Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
And I Want To Cry Out
AND I WANT TO CRY OUT
And I want to cry out, unburden the bell of my pain,
release the shadow this storm has been walking for years
like a man over abandoned landscapes the earth will never finish,
let the tears flow in a flashflood of ripe sorrows,
tie a noose in a rope of roads I've travelled to the end of
and kick my heart like a chair from underneath me,
fruit on the tree at last, an apple sapped by lightning, black,
but sweeter than stars, ready to fall
from the blasted nightbranch
of one too many devastations, one too many blows
on the edge of a sword of light
that could cut the tongue out of an anvil.
I want to ask for forgiveness for having been a man,
but I don't know why or from whom in the silence
that can't tell the difference between the thief and the theft
anymore than I can peel the moon's reflection from the river.
I want to let go, fall to my death, revive from annihilation,
a sage of silver herbs, words that heal more than they judge,
but I'm bound to the mast of my spine in fire chains
hotter than cold snap radiators
that tighten like anacondas around me
everytime I let another ghost go like a hostage of rain.
And I keep telling myself the singing I hear in the distance
isn't just another firefly in the harps of the willows,
another caprice of light with skillful fingers
that licks the blood of its last painting off with a smile,
but I'm broken and old and too forgotten to care
if it's mine or someone else's, or just another contribution
to the emergency bank of plastic bladders
waiting like silicon for larger breasts.
And the wind now is always a memory,
and I keeping losing my mind like a bookmark
that's forgotten where it left the book,
and there are pleading voices that gather around me at night
like starving children with the faces of wounded cherries,
and I seem to have less than nothing left to give them.
And when I look for a meaning to my life,
I seemed to have lived in the wreckage of an accident
that happened before I was born.
And there is no holiness in loving the earth and the people in it
with a passion honed by desperation;
and I never could see what they did in their laughing mirrors;
mine was always blacker than a sail off the coast of a waiting widow.
And now I'm here in this house of empty ballrooms on my own,
trying to box the essentials of what I'll take with me when I go
to anywhere I'm not, and the ceilings are weeping
all over their plaster rosettes, their second empire sundogs
like blood seeping through the ceiling
while carbon-tipped spears of regret
for all the things I should have done and didn't, or did
and wish I hadn't, pierce my voodoo heart like micro-meteors
from a chance of God. And it isn't as if I didn't try to be good,
or wise or useful for the sake of earning my mouthful of salvation;
I could do what others couldn't because to confess
I had less than nothing to lose. Sacrifice is easy when you're free,
and waterproof stars that don't run in the rain like tears
or the longing lines of homing poems at dusk,
no trick at all if you've been raising yourself from the dead for years
in rented tombs where the angels leave their junkmail at the door,
and the landlord watches everything that's going on.
And I know this will come as a shock perhaps
to a few who tried to care, but the best I could manage of love
was to lead them away from myself
like the stairs of a burning house. I smuggled them in the night
through a hole in the razorwire fence of my heart like frightened refugees
into a better place with a green card that could walk away from me.
And there's nothing more of dignity in this
than if I'd rescued a fly from a toilet
or put a child back on its fallen bicycle
with a warning not to talk to strangers.
No anti-hero, no tough romantic anymore,
not even an arsonist in a volunteer fire-brigade
and the moon too often these days just another cold stone with craters
come of all the goblets I once raised like a branch with a pear
to the women I drank to the bottom of their dead seas
only to fall down drunk under the crash of their smashing chandeliers.
And it's always been something to furrow this acreage
of paper and canvas with gestures of fire and seed
watching the earth turn like flesh under the ox-driven scalpels of crescent moons,
but lately it seems that all I've been doing for forty-seven years
is ploughing a minefield covered in snow with the Big Dipper
to make way for a hearse in a hurry.
So what do you say to your hands when they want to pray
and you don't know what to ask for?
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