Friday, October 4, 2013



O what a delight in life it is just to sit here
following my mind down to the river
on the deerpaths of wherever it takes me
as I flow along like a shadow in the wake of myself.

The sky is urgent with sparrows above
the fretting woodshed of another year
without dry wood. My kind of devotion
to a life that’s been living me like the hagiography
of an exhumed poet from the sixteenth century who died
in blissful penury not ever knowing
if he were discovered or not. No matter
he wrestled with his own shadow like the angel
in the way, creative contention is the usual mode
of life going offroad to get around things
like rocks in the waterclock of the mindstream
listening to dangerous explanations suggested by Shakespeare.

I keep wondering what kind of a mirror of magistrates
do I compare my mind to to suspect behind my back
I’m sophisticatedly crazy? Things only
seem to make a surrealistic kind of sense
that leaves me feeling existentially estranged
on a less habitable planet than the one
I thought I landed on in a homier atmosphere
than this abyss I’m multiversally immersed in now
shedding yellow leaves from other worldly elm trees
that exhilarate me as if I were falling with them
like gusts of Canada geese descending on a cornfield
the tractors have trampled like hogs and cattle
after the moon’s been husked like a pearl. A civilization
based on agriculture with nothing to eat.

I’ve always pursued an earthly excellence
in the name of remaining true to my folly
as an exercise in how to live wholly as a human
while I’ve still got enough instincts about me
to know it standing on an immodest escarpment
getting lonelier and lonelier the longer
I look at the stars as I have since I was a boy
with such longing to go there I cried myself
to sleep every night for three years realizing
I was born too early to be actualized by my dreams.

I’m dancing through beartraps in a marijuana patch
the spectrographs, the bikers and the ultra lights
missed by a hair on an emission spectrum
that coloured the whole affair like science fiction
but please don’t take my metaphors too literally
or attribute them to a lack of ardent conviction.
I’ve never got any i.d. on me when a traffic light
stops to ask me who I am and it cuffs me
like a crosswalk when I tell it I don’t
have a credible answer it would be inclined
to believe anymore than I can bring myself to anyway.

Must be the autumnal freedom of creative decay
that makes me think I can get away with things like that.
I’m sleepwalking in the dream of a junkyard bear
in deep hibernation in a niche of the earth
wasting my fat on votive candles I’m trying
to keep lit in the greenhouse I enshrined
like a water palace with as few impurities in it
as I could manage with a manual pump and a housewell
for a heart. Northern pike eyeing you under the ice
in winter like submarines under what’s left of the Arctic ice cap.
Minnows running the rapids of the spring run-off
before all the snow’s melted down to the knees
of a scarecrow’s blue jeans, I don’t have to be happy
to take a delight in the solitude of my own nature.

Like the shrew or the deermouse or the bedraggled
white tail buck unnerved by the wolves
that have drifted like hungry snow across its tracks
as if their noses were the spearheads of a ouiji board,
or any other creature befuddled by the urgency
of being excruciatingly here to wonder as if
wonder were a solitary form of worshipping
what comes as naturally as flowers to a beloved’s grave
as if they could say things about life only
the most perishable could whisper to the dead
in the full light of day and have them believe it,
I live elementally on the edge of extremes
and rebuke my abstractions with compassion
for everything that lives as I do, and everything does.

Don’t be fooled by the false idols again.
The priests eat their food for them and swallow
and the angels at the door were born without appetites.
What I despair of is always so much more intriguing
than what I hope for I’m always a shadow shy
of shining. I enter through the exit door
as if dawn were the beginning of a prolonged farewell.
And I’m best met at twilight with Venus in the west.

Life should turn away from me more often than it does.
I can think like a bell when I need to, but not until
the demonic clarification of my sensual inebriation
as a man coming to terms with looping back on himself
as if the future were already behind him
and the past had yet to come like the ghost
of the present that haunts this derelict house of life
like a train whistle way off in the distance,

does the incredible sadness of being alive
in a universe that doesn’t cherish what it labours
so effortlessly to perfect move you just as equinoctially
to love life with an autumnal tenderness
for what’s savaged like a sacrifice at a bad harvest
as well as the foolishness of the negligently enlightened
taking possession of their own emptiness hand to mouth
scooped out of the begging bowls of their cranial detachments.
Burn to love like an affirmative protest of the way we are.
Don’t feign a tear under the third eye of a warrior clown
but be in no doubt about what flowers and dies
on the waters of life like an unanticipated surprise.




Even though it’s only the Canada geese
moving like prayer beads and caravans
out of a white Sahara of snow to come,
it’s still a child’ first night in hospital alone,
abandoned, it’s still the electric dagger
of separation in the hand of an assassin
you raised as one of your own. Native
absentia around a wounded firepit
that died like a besieged town from within.

The last waterbird flying out of the cauldron
of Stalingrad as the sixth army looks upon
the futility of its glory disappearing into
the distance as it’s about to be boiled
like a kid in its mother’s milk. Seig Heil
like an hour hand at midnight at the stroke
of doom. Goose-step your way into
the cooking pot. The wasps in the apple-orchard
grow nasty and then they’re numb
as frozen semi-colons on the windowsill
or as the Arabs say, the first to get angry
loses. When the last lifeboat’s left, drown
in your own isolation like a beach in paradise
or learn to swim through fire out of your depths
like hot diamonds on ice, or a meteor
with life inside making a quiet impact
in Antarctica like the stem cell of another
roll of the dice we carved from the skull
of the moon as if we were poaching mammoth tusks
like the first and last crescents of an extinct species.

Insulated by hibernal modernity from the elements.
Distracted by the labyrinths of loneliness
we wander in, convinced we’re getting somewhere
that’s always better than here, but when
you hear the geese high overhead at night
as you have a thousand times before you can’t help
but hear something sad, wise, intractable
in the calling of a wounded voice ancient
with farewells. It’s a funeral march. It’s a requiem.
It’s a dying trumpeter swan in the sunset
addressing the dead it too will soon forget.
This autumn I listen to the fireball whiskey
raging like old drunks sitting like flying buttresses
at the bar, exaggerate the fire-power
in the hearts of last year’s campaign
consigned to the pages of history now
like leaves to the duff and detritus
of the archival forest floor acidic
with slippery calendars caked together
like leeches bleeding the autumn to break
the fever like war with a scalpel big as a bayonet
and a doctor’s certificate to be absent without leave
like the shedding trees when it’s harvest time
in East Anglia and Harold’s medieval army
has to leave at precisely the wrong moment
to bring in the sheaves and split the heartwood
with a diamond cutter’s eye for how
it cleaves so much easier when the blood freezes.

Undone in the midst of chaos. The maples
are throwing their colours down on the ground
like a half mast that took it too far down
when it came time to surrender and begin
to befriend the beauty of autumn in the ruins.
Pillowed in goosedown snow in an empty nest
isn’t going to insulate us from what we dream,
though we hope for a good night’s rest,
when it’s colder than blood on the snow outside
and the wind in blue wode empowered
by a moon that asks no quarter and gives none,
doesn’t hit the window like the soft thump
of a sparrow or a snowball but shrieks like a demonic she-wolf
baring its snarling icicles like the fangs of chandeliers
barn dancing with scarecrows and strawdogs
in an ice storm making a frontal assault
on hospitalized emergencies behind a gated parking lot.

Stragglers of the wild grapevines flambeed
like brandy you don’t need a gasmask to breath
the bouquet of as it vaporously sublimates
like a good year for metaphors that cut to the quick
like the ghosts of past autumns cradled in your hand.
Like the bubble of a crystal snifter warming up to you
like a skull it gets easier to believe as the night wears on
as if the last ice age were a distant relative
you discovered you had in common too late
to make everything you carefully prophecied come true.

Canada. The meeting place of frozen rivers
and flying saucers come to pick up the survivors
of 1111 stamping out encoded s. o. s.s on
the shrinking ice-floes of dispossessed polar bears.
My mother used to tell me when she was
an Australian artist in the American Red Cross
as red-bellied zeroes were flying over Brisbane
dropping pamphlets like gum tree leaves when
it’s spring in the northern hemisphere
to terrorize the indigenous citizens with nightmares
too implausibly conceivable to be believed,
everyone agree the next war would be fought
in Canada like the arising of the great black snake
in Blake’s cold-blooded, prophetic poem, America.

I’ve wondered superstitiously about that since
I first heard it. Who dislikes a peacekeeper
selling treaties to the natives like real estate
with reservations on the moon like Grey Owl
pretending he wasn’t English enough to be eaten
by the queen or a culture molesting Catholic school
beatifically blaspheming a mother tongue
that wasn’t allowed to speak up for her children
when they cried out in their sleep like the Ojibway
word for pain when a snowman puts its hand
over their mouths to smother the fire in smoke
like Zyklon B as if they were smudging a peacepipe
with sweetgrass for tourists who want to get back
to the inhuman nature of the way things used to be?

Remember when the beaver were skinned
to sit on the heads of Europe like stovepipes
and lampshades that slapped their tails
at the first sign of a wolf nosing around
their lodge poles with an heraldic device?
Brebeuf burned at the stake by the heretically innocent
who refused to be demonized imperiously
by a civilized bestiary of xenophobic totems?