Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
Time To Myself
Time to myself.
The first half hour feels
as if I'm sitting at a bus-stop
waiting for something that's never going to come.
Thoughts like stray threads of hair on my shoulder.
Old love affairs that have gone grey in my absence.
After the last flashflood I scuttled the ark of my heart
on the moon, like a dog far enough into the country
it couldn't find its way home again.
Love's always a mystically unique reality
but the cosmic urgencies of the pain
I endured demonically in the name
of things that were too feeble to believe in,
eventually came to hum like white noise
in the background of a boring curse
where all you could do was dogpaddle
in the flotsam and jetsam of incredible trivia
that floats up to the surface of a shipwreck on the bottom
waiting for the next lifeboat.
No one locks their doors in the country
unless they're living a field away
from a hobby-farm, hillbilly crackhouse
that's been handed down like the story
of a body in a lost housewell somewhere on the property,
so if someone were to step in out of the night,
I wouldn't stand my ground like a ten point, white-tailed buck
on a hill that's been posted against hunting
with grenades, and feel too sure of myself,
but just the same, I'd watch from a distance for awhile.
Like a wolf made shy by intelligence,
I wouldn't come down from the timberline
until I was convinced by the probable concourse of events
there was no bounty on my head
and no judas-goat was pleading in a leg-hold trap.
Sounds brutal when I say it, but not to those
who've been shot at by shepherd moons
trying to cull the pack like asteroids into extinction
whenever it tried to snatch the golden calf by the throat
and bleed it like a rose of transubstantiation in the snow.
The most insane things I've ever done
in a world that specializes in absurdity
I've done for the beauty of the madness
that overtook me like the acids of a Venus fly-trap.
Sometimes love can be a lighthouse on the moon
with no one to give a warning to, it may be a mermaid
but it's been singing the same old song on the rocks too long
and I'm poet enough to go down with the ship
but not as a creature of habit. The scratched guitar
with a warped neck in the corner
that made a benign hobby out of a way of life
that was once the death call of the music
that only endangered species could hear and dance to.
Love needs a wide screen to feature
the wingspans of its emotions so any sky
you might find yourself flying in fits you like skin.
But me? I can see a masterpiece in the paint rag of a parrot.
And there are worlds within worlds within worlds
so unanimously unconcerned with us
they have to read ancient history just to prove
that we exist as an unexplained anomaly
of the cosmic background hiss of radiant annihilation
deconstructing into the echoes of its original inspiration
like birds crying in the throat of a valley
that holds its notes too long
to keep time with the pace and passage of life.
Love's a melodic state of mind with a percussive heartbeat
and no one's ever really missing from the band
on the road like religious icons of democracy,
even when they get homesick for their girlfriends
and the drummer is moved in his heart of hearts
more by paranoia and lust than he is love and music
to end his calling in a bus station with a broken phone,
trying to make sure his girlfriend's there
when he gets home at two in the morning.
Not especially bitter, and only occasionally longing,
but I remember the happy day my Greek chef friend announced
he no longer worshipped at the feet of the great goddess sex,
and died of cancer five months later, and how
even Mahatma Gandhi couldn't pacify the hydra
of his sexual desires by lighting little fires
all around him when he slept on a pyre of women.
Worse than celibacy is abstracting the flesh into a hungry ghost.
To damn the body with the faint praise
of a sin of omission that denigrates its earthly excellence
as an instrument of God in the hands of rank amateurs
trying to weave flying carpets on the loom of a guitar
to add their wavelength of lament to the disappointed stars.
Where the bullet comes to rest
in a cosmic game of Russian roulette
is forensically irrelevant. Who
got it through the heart and who
got it through their head can go on arguing forever
who suffered the deepest death
when the daffodils began behaving like periscopes
intent on torpedoing the love boat
zigzaging through the sealanes of a wolfpack.
Open-armed as the bay of a seaworthy sailor,
I embrace love these days lightly with a kiss
like a ticket in a lottery I'm not expecting to win
but revel in like a Zen poet dancing with the moon
as if he were water, and it was taking its sail down
over the treetops, to stay awhile on his enchanted island
where delusion is not an obstruction to bliss,
and enlightenment isn't anymore of a seer
than the scars of the star that stripmined your eyes are.
Comments about this poem (Time To Myself by Patrick White )
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