Patrick White

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

Gnats In The Sunset


Gnats in the sunset,
drunk on the light,
women like comets and vapour trails everywhere
flaring across a skullful of sky
like the omens of a toppled throne,
like the inspired slashes of a mad painter,
the deathbed confessions of an expired mirror,
but no planet with the blue rose
of a sustainable atmosphere in sight,
nothing worth naming, no heart
that isn't the black hole of an eclipsed pearl
mired in stars like quicksand.
So many the gate to a garden they'll never enter.
So many waiting for the mountain
to circle the burning cloud, so many
choking to death on their half of the wishbone
that got caught in their throats like a harp
they once tore apart
like the crescents of the moon
going off like mutually aimed triggers.
This one smiles like a birdnet
hunting swans on the moon,
and this one bruised her lily into a brass trumpet
to announce the doom
of the last days of her Vesuvian lover,
and there are glass shadows of women
splintering everywhere like the uncandled chandeliers
of a black ice storm, and women with eyes
like sad olives trying to root in Antarctica,
and scorpions tattooing their own hearts
with hate literature
and lethal mushrooms, angels of death
who suddenly come up in the night
and tempt you to page like oxygen
through the first draft of their gills,
idling like the thresholds of an hallucinogenic sea,
for you to slip into an abyss of agony and longing
like the lost voice of a radioactive love-letter
in a readdressed envelope.
Better to be an empty boat
unmoored like a ghost from the moon
than snag your blood
on the thorn of the weeping nightrose
shedding like eyelids and forbidden keys
in the secret doorways of her open wound.
You'll end up trying
to paste your life together
in an abandoned embassy
that's lost its diplomatic immunity
from the petals of the infinite sentence
in the bridal orchard
denuded like a blizzard in a wastebasket
shadowing the moon penumbrally
as she puts you through her phases
like a sky encoded with stars in a paper-shredder.

Submitted: Friday, February 17, 2012
Edited: Friday, February 17, 2012

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