Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
All This Stuff
All this stuff going on in my head all the time.
All my fixed constellations changing like fireflies.
All the burning ladders of my unsuccessful siege of heaven
lying down like crosswalks at the feet of the mob.
And the stars that seemed so aloof and untouchable
settling like dust on my eyes.
I want to go home but home itself is gone
and there is no one waiting for me.
I live in these nomadic tents of my breath
that the wind blows through day and night
and everything I touch
though I long for the will of a pyramid
turns into quicksand.
I observe the life within me going on,
this flux of intimate intensities
as if I were no more than the container
and sentient window of a stranger's house
looking in out of the darkness
of my uninhabitable homelessness
that has always been my last known address.
Nothing is ever what it seems
in this shell-game of themes and memes
that shuffles me around like a hard pea
gullible enough to deceive itself
it might one day turn into
the new moon of a black pearl.
But I'm chained by my vertebrae to a slaver
in a caravan of all my wild sides
being dragged like a jungle
toward these civilized coasts
that put everything asunder
that God has joined together
and brand what they sever
with the savage logos of an enforced belonging
that death is the only escape from.
My private cloud of unknowing
with the occasional black lightning bolt of insight
that sets my roots on fire
so that the whole tree becomes its own funeral pyre
and sheds me in flames.
And trying to fit me like a shoe
to the newly washed foot of God
is a vain waste of time for both of us
when you're life's got a hole in it
I keep patching with poems in the cold
or keep stopping along the way to take off
and dump out the pebble of the world
I'm walking on with a limp.
And it's as foolish for a river
to ask where its youth has gone
as it is for me to lament the passage of mine
that I sent on up ahead like water
to keep something flowing behind me.
I don't look for grey hairs in the wind
when it's as clear as grace
that time and space
don't encroach upon the stars like cataracts
and everyone we've ever been
lives on in each of us forever
like water waiting in the open mouth
of the frozen moonskull
for me to swallow and thaw
so that the blossom can flesh the dead branch again
that trembles and bends before the wishing well
that all men drink from like a bell
in this mirage of fire in a desert of stars
to taste the lightning-tongued elixirs of life
that frees the serpent from its scars
like a discarded straitjacket of skin and pain
to go witching for water in hell again.
Comments about this poem (All This Stuff by Patrick White )
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