Thursday, November 14, 2013



I keep waiting for some mountain of gravestones to fall on me and bury me in the valley of death, but it hasn’t happened yet. I’m not terrified or paranoid about it, which may be folly on my part, but I’ve been a poet all my life and so the habit persists of seeing and being this way, buttressed by my almost hallucinogenic fascination with the light as it flowers in astronomy and painting. There is no way in the world I would ever discard my emotions, like trying to cancel the weather of an ocean to save it from drowning as far as I’m concerned, or to alleviate it’s fear of drowning in itself. I entertain no boyish pretensions of cocksure, unambivalent heroism about all this, but I do earnestly hope and am endeavouring to walk this last green mile like a man, like a peasant king, like a poet. You, see? Death hasn’t knocked the playfulness out of me yet? Or I’m flirting coyly with it. There’s a transmorphic aspect about its gender, nothing psychological, but in the way all the abstractions about it metaphorize into a body of feeling-thought in my mind, and in the way I perceive it, and look into its eyes. It’s sometimes as remote as a terrifying father, but more delightfully and more often, seems to manifest as an allurement I can relate to. Unaccusing, unjudgmental, engaging. I think of Odysseus and Circe more in this regard with a touch of mermaid just to keep my attention. And no, I’m not tying myself to any mast this time, not that I ever did much of that. I want to hear. Of course, you wonder, and I do, if there’s some kind of subconscious death wish in all of this I’m overlooking, and the last, cruel last laugh will be on me. If it is, let it be, I’m still going to look. Habit of mine to stare dragons into the eyes straight and see what’s there. Kiss your dragons back into princesses Rilke says somewhere. Think it’s got something to do with looking into a lifetime of telescopes. Pointing them at the stars, my heart, my soul, my poetry, gardens that came up in the night while I slept. Watching the mind walk its own waters within me. Beautiful even when it’s horrible sometimes, eerie or alone. I feel a bit like Chauncey the Gardener here, I like to watch, and so I do, because for the life of me, I have not been able to find any other mindstream within to sit beside. Nor am I about to ask this great sea of unbounded awareness to pick out its favourite waves and streams or direct me to those that are more important than others to keep an eye on. Form through matter. Within. The way a seed manifests a flower. I don’t impose it, and I sense we’re all shapeshifters anyway. Vertumnus, Morpheus, where the river turns. I’ve been meeting my life at one bend in the river after the other for lightyears now. Good place to write in while I’m waiting, musing on the stars, as Dylan sings, watching the river flow. Deepening my relationship with the moon. Peaceful there, though not always, calm most of the time, though I’ve known it to roil as well. Let it. I never ask for anything, so it’s somewhat of a falsehood to me to ever feel disappointed. This experience is akin to that, or perhaps more of the same. Few clouds passing across the moon, but they’ll pass at their own pace, and I’m used to that. Cowboy clouds, you loosen your nervous system, you tighten your spine like a bow some friend taught you to use when all the cowboys and Indians went Zen, and you watch, perhaps that’s all you can do. Watch. Calm, continuous awareness. Sometimes minutely, the mystic specificity of the world, the grain of sand that contains the whole of the universe in each detail. And sometimes macrocosmically when your eyes want to be enlightened starmaps. Not an agenda, a menu, or an expectation. The world like the flowers blooms of its own accord. I let it sleep, if it dreams, and go on quietly contented to work in an adjoining room, pursuing, as Blake so eloquently expresses it, my persistent folly. Surprise it with a poem when it gets up. Even the fool would grow wise if he would persist in his folly. That’s Blake’s line, not mine, but isn’t it true? Once you’ve got your hydra-headed ego delusion out of the way even for a moment, a glimpse, a nanosecond, isn’t it clear every nervous system, tree reaching up to the stars, dendritic notion of evolution and dark matter, empties into a great, vast sea of unknowing, call it the godhead, nirvana, the clear light of the void, dark night of the soul, fana, baqua, the plenum-void, a dream, nothingness manifested as being, or just a bad molecular joke some random, impersonal, indifference played upon you without meaning to, whatever metaphors you’re most comfortable in because they’ve broken you in like a pair of comfortable boots you’ve walked a long way in, listening to the stars jingle like constellations at your heels, for the musical effect on dark nights that make you nervous enough to whistle in the dark, not goading or spurring so much, if you’ve got a good horse, and I fancy I have, you don’t need to do anything but watch it work the herd, be they words, or thoughts or emotions, loosen the reins so you don’t end up making a noose of them and hanging some innocent man or woman in your despair. Not a philosophy, but my bumbling, approximate approach. More intuitive than precise, but things keep appearing out of the mist in the valley the moon’s saturating with light, and I’ve spent a lifetime of agonizingly, intensely, delightfully, mesmerizingly, radiantly, darkly, abundantly, brightly, beatifically, demonically, vacantly watching these fireflies of insight trying to make earthbound constellations out of white-tailed does that step out from behind those veils. Usually after a thunderstorm. I still can’t think of a better or more blessed way to spend my time here. Alone with the Alone, as Plotinus phrases it, but alone together with everyone else the Alone flowers in. That’s you, darlin, you’re on. What’s this? Outside the green room. Forgive the impertinence of my nomenclature, I like to pretend sometimes I’m Gus in Lonesome Dove sometimes. But I hope I’ve made the point clear. What’s this? Angels can’t answer that question without being told, demons have more proficiency because they’ve usually seen more, they’ve been to both places, heaven and hell, but I’m still of the persuasion, that question belongs to humans, indefensibly, imperfectible as they seem they are sometimes, and even just to ask it is answer enough. See Montaigne’s motto carved into his rafter. Que sais je? Perhaps nothing, but you know it, and that nothing is human. A lingering cachet of us, a flavour, a taste, a fragrance, a bouquet, a ghost as it pursues its aimless, musical path among the stars as if they could hear a whisper of flowers singing sweetly to themselves within it that reminds them of a garden they used to tend like a woman as the sun goes down. And the song she’s singing to herself. Alone with the Alone. Is it scary, sometimes, you bet it is, almost inconceivably so, but then so have a lot of things that have occurred in my life. And you know what? The dark shines. I’ve always said so, and more than ever, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I see that more than ever now, in a soggy cigarette butt someone flicked to the side walk, and in the roaring black hole engines of the galaxies. You want to see a star. Look into the darkness it’s emerging from as if someone just handed you a flower, and you’re wondering where to fix to your hat. Put that rose in the skull of your rattlesnake hatband. Between the fangs. Make it a wicked flower pot. It’s oxymoronic, isn’t it? Union of opposites. Two wings on one bird. Actually there’s a third, but we won’t get into that. But include it all, no part left out as some Zen mendicant realized one day watching the moon and the sun at opposite ends of the sky. Moonset, sunrise. The way we breathe, the way we live and die. Do you see a discontinuity in it? I don’t. What do you do with your life then? You celebrate it, you say thanks, even if you don’t know what form of a host you’re addressing in the doorway as you leave. I hear God doesn’t have any characteristics. You might want to think of lending him or her a few of your own. Thanks. That’ll do it, but you say it with your blood and your eyes, and your mind and your heart and your soul. Thanks. Quite a show. And the ticket was free, unless you got more glee sneaking under the fence. But que sais je? What do I know? This is my good guess. What’s yours?



Now nothing. The dream figures have gone to bed.
The painters have have entered their dreams as if
everything were better said in the morning and they’ve
left their half-finished paintings of muscular women
into Tae Kwon Do sex on their easels, and they come
and they come and they come to nothing with
a pretty little idea of the flower in their head
blooming like ball lightning in the rear view of the night.

Peace. Relief. Poof. And it’s gone as the mirages
come on for more. Something settles. Is it dark?
Is it dust? Is it light? Are there stars on the tarpaper roofs?
Quiet. You can hear the silence breathe. Me wheeze
softly with death and ashes on my breath. God
I wish there were stars on the tarpaper roofs.
But that’s the way of it. Does anybody need any proof?

There are memories that recoup the moment.
Birch trees and gardens shaped like icons of a woman
I knew once I was trying to please. Elecampane
and eglantine, and always, always, always
the wild grape vine. Locust and apple trees. The moon.
When it’s up. The way I’m edging this like a fluid
jeweller with my tongue to make it run. So nicely
it almost seems like compensation for taking
my breath away. Ting. Ting. But it’s lower than that.

The hospital ward is absorbed in it on the nightshift.
Soft-shoed silence. And the musings of the dead
in a hospital bed on what they’ve lived, what they’ve loved,
what they died for. My turn. I’ll try to be their equal
not peer of anything. Maybe a fun companion at the end
to help relieve my suffering with their laughter. It’ll work out.

I’m almost sure. I can bumble my way through this
black out with a kiss on the forehead for good luck.
Full stop. No more birch trees. No more gardens.
No more full stops. Isn’t that ridiculous? No socks.

Is it brutal as a snowflake? Does the soul leave
the body when it dies? Have I got one. Do you?
Is it bearable, durable and wise? Does it lie to you?
Mine does sometimes. I wonder about that. Not much.
But some. This is creation. Who knows what to come?

Court jesters in a heavenly kingdom? Or sunflower angels
with deadly nightshade in their eyes to make up for it?
See? It lies in the way it tries to make me feel better.
It doesn’t have to try so hard. I’m mellow as a bride
of the lamp posts outside. I’m wise as a blade saw
that knows how to cut its own umbilical cord. Midwife.
Not trapline I’ve got to eat my way out of. Or be eaten alive.
But that’s another matter. What’s everything for now
is looking into this while the night surrounds me
as if I were a gold fish in the submarine pens of my aquarium.

Digits of time. Thumbnail sketches immersed in it.
Should I say the waters of life? The evanescent
exit and entrance. You breathe it in you breathe it out.
And then you die. No trick to it if that’s all there is to it.
I’ll try. Take a good run at it and fly like a waterbird
with nothing on my mind but taking off on time to go blind
or enter another space, maybe a lot like this place
where I’m fine for the moment unlocking the sky
like a diary of stars way back in the woods of my mind.