Tuesday, September 17, 2013



The unreformed life of a poet thick with scar tissue.
What did I write forty years ago? O ya, la, la,
the live ones sing, la, la. Always knew it meant more
than I could discern at the time but it’s lasted
as I have a lot longer than either of us thought we would.
If you persist in your ruination sincerely enough
light years from here, creation gets quantumly entangled
in your root fires and things begin to bloom like a moonrise
you never suspected was a flower down on its luck.

I don’t care where you’re hiding, everybody’s
got something to fear, but I know you can hear me
though I’m not asking you to show yourself,
stay where you are. I’m not the answer to
all those secrets you keep up your sleeve
like an aviary of parrots you’re trying to teach to talk,
but have you ever given any thought to being here
at the indulgence of a dark mystery you embody
in flesh and blood, starmud sullying the light
on the waters of life with hermetically unstable intelligence?

I gave my word to the X on my spotted heart
I’d fall on it like a sword in the name
of the most dangerously compassionate art
that demanded nothing less than everything of me
all the time like a renewable Promethean sacrifice
chained to the altar of a rock by a long, dynastic bloodline
of hot-fingered thieves of fire. My votive candle
of self-immolation. Though I’m compelled to say
ashes are ointment on my eyes now that my tears
have boiled away into the more vaporous emotions
of less revealing gnostics lost on a sea of awareness
without so much as a moon or a lifeboat to stand on.

It seems it’s got to be this way somehow for reasons
that happily elude me in my pursuit of the perfect illusion
to offset my sense of being an enlightened eclipse
among fireflies trying to throw a blinding light
on the best of my intentions. If that accounts for anything.
Wolf, when I’m noble, bush dog when I’m not,
I can change totem poles like a shapeshifting dolmen
when the moon is new and I’m scavenging my way
into an ongoing exploration of the life of a human
with an unwieldy mind that keeps toppling on its axis
like Neptune bobbing bottoms up like a duck,
or a waterbird, to put it more gracefully, into its own reflection.

Is this narcissism, or the slippery slope to solipsistic idealism
in the first person singularly alone in a peculiar universe?
It’s never been a purpose of mine to make a precedent
out of my absurdity like a law of life that doesn’t
inspire people to disobey it freely so they can come into their own.
Nobody else can do your flowering for you and expect you
to grow to fruition. The green, bitter apple in the chilly dawn
of its fair beginnings is sweetened in time by the loss
of its blossoms, and the erotic pulse of the windfalls of autumn.

Pain. Was there ever a poet worth reading that wasn’t
a worthy candidate for what they hated the most
until they were house-broke into being the accommodating host
of it, instead of the nervous guest? Work with it
like a cat kneading a pillow into a loaf of bread
or a white-tailed buck trampling the grass into a deerbed
for the night. Take a hands on approach, and grab it
by the throat like a hydra-headed python
with nowhere to anchor its coils like an oracular genome
that gives the secret of its extinction up
like the open-mouthed blossoms of the hollyhocks
swaying to the bird-bone flutes of the wind.
It’s ok to be a snake charmer with a silver tongue
as long as you don’t milk your own fangs
to anoint yourself in snake oil instead of serpent fire
or die of smoke inhalation in a vain attempt to put it out.

Burn, baby, burn. You can’t be beatified until
we see if there are any ashes in the urn
worth scattering among the stars like flames
that played you like the patron saint of dragons
that remained true to the heretical alchemy of their nature
like the angels that eventually evolved their flightfeathers
out of the repitilian sky burials of their hereditary scales.
Angels bear the souls of the dead south and west
like geese and undertakers in folksy vests
with a timepiece like a goldwatch that stopped ticking
cremations ago when the ground got too hard
to mine it like a grave and death had to take to the air
like a transmigration well before the invention of back-hoes
that permitted people to be buried late in the year closer to home.




The dark God flow of our circuitous blossomings,
the hourglass lips of two bubbles kissing
like membranes in a hyperspatial multiverse
where everything is possible ad infinitum,
the creative crossroads of contradictory energies
whirling like prayerwheels and dust devils
in all directions at once on the heels of our gnostic vertigo.
Are these wings or propellors? Or dizzy starfish?

Anybody know where I’m going with this?
Enlightened and lost. Guided by chaos
into shapeshifting modes of order? The mind
as it is. No table of contents to alert you
to what’s coming next. Or did we take
too much acid in the sixties? One too many
amoebically galactic lightshows with strobe lights?

So immersed in the algorithms of my intuition,
no reversing the emergency exit signs now,
I move into a deeper darkness, enlargements
of space, the stars separating in the vastness
like wildflowers at the end of autumn, grains
of pollen all that’s left of the garden. Always,

sorrow, anger shouldered as a responsibility
to people who can’t fight back, the moral legacy,
until recently, of having been born Canadian,
opportunistically trusting, healing, just as happy
to be overlooked as I am elated to be recognized.
My scars smile. My self-sufficiency, differential.

Good, good, so be it, but beyond the pale
where the moon is chopping wood with a double-bladed axe,
its light frosted to the bark, fingers aching
as if I’d been playing a guitar without callouses,
death’s brutal lack of preference in the night
that puts me on an equal footing with the animals
the birds, the people, and even the flies and spiders
that are trying to keep a little life alight within themselves,
why is it I always cut a solitary figure standing alone
staring up at the enormity of the stars, longing
for a larger frame of reference than a pink dominion
in a nineteen fifties’ atlas that asked permission
for its independence? I feel the inexorable onceness
of it all, remote, aloof, uncaring, yet wholly inclusive
as an extinction event in the awareness of being a witness
to it, a mere firefly of insight, no more than can be seen
in the drop of a dream in the galactic waterclock of the Milky Way
before death wakes us up to what we’ll never be again.

Unredeemably cold and immaculately beautiful as a knife blade,
the aesthetic horror that freezes in the blood
like some kind of polar ice cap that says, this far, but no further
engenders the poignancy of a wounded love in me
for everyone and thing that lives, and I sometimes think
even the rocks and the stars suffer the same fate we do,
that everyone is so rarely unique and irreplaceable,
so mystically specific and cosmically incomprehensible,
as crucially intimate as a stranger we met on death row,
as much in pain, and hope and joy, lost like a wandering starmap
in the labyrinth of their own fingerprints as I am,
I can’t help but cherish everyone as a revolutionary act
against our inevitable extermination. Once, for everything
and then decapitated zero like a reign of terror
we pass through like a nightmare of liberation
into a being so utterly free, like the stars on the growing edge
of invisibility, we’ll never see each other again.
At least not in these forms we so blithely assume are our own.

It can only make a fool of you to go on loving humanity,
life of all varieties, your own included, despite the evidence,
but there you go. So be it. What did it ever have to do
with me? Given I was born Canadian enough not
to want to belabour the issue. Given I can’t be any other way
than I am revealed to myself and interpreted by others, each a star
like Gemma in the northern crown of my abdicated
will to power, to move among the peasants and the paupers
as if crude ore and coal were the nature of all that lives
but once you accept you’re over your head in it like a nightsky
you begin to see, as your eyes adjust to the dark,
there’s diamonds and gold within everyone. Motherlodes of it.
Perseids of shining panspermically across the universe.
Zodiacs of the way we arrange the stars to accommodate our fates
without leaving a lasting impression upon anything
beyond the occasional Burgess Shale or Library of Ashurbanipal.
Ciphers of meaning neither real nor unreal,
watercolor starmaps of the paths we take in life
bleeding into one another like bloodbanks of roses
we dance with in our teeth awhile as our hearts and bodies
move to the picture music of our mindstreams, and then
throw in our graves as if the beauty we once danced with,
were the least perishable of the flowers we had to offer
the unanswerable brevity of knowing the silence
that follows indelibly in our expanding wake lasts forever.