Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
The Rain Makes The Night Look Blacker
The rain makes the night look blacker.
Wet anthracite. Panthers and lacquer.
Slash of the storelights in efflorescent
water gardens that fountain and gutter
with every passing car. A poor man’s
Alhambra. A mistake to drive the Muslims
and Moriscos out of Spain like poets
you’d been plagiarizing to give Platonic court
to unattainable, wealthy patrons you adored
because they could afford it. Not much
of a troubadour if your heart hasn’t got
a voice of its own. Or your lute’s a guitar
with a broken neck. Or is it an origami swan?
Lamp-posts reflected in the double pane
thermal windows like deep sky objects
in the narrowing field of view as if
someone threw a spear in the eye
of the Hubble telescope in the time-honoured
tradition of what to do if you meet
a Cyclops in orbit and you’ve just jettisoned
the third stage of the rocket you’re tied to.
Got to be a church around here somewhere
like a Neptunian shepherd moon fish farming.
God’s a wild salmon full of eggs. Fingerlings
of the traffic lights streaking their colours
clean as dawn. You can muzzle science
like a dancing bear in a political circus,
but you can’t stop the dharma of the disease
when people aren’t free to move around
mentally at ease with their unlikely similitudes.
There’s a lady singing up the street
at a bar a friend of mine owned before
he killed himself and left the rest of us
to wonder how sad it can get, and she
really belts like factory on the graveyard shift.
Her voice seems to carry further in the wet
than the wind on Fridays trying to teach
dry leaves on a brittle day to sing the blues.
Not missing anyone tonight. Not even
who I was yesterday anymore than I will
this idle delusion trying to track fish
upstream while everything’s flowing
the other way, and the small rain down can rain.
Not callous, indifferent, or aloof. Alone.
Though solitude’s not much to write home about.
It’s still perilous for me. I’d say the point it makes
is elusive if it ever flashed me a sign
I wasn’t living in a medieval guildhall
for stone masons who died a hundred
and fifty years ago devoting their skills
and their lives to permanence for the rich.
And a canal to keep Kingston supplied.
And a lodge to go occult in before you died.
Something else the west stole from the Arabs
like a secret Mechanic’s Illustrated to symbols.
I believe in live and let live. It’s all water
anyway, whatever way you flavour it
to make it more palatable to the life that wastes it.
The rain is a spider with the briefest of webs.
Water music sweet enough to bring tears to your eyes
in a glass palace of home-made harpsichords
and self-styled mirrors at the end of October.
A good rain that washes out the road.
Not drizzle to keep the dust down.
A flood myth not the eye of blood
that spiritualizes the post mortem of the rose.
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