Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
In The Fires Of Life
In the fires of life stand up for the heresy of your humanity
as if there were no one else to burn for it, but you.
When you’re enveloped in the flames of an estranged loveletter
that embraced you like a flower that bloomed in fire
a long time ago, o how many afterlives has it been
since the hive had a dark queen to attend upon,
whether they honour your urn or spread your ashes
on an icy walkway for more pedestrian traffic,
don’t hitch your dragons to the death cart of a false dawn,
but ride the wind exhilarated as Icarus in your own updraft
like the errant flightpath of a firefly with a mind of its own
knowing there’s more insight in the sun that shines at midnight
than there is in the shadowless noon of a shallow enlightenment.
Listen to your heart as if it were real, not solid
and soon enough you’ll be able to hear with your eyes
what your ears can’t see that far beyond
the aerial perspective of the dark where parallel lines meet
to focus on burning another black hole in the sky
with the congruence of the intensity in the iris of your third eye.
Fire doesn’t burn fire, so you can shine lyrically like the earth
in the presence of your own star without being consumed.
How do I know this? I can taste the words life puts in my mouth
like a prophet in a fireproof furnace steeling the iron in my blood
like the growing edge of a sword tempered in my tears
that kills me back into lightyears of life every time I fall upon it
to save the face of some unknown tomorrow from debasing
the integrity of its sorrows by not hammering out the slag
of lesser stones than we draw the best Damascene swords from
as we do the sabres of the moon to the rhythm of a pulse
on the anvils of our percussive hearts forging fire-breathing dragons
shedding the darkest nights of our eyeless ores,
like a bunting of skin, a ribbon and windsock for the stars
that keep circling the north pole like the exoteric tree rings
of the lost art deep in our heartwood of calling down the lightning
like the roots of a seed embedded in our starmud, waking up
after a long sleep, like a pine-cone in the firestorm
of a germinating desire to live as immensely as possible.
While there’s time to grow the preludes and epilogues
of the next threshold we’re about to cross like refugees
over a bridge that spans the omnidirectional extremes
of our mindstreams getting on with their going
like waterclocks and aqueducts, or nightcreeks
whispering their lyrical way like the ode of a dark road
out of a grove of sacred aspens into a clearing brighter
than the light of the stars that pilot the orbs of the dung beetles
or shepherd dragons to graze on fire in higher pastures
than the world mountain could imagine in its wildest dreams.
Swept up in the fires of life, in this delirium
of inconceivable probabilities sleepwalking among the stars,
clarity isn’t so much a matter of burning your old tattoos off
like constellations that leave scars or cauterizing sunspots
like dangerous moles before they eclipse your immaculate wholeness
with the veils of isotopic ghost fleets raising sail in the bays of the north,
as it is in losing yourself in the picture-music of the lightshows
the mind puts on like an artist who isn’t looking for an alibi
to justify his eyes to what he sees without corrective lenses
like a starmap of fireflies without a fixed place in time and space.
In the fires of life you must be perfectly combustible
like the rainbow bodies of the wise men of Tibet, your eyes
inflammable as two lumps of coal in the skull of a snow man,
dead branches for arms, and your heart so generous
nothing left of it can be found like an ice cream cone
that’s fallen to the ground from the hands of a child for the ants,
and melted away into diverse forms of life that ensure
it doesn’t go to waste. We will all break bread in time
with the worms that shall nibble the crumbs of our dreams
from the corners of our eyes. Maggots overpunctuating
our mouths with too many commas and semi-colons,
necrophagoi editing our hearts and brains like turkey vultures
amending us like roadkill as if we were merely the first draft
of a poem ablaze and scattered with life as rapturous frogs in the rain.
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