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Patrick White

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

Fireflies Flashing Like A Seance Of Memories


Fireflies flashing like a seance of memories
out of the low-lying fog of the past,
extemporal images that took me to heart
a long time ago, friends, lovers, children,
faces I cherished and could not live without,
gone from the bough like birds and blossoms.

I still feel this dark serpent energy coiled
in the marrow of my bones like the spring
of a ball point pen miscarrying in my pocket,
but the wavelengths are getting longer,
red-shifting toward the west into more
compliant sunsets than the youthful Armageddons
that confirmed my faith in looking for panaceas
and cure-alls in the heart of self-destruction
like particles of God in fissionable visions of creation.

Is this my half-life, uranium 239 stabilizing
into lead like a child’s sparkler returning
to the burnt out ores of some radiant conception
of what life and love, poetry and mind were,
meanings that elude me now in the vastness
under my homing wings, a crow in the dusk,
the crumb of a dream in the corner of a third eye
that sits atop my prophetic skull like the cupola
of an empty observatory half-closed in sleep like a cat?

I didn’t abandon the oceanic cosmologies
I shed along the way like skin so much as outgrow them
like rivers I’d floated down before all the way to the sea
where things get blurred and vaporous as desperate terminologies
trying to give a name to the nameless. The time
I wasted in the world’s eyes like a waterclock
of wishing wells trying to saddle-stitch my insights
like starmaps of the constellations of my age
that stare at me now like a blank page of silence and light
into the mindstream of what I am flowing through alive
urgent as an empty lifeboat drifting on a nightsea to know
where I come from and where I’m going
before I’m gone where I come from as if
in the depths of my eyeless seeing, I’d find a being
as blissful and sweet as the man I second-guessed my way
into wanting to be, writing in the shadows of the apple bloom
that crept across the morning grass like a beatific farewell
to things that can’t last longer than a specious moment before they pass.

I watch the stars that used to follow me through the woods
settle on my windowsill like dust and and the cinders
of exhausted houseflies. And even in this, there’s
something intriguing and strange like hidden jewels
in the slag of mined-out starmaps, that it should be this way
and not another, that it should be at all, and I be here
in the presence of my metaphoric awareness seeking
what can’t be sought like the sign of a flawless mind
in what befalls us from the inside out like chaos
embodied in the creative potential of time in the unlikeliness of us.

Nothing to weep over. No reason to indulge the heart
in a silence it can’t afford. Or sublimate your eyes
like dry ice in an isolated Martian mindscape alone at night
watching Deimos and Phobos, fear and terror,
eclipse your field of view with the cybernetic optics
of an Arctic labcoat looking for signs of life in a dustpan
of fossilized pollen. Like the queen’s clothes,
the sartorial flowers of life never bloom twice in a lifetime.

Submitted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Edited: Wednesday, September 25, 2013

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