Wednesday, November 6, 2013



Day 7: Little shakey this morning. I think it’s the meds
they’ve got me on. Corduroy road. Is that close to Tobacco?
And typos, swarms of them, blackflies
flying into my eyes and mind like cinders
and space capsules and moths in degenerating orbits
As I am. Caw, caw. Death’s firesticks.
I think I’ll make a kite out of them as long as I can.
Decamethsedone. if you say it fast enough
it convincingly sounds like a train coming your way.
This is the drug that sobers me up when
I firewalk to the other side of the moon, and this
is the drug that keeps me from throwing the last one up.
An angel who saved me from a month long Mafia of migraines.
But this tumour is acting like a competitive poet
in my brain who’s ferociously mad at me
for being the older, better published poet
and I am, at least for the next little while
or he bumps me off he can, and he can’t
and he never had to but he doesn’t know it
not just yet, that dawn is sometimes grey
as a religious order of cigarette butts, and that’s ok.
It can’t always be catacombs, urns and Auschwitz.
And I don’t mean that at all casually. I say it with respect.

Thank you. Thank-you so much for teaching me
what I’ve really never been able to quite as
convincingly learn from myself before
and this isn’t emotional baby oil I’m smearing
all over your heart like a mirror in the shape of your body
that was once the universe. I really mean it.
Or maybe you like the oil better. But either way
I’m trying to let nothing ever come between us
so I’m writing this right out in the open
where the lightning likes to play with arrows
from a war bonnet with Druids of mistle toe
like the streetlights on Douglas St. In Victoria.
God, a I miss that seagull now. That’s natural. And human.
Which is what I want to be with you, not
Heartbreak Hotel, or Hill or bone box at the end
of an equatorial meridian that once a year
kisses the skulls at the other end of the hall
on the forehead like a long shot with a cue ball
of prophetic skulls tucked in for the night. The kids
are all right. But if it’s got to be that, too,
you don’t need to steal the Buddha’s purse
to buy the buy the Buddha’s horse. I’ve got
a bag full of gold in my head that sings
like a waterbed of rattlesnakes that strike like a rose
when their aroused. I’ll be the voodoo doll.
I’ll take the fall for all of us. I used to jump
bareback mares up at Beaver Lake, holding on
by the waves of their manes for dear life as I am now.
Thanks for unbeaching my heart like a dolphin
that’s washed ashore out of a storm of torn fishing nets.
I’m blundering through a labyrinth of life and death
on the internet, and I used to meet each of you
coming down the other side of the road
like Buddha Pinnochio whose nose grew longer
with every truth he told, but now you walk beside me
like a blood and shadow travelling companion
to God knows where (Allaho Allahim) and I’m
grateful, o yes I am, I’m so grateful for the company.
Feel like a big red enamel billboard I painted
once for a pizzeria to advertise out on Highway 7,
two three quarter inch plywood sheets, sticky
hot paint that sweats, I leaned up against
the abandoned four car garage, spiders and tires
and wrenches and spanners I didn’t have a clue
how to use, rusty fans from Precambrian summers ago
and boxes of nails and screws, baby snake fangs
that have been collected over thousands of years
like poisonous punctuation marks, or gravegoods,
in an abandoned hippie organically abandoned farmhouse
that left a lot of pickled fiddleheads and Jerusalem
artichokes ready for a market they obviously
hadn’t made it to in Perth Saturday morning in the parking lot
where half of everybody who gathers there
gets real capitalistically muncipally unmerciful about selling
their wares off as if they were trying to tempt Jesus in the wilderness
and the other half just come to see the Middle Ages,
have a pageant of fun for a change, get out, put a little
colour on their face that doesn’t look like warpaint.

Jerusalem artichokes in bloom O they were beautiful
that hot red afternoon when I kept picking the dragonflies
out of the paint with the tip of a very slim painting knife
to trowel them out like tumors in a red, Burgess Shale,
Vietnam all over again but with a jeweller’s wings
this time, and solemn, yes, but does that black wall
have to look like it’s assuaging your guilt as if someone just
stuck a Scotch thistle under your saddle or
a whole constellation of them like a bouquet of Velcro burrs?

No slurs here, no slurs, please, and if I’ve desecrated
anybody’s feelings and they’re beginning to hear
the roar of savage indignation as the crowd rises
to its feet to savage somebody for being who they are,
well, it’s happened before. (Interjection. A mind spear.
I’ve finally figured out what all these little signs
on the page like little black, squirming, alphabetic maggots are,
and I don’t mean this in a mean way this time, are really all about.
Hoofprints. Cloppitity. Clop. With Siamese fighting fish in them
for a day, a day, a day of life I’m a rocking horse
who aspired to Pegasian elevations that would give
Icarus a nose bleed of mystic fire from a dragon’s mouth
that spared the butterfly by mythic comparison.
And Perseus still carrying that old decapitated head
of a snakepit around as if he’d been part of the French Revolution
or Verinus in serial Rome after his wife committed suicide
to prevent him from committing an honour killing
sporting some kind of new Parisian hair do
with his arm stuck out like a stop sign on a schoolbus
in his Christmas tree saddle, or is it a life line?

Please somebody, help, though I say this more
in expectation of what shall we say, accuracy and art?
That’s got a way with it. We’ll go with that. Accuracy and art
as long as I don’t have to paint it on a billboard
that sings like a gravestone. Who’s this? The sacred clown.
Or spotted tanagers at a ghost dance. This is too much fun
with words for the picture music going through my head right now
to believe it’s madness, and even if it is, it’s
liberating and hilarious in a heartless kind of way.
Some cheap surrealistic circus is in town with its crumby parade.

And I’m drifting oarless too far off shore to make
the continent of a point I was trying to drive across
less obvious than a cattle herd, heard. There. That was a rimshot.
Now let me tell you about the darkness I was
swallowed by like a humid, hot, brooding mouthful
of silence as if it were about to chew on me like a cashew word
with a millstone hung around its neck for good luck,
as if I’d ever let any kind of luck fool me now.
I watched Star Trek. Just to say it makes me feel
all warm and fuzzily nostalgic inside to go on playing
Jim Morrison anymore. Hamlet’s too affectionate
and I like Jim Morrison too much to hurt his feelings.

Blackness, the black dwarf, the black hole, the black matter,
shows up like a bead in transit for an unknown name of God on my rosary,
the one Qasem brought me all the way back from Kuwait
that gate country to God knows (allah ho allah him) where but the way
he so gently and slyly gave it to me still feels good
after all these lightyears I think I’m going to honour
it with an eclipse and a clip of Canada geese out of a Tom Thomson painting
after he stopped painting them with a geometry set
as if he were engineering a highway instead of a snake,
a rosary, or the river of life as it makes it way south
in the bodies of birds I’ve been comparing to urns lately
because I can have fun with the image turning it
in the light of an image I think I stole from Georgio once
but I’m not sure any more and it doesn’t matter anyway.

He’s a priest. And I’m not so sure about all of that.
I take an interest. And drink deeply and passionately
out of the skull cup as a sign of respect for my host
and I’m still wheeling like a universe of Sufis
at the crossroads of my little galaxy here trying to follow
the golden ratio like a sunflower as if it didn’t do very well
in math at school. And I did. But not well enough in my own estimation.
I haven’t been like the old woman Muhammad mentioned
unweaving a strong spinal cord into a million
feeble nervous systems as I keep repeating to myself
my head’s still in the stars as surely as my feet
are still planted on the ground, though I don’t want
anyone to take that quite literally just yet. When
a galaxy’s not ready to bloom, you don’t take a crowbar
to open it anymore than you do a flower or a woman or a child
or pet. Do you get the point? The nebula
tinctured by a moondog of medical grass will blow away
on its path to ignition and the Pleiades will do the rest.

Stars, stars, stars. What is it about them that since that first
night on my mother’s back porch trying to see them
through the Macmillan and Bloedel pulp smoke
that was killing all the flowers I had stolen for my mother
like geranium fire from the gods. O my good
Promethean son. God, how I’d love to hear that now.
That fifty-seven years later I still feel startled
in my heart, soul, mind, body, eyes, blood
tears, joys, terrors, mystic and otherwise, as if
the clouds just broke without meaning to on
the Queen of Heaven’s face and she lifted one
of her veils, though their was no return address
on the envelope, she smiled, I swear to God she did,
into my face as if she really meant it. And I’m not talking
about a flying saucer here I saw one night, She really meant it.

Back to the billboard. To break out of this trance
and be lovingly numb in a weird human kind of way
about emptying the ashtray like a Virgo indulging himself
with a little comfort order in his life he doesn’t have to feel
sorry about like a scar that’s more of a doctor
than the wound itself in a surgical theatre that
keeps whispering in my ear this isn’t like having your tonsils out
and it’s a long chaos between here and the garbage can
I bought to throw them in one easy swing of the arm
as if I were some sort of gazelle of a outfield catcher.

Caught it. Cancer. The crowd roars. Foul ball. I’m out.
And London bridge falls to the ground exhausted after
an extraordinary effort to hold itself up as long as it can
as a tragic clown with a heart as honest as he can make it
thinking that might make a difference somewhere sometime
for somebody else like an old blossom of a baseball cap
that somehow fits them just perfectly like a gift from a stranger
or the gods, if you want to make more of it than
it really deserves, it’s just a baseball cap, for God’s sake.

O, ya, that stupid billboard floating around in mind
like a raft I’m still carrying around on my head
gerrymandered out of these scraps of life lying around
from last winter when I made my penultimate attempt
to get to the other side of nowhere and everywhere in particular
but here. Which is the ultimate ride. When it makes itself
vertiginously clear I’m not here, nor are you, we never have been
and yet this dream’s been swirling around us like a river of stars
that had to get somewhere just the same. Five miles. Left at the next exit.




I can hear the silence screaming. Space shriek
like a red-tailed hawk that’s just caught something
in midflight in a dark, starless, eyeless terrible night.
Talons. And a strawberry heart. How the stars
and the water eat themselves alive to stay alive
as long as they can, an urgent life boat with a plan
to make a sail out of a starmap and make port somehow
or even the coast of an island galaxy of consciousness
somewhere you can watch the smoke rise
from a fire too far away to answer like the snake road
of a melody line you’re teaching to dance
for your solitary amusement to counter act
your loneliness by imagining it doesn’t exist
by making everything take hands and dance, dance, dance
for rain in a dragon ghost dance in a pageant
of poetic calendars with scenic views of the moon
that scare you half to death they’re so eternally brief
and beautiful. Breathless, if the timing’s right.
And though I’ve argued with the clock my whole life long,
it’s never been wrong. Things happen when they should.
Don’t doubt it, the timing is immaculate. The planet
makes its transit, the stars break through the clouds
like seed germinating in the farrows of newly
ploughed starfields and the water birds come and go
like poets without reason on a waterclock of lakes.

I got to see that, and once like everything else
in existence is good for a lifetime of encores should
you ever want one like a postcard from the edge of nowhere
featuring the local flora and fauna. Beaver teeth and maple leaves
and wolves, wolves, wolves, forever to reassure the moon
somebody’s listening, and the valley has a voice coach
that’s going to help keep this all night one night one man
bandstand on the road to scare the ghosts away
with frying pans and kettle drums and prayer bowls
dialling a phone for an ambulance when the vigil ends.
If it ever really does. But that’s unconfirmable
at this subjunctive cross roads of what if what if what if
and the Sufis and the sundials have got their fingers
crossed behind their backs. Allah hu, Allah hu, Allah hu.
Love is nothing. Love is everything. Love is a beautiful
illusion that isn’t trying to get a point across as if
it ever had one to make in the first place. A scalpel of the heart,
with the heart of a jew’s harp cheese grater keyed out of old
unboiled, uncoiled guitar strings trying very hard
to be in tune with God, and the stars, and the music
of the celestial spheres weeping in the kilns of time
for the beauty in the tears of the tree rings of the rippling willows.

Eternal happenings. I remember the first time I saw
a pair of cardinals show up at my bird feeders in the snow
like two tubes of cadmium red outside my studio window
that could fly. And they did. Eventually fly away as
all things must. But they left me feeling I’d just had a visit
from the Vatican and it didn’t rust for once. And hasn’t since
or I wouldn’t have found a place for it like this in a deathsong
or more precisely, in a silo of a measure beside
in this medicine bag that hangs around my neck
all the way from Silver Lake to Smokin’ Eagles
in a labyrinth of backroads beyond the train tracks
on the high trestle bridge that looks like a hybrid
of a ladder and an aqueduct and a good place
to smash beer bottles on the rocks below as if
you were throwing fledglings and unwanted embryoes
off a peripetein ledge for genetic edification
and because you’re drunk and blundering and bored
and there are no more genies with train lanterns
swaying like bells at the side of the tracks
to wish upon anymore like falling stars and burning guitars
singing everybody’s national anthem in words
that were writ in lighter fluid by a phoenix with a broken heart.

Live up to any one of your poems just for once for one day
and a night in a patch of birches you like because
the way they let go of their leaves as if they were losing
their minds, but in a gentle shedding way
so every little waterguilding paddle of modest gold leaf
were enough for the moment, way more than enough
to squander yourself lavishly on the same budget
as life itself and live cooly and blissfully
like a blue moon in October among the locals
who know exactly when it’s time for the windfalls
to drop their heavy loads and take some time off
the graveyard midnight shift. What diff? As long
as the stars come out, and there’s always something
flying across the moon, whether it’s the urnbirds
of the Canada geese, or a passenger plane heading west
or an owl, or a bat, something you can’t identify, or a witch
as if you’ve ever come to understand what that word properly means
that makes you wonder if people up there
ever wonder if the people down here look up
as I have so often out in the woods, and wondered
who they are and where they’re going and where
we all come from and who gets left behind
to return back to the solitude of being
a human creature in the woods alone at night
wondering what it’s doing alive under the stars
and who moves on and on and on to the other side
of their eyelids to find it was nothing more nor less
than a return journey to their original perpetually
irretrievable innocence only with awareness this time
as if you’d finally found a way of watching the watchers
build their spider webs in space between two blades of stargrass
without anybody minding too much. As I haven’t minded

letting all the animals in the woods watch me paint
whatever they make of the way I work to celebrate them
over my shoulder as I’m walking away after a good day
of doing what I’m not still clear about, but do anyway
because it’s good to hand a flower to a star once in a while
in your mind. Make it a waterlily, deadly nightshade, or the black rose
of a burnt out galaxy that’s about to go supernova in symphony
with everyone with tintinnabulistic triangular enquiries
and say do you know what this is. Good heart health.
Even when you can hear the silence sceaming and space shriek.

Two birds and a lyre we’re all heading towards.
An arsenal of dreams toward a terminal cancer clinic ward.
A sword forged of silver Russian olives and moonlight,
an hour hand, not in surrender, but in tribute to the waters
that blooded it in the pulse of your heart for life and forever.




There’s a blue flower in me and a black dog once
that lived like a big, black hole in the heart in Sirius.
Darkness is an engine. Darkness is a root.
Who knows what’s going to jump out of the hat
the stump, the boot? The cosmology of your guitar.
Set it on fire. See if there are any galaxies in it.
What’s happening to the music in that hole
besides giving birth to the universe because
a spiny little fish with a life line with the back bone
to light it all up was given the risk to live once
with no idea of what was coming after it
and everyone’s been dogpaddling in curses and blessings
ever since waiting for their ship to come in.

It does, one way or the another it always makes port
but you’re the dock, the long wharf and the short walk
that disappears to the end of the plank and over without a blindfold
to be keel-hauled on the hull of the moon like scalpels and calderas,
goblets of bone and prophetic skulls no one’s had
the gall to drink from in millions of silent years

the rudder, the wheel, the emptiness of the lifeboat on the shipwreck
you’re sitting in feeling like some ghostly mode
of foghorn and moonlight swirling all around
like a shroud that’s never had a tattoo before,
or the forearm of an embroidered pillowcase,
as if it didn’t have anything else better to do
than mope around a smoke dance with wet heartwood
cedar boughs in a tin bucket trying to smoke
the bats out of the attic like cinders of chimney sparks
scattering the ashes of a dead sister in a rose garden
as if it were raining somewhere deep inside you
like a calendar of tree rings that had a miscarriage
it almost sounds as if someone is crying
for a mortal loss that’s irreparable as a simple
potted cup at a Japanese tea ceremony that’s been
broken and mended with gold. Things get better. So I’m told.

But that’s something you’re going to have to
figure out for yourself. Is the water hot? Is it cold?
Will you ever forgive the dark for taking hold of your soul
until the stars came out like eyes in the night
that have been looking at you all along like a bloodstream
in that hourglass of stars every night before you go to bed
in a comforter you’ve made a friend of
until the real lover arrives and everything is splendid
as the dawn in the morning or an artificial moonrise
in the shopping mall of a Hallmark greeting card
you send yourself once a month like a death threat
or a loveletter you leave unsigned because, because, because
you’re endless but you know that you’re really not.

And that scares you. Scares me, too. Now let me tell you
about this big, black dog I had once. I let him off his chain
like chromosome with red eyes who could see in the dark
like an emergency exit sign and he hasn’t ever come back since.
And I don’t blame him. I miss him. Which is a kind
of peculiar sickness of mine I’m growing overly fond of
like a dog collar that’s as open and empty as Corona Borealis
for a blind seeing eye dog of savage indignation
probably out somewhere chasing deer through the woods
as if he were dark matter making constellations out his grave goods.
I shudder. And then I think of it all as a happy event in the end.




O the women, the women, the women, mistrusted sacrifice,
who led me to the altar in a garland of stars
and left me to my own device to figure them out
which I never have. It would have been rude
to declare that kind of solitude resolved in your heart
and inside their urn and hourglass bodies
there’s a kiln of a firewomb and furnace weeping
like a window into God’s eyelids like a rose
with thorns they took out of a lion’s paws
as a simple act of mercy for that much wounded power
you couldn’t say in any other way if you weren’t
so rigidly contemporaneous, than flower, moon, claws.

Man is an abacus of prophetic skulls that have learned to count.
Woman is a rosary of infinite chakras and prayer bells
that plough the starfields when they’re melted down
into chandeliers and candelabra that have gone
witching for light as if there were a watershed of it nearby
or a housewell the grass has covered up like a veil
of green flames as if you just threw salt in the fire
that flared into a genie of apple boom and green leaves
then disappeared like an apparition nobody believes you saw once.

But you did. Like kleenex on the kitchen table
and the smear of red lipstick and the impression
of her lips as if she’d been kissing a bleeding snail
and then the darkness followed as she slipped
between the pages of the Burgess Shale like a loveletter
she decided by then not to send because it would be better that way
and you knew enough about women, at least
by the end, not to argue, but try to make a friend
as best you can. And watch how the river runs
your mindstream across your heart like a whetstone
that sharpens you up like a prophetic skull again
for what’s to come that there is to sing about
which is everything if you learn to sing it right to the end.

Tra la, tra la, tra la, like the live ones have forever sung
or whatever kind of kyrie eleison comes to mind
like water to your lips that tastes like distant rain
in a desert of stars she’s left you wandering in
as an adequate substitute for time when it grows sublime
fecundating the white mares of Libya in passing
like the north wind bringing the mail to Africa
like a million birds with a return address to what
she left behind her in a moment of sadness
when she looked into her heart and all the songbirds were uncaged.
Woman isn’t a sentiment. And man isn’t an adage.
But you’ve got to say it as if you crossed your heart
with a fire ax that a dragon set on fire like the house of life
in a crematorium that celebrates the great event
as if you really did live once and had a chance.