Monday, November 11, 2013


Day: 13


It’s a hole, it’s a dread, it’s a gate, it’s a door, it’s a garden.
It’s a calender of labyrinths on the moon with my
fingerprints on it. It’s nothing, it’s everything, it’s oblivion.
The long forever with a tide that keeps going out
like the red wavelengths of the veils and the death shrouds
that hang like the spider webs, mandalas, and dream catchers
in the windows of the nets of wonder and allurement so the eyes
in its blood can mark the night with stars as if
the waters of life were forging swords in the moonlight.
It’s a threshold we put there to step across
into the vast night ahead of us like a firewalk with ourselves
among the wild irises when the obsidian water snakes
are hunting the eggs of the frogs among the wild irises.

Everybody’s got a window in their heart with a name on it.
Everybody’s got a tree they sit under with a god
that intrigues them with its silence, its solitude,
its chaos. An abyss that sprouts quail in the burning underbrush.
A conflagration of daylilies started by the pilgrims
lost in the valleys of the rootfires of the holy ghosts
of the cedars and the birch trees, worshipping smoke
that reeks of oak and mistletoe. Lonely nightbirds
who’ve given up waiting for an answer to their prayers
and just sing in the ear of the silence that’s unattainable
with longing made fair by the intangible moonrise.

A bubble, a lightning bolt, a firefly, a hungry ghost, the mist
hanging on a blade of stargrass like the pearl
of a sacred syllable that spoke like water of darkness
and light, equally alike, without staining the mind
with a choice it didn’t have to make for itself to stay outside
and keep a firepit it was in love with company for the night
as the wind and the dawn appointed windfalls to the stars
like shepherd moons and planets they gathered
like a rosary of prayer beads that had forgotten
what they’d ask for in the presence of a magnificence
that already knew them. La, la, the lives one sing in lonely echoes
of the waterbirds and hills across a gulf of dread
as empty as the urns of the dead that were scattered
across the rootfires of the stars and the ashes of the roses
that adored them. Never let it be said the wind
didn’t know the weight of our wings, or the sun
didn’t cradle our faces in the hands of the light
and look upon us like a child that had done something
right for a change of heart toward the darkness
that surrounds us like a window with a name on it
blithely perishing into its own blindness like a candle
in the morning light of a chimney where the birds
are singing brightly to the angels that awoke them
from the dreams of the locust tree that slowly died
on the nightwatch of the moon that softly cried
in the shadows of providence foregone with time
in a tide of bells and watersheds and housewells
that closed their eyes like the brine of a memory
that hurt because it was so beautiful it was wise
in the ways of the remote like a secret it kept to itself
among the leaves and the unsigned loveletters of an event
so spectacular that silence put a finger to the lips of solitude
and said speak no more of it as the words descend like snow
through the lamp posts of what was not disclosed.




People, yes, people. Here comes a rush. A gust of stars.
People will break your heart and then they’ll mend it again
and if you’re lucky, they’ll mend it with a gold sunset.
Me, I like moonrises of the beautiful and mysterious.
That’s what I saw when I was looking through the windows
of a woman I loved as if I were staring straight into
the face of God, and the Queen of Heaven took another veil off.

Be nothing so you can be influenced by everything.
And I’ve always been grateful like the sea or an apple orchard.
I’ve been blessed. I’ve been cursed. I’ve avoided the obvious rhyme.
Most of the time came in through the backdoor but then
so does the moon like a dark, romantic, pale thief
returning Ryokan to his window. What does it mean?
Summations, anybody. Beats me. I don’t know.

I’ve doubted and affirmed, celebrated and cursed
it all my life as the only way I had of exploring it
because it fascinated me to watch my mind walking
its own waters with nothing to save or give away
but what it wanted to and when, fireflies of insight
into the significance of being alive to know it. It’s a gift

that found you on the threshold of the labyrinth
of morning glory you entered to learn to distinguish
the difference between a womb and an empty bucket.
Managed it yet? Or are you still working on eclipses
and sundials with occult philosophies of crickets
to their credits, or castanets by now? Chance it, lady, chance it.

Teach your skeletons how to danse macabre with you.
Sit around a firepit of prophetic skulls and watch the flames
as if it were your first visit to Stonehenge
or Orpheus were being dismembered all over again
by the brutal mystery of the women that he’s slain
deeper into life by going down into death
like a well that could sing to the shadows
under their breath like the waters of light and life itself
when the moon was making its way across the narrows.

It doesn’t matter. Get into it, her, him, whatever
gets you through the night as if it were special,
passionate, blameless, thin as the moon when
it’s playing Zorro with your heart and a masked raccoon.
This isn’t Venice. It’s a cosmic frontier. Conduct
yourself accordingly, walk like a human who cares.
O no doubt it isn’t all fireflies trying to make constellations
in the summer of white-tailed does stepping
out of the mist of their nebularity in the valley
into an apparition made of light. Beautiful. Don’t miss that.
Don’t deprive yourself of your eyes. And keep
the thorns on the roses, especially if they’re black eclipses
in a school for mystical mirrors that are learning
how to dance with columbines. Drink your own
blood out of the skull of the moon, and drink deep.

Let the night wear your bloodstream for a change
and don’t be afraid of the mysterious when a black
hole shows you your face in a dark mirror
and there’s nobody there you recognize. Smile
as if you were glazing the starmud bricks of heaven
to build a temple outside the the lion gates of Babylon,
or bulls if that makes you feel any better. Existential
effervescence. Keep it bubbly as a galaxy of quantum foam,
touch it lightly, touch it lightly, touch it lightly
with your fingertips forever full of farewell
as if the moon were putting her kids to bed and kissing
them on their foreheads as if they were silos full
of butterflies from worlds beyond born in the mouth
of dragon stars. And don’t be feeble about it.
Look it in the eye directly. Have the guts of an arrow
or a sparrow hawk. Make flying carpets out
of the yarn that unravels out of the mouths of lunar toothpaste
that gone’s mad with the taste of itself. Go crazy
but do it human way. Make love to each to each other
and I’m not even going to go there, but you know,
don’t you, you know how much silence there is
in a single, sacred syllable of water and fire and light
and the blue air overhead like an eyelid that just
got French-kissed by a snail that tracked in the Milky Way,
as if your mouth were a garden for thieves and nightbirds.

You hear that. I do. That’s you being a lonely waterbird
among the Lanark hills trying to convince the stars
you’re not an echo of anybody else you ever knew.
Walk beside a candle most of the days of your life,
and when the fire god comes to set fire to your orchid
show him what you can do with moonlight
if you wanted to, but you don’t, because you
just wanted him to see how silk can burn like ice
when it dances with its eyes as if it weren’t looking
at anybody else. Fail if you have to. Just
don’t be mean and mediocre about it. Fail
in a vast attempt to be more than you’ve ever been before,
fail trying to attain the unattainable forgiveably
so you help people on the same burning ladder
up the stars as if they were scarlet runners
with wild aspirations of becoming pilot lights
that put out to sea, full of awareness and dread

but convinced there’s something out there beyond
the starmaps and chandeliers that’s a dark mirror
that clarifies things as deep as you want to take them
seriously in a playful kind of way because I told you
earlier, touch it lightly, touch it lightly, touch it lightly
as the witching stick of a dragonfly on the lip
of a waterlily that’s just discovered
someone’s spiked the waters of life with starmud
and she’s terrified of how much it matters
exquisitely to celebrate the fact with praise
and unlimited joy, though later in life that
will turn into a background noise of cool bliss
summing it all up like a windfall of autumn
as if it’s never been as rich as this before.
Yes, the crows, the shadows, the matriculation
of perfection in the crone phase of the immaculate moon
that takes your breath away, like your life, your love
your wisdom and your ignorance of what it’s all about,
and leaves you with a mystery in a small black box
you haven’t opened yet to see what’s inside
the darkness that shines so you can see the light
and know for yourself if it tastes of fire and ashes
or sumac in the spring in the tender new plumage
of its flightfeathers to get out of the nest
like the sky burial of a starmap and see how big forever is.




The more he tells the truth, the longer his nose grows.

Buddha Pinocchio steps out from behind his slapstick
veils of paint and poetry to take his black clown masks off,
throw strawdogs on the fire now that the ritual
is over, everything tumours and black walnuts,
the desolate autumn leaves, hungry stray dogs
in the cold-hearted wind as I let my shadow lead
as if it were its turn for the first time in my life
and it seems fair, turn and counter turn, stand,
we’re waltzing and walking together as if we were
friends, Blue Flower, Black Dog, from years ago
I don’t remember when, but the dark, cold air
of farewell on my skin is a fathom more than
I wish to sink, and the lights of the hospital
don’t wink at me anymore through their skeletal
keyholes, and there’s no mercy in the window
with the x-ray geranium on the fire-escape
that isn’t an exit anymore from anything more dangerous
than this beautiful, beautiful world for all
its gruesomeness, trying so hard to think
of something more uplifting than good-bye
to me and my broken arrow of a shadow
out there somewhere, or is it maggots
and a poultice of leaves to draw me out of the earth
like a fever or a thorn of the moon from my dream?

The night doesn’t sing to me in its linear B
of stars. This is too eyeless. Where are the Pleiades?
A democracy of pulchritudes among the store front
mannequins. How lucky they are to not have
to feel their way through this with me. I never asked
for anything I wasn’t prepared to give back
full measure and a bit beside. That made them cry.
And I’ve almost kept my word. What do you say
to the people with Chinese lanterns for hearts,
everybody trying so earnestly to show you a way
out of this, as if you were a wounded emergency door?
Is this great poetry? I can’t tell anymore. It hurts
to go there as I see scalpels on my grave laid
like bouquets of wildflowers, poppies, starwheat,
and the laurels of abandoned changelings I forgot to bathe.

The art of life is long and brief. It’s true.
An arsonist of roses in a volunteer fire brigade
that seldom makes it to this house of life on time
for anything but foundation stones. The Taj Mahal.
The black one. The dark mirror. Waterlilies
and the moon. Unassuagable lovers building tombs.
But o the miracle, not how, not why, not when,
but that we are here at all. That we’re here, though
the firefly eludes us, though the lightning branch,
the strong rafter, the ladder walking beside us
like a shadow with one rung no higher than we can
lift it to save ourselves, though we meant to save
everyone else first. Dark shedding, I could teach
these leaves a thing or two about letting go
but I save it for another day that’s never going to come.
Let’s look at it that way. The quiet doesn’t stain
the silhouettes of the maple leaves reading yesterday’s paper
as if it were news of the day on grey, grey, grey cement.

It glows with a light that’s happily bemused with itself
but you can’t tell if it’s a candle or a tunnel or something else
nobody’s ever guessed before. And my body so full
of strangers trying to party with death in the nude.
If not now. When? There’s a new exactitude
in life and it’s got a friend with a scalpel
that looks like a crooked, little smile with a twist,
almost a clown with a smirk that’s pleased with itself
it’s done its work. It’s done it well. And it’s done it fast.
Could almost admire that if it were human.

Shining, yes. A motherlode of blind pearls
at the bottom of a hopeless sea of shipwrecks.
That’s not despair. That’s seeing it straight. It’s dark
out, less so inside, and I’ve passed by these windows
many times before. Life inside going on
like mystic crosswalks that have grown lazy
labouring at not believing in themselves enough
to make it shine, even when they cry like I do,
though it’s not required. The drugs have spliced me
into their circuitry to put a smile on the world
they’re not faking this time. No migraines
and I’m not wobbling like a drunk in orbit
as the violins take to the stage like Jerusalem artichokes.

Fiddleheads of death. From Kaladar to Calabogie.
It’s ancient enough to dance to for a man facing
his own exit, both doors open, with a silhouette of himself
projected ahead as if we both knew where
we were going in black cowboy boots with
bevelled heels and Texas toes. Life was
an arduous guest we taught to shut the cupboard doors.
O, more than that. O so much more than that.
I was a happy arduous passionate apple with a star
for a heart, believe I was, condemned to be demonic and blessed,
or silver Russian olive full of hermit thrushes and nightingales,
peacocks and stars, trying like the sea when it labours for the moon
to say it, page by page, leaf by leaf over the years.
Minding the shedding. Minding the budding. Minding the threshing.
Not minding anything at all as if it were a long lost art not to.
My light burned late into the night as if someone
were still awake, doing something, who can say,
he believed in as if the stars depended on him to get it right.
Reduced to what you are, black dwarf or supernova
in the galaxy next door, you drank eclipses
from the eyes of beautiful women who thought
they saw something in you worth living for awhile.
It was a gift not to have to convince them. And you didn’t.
The full moon, and the lake, and the farmhouse
and the stars, o yes, the stars and their apprentice wildflowers
with the winding road took care of that for you.
Animals in the night, wary of their severities on sight.

Not numb. Not resigned. Flashing a little attitude
at time like an angry star on the horizon
of a cold bath in your own grave with no one
to scrub your back again to get the dust of the stars
and the gardens and the flowers you walked among, off.
And the poems, and the paintings, all the craziness of love.
As if it mattered you didn’t know why or where.
You were there. And that was more than worth asking for.