Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
A Nick Of The Moon
A nick of the moon. Thin smile of circumstance
and the paint rags of the few, modest dreams
I had left, are bleeding out again. Alizarin crimson
leaking like lipstick out of a slashed mirror as my blood
congeals glacially and gives my heart freezer-burn.
Crazy alert. Three alarm anxieties. Loser brigade.
Should I drown like a new moon in the calendar
of my waterclock mindstream going through
all these phases or rush to my rescue again and again
and again, the lifeboat of a waterbird with oars for wings?
I've been exhausted by mundane terrors.
The man gets scared. And he sings in the face of despair.
He waits for the night to heal. An injured wolf
in the bone-box of his lair. And the stars like Arcturus
for months above the dark roofs of the glaring town
always the charm of a long, hard-won childhood
lightyears away from this creosote of a life
that gets left like the slag of a dragon that's gone
up in smoke like a short-cut through a chimney
all over the inside of the dead furnace of my heart
where I'm still trying to keep a few fireflies alive.
Poetry, my sanctuary, my asylum, my chrysalis,
my fortune-cookie of oceanic consciousness in a seashell,
my Braille koan laid out like a starmap for my eyes only,
my spinal connection to the blue guitar of my imagination
in an ensuing phylum of Chordates, black box of my soul,
anti-grail of my worldly aspirations, look
how I've worn your lip down sipping from your elixirs
like a devotee walking up the sacred stairs on his knees
he's blunted like a pestle and a mortar to throw
his crutches onto a pyre of fossilized wing bones.
My curse. My blessing. Inkwell, thorn, heart, pen.
Could be a bad choice of metaphors or a pillowcase
full of flightfeathers I wear like a war bonnet in my dreams
when I'm ghost dancing off the reservation.
Cowboy Zen art martyr from the lunatic fringe,
I'll make it cosmically through the Leonids somehow,
if not by will, by a spiritual reflex of my imagination.
I'll walk barefoot over the ashes of my root fires
like a rusty cedar down to the bedside manner of the lake.
I'll watch Jupiter bobbing like a lure in the narrow field of view
of an atmospherically unstable telescope waiting for a bite
and when the swim bladders of the northern pike
mythically inflate like nuclear submarines surfacing
off the Lomonosov Ridge. I'll carve a barbed spear point
out of the tusk of the moon and reign sovereign
over the ice like a dispossessed Inuit hovering over a bubble.
In an oblivion of heroic numbness, I'll wear my laurels
like razorwire proudly to the stake of my heretical desire
to let the nightbirds return to the gentler nests of last year
in the heartwood of a rootless tree, undisturbed
by the unconfessed holy books of the leaves
that burned in their absence like the sky burial
of a snake in autumn that won its wings, at last, from the flames.
I'll climb the burning ladders of my own lunar vertebrae
like a dolmen of moonrocks that stood its ground
in a firestorm of solar flares in the Sea of Tranquillity.
Even if my tears blister into glass, I'll water
this desert of stars like a dragon tending a garden
until it blooms like an ocean of broken chandeliers.
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