Treasure Island

Patrick White

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

Looking For An Orbit In The Ripples Of Rain At Midnight


Looking for an orbit in the ripples of rain at midnight
like a rogue planet that doesn’t belong anywhere.
I enter this page like a tent city in my homelessness
without self-pity, a vagantes wandering in exile
having cast myself out like an ostrakon of one
when my heart shattered like an urn full of ashen insights
into my own insignificance as an ageing dragon among the stars.

Scars, scars, scars, the cuneiform of my flesh
trying to translate itself into the linear A of my mother-tongue.
I don’t pair well with women who aren’t as self-forsaken as I am,
though I’ve tried, though I really did love the effort they put into me
and how I was moved to see the eclipse of God
through their eyes darkly so I didn’t go blind
in the mountains of the moon no prophet has ever climbed
without a warning not to look directly into the sun.

As I’ve said somewhere before I can’t remember
my tongue is a leaf on the wind, my eyes are clouds
in a sky that absorbs me like the vapour of a contrail at dusk.
Ghosts of hindsight, no wiser than the man who lived them once,
I mistrust the wisdom I derive from them at these
lonely seances of the heart like an expiry date
on all I’ve ever aspired to in the name of love and poetry.

A great fool, I risked it all, knowing what I was doomed to lose.
My sincerity knew no bounds. My intensity made
the sidereal ore of my Canadian immensity weep starwheat
into ploughshares that laboured to harvest
the mistletoe of the moon as if I had to cut off
my own balls with the golden sickle of my last crescent
like the King of the Waxing Year to keep my imagination fertile
and the siloes full of the dark abundance I reaped
like a reward for the lightyears of bright vacancy
I had to endure like Spica in Virgo at the autumn equinox
before the days got shorter, and the long, cold nights
doled out short straws at the foodbanks for the blind
that wintered in my mind like star-nosed moles
that shone underground like the light at the end of a tunnel.

I raised a black sail like a new moon among
the startled angels fleets that scattered
like the phases of apple bloom on a brisk wind
that blew them out to sea like a deepening awareness
of how transitory even the most beautiful are
running before the storm like butterflies
over the flatlining event horizons
of the black holes I warned them away from
like the skull and crossbones of a poem on a headstone
I dedicated to them like a bride catalogue
of transfigurative unions, alloys of paradisaical hells.

Moonboats and bottles of wine, tokes, guitars, poems
and paintings, existential sex, tomorrow with a no exit sign,
fame a passing acquaintance of mine, I threw my heart
back into the fire time and time again. I ate
the blistered grapes of vinegar that soured
the still-life depressions that censored my subversive silence
like a cut flower on a chequered table cloth
next to the long stem knife in an operating theatre
where I stitched the wounded roses of my miraculous passions
up with their own thorns to make something holy
out of nothing. Holy, holy, holy, the archival dust
of love affairs heaped like the Library of Alexandria
to keep the fire burning in the cracked heartwood
I threw on the flames like a heretical gesture of forever.

Not good times, no, never what anyone would ever ask for,
no winterized cottages with organic orchards at the end
of a country lane, but whole and crazy, resonant
with meaningless significance at the time, no intercessors
between me and my emotions like second thoughts
before I jumped like a skydiving dandelion toward paradise,
encouraged by my failures to find a place to land
to try, try again like the little train that could or a bird
meditating in the third eye of a hurricane like a shelter
for the homelessness of the words I turned out like muses
on the streetcorners of the wellsprings and literary watering holes
of binging poets trying to get it all in before last call
when they turned the eye-burning gaudiness of the light on again
and the proprietors of profitable mundanity who thrived
as our vices flourished, said in unison like a choir of cowbells
haven’t you got a home to go to, knowing quite well, the answer
was invariably no. Not in the way you imagine four walls.

Submitted: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Edited: Tuesday, September 24, 2013

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