Wednesday, October 23, 2013



I could never remember you in garish Pacific sunsets
or the luster of opalescent Ontario dawns.
These would be ill-fitting gowns, wrong
wardrobe of metaphors to clothe you in, you
who loved to wear the moonlight like water on your skin
and your heart like the blood of a black cherry on your sleeve,
that the rain, and I saw how hard it tried like a watercolourist,
could never wash out. When I looked
as deeply into the nightsky of your eyes as I could,
six thousand stars lavished on the dark to the naked eye,
I always saw a white tailed doe looking back at me
from the brindled woods where they opened into the starfields
and I let the silence surmise old dangers had made you shy.

I could never remember you as you were and fix
the image in amber like a butterfly in a paper weight
as time wept glacially by like an ice-age in an hourglass.
Shapely as the cedar candelabra of a passionate forest fire,
you were the elegant daughter of dragons, the willow witch
of your own desires, and you spoke to my body
in the occult languages you kept alive for the sake of the dead
who were always with you like voices in your sleep.

I put this albino abyss of a snowblind canvas on my easel
like the negative starmap of the nightsky I imagine
death to be, so the wind can colour outside the lines
of the constellations as you were fond of doing
with an elfin kind of glee like a happy bell
you’d hung around the neck of something bleaker
as you often did with your life as if you were
bending space to your will like a black hole
at the nave of your galactic prayer wheel
turning in the wind like the golden ratio of a sea star.

I paint you in the picture music of a wounded heart
punctured like a matador on the thorn of the moon
as I looked upon you haunting your solitude
and knew like the last crescent in the book
of waning scars, there were some roses
just too beautiful in what they’d made of their pain
to heal. The eyelids of black roses shadowed
by penumbral eclipses of carboniferous mascara.

The deepest starwells of our sorrows flower
into the most expansive fountains of compassion,
and what a tender champion the small things of the world
found in you. The starling under the windowpane,
the Monarch butterfly that just stopped like
a slim volume of poems, intact, at the moment of perfection
denying death its deconstruction, and those
dozens of shepherd moons that showed up
like the skulls of racoons and groundhogs in the grass,
relics of a tragic past you arranged like asteroids
on the windowsills of your studio like the eastern door
of an Ojibway burial hut you adorned with the feathers
of red-tailed hawks until the autumn moon
could free their spirits from their bones.

I could never remember you as a blue-jay
among the sunflowers, you were never as abrupt
and decisive as that. You beaded all parts
of the disassembled world into the flowing
of one long continuous wavelength of a rosary
like different skulls with a variety of names
for the same spinal cord of a narrative theme
that whispered, like your life, louder
than the savage sparrowhawks of your emotions
shrieking out in predatory pain and as I remember well
how your eyes would grow wider than owls
or the new moons of Spanish guitars
when you were astonished by the symbolic depths
of some black pearl of transformative wisdom
you’d discovered dreaming on the seabed of your heart
like a lunar eclipse among the feathered corals.

The red violet that lingers over a city on a cloudy night
and saturates the air with tinctures of iodine and diluted blood,
I will add that hue to the palette of your likeness,
and glaze the bricks in the sphinx gate of your moonrise
with ultramarine blue and fleck the lapis lazuli
of your nightsky with gold paint on the bristles
of a toothbrush to simulate stars pouring out of
the watersheds of Aquarius to cool the scorched roots of things
in sacred pools and fountains inextinguishable pain
found its way to as if you were some kind of Gothic cathedral
cratered out of the moon like a river of stone
that taught the outcasts and the damaged fruits of life
how to flow up the stairwells of their renewal
with the courage of wild salmon called home from the sea.

I knew it was crucial not to make a mess of my dying
the night you left, to honour the spirit of the life
we had lived together, to make the end
as charismatically intriguing as the beginning had been.
So something inspired by our separation
could keep growing beyond us like a bridge
where incomplete solitudes could meet as strangers
and say farewell to one another like full siloes
in the plenum-void, whole as the sun and the moon
who go on shining in the darkness of ten thousand lonely nightfalls
not as the undoing of the dawn in the broken mirrors of the stars
but as a way of housing the buckets and bells of their tears
under the strong rafter of the well by the locust trees
blossoming among its thorns in the spring to summon the bees
that once sang to us, as if honey had a voice so poignantly sweet,
however deeply gored the heart by the horns of the moon,
waxing or waning, full or eclipsed, it never left scars on the music.




More and more I realize I’ve never been
who I thought I was when I was nineteen
to sixty-five, but to believe I did was
a useful delusion to get things going until now.
It’s a mask to rub the mask off your face
and say you’ve improved the complexion
of the moon. You have to include your wrong
in your right, your ugliness in your beauty,
to be holistically accurate about being
nobody you’d care to meet as well
as somebody you can’t tear yourself away from.
Isn’t it so? Would you want to have a coffee
with you? Or would you make an excuse
and forgo the encounter? Or maybe
you’ve been dying to meet yourself for years?
Would you ask yourself for your own autograph?

Give somebody a crystal skull and a Nazca terraglyph
and they’ll come up with a meaning of life
that’s as good as anybody else’s good guess
except they heard it from an alien they were
listening in on like the NSA to a cellphone.

I was always a diamond in the rough
education, art, poetry, women and teachers
who marvelled at my anomaly, were
going to cut and polish every facet of
as if I were having crowns put on my fangs
like the first and last crescents of the moon,
and I don’t say they weren’t motivated by love,
for the most part, but enough was enough.
If you want diamonds that flash like the moon
on water, you’re going to have to put up
with the darkness of the ore they’re derived from.

Everybody’s the collapsed parachute
of how high they’ve fallen to ground, shooting star,
withered daylily in the autumn, dandelion
or milkweed seed trying to land on good soil,
some do, some don’t, but it once was
very different before they paved the starfields
and the comets had to root in the minds of humans
like comas and commas, rat tail combs
sticking out a back pocket, like a sign
of what could have been, with a precautionary warning
you can’t exorcise all the ghosts and still
have someone to live for. You can’t
white-wash a wanted poster over and somehow
pretend you’re in the clear. Sooner or later
you’ll catch up to yourself and shoot first
and ask questions later. You’ll hang with horse thieves
though you were only along for the ride.

There’s a force driving me like a spy satellite
around a shepherd moon to greener pastures
where I’ll graze among the stars like the first time
a man goes down on a woman to give her
as much pleasure as he’s possessed by
as the crumpled surf of the bedsheets
have to open at the same time for a safe descent.
Skydiving is an erotic experience. Time and again.
You see two snakes copulating and modesty
makes you go prophetically blind as a planet in transit
across the sun that shines at midnight, while the moon
opens flowers like loveletters on the sly.

It’s nice to be admired for the things you hope
you do well, but you’re never admired, except
by maybe one or two, for who you are if
somebody out of your mind not theirs were to ask you
about your masterpiece. The colours of
the Jurassic waterlilies don’t fade for
three hundred and fifty million lightyears,
but the grey on your head has gone to seed
with the Scotch thistles who once stood armed
and violet. The bones in your starmud
are scattered like a wetland of dead trees,
yarrow sticks of a moonrise in
the Book of Changes. Nine in the fifth place
will never be a nightclub where women
fight over you again. And you got to meet
the Byrds just as they found Jesus and the music
was never the same again. Here’s
to the tinny guitars of the sixties lest we forget.
Anybody remember what that was all about?
There was a boom of ghost towns we called ideals.

Revolution became a hot commodity on Wall Street
and it was a lot easier to sleep around like Leonard Cohen.
I didn’t believe all the flowers I saw
in everybody’s hair just as I don’t place
much faith in the flamethrowers that are the rage
of today. Eventually it all goes up in smoke.
It flares and dies away like a supernova.
Flowers grey, hair grey, and the dragons mere
warm breath on cold air. They ran out of natural gas.
Smoke, smoke, smoke, a chimney spark,
a firefly, a flash of lightning and then we
go into the dark like a poppy or a matchbook.
The savage rose is dry blood on the snow.
So what lasts? The colours of the lilies perhaps.