Tuesday, October 15, 2013



Could I breathe the stars, I would expire in light.
Were I the harvest moon, I would retract my claws.
Were my heart anything other than what it is,
I would be a windfall of silver apples burnished by crows
and not this rag of a man with a mouthy wound.
I would not be this perversion of radiance mutating
in these acephalic mirrors warped by shape-shifting space.
I would see clearly the angry red berries of the hawthorn
and adopt them as a solar system. And think I was blessed.

And, o yes, spiky woman, when love was in eclipse
if I were not so afraid of falling upon you like a sword,
I would notch the moon like a gunsight
with its own valleys and mountains,
and let the light shine through like Bailey’s Beads,
and place it on your head like a laurel of fire,
the enlightened corona of a door I’ve left ajar.
You agitate the spiders in their morning webs
into vibrating like the needles of sewing machines
or the clappers of fire alarms, as the sun
takes the pulse of its dreamcatchers,
looking for signs of life from the night before.

I am a creature of darkness. I know the abyss.
It fills you like a universe you just can’t seem
to get your heart and arms around.
It’s bigger than the wingspan of your spirit,
the one vacuum nature doesn’t abhor.
No end of it. No beginning you can hope for.
You embody the impersonality of it intimately.
The dark mother of the abounding stars
whose beauty adds an edge to the emptiness
that keeps you from pleading for oblivion
in an isolation deeper than the dead.

The irises were surgically removed from your eyes
and you’re out looking for rainbows at night with a match.
But there’s no one to keep your promises to,
and just at the bend in the river, where you laid
a poppy on the grave of the white crow
to pay your respects to the end of the road,
you plunge over the edge of a finger-pointing precipice
like a willow of water into an ocean of awareness
and there’s no one there to catch you. And the dreamcatchers
aren’t the safety nets they said they were.

Were I a witchdoctor that knew the antidote to love
I would come with strange concoctions
of the Pleiades and deadly nightshade
ground with a sexual pestle in the mortar of my skull
and spiced with a measure of the inconceivable
and have you rise from your death bed
like a miracle among roses that escaped the frost.
I’d stroke the back of your hand like the head of a swan.
And you’d feel it melting like ice. The moon would bloom
like a love letter delivered to a dead branch.
The nightmare of the dispassionate fever
would transmutate into an elixir of life
that would thrill every flower into believing they had
lightning for roots. Wondrous blossoms of insight.

Into the Open. Into the Absence, the nihilistic emptiness
of the cup poured out in a hemorrhage of the heart
when the wine went bad. Someone there in the doorway
gone like a shadow from the sundial of the farewell
they left you with like the wing of a bird
that doesn’t sing anymore in the morning.
And even the birch groves don’t feel very strong
when they’ve been cast down by an ice storm
into white canes and crutches of suffering
you once could lean on for emotional support.

I would be a lightbulb in a house well for you
to keep you from freezing and more grandiosely
if I were a pagan architect, I would erect a temple
with pillars of fire for you that even time
when its hair grows out like solar flares
couldn’t pull down in a fury of indignant ions.
There would be no lack of heretics, martyrs,
or Norse gods to sing in your flames
because they would have finally found something
greater than their solipsistic selves to sacrifice to
that consumes them with devotion
axially aligned with you. And wherever you walked
true north would be under your feet.

As it is I follow you like an oriflamme
in a pageant of longing I will not be ransomed from.
And even if the court jester to the queen
isn’t the grand marshal that gets to carry it,
the one who rides first in the wake of your love,
his armour burning like a mirror of your reflected fire,
I have raised a small banner of blood
on the lance of a thorn the white knights
would think was laughably burlesque
were it not for the fact that it pours out of a dragon’s eyes
like the eclipse of a black rose in tears
igneously bleeding in the darkness
to temper its fangs like swords it remits in tribute,
from a burning bridge of fireflies,
to the solitary river of the unhonoured waters of the moon.




The relentless indifference of the world
to the monkeys who think they’re in charge.
How does a human skull not rot like a feral dog’s
killed by wolves? Babies die like a carillon
of columbine above their cribs. I see
through the camouflage of my little hill
of a vantage point, ants on the Ho Chi Min Trail
carrying away the piecemeal wings of the butterfly
for scrap metal spare airplane parts. We’re
on the menus of all other forms of life.
Poachers would kill the white elephant
of the moon for its tusks, black bears
for their medicinal livers, stem cells for body parts.

All branches of knowledge, frayed ends
of the lightning unwinching its bucket of rain
on the root fires of dendritic axons in the garden.
Dark matter perishing into its moment
of radiant flowering like English ox-eyed daisies
and stars. Maybe being born into this world
is the shallow death of a black hole in labour?
As much of the elm underground as there is above.
Six million leaves in the beaming sunshine
feeding the dark that scatters them like birds
from a fountain, words from a poet’s mouth
that grow old and die like solar panels erected
on the far side of the moon that lives on starlight alone.

Death can be as useful as roadkill to a turkey vulture.
Hominids lapping marrow for bigger brains
from the charnel houses of the predators
they most fear when they risk extermination
out of the trees being culled by the encroaching grasslands.
Everybody’s too busy running from it
to look death straight in the eye to see
deeply into the black mirror they can’t find
their reflection in, as if you couldn’t shine
without a shadow telling you what time it is.

If I lose my eyes do you think that will
bring about subtle, but lasting changes in the light
adjusting the filaments and stamens of the way
things flower for reasons you were meant to take
as a guess you could build on like a tent
with a portable threshold like a meandering crosswalk
instead of institutionalizing your creation myths?

I have an innate mistrust of the lies that back up
certainty, including the lie behind the alibis
of the tenured sceptic. Dubito ergo sum. Doesn’t
leave you much of a leg to stand on
like a mountain village gathering foundation stones
from the last earthquake. Or a Mongolian
pyramid of skulls promising you an afterlife
to assuage your surrender. Some are washed
in the blood of the lamb and some the goat.
What was pagan about the Romans who bathed
in the blood of a bull? I wash in my own tears
and that’s as close to capitulation as I ever get.

No doubt I may be about to blend into the Great Mystery
with a lot of regret, but, to hear my mother tell it,
I wasn’t too happy when I got here anyway,
and except for a few malignant Catholics who
imputed sin to my original nature, if, in fact,
that’s where things begin, I was innocent as far as it goes
in a world that cuts off its nose to extol
the righteousness of its toes in an infantile mouth.
May be a blessing. May be a curse. Maybe
one foot in the boat, one on shore, and a topknot
tied to a low hanging bough on the tree of life
like a ghost with a dislocated hip and a limp.

Who cares? The river’s running full out of the garden,
and the leaves are better poets than the wind
ever imagined them to be according to modern standards.
They don’t seek awards for the folly of their calling.
They don’t keep track of the anthologies of foliage
they’ve been published in. They just give themselves up
to the mad genius of the wind like the flames
of wax candelabra in diaspora that don’t equate death,
like seeds, with exile. The harvest moon in the hands
of the sower without the plough of the Big Dipper
to show her how. And yet there’s grain in the arms
of the Virgin as if her lover were a scarecrow,
driving its equally innocent twin of a scapegoat
further and further out into a wilderness
where the six and eight pointed stars
thrive on the trash of the universe recycling itself.

Maybe I’ll be the reason sacred dung beetles keep rolling
the starmud of the planet up into a larger cranium
to accommodate the fatty abyss they’ve sipped
from my marrow as the ants who drained
the wetlands and watersheds of my eyes
are beginning to conceive of the bigger picture
my mind painted when I look at them like a visionary
that didn’t believe you had to stick to the beaten path
of somebody else’s pheromones, that you could
put out your own little blossom of stargrass
like a sign of amazement you’re still alive and aware of it.
That death wasn’t a closed door anymore than life
was an open gateway into a garden of wild delights.