Sunday, October 20, 2013



Peace a moment. A bubble of cool bliss
in the skin of a tear. Grace, with a green thorn.
The moon as I’ve never seen it before.
A ghost in the willows feathers down
upon the dark waters of the Tay
in an aura of moist summer air,
indelible as chalk on a blackboard
as if it were trying to write its name.

Solitude’s a priestess leashed to a water snake
that meditates on the moonlight
like a theta wave on its own path through life.
Look where you will, even the search parties
you organize like poems with real candlepower
are still lost in the labyrinth of your homelessness
looking for your true address until
you realize it’s been under your feet all the time.
You are the road. And there’s no one on it.

The shadows of the trees lie down
like thresholds that sense someone’s
been crying in a derelict doorway for years.
Severe sorrow. A bell for a bucket
bailing out the empty lifeboat of the moon
long, long after it’s set. Love. No help for it.
White sweet clover, swan’s plumage,
both sides of the road. The wind
in the vocal cords of the wild grape vines
overgrowing the half closed gate
of someone who meant to return one day
like a loose page of a book to its binding.
An unfinished loveletter to the fire that wrote it.

The maples reach out to touch me
to see if I’m real. Nocturnal enough,
but who’s to judge? The dream
doesn’t have a dawn or dusk. The end
goes on forever. The beginning never happens.
Born into perishing my way through life
what could death mean but another night
of living my passage through it
as the juniper sweeps my tracks
from the trails I cut down to the river
like deer paths, and the stars
in the shrine of my eyes devote their candles
to the same darkness that inspires the fireflies,
or my insights into the nature of love
as the way the nightsky is transfixed
by what is born of it like the mystery
of why life shines on its own likeness
without going blind or turning into stone
as if imagination were the first sign,
black walnut trees losing their voice
like Lyra in the west, as above, so below,
autumn approaching, o, yes, the autumn
and the poignancy, almost the flavour
of creation, that what we love last
and the deepest, is the perennial beauty
of our own passing, galaxies and waterlilies
embedded in our hydra-headed starmud
like a blue moon inseparable from
the dark waters of life it blossoms in.

A nightbird shrieks. A ghost kicked up
by the dust of the Milky Way in my wake
weeps like a sad loveletter that’s taken the words
right out of my mouth like an empty mailbox
standing at the side of the road, listening
when there’s nothing, not even an echo,
a whisper of my own innermost voice,
to the silence that lingers in the woods
for asylum from the intimacy that has
forsaken it, and the love in its heart
that trues it like an arrow fletched by the light
to a rapturous wound that hasn’t,

as the fish at both ends of the equinox
jump back like bulls-eyes into the targets
they made of their exits from one medium
to hit in the next like the tree rings
of the grand entrances we make on our way out.

Love perishes like apple bloom in the spring
to be born again among the windfalls of autumn,
the burning bridges of the maple trees
between the fountains on the moon, with birds,
and the housewells we dig like graves
here on earth, to drink our own tears from
like sacred syllables pouring through
the open floodgates of the moonrise
like a prophetic skull trying to hit
all the oracular high notes of the shrill treefrogs
celebrating the dark abundance, bright vacancy
of our corporeal entrances and disembodied exits.




The blue potential of a grey, grey day.
The bikers have flown away like starlings
emerging fractally from the woods.
The driveway is clear though my car
is not going anywhere. They’re middle-aged men
the way I used to be, black leather
and cowboy boots where the rubber hits the road,
and though things take shape like Canada geese
rising out of a threshed cornfield, you run
like an unbaffled, four stroke wolf pack
that plays havoc with your testosterone.
Snow on the roof. Fire in the furnace.
It’s a winter wonderland when it isn’t a Quaalude.

Age is like that. It’s not a daffodil in late autumn.
It’s a Blackberry Moon given to heart attacks
and hemorrhages, an understanding the heartwood
shares with the tree rings that are keeping it alive
like leaves and birds grazing on what they can
in common, knowing the dozy tree never gets cut
for the keel of a ship, or a mast that will snap
like a dislocated hip on an icey, unsalted sidewalk.

I’m trying my senescence on like adult shoes
in childhood playing dress up in a dark closet.
More glibly, seance. I’m summoning all the ghosts
of the people I used to be, maybe that’s why
it’s grey, and I’m asking each of them what perishing
means to anyone. And I’m not interested
in tedious arguments, but I want to know
if they’re going with me into the legends of oblivion
at the bottom of a starmap. On board or not
with this shipwreck that would rather go deep
than far as the moon approaches the earth
cataclysmically every day it turns on its axis
like a weathervane secured at the peak
of a barn roof like a mermaid at the prow of an ark.

Initial response. I don’t want to lie
in a heritage cemetery with the leaves
passing over me and the grass always
an unusually moist green that’s supernatural.
I don’t want to be screen-tested for
my physical response to pain or disease.
Emotion always hurt me more. I don’t
want to be grateful for the idiocies
of the stereo-types I’ve had to suffer
at the hearts of lovers and well-meaning friends.

What did Yeats say he had to comfort him
in old age? Rage and lust? I can’t help either
when they arise, and though I’m supposed to be
forbearing and wise, I don’t object too strenuously
when I’m led astray by my eyes or repulsed
by the filth that’s caked to justice like a travesty of starmud.

Don’t help me unless I sincerely need it. Most
of the time that’s cash. I’m not muscled
like a rocking chair close to the stove.
Don’t bore me with your plans for the future
and I won’t bore you with my plans for the past.
I listen more to my body than my mind
when it comes to taking a nap which I admit
gets sweeter the more it ripens than I thought
it would be when I first conceded to longer,
less radioactive shadows than the meltdown
of my dreams as they ran out of heavy water to cool
them off like eyes staring too intensely
out of the darkness of the doorway like stars.

Not for lightyears schooled by a compass set
and a rule I learned in a classroom. I relate
to chaos in a larger frame of reference beyond
the surreality I project upon it as if my pineal gland
had stopped showing horror flicks on the weekend.
Freer than I used to be. Running out. Running down.
Until time stops at the speed of thought
and light’s just another also ran. Which bend
in the hourglass is upstream? I scheme. I scheme.
And what goes down has so very little to do with me.

I pay attention when I want to and get on
with how meaningless everything is, until
you give it one as gradually the fresco begins
to fade like a sacred roof over your head when it rains,
and the oils are bleeding too deeply into
the wet plaster, and the candles and censers
treat you as if you’d lived your life too colourfully,
and dyed it sepia-tinged, like a beer bottle
or a radiant stain-glassed window in a brown out
that played with the light bars in an art gallery
in Kingston that had a habit of playing dead
as if a black bear were in the neighbourhood
and death was the only way to save yourself from being food.

I’ve come to cherish my work as the less
of many evils, and much more fascinating
than the worst, like a junkie eyeballs the silverware.
I say starmud, but half the time I’m as big
a clod as I ever was when I pulled a plough
on the moon. I don’t underestimate women
in the name of love as much as I used to,
the stillness and the stealth of a halcyon hurricane
waiting to happen like an ocean in a rose
with the dorsal fins of sharks, thorns and sundials.
But God, I love the way I’m defiled like a sinner.
No angel that never floated a lifeboat down
a bloodstream ever had it so good as all that
like an incredibly long amen to a very short prayer.

And not mean, and bitter and cynical. Self
destructive as I’ve been for poetic reasons
I wouldn’t do that to myself. I might carry
vinaigrette on a long march with the legion
to keep from getting sick as an eagle on what
swims into his ken like Herschel or the Pacific
or a salmon struggling to make ends meet
and make sure the circle remains unbroken.
I don’t live recklessly enough anymore
to step on God’s toes when we’re slow dancing
to a song neither of us have heard before, alone.
Besides, everything is looping into its second innocence
like the moon on replay taking a bath in her own grave.