Patrick White

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

Not Looking For Words To Unsay


Not looking for words to unsay
The sorrows and horrors of life.
The heart’s not always a bell.
Ultimate eloquence to let things
Speak for themselves. Every solitude
Adds a petal to paradise, a flame to hell.

A seance of willows glowing
Like grey-green ghosts in the moonlight
As if they had bedsheets over their heads,
Every one, a maid of the mist
Behind a hanging garden of waterfalls,
Gardenias of late summer stars in their hair.

Friends dead, lovers gone, children
Grown and flown like waterbirds,
Beauty and bliss, the happier shadows
Of despair washing old selves off
In the abyss like the slow tears
Of a window in the rain, a Burgess Shale
Of encyclopedic pain, rising like Atlantis
From the alpha of the bottom to the omega
Of an ark run aground on a mountain top.

Fossilized blood seals of ancient oceans
In the wild roses, the heart stands signatory
To a truce with time. The mind witnesses
Its act of perishing like sunset in an apple
About to fall, an astronomical event
Of absurd and insignificant proportions.
One bite for Eve. One bite for Snow White
In a coma still waiting for a kiss
To wake her up, and one for Aphrodite,
The toxin and elixir of the soul in a garment
Of flesh when it goes slumming in its own starmud.

Whether at dawn or dusk, the patina of time
Is never enough to occlude the radiant heart
With the grime of cosmic history allegorized
As human events. As the surface so the depths.
Even if you make a passing appearance
In front of your mirroring awareness,
The river tells me not to worry, the light’s indelible
And raises up a wave like a T-short
To show off the Summer Triangle tattooed
Around the navel of the world with a diamond in it.

Might as well be kind about the eschatology
Of the end times, given only sacerdotal fools
With limited imaginations know for sure
Death, judgement, heaven and hell
Can be quantumly disentangled like axons
Of white lightning in your left front parietal lobe.
Let the mandrakes shriek if they feel uprooted.
I’ve watched the sabre of the moon slash
Through that Gordian knot of hot koans more than once.

My spiritual advice after a lifetime of looking?
Proceeding into the unknown, keep your eyes open.
Who really knows? Que sais je. If it isn’t
A fake reality show of the dead in an unworldly habitat,
It’s a religion that never knew when to say
Enough is enough, the cemeteries are full,
And we’ve enslaved the imagination
To the sacred syllables of a few dead metaphors
The first bloom has peeled off of
Like paint and nickel plating on a deathmask
Disguised like a snake-oil nightmare
In a choir of lullabies that makes the human spirit
Cry itself to sleep defamed by infernal rumours of love.

I want to be looking up when I die at the stars
That have kept an eye on me all these lightyears
As if my creative freedom had always been
A starmap of my own making in the open palm
Of my own hands grasping for nothing
That didn’t morph into a mirage of water and sand
Like an optical illusion in a dichotomous hourglass.
The withered bloodstream of the grape
Might long for the purple passages of wine
It once drank out of the skull of the moon
To the dynamic equilibrium between birth and destruction.
But bring it on like a holy war it will be a glory to lose.

I’ve always taken an aleatory approach
To the paradigms and pageants of chaos
Like the cosmic morphology of a hydra-headed
Shapeshifting multiverse expanding hydrocephallically
In all directions at once so we never notice
How much we grow from moment to moment
Like an imagination run wild in a moshpit of stem cells
That yesterday waltzed in three four time
Under the Fabonacci curve of Hapsburg chandeliers.
I’ve seen sunflowers spiral into galaxies like prayer wheels
And when the mind is an artist able to paint the worlds
I divided my canvases up two to one, right to left
In a ratio of seashells I could hear eternity in
Like the surging of a distant sea of awareness.

Imagination isn’t an agent of hope
Into espionage, so I’ve never been in the habit,
More of a standing visionary than a kneeling voyeur,
Of peeking through the keyhole of an opening door
Into what might be going on over
The event horizon of the next black hole
Breaking into the false dawn on the brighter
Side of things. Like fruit to the apple bloom,
Like stars emerging out of the dark, like
The sea to the river that’s been following it
Like the stray thread of a lifeline back
To the tapestry it was unravelled from by the moon,
Everything will be made clear in its own sweet time.
How much the stars have revealed to the waterlilies
About learning to shine without diminishment
In the mucky skies of an umbilical riverbed
Where the bloom’s never off the flowering
Of the first magnitude starmud of the dead.

Submitted: Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Edited: Wednesday, July 31, 2013

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