The fault of sages
Love was there
spreading hope like jam over my taste buds.
Then the first skipping rope broke,
got snared on a fence and frayed.
I stole away on a subway train where
hundreds have gone walking into a warzone.
Amen to the end and the predator’s
happy-go-lucky disposition. One claw,
one tentacle, in flowing precise motion.
Another lifetime and it may be different,
tender as lovers beneath their first full moon,
or worse, like cartilage deteriorating.
I rehearsed a familiar pattern,
sabotaging memories to find a way to be holy,
to make only God matter, dismantling adult days
of calculation, days of stultifying impulses,
of consciously unplugging the push of inspiration.
I flicked the splinter and loosened its stem, learning
that every homecoming is different – some shed
their most treasured members, others,
an accommodating persona. Still others constrict
just to pitch thought and become a pulse.
Love I lifted like a heavy stone,
trying to grow flowers between sparrows’ toes
where they nested and puffed up under eavestroughs,
trying to weave myself an escape in the shade,
a carpet to lie back on.
Solutions were bare,
offered crossword puzzle satisfaction
but no retreat from passengers staring
and the continuous stab of uncertainty.
Templates I now break and breathe and blow all away
into the sandalwood spring, into the eyes of my dog.
Stiff joints lend themselves to patience,
planting wings in my palm – empty spaces finally
accepted. Shadows I see take on a life of their own
and keep dancing. God I see in the sloping deformity
of all steps climbed, treacherously taken, born whole
from parallel paths of lack and yearning.
plunging into a chilled lake, muscles arrested, infinity found
Flawless sheen in a ladybug’s eyes.
Elephants chain-footed, castrated at the core
without tether or lead. Burning wood.
Dead fish rocking, cold on the fisherman’s hook,
hamster in a toilet paper roll, rolling.
It is heavy, this voice you grow outside of me,
this voice I cannot mistake for imagination.
I wake up, examine the leaves, fold dishtowels,
clean counters, feed my children,
no water to cool my fevering wrists,
no nourishment of a practical nature,
occupying no worthier devotion.
A pillaging, reflection of
a doorway. Chimes have lost
their meaning a quarter-of-a-century ago
when they chimed in a make-shift Japanese garden,
where lifetimes remembered were gumballs pocketed,
to be taken out at leisure, savoured over, replayed, role-played
then returned to compartmentalized pleasure.
Lips move across hairlines,
back-of-the-neck lines, dry from quick breaths,
Waiting to be snatched
without hesitation, tasted like a ripe blueberry,
not to be a modern atheist, pruned of pure intensity,
but to be fresh as a baby’s full-body smile,
where the privileged and pickpockets have no play,
go on a pilgrimage, take my family, disappear
on a cold high mountain, watch animals
give birth and die.
Urgency escapes me,
months merge, asking nothing in return,
pulsing a diluted vibrancy, no more
as bread or fire.
Swing from a crane
or a swinging crane in a storm.
Indulgences dig as glass into exposed roots.
Ambitious notes fail, will always fail
before a greater sun.
Speak to me of mercy
when the world is under my chin
and my body is stiff with fear and stagnation
Speak to me of love,
of forgiving my careless indulgences,
of holding my hand as I tightrope walk over this cliff
Speak to me of staying with me
of comforting my tears, of miracles I don’t deserve
but need, but pray for to ease this inferno
Speak to me of knowing me and not condemning
my childish cravings
Speak to me in spite of my mortal foibles,
my sins of lesser greed and my hope of a better
Speak to me of mercy,
wash me clean in your light,
take my heart and make it new.
The Permanent Matter
It does not matter –
lessons learned, reason
unravelled and understood.
It doesn’t matter –
ceremonies of release, truth
that holds the key to the golden “moving on.”
It doesn’t matter when the heart
is stuck in the afterflow of dead dreams and
the fire at the window
(that compressed all longing into one single flame),
is still the fire at the window, burning galleries of scorch marks
across new and sacred hopes.
It doesn’t matter – making up one’s mind to be free,
building a pond that holds the perfect fish (the zen fish) –
tranquility and gratitude mixed in easeful equilibrium – watching
the movement but still discordant,
missing something that refuses decay or fruition, missing
the deep breath of peace, the faith that all is as it should be
and to never know how long, how long
it will take before anything ever again