Patrick White

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

By The Light I Have Been Given To Go By - Poem by Patrick White

By the light I have been given to go by,
I can see how homeless the journey truly is.
How provisional the shrines along the way like milestones
we stop to paint like the inside of our skulls
or the caves we first dwelled in with our dead
buried under fire and the numinosity of our picture music
impregnating the womb walls of a space made sacred by fear.
The darkness bears my secrets, and in the torchlight,
in carbon and red ochre, a diary of shamans
gored by defecating rhinos speared to death.

I have imagined my way into an understanding
that is a rite of passage into a space that is
a vast abyss of intelligence, a nothingness
that speaks through an intuitive grammar of things
as if a galaxy, a star, stone, tree, raindropp were each a thought,
a sign, a word, the syntax of a growing paradigm
of creative awareness that we're completely alone
and lost at sea like fish on the moon crawling out of its tides
as if nothing bound us, not even detachment,
nor a god that exists as a confession of the way we do,
nor any medium we work in as reflection of our presence
labouring away at an unattainable world that won't exist
until we do, and it's 7 to 5 against anyone making it that far.

But what a joy to emerge out of our own nothingness
like a secret we're letting ourselves in on,
making it up as we go along like a deportable myth of origin
we can adapt to our infinite beginnings
because for starters, it has none of its own.
We were born to express ourselves like apple trees.
We were born to see and be happy marvelling at the event.
To enjoy longing for things we were never missing
and be guided by wise men we never listen to
back to a silence that has nothing to say for itself
that we didn't already know in the first place.
Everywhere is the threshold of the return journey.
Life is either an exile, or it stays at home like a follower.
Bless the enlightened apostates of the dangerous religion
that desecrates the mind by worshipping it.
Why make a chain out of your umbilical cord
and get your head wrapped around it like a noose
because you forgot meaning was an art
and not a way to take yourself way too seriously to heart?
Why go to war with your own mind
just to administer to the needs of the suffering
when you can paint a god in blood and ashes
and decultify yourself with the creative freedom
of your imagination deconstructing the fable of your belief
that it's the being, not the becoming, that endures.
And you can do this without even knowing how to draw.
A starmap doesn't shine. A blue print doesn't open a door.
If you ask a crutch to do your walking for you,
it's going to throw you away like a miracle
at the top of the stairs of Notre Dame de Coeur.
Better to be the sacred whore of a thousand profligate gods
than the unrepentant nun of one who shuts the world out,
like art for art's sake, to revel in her own extinction
in a mystical connubium with an unregenerate imagination.

You can burn your gates and cages in a wild field if you like
for not being able to keep the flowers in, or keep the wind
from rioting with the leaves way past curfew,
but there was never any risk of being granted what you ask
because life is the unpredictable moon rise
that deepens the calendars with a renewed humility
towards the extraordinary mutability of time.
What have you ever been that baffled your imagination?
It isn't reason that inspires us to become a stranger tomorrow
to the self we knew today. Genuine faith isn't
an artificial life support system to keep something alive
that should have been allowed to die quietly away yesterday.
Millions upon millions of facts like a graveyard of skeleton keys
to a door we can't find open within ourselves
as if we'd just stepped through it to be here where we live
deciphering the shapes of the clouds as if we lived in code.

Hide your secret deep enough if you want it to be known.
Walk alone as far as you can until you can't
if you want the world to walk the rest of the way with you.
The white demon that knows heaven and hell experientially
mentors the senses in the spiritual subtleties of the black angel
that comes like the new moon of a third eye
to help the exegetes of light see further into the dark
by blowing their candles out like flowers.
All seekers are roads looking for a map to follow.
Preludes after the fact, that set out to look for their own endings.
Be a star. And keep your afterlife behind you
like the shadow of the last form you cast upon the earth.
Be an eye that doesn't leave any room between the moon
and it's reflection so that the substance of life is seeing
not that you're a distinct and separate entity
that cosmically identifies with your exclusion
but that you're wholly within easy reach of everything
that depends upon you for its existence. Just as every leaf
you let fall in the autumn like an adage of wisdom
about how you can know the world by its fruits
first came to the tree like a smile to your face
when you realized your imagination was
the inconceivable dynamic of a creative state of grace.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Poem Edited: Wednesday, May 30, 2012


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