Patrick White

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

And It Shall No More Be Given To Me - Poem by Patrick White

And it shall no more be given to me
than it is to another to understand you if I could
or you, for that matter, shining above the dark wood
as if it didn't matter where your light fell or upon whom.

And who could not say your aloofness was not a right?
But there's nothing more ridiculous than a spurned heart.
I was a flower for a moment, now I'm a red toadstool
spinning around as I did as a kid with nothing to do
but endure a long, hot afternoon on my own
in a nineteen fifties restaurant with a broken jukebox
and where there was a prayer rug rumoured to fly
now there's just blind linoleum and a repetitive lie
I repeat like a mantra to keep the obvious away.

There is within me, who knows where it came from,
a laboratory of largess that's always working overtime
to cure what ails love in myself and others.
As if we were the devoted apostates of an estranged emotion
that didn't quite know what to do with our devotion.
You can try to drink an ocean in a single gulp
to keep your mirage from evaporating in the desert,
but you'll only end up just as thirsty and hallucinatory
as you were before, as the goats try to avoid the scorpions.
Or you can pretend you don't care, and wear
sandpaper for skin, and be as callous to your heart
as you are a can you're kicking down the road
so you don't get hurt trying to heal again.
Each votive candle of a woman who lit up for you,
an exotic reference to a different fragrance of pain
so they're always the orchid in the shadows of cool moonlight
and you're always a bouquet of dandelions in a funeral home.

Of late, I've been trying to chip the coral away
from a lot of sunken masts I used to tie myself to
just to listen deliriously to the sirens on the rocks.
I revelled in the mystery of their wounded music
but my lifeboat always seemed to splinter
like a Spanish guitar on the head of my gravestone.
Flashbacks of your lives and loves, those soft razors
can be harder sometimes than a school of hard knocks.

Cynic, or sucker alike, neither bask in diamonds
and whether you take it like a man or a star-nosed mole
everybody bleeds like a rose on a ladder of thorns.
Love is the colour of life, tender, garish, or obscene,
not some variant of green camouflage, or logo red,
not some bituminous conversion to Mars black,
not like any rainbow you've ever seen, not
an albino chameleon, but more vivid than the eyes
are able to see, like the bee paths on certain wildflowers.
And though I might be underwhelmed by how
drab and vapid it seems these days, I remember gold,
I remember silver, I remember the poppies imploding
like red giants and scarlet nebula in the starfields
and I still adorn love like Corona Borealis with Celtic gems.

And though my dragons are masters of myriad stratagems
I never try to impress a woman by forging swords like words
in the dynastic fires of my mouth but diversify
my volcanic energies into making habitable islands in a dream
and chandeliers of fireflies scattered all over the starmap.
I don't turn eyes into windows in a blast furnace
or blow a lot of glass bubbles into a multiverse
of Japanese floats holding up their fishing nets
like the M-theory of the latest myth of origin.
And where it ends, is exactly where it begins
over and over and over again endlessly like the wind
raising waves on a mirror where many have drowned
in the bliss of listening to their own awareness
as if they cast a spell upon themselves they couldn't break.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, May 25, 2012

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