Patrick White

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

Coming Out Of A Blue Funk - Poem by Patrick White

Coming out of a blue funk, this seal,
under a sky thickening like sheet ice all day
has found an airhole it can breathe through for awhile.
Been wondering about my life. What
it's been doing to me for the last fifty years
for the sake of poetry, for the sake
of pursuing an earthly excellence
though it hardly matters why anymore.
I used to have an answer on the tip of my tongue
when I was young and thought more
with my mouth than my heart. Less so now.
Time, death, suffering, love and the devil,
certain intense realms of creative bliss
attuned to the dark harmonies of hidden roots
that flow back like the delta of a river
to the watershed of a single dropp of water
that got it in its head to do something big with its life
and turn something trivial into the sublime.
Did not the sun and the moon, the whole of the sky,
fit it like skin? And that was just the outside.
It would take more than light years to measure
the wingspan of the abysmal spaces within.
Even time would run out of itself
before it got to the end of anything.

My life in art has been like keeping a fire alight outside
in a rainstorm of tears. To see clearly
through windows that thawed in the heat
of looking through them with the compassionate ferocity
of a crystal skull poured out of a terraforming meteor impact
like a prophetic lump of coal, a diamond in the rough,
that refused to burn in the furnace to prove it had the right stuff
to shine like a star, no one could follow, on its way to somewhere else.
Not a sign post. Just a sign. Your eyes
once you see it, are never going to be the same again.
You won't look at a starcluster like the Pleiades
as if you were waiting for the traffic lights to change.
You'll take your three and a half pounds of brainy starmud,
like a meteoritic kissing stone, a falling star,
and run it through a diamond tipped bandsaw
and discover the jewel of life that's been glowing
in the core of the ore since time immemorial
like a dna molecule wasted on space
that transforms the medium and the messenger
into a voice, free of content, that's the whole of the message.

I walked out to this dark, deserted place, redolent
with the duff and detritus of life, the flotsam and jetsam,
where the half life of the rate of decay of my insights
into your heart, eludes being used as an atomic clock
to determine the agelessness of either of us.
I came out to look at the stars but I've been startled
by the photonic discharges of your bioluminescent fireflies
ever since I started looking up like a starmap to make sure things
were where they were supposed to be. One moment
you get in my eyes like the sandstorm of a mandalic power painting,
a masterpiece of the wind, and the next,
I can feel the intransigence of your vulnerability
dyeing your hair like a comet to attract the attention
of the sun at midnight looking for asylum from a black hole
where it's third eye used to be.

You're a mermaid on the rocks of Andromeda singing to a telescope
to look up to see how far its got to sink in an ocean of stars
before it hits bottom like a shipwrecked moonrise
gone pearl diving for habitable planets
that can say I love you and mean it like an atmosphere
it's not going to lose again. Only in the Braille
of the scars on your heart so far, but I can read your pain
like the glyphs of an Aztec temple
I'm still clearing from the jungle of my indirections,
that recorded in imported stone how many times
it's been torn out to please the gods with a kidnapped sacrifice
worthy of the priestcraft in the sacred abattoirs
of modern drug cartels when you're too susceptible
to feeling too much, the same as me, when I'm thinking mythically
about what I've endured to be acceptable in my own eyes
that might shine across these aloof distances like a star into yours
that lights you up from the inside like an intimate familiar
whispering into your ear like a dream grammar of sacred syllables
that have liberated themselves from the syntax of the stars
just to speak subliminally in the same sign language as you
like the chaos of fireflies I see in the black mirror of my mindstream
bending space like the surface of a lake at night
where you can hear the echo of a loon ululating
like the wavelength of a mysterious love song
among these dark hills shapeshifting in the moonlight
toward you like a mirage of picture-music
emerging as something real in this wilderness of transformation
like a new constellation of fireflies I want to overhear with your heart.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, August 18, 2012

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