Existing Nocturnally In A Covert Hole In The Dark - Poem by Patrick White
Existing nocturnally in a covert hole in the dark,
I eat the stars like a trap door spider taking the hood
off its telescope, a black hole ten million times
the mass of the sun, I shine from within, beading
new constellations on my trophy lines from
the corpses of the mummified remains of flying ants,
butterflies, honey bees with medicine bags of gold.
New mandalas of meaning to replace the trite zodiacs
that compile bestiaries of our eyes. I bend the light
perversely to see what lives on the underside of its leaves.
Dawn, my epilogue, I drink jewels like forbidden intimacies
from the heart of the ore, and reel like a drunk
trying to play the guitar, hammered on sapphires,
weeping in sympathy with tragic emeralds
and broken-hearted rubies expansive as red giants
imploding on themselves like bitter, black dwarfs.
I open my mouth like an aviary and let the doves go free.
In the apple-green and peacock blue of dusk
I'm the singing master of a choir of crows
roosting in a bone-box of birches that never bury their own.
I'm the undertaker at a sky-burial of the unidentified remains
that whisper in silence like ghostly nebulae at the mass graves
I gouge out of space like the eye-sockets of black swans
murdered like carbon on the coal road to diamonds
that cut like insight into the meteoric nature of things.
Nightwatchman, I beam my lighthouse through
the window of the sea and check the locks
on the chains of its tides to see if anyone's been messing
with its dna. I tinker with the fossils of shadows
pressed like flowers between the pages of old love affairs
that read like amorous extinctions in the Burgess Shale
at orgiastic seances with the lyrical daughters of memory
engendering the echoes of muses among the holy mountains
I climbed like scars to see if God had green eyes or not.
I treat my demons with the dignity of noble heretics
and they let me howl with wolf packs on the moon
at the rising of the earth like a striated marble
of water, ice and air glowing in an aura of life
blooming in the impeccable dark of an inconceivable abyss.
I'm still trying to foster an ambivalent truce with angels
that haven't fallen to earth yet, but give it time
and I'll convince them of the wisdom of my starmud.
I labour like a mutant to recast the bells of our suffering
into something more radiant than the usual
cannon, nails and ploughs. I want to forge
a sword of moonlight in the burning bush of evolution
and lay it down in tribute on the waters of life
like the plumage of a white rose that didn't bleed for nothing.
I understand that pain is a great liberator, but a statue
isn't creative enough anymore to compensate the dead
for the loss of their eyelids, and the faces of the living
stung in squalls of killer bees and snakepits of toxic whips
as if death had a wavelength of its own without a red shift.
Humanity isn't a consonant. It's a vowel.
And I say it richly to the empty parsimony of hollow silos
that gape like mouths at the audacity of my dark abundance
talking back to their bright vacancy like a total eclipse
with a chip of the moon on my shoulder
it's going to take a whole lot more than the threat
of a backward thinking apocalypse to knock off.
Defang the staple-guns of bureaucratic wars.
Put peace on a diet to starve the corporate cannibals.
Establish petting zoos of dangerous reptiles
for the distempered fools of the iron rule says
do unto others before they do unto you
what they so nemetically deserve for shrinking
from the waterstars of life as if they had
a hydrophobic fear of the light turning around
and biting them like an anti-venom in a syringe
they're flagging with rabies like a rusty bloodstream
cloning them from the stem cells of experimental clowns.
Not to kiss hatred on the other cheek of the moon
but teach it how to wash the feet of the children it's killed
and taste the coldness of forever in the last kiss
they place on their lunar foreheads before they're enclosed
in the same darkness lined with nacreous satins
as its victims wear at nightfall, to initiate it solo
into the same excruciating transformations
that must be endured like a karmic sea change
of a children's crusade of new moons scotched in the seed
by the horrendous ferocity of the creative fire
that will enlighten them eventually like pine-cones
transplanting the roots of evergreens
on a clear cut mountainside of retributive sorrows.
If what I say seems absurd, that's probably
the right word for it, but if what's imagined is later proved
let's embrace our own folly and imagine it
as the crazy wisdom of people with compassionate preferences.
If it's meaningless inside and out, let's expand space
to accommodate a meaning of our own making
big enough to lose the whole human race in the labyrinth
of a single fingerprint that identifies with everyone
and all animals, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects and plants
as if the whole universe spoke through each of us
in the dream grammar of a common genome talking in its sleep.
Is it any more mad to tilt at quixotic dragons like the earth
at the sun in its helical wheeling through space
than it is to write indelibly in the invisible ink
of a left-handed eclipse in a diary of starmaps?
Let's rack up an abacus of unified field theories
like quantum leaps out of the orbital ruts of our skulls
on occasions not at the beck and call of our photons
and firecrackers breaking our elemental tables like electrons
or if you're less rowdy, lawn bowling with the solar system.
Let's stop experimenting on each other
and calling it love. Let's stop stitching up our wounds
with razorwire and trying to put a smile
on the face of the scalpels that nick our arms and thighs
and cut our hearts out on sacrificial days of the vernal equinox.
It's not a choice of the gloriously absurd
in contradistinction to the realistically petty
to grow well beyond the dead metaphors of ourselves
like coral reefs and shipwrecks teeming with life
at the bottom of our unfathomable seas of awareness.
Let's stop listening for the logic of water
in the conch shells of our cretaceous fortune-cookies
and put the universe up to our ears to hear
the beating our own hearts in the lockets
of our estranged children pleading in bloodbanks
for attention like poppies and field fires in the starwheat.
In limping back from the holy wars in celestial realms
that wrestled with us like angels in our own way
to this earthbound garden of paradise we abandoned
like a ghost town of Incan temples with baleful altars
to the surrealistic imagination of the jungle
it's crucial to remember there are no weeds to be uprooted
or need to cultivate the wildflowers among
the minor miracles of the morning glory
like native schools of sweetgrass to the genetic modifications
of our way of thinking about the future without a past
we can return to more prodigal than when we left.
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