O WHAT DO YOU DO NOW?
Day 11: Thank-you for the sunamic outpouring of love and affection
I received from everybody yesterday. Plank after a shipwreck I could
cling to to keep me afloat, and, man, it felt better than a door. I’ve been
trying to respond to you each individually with a syllable of something real
and tangible behind all these pixels and bits. An indefensibly, imperfectible
human constituted of starmud, flesh and blood. Definitely a heaviness
going through all this. But one of the great, lingering sadnesses for me,
and it might seem small and trivial to someone who isn’t a Virgo, is
the compulsory neglect the disease imposes upon me in terms of
the energy I’ve got to spend on the poems, the rush, the intensity, the meds
they’ve got me on, the wonder, the horror, the intrigue, the death,
listening to a good, sensitive man who’s got healing in his blood,
it’s cellular, a calling not a career, the way I’ve got poetry in mine
as he’s trying to explain out of compassion how if the cancer
metastasizes to your liver it’s relatively easy to scrape that off
surgically, and it’s all bizarre and weird as you try to figure out
how some artist you can relate to, because he was you just a few
thousand million years ago, got the effect that he did in a small
painting above the clinically starched bed where they ask you to lie down
on the raspy clean sheets that feel as if you were sleeping with the bride
at a wedding of leaves. And you’re nervously, peculiarly jovial,
laughing at everything with Zhuangzi in the autumn leaves
that are shedding their way into eternity outside the soft lustre
of the small window that let’s you see the light as if there were
some meaning to all this you haven’t discerned yet, that might come clear
if you stayed calm and quiet, cool and continuous enough.
I have all my life given nothing less than everything all the time
to poetry. That’s what I am. A poet. So it’s never been charity
or heroic in my mind to do so, but a reflex inflection of my very nature
to be myself, whatever that really is, even if it’s nothing. What else?
And the way I’ve lived my life is precisely the way I want to live my death.
Giving nothing less than everything all the time to my art.
It’s my joy. It’s my immensity. It’s my intensity. It’s my heart.
Best part of me, in my estimation, if I can say it without colluding
with an ego delusion that’s on the verge, never known one
tentative day of life on earth when it hasn’t, of threatening to prove
to me, what a fool I am. And it might well win the argument yet.
But I’m the kind of seahorse that rides off into the moonrise,
not the sunset, fortunately born too stupid to be a cynic. So I go on
dooming myself to trying to attain the unattainable, knowing
it’s not something you perfect through your craft, but you might
just reflect a little bit of it if you get lucky, and stay circumspect
enough to slip under the fence.
Literally wrote myself into an oblivious stupor last night until
five in the morning, so I didn’t have to flip through the drastic
album of pictures alone in the dark, curled on the futon before I slept.
Knowing I needed sleep but couldn’t. And there’s an element
in writing all these poems that is undoubtedly therapeutic for
a person like me, but over and above that, there’s a poet like a nightbird
trying to pour his heart out to you without singing mere documents
of hysteria. So the poems, as rightly they should, ask a lot of me
and I give it to them to the best of my abilities. Zorro on a burrow
sometimes I’m sure. And when I’m not him, I don’t know who I am,
but it’s beautiful and fast. I’m watching the way it moves in the grass.
Fire alarm. Strange reversals of words and suffixes, swarms of blackfly
typos like learning to walk all over again, I’ve been sending good gangs
of outlaws after to hang them like a posse of mistakes. Think it’s
the pressure of the tumour putting pressure on my brain, or the effect
of the meds, and I’m sure some of it must derive from pure exhaustion.
Realized when I was wobbling my way up Wilson Steet the other day
like a drunk in a public place, to fill my first prescription, I’d been
consciously placing my feet as if I were following
the painted footsteps on a Fred Astaire dance floor
for eleven blocks, and instead of listening to the conversation
the crowns of the trees were having with the sky, all I was doing
was dancing with cement. Poor me. But just the same it’s
sad and frustrating, not wholly debilitating yet, to have to practise
a vigilance over these things that yesterday you didn’t have
to think about, it just came naturally because you’ve done it
all your life. I’m being honest with you here because there’s
no point to any of this if I’m not. So if you would be so kind
as to let me lean a little on your good minds and eyes to point out
a spelling error or a typo that got by me, I would be deeply appreciative.
Might seem like a funny favour to ask, but, believe me,
in the way I see things, it would mean a lot to me. And you’d
have my heartfelt thanks for it. You don’t want to go out in public
looking so cool with a piece of toilet paper sticking to your cowboy boot
like a comet from a bevelled heel. lol There. There’s an antidote
to an sos. I feel better already. So little time it seems to say it all in
but trust me, it’s all there in these one or two little sacred syllables
we rely upon to express what we really feel. Thank-you for caring.
And the way you touch.
O what do you do now? Sit here in the loveable deep shadows
of the mindstream with the other fish all over the world tonight
wondering if they’re a wavelength, a widow-walk, or a river reed?
Go tell a parachute from a milkweed pod to go find
a Monarch butterfly and try not to poison it if you can?
How much of this is a drug singing to you, how much is a tumour,
and how much is a man? Hard to assess, but I’ll
keep an eye on it for you if I can. Duress. Excess. No.
Let’s sit down on the ground somewhere and have a good laugh.
It should end in laughter, if the laughter really ends,
and to judge from the amount I’ve been laughing lately,
I doubt that it really does. You want a nice thought.
Try this. A demonic firely with the soul of a star in its heart.
Power with a switchblade knighting flowers. There.
That’s nice. Going to keep that. Like a pair of cowboy boots
I expect to be buried in among the waterlilies when I die.
Don’t want to make anyone cry. Want to make them laugh.
What else am I supposed to do with this? Laugh, laugh, laugh
at how silly it all is, and profound and eternally enduring
to have pulled this off out of all those atoms. To be
a human, I hope I have, among humans in the same lifeboat
of a heart that’s been calling to us for a long time now
from a foggy hill. Over here. Over here. Maybe we should listen.
Or what were the sixties all about? You soaked your jeans
in bleach all tied up in knots a little too long this time?
That was my seed-manger. This is my flower, though
that makes me feel a bit like a little teapot running off
at the mouth again at a Japanese tea ceremony where
they mend the cups that have fractured with gold. Wonder
if they can do the same thing with this skull I’m drinking from?
Here is my handle. Here is my spout. Aquarius
with all the stars pouring out as if somebody were
preparing a bath for someone they cared about.
The candle. The flower. The water and its shadows,
and the bubbles, yes, the bubbles that broke like hearts
of quantum foam, and the dolphin you look at
in amazement because it looks like a human that’s gleaming
naked in a bathtub as you add the wine. Nice touch.