Treasure Island

Patrick White

(September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)

A Day Of Writing


A day of writing, trying to clarify myself
to Alysia, myself, Alysia, to the night rain,
trying to hang the universe on the tip of an eyelash
without blinking, pulling handfuls of the stagnant dimensions
of my apparent magnitude off
like the dead undergrowth
of a plausible star to try as an antidote
to the junkmail perfume samplers
that keep heaping themselves up on my doorstep
like the fake leaves of a tree somewhere on acid,
mini-nirvanas that reek in the dark of enlightened snake-oil.

Tonight I like the windows black, starless,
but keep the company mellow with my rendition
of musical lamps, one lightbulb less everytime
someone asks me what I feel most when I write.
I look at the trinity of faceless wolves on my easel
that accuse me of eyes, and punish myself by taking note
they’ve moved since I last looked at them,
and there’s a poppy of blood on the snow that’s atavistic.
O Nietzsche, how wrong can you be, though
I like the way you sublimated your rage
into the colic of apoplectic, apocalyptic prophecy.
I don’t know if the world’s bad enough to deserve you,
or if chaos has miscarried at the birth of your dancing star,
but blessings on your head and house, anyway, wherever you are.

Alysia, willow, Druidic trees, the French river Alyse in Arles
where Van Gogh sliced off his ear in self-disgust
and gave it to a hooker like a premature embryo
swaddled in a gesture of genuine tenderness
and when has it ever not been this way,
brothels and asylums and expressionist reliquaries
shredding their smiles in the spokes of a cosmic wheel
like a last-minute embassy over-run by the radical passions
of a fashionable artistic solitude, the whole world with a headache
or on the rag, and even the flies that could cover the earth
forty-seven feet deep in flies every breeding day of their lives,
not in the mood for all that generative commotion.

Genius is a different kind of lonely, the third wing on a bird
that doesn’t know what to sing to the dawn or why,
when the other two are getting by just fine
in the usual sky that hurls them into the usual ecstasy,
the esteemed feathers of the coincidence of the contradictories.

The important thing is learning how to rewire your eye
to your heart, not your brain, so when they ask you
what you were writing about before they came
you can hand them a black, tight-lipped envelope
sealed with the impressionable bloodwax of your pain,
captioned by the resident emptiness of a paper airplane
so that they can go away deluded and delighted
that you’re the one that’s insane, not them,
and that for once upon a time as long as life
they’re the ones who aren’t living their death in vain
and yes you can use rhyme in a poem if you want to.

But what a price for such a little kindness;
refusing to endow your wolves with eyes
so they can spot the typos in their blindness.

Submitted: Monday, February 06, 2012
Edited: Tuesday, February 07, 2012

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