I Was Thinking About Absurdity, The Unnamed Muse - Poem by Patrick White
I was thinking about absurdity, the unnamed muse
of nine in the fifth place in the Book of Changes
when the daughter of black matter came to my door again
wired and crying as she tried to smile
like tiny serrated edges of pain as she said
she couldn’t find a bar tender or dope dealer
that wanted to talk to her as if there wasn’t a black hole
in the middle of the third eye of the Medusa.
I could tell right away by the way she was swaying
like a suspension bridge hanging by a last thread
out over the abyss like a torn spider web, she had dark fears,
unenlightened shadows with no mystic noon
on her indelible sundials to draw their fangs in like the moon.
I was thinking about absurdity as if that wasn’t absurd enough
in and of itself, but she’s not the first mermaid
to sing an ode of alluring laurels derived from her sorrows
like wild columbine sitting like a hair transplant
on the rock of my skull as if I were an exemplary habitable planet
more water than granite in my attitude toward humans.
I’ve been here before. I’ve put pomade on the frayed ends
of her snakes coming out of hibernation now that spring’s here
and she’s starting to groom her image in the mirror
from the first bud of lipstick on the mouth of the rose
to the last pout of the downcast shedding of a black defoliant.
And she’s insecure about what God sees when she imagines
what He sees she’s done to his creation like a doll of herself
she took things out on instead of talking straight about it
with a spiritual weathervane to get the lightning she harboured
out of the heartwood that was always being ripped
and set aflame by a drug-induced revelation. I was
thinking about absurdity for once without feeling as if
I were going to my own execution and seeing how much easier
it would have been to have been demonized as an heretical saint
than try to bless a sinner with stained-glass paint
so her eyes aren’t boiled away like hot tears into space
in the death valleys where her mirages are immensely proportional
to the intensities of the shadows they’re casting on the new moon
she hopes to make of herself like a total eclipse in rehab.
Don’t get me wrong. I love her dearly. She’s a fashionista
on the catwalks of backalleys when the moon howls
like a vicious feline in heat with crescents she hooks in your eyes
as if she were fly fishing. Back in the day, lightyears ago,
she could reel Moby Dick into her lifeboat with her longing,
she was so dangerously endowed with a talent for innocence
but now when she calls her fan club of sailors to the rocks
the silver spoon jumps over the moon and runs away with the cow.
Someone scorched the grapevine. The wine tastes burnt.
Watered down with blisters to age the bouquet.
Who needs to think about tomorrow when you’ve got yesterday?
It doesn’t matter what we talk about. She listens to me
the way a snake listens to music like a spare guitar string
and resonates metaphorically like the tines of a tuning fork
and I tell her about a man who fixes the wings
of owls, osprey and red-tailed falcons up around Westport
then sets them free again, and she says he must be
a good man to care about birds like that but I can tell
someone shut the cage door on the false dawn of the aviary
she’s been singing in like an encore into karaoke at a nightclub
where all the side men want to be front men
and all the front men want to go home and damage their voices
while the echoes pursue their fifteen minutes of fame,
number one with a bullet that ricochets around the room
so every one gets a turn to burn like their very own starmap.
I was thinking about absurdity, sublimely,
when my light on in the window summoned a muse
out of the dark like a black mass to the candle of a Luna Moth
that singed her antennae like lightning rods on an analogue tv
still playing reruns of the way things were supposed to be.
I was trying to take myself seriously like a sacred clown
at a ghost dance of one in face paint appealing to the stars
to return me to a solitude that didn’t make me old as a child.
Everything written on my forehead I wanted them to see
through my eyes, at the other end of the telescope
where it’s impossible not to receive more than you give.
Not out of ingratitude. But more in the way of deepening
the mutuality of our estranged visions of one another.
When the one without metaphor returns to the many
some have blood, some have fertile crescents of starmud
under their fingernails, others, moonrise on their thumbs,
but hers sparkled like small town fireworks at a festival of fireflies.
Time had stopped sowing seeds on the wind to fall anywhere
and put down roots in the vernal equinox in her eyes
and you could get an occasional glimpse of wood violet
under the duff of her eyelids as if every exile needed
a home address to cover her tracks in long-sleeved zodiacs.
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