’d sunk, and plumbed the eyes
of blackholes with galactic irises for haloes
to determine how long it would take for a shipwreck
to rise again on the event horizon of our next port of call.
Black sail, white sail, same photograph
flying the colours of a country not our own.
Cool bliss I’m beginning to trust, and lust,
God bless lust, taking its time like a slow cologne,
savouring what it used to gulp as if it were
trying to make an ice-cream cone last. Self-sufficiently

mad enough to be gainfully-unemployed finishing
the long labour of destroying my life creatively
I’ll go down into the underworld with my tortoise-shell
abalone Chinese voice-box within a voice-box,
that’s saved every echo of the sirens and muses I’ve ever listened to,
and death or no death, I won’t waste my futility on
trying to make sense of it all, crying over
the vaporous nature of tears. Death is no business
of mine. And life’s a long holiday I took in the flesh.
But I’ll ask her to come with me just the same.
She’ll look back on everything and her hand
will slip from mine like a loveletter of lifelines
out an envelope that hasn’t got anything
to look forward to but what’s been left behind
like a name traced in an afterthought of dust
on a windowsill, an old threshold of seeing
like a bird with a message, a star, a housefly,
the tuning fork of a mosquito, a lightning strike,
a firefly, the wind before a veil of rain, a firefly
that looked down upon the rooftops of a small town
with tears in its eyes for what transpires here,
and a telescope with a hand-painted lens of what it wants to see
when the mirages I crossed starless deserts for
are too near, far too near to my heart to be believed.

Never tell anybody the truth about the causes
and conditions of suffering, and love that asserts
it doesn’t have any, unless there’s enough
mercy in your heart to remember that we
are all humans, expressions, not definitions of ourselves.
But I’ll praise her in such sad, hermetic songs
the great secret of love and life and art
can’t help but speak for itself through her eyes alone,
neither true to the sunset she shines in, nor
false, when she rises before it, to the dawn.