Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
Flies Slowing Down On The Windows
Flies slowing down on the windows like the minutes
of a clock as it gets colder out. Signs of rain. But for all
the billions of circles the rain has made
over as many lightyears, ripples and tree rings,
they all remain unbroken however aberrant
their orbits get. Same way with thought and emotion.
Drop one little tear on the earth any time of the year
the way you did yesterday, and after tomorrow
puts some mileage on the light, come back
to the shadow you once cast like your lot in
with the night, and see for yourself how it’s either
grown into an ice age or a biophilic ocean of awareness.
The windows shake with Sunday traffic. Church
and then a restaurant. How many cows does it take
to outfit a bunch of middle-aged bikers and their women
in black leather? Overaged spectacles of fear. Still
it’s wise to keep your distance until they don’t.
God bless the bare-legged girls in cowboy boots
and tank tops like the last of the summer flowers to wither.
For something to look at that isn’t a parking meter
stuck in cement like a daffodil that isn’t going to bloom.
Geese last night passing through Aquarius, running
the spearhead of their farewell through my heart
as they called out in a gesture of courageous melancholy
to the empty heavens like heralds of our recurrent departures
as we enter into one exit after another like a waterclock.
Call it a pulse. At least you know you’re alive.
As the flies are slowing down on the windows.
Life thrives on its own destruction. Why be upset
the rose is a hag of a baglady and the daylilies
are rotten curtains at the abandoned windows
of eyes that turn to glass and pass by their ruination?
Wasn’t it clear from the start? Never trust a telescope
to stay near to the heart. Their clarity is cold.
Stars jitterbugging on the dance floor of a lens
grow small and remote as a spider mount
when you turn a telescope around and look it in the eye.
A poultice of wet leaves on the forest floor
drawing the infection out of the fever autumn is.
Clingy starmud soiling the wings on my hiking boots.
The wind rasps through the stiff leaves on
the silver Russian olives like a broom on the front stairs.
Poetry dredges the dregs of what it’s drinking.
Eternity’s just an abyss dressed up as time
and ageing’s nothing but a cold-eyed witness
to the re-runs of the dreams it once starred in.
Glorious delusions that now seem out to lunch
with brown paper bags over their heads
like dunces in the corners of future executioners.
I’ve never been so happy or thrilled to be alive
as when I was deluded like a desert by my own mirages.
Since then I’ve learned not to take myself so literally
and I touch life more warily like a monarch butterfly
the toxic pollens of wildflowers with no natural enemies.
Beauty, like power, can go to your head like a deathbed.
Mordant dragons smouldering in their unrequited desires
like heaps of scaley leaves raked up into pyres
to taste fire in their mouths again. Better to burn
than rust, but the rain has the final say whether you
go up or out like a wet matchbook of reincarnations in bud.
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