Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
My Stomach Is A Man Gingerly Walking Across Quicksand
My stomach is a man gingerly walking across quicksand.
If they're not looking at the sky, my eyes
do more looking on the inside than they do
the phenomenal world I've brought in doors
homelessly out of the cold, a stray
that burnt its paws on ice, shepherd moons
around a rogue star, fire enough for the night.
I'm painting waterlilies, late summer sunsets,
apple bloom on a moody spring day. Spring
in violet and green. I find a dynamic repose,
sanctuary, shrine, a white hole that shines
on the other side of this carboniferous eclipse,
an embassy I can run to from the secret police
by painting mirages that drift out of the ether
like the visions of desert poets with an oral tradition
of making watergardens out of hourglasses out of time,
a madman who knows by the taste of the wine,
the jewels encrusted like barnacles to the grail,
amber, rubies, star sapphires, emeralds, diamonds,
amethyst and topaz, are mere tears of the rainbow
and not the night nor the radiance he's in love with
like a hundred billion stars wheeling like a prayer wheel
at the crossroads of a Sufi ghost dance. I'm
absorbed into the mysteries of life, light,
the human heart, darkness, the elaboration
of the imagination aware of its own mindstream
flowing from one form into another, transmorphically,
butterflies out of their cocoons, dragonflies
from their makeshift chrysales, a sentient heart
lilaceously embedded in its starmud like the bulb
of a skull about to break into light like a waterlily
that effulgently lost its mind, trying to cling
to a starmap that can tell you approximately
where everything is, but not, syllogistically, why it shines.
I've been sweating the details about how
I'm going to pay the rent as I hang
helical coils of flypaper from the rafter
of the seasick feeling I have on the gallows
where I'm suppose to forgive the maenads
for severing me from my prophetic skull like Orpheus,
keel-hauled on the hull of a cretaceous moon.
I wish I was a chandelier of sticky monoicious catkins,
an alder that wasn't so co-dependent upon attracting bees
to the wildflowers, the asters and chicory
of my paintings and roadside poems to churn out
just enough of a taste of honey to keep me going
long enough to spread like loosestrife through
the cemeteries and sunken fleets of the birch and cedar trees.
Uprootable. Like lightning, rivers and nerves.
The brachiation of dark matter, the skeletal trees
bound to their own masts like three bells of morning glory
singing all's well to the pink skies of a warning
that's isn't enough of a storm front to dislodge them
like the big bad wolf at the door of the little pigs' house
trying to blow the roof off the zodiac again
as if every hurricane were a sign from God
to found a new tent city of stargazer lilies for the dispossessed.
No joke. Sometime you just have to let go of the wheel
of birth and death when you're swept overboard
by a maverick wave from the stern of a Tarot deck
trying to wash you like a cinder out of the one good eye
you've got left to navigate with like a mystic
clinging to the planks he's been compelled to walk
like water on the dark night of his soul, trying
to salvage himself from his own wrack and ruin
as if Apollo Delphinus were going to send Delphi to his rescue
so the oracular dragoness that coils around me now
like the umbilical cord of Pythos, the earth mother,
post-mature as I grow gummy in the womb
of her lunar seas, with long hair and the Mandarin fingernails
of Edward Scissorhands trying to perform a Caesarian
from the inside out like a medicine bag he's using
as a collapsed lung to stay afloat until he's born
with a less ambivalent outlook on learning to dogpaddle
in a gale of raving mundanities that shriek like banshees
at the jagged windows of the eyes into his soul.
Times like this, counter-intuitively I purse an earthly excellence
as if I were painting landscapes like placards in protest
and writing poems as if I were framing the Declaration
of Independence with French overtones of the gathering fireflies
of revolutionary insight into the Enlightenment
about to strike the tree of life from the roots up
like a guillotine of lightning dropping the blade of the moon
on the neck of a black swan like an intinerant executioner
leaving murals on the walls for the next prisoner
who's about to go under the knife, or about to be hung
from an easel by the neck as he lyrically addresses the crowd
like the body bag of the Shroud of Tourin, or Napoleon
going into exile, weeping se souvenir de moi as he
kissed the colours, proclaiming, like Mnemosyne,
the mother of the muses, apres moi le deluge. Je me souviens.
Like a license plate that hadn't forgotten its cultural heritage.
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