Patrick White

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

Fifty Years Of Wrestling With The Dark Angel In The Way - Poem by Patrick White

Fifty years of wrestling with the dark angel in the way.
You'd think we'd be friends by now. Blue flower
rooted in all that dark energy standing like an eclipse
in the burning corona of the doorway, the flammable sugar maple
fallen across the road, the sun that shines at mystic midnight,
the aniconic black wisdom of a one person cult
marking its own door with an X for extinction.

Even a spear of light that drinks from your heart like a heron
can sometimes feel like a blackfly up against
the cold windowpanes of obstructive immensities
shaping the course of your mindstream in the shadows
of the valleys of death, and darker yet, the flightpaths of love
buffeted back like arrowheads against the vortices
of hurricanes and black holes unworthy of the names of women.

If you haven't been crippled and mended by God,
you've never met her. You've never known what it's like
to be so deeply loved by a wound you'd happily bleed out
like a waterclock for the rest of your life as you hung
on the hook of the moon prophecying in euphoric agony.

If you haven't looked upon human suffering, your own
and others. If you've bleached your soul with industrial disinfectants
because you're too weak to get down and dirty
in your own starmud, and more than your heart
it's imperative to keep your hands clean. If you
haven't taken off the deathmasks of the slayer and the slain
to look deeply into the eyes behind the disguise
like peas in a shell game, you're only holding a candle up
to a blind mirror that will never see anything at all
until you blow it out. Until you learn to love humans enough
you hate God in your heart of hearts, she'll excruciate you
with her absence until your passion is perfect
and your heresy breaks into the flames of a great blessing
that knows the night is not a reward,
and even if you're fully enlightened
you're still ploughing the moon with a sword.

Until your blood burns like a black rose
in the killing frosts of the abyss etching
the inside of your eyes like tears of crystal glassware
when the windows turn their eyelids inside out,
you're still not intense enough to thaw the next ice age.
There are no visionaries in the eyes of your dice.
You might be buried alive in an avalanche of prophetic skulls
or roaring in the mane of a Leonid across the atmosphere,
but you're still heaping the corpses of your constellations up
on the pyre of a starmap administering last rites at a sky burial.

The words might be yours. But the voice that animates them isn't.
You can say to the starclusters of the New England asters
when you're startled by their wild beauty like a new tenant
in the organic apple orchard you inherited with the house
one early autumn morning these are my eyes, but the seeing
knows different. And the being you are is still a stranger at the gate.

I've always tried to live in such a way that my ghosts
were proud of me, though I know how nostalgically absurd that is,
an immaculate misconception of my own ignorance,
an affectionate preference, if nothing else, it gives me an excuse
to celebrate the qualities the dead have incorporated into my life
as effortlessly as the air I breathe for all of us awhile.

And not just the angels, but the demons as well,
the lucidly dark gifts it takes more courage than wisdom to accept.
Compassion continually enlightened by its own delusions.
Inimitable starlight hidden in the glitter of tinfoil.
The inconceivable revealed by the unattainable
like the memory of an event that had already occurred
and been forgotten in the rush to understand it.

How we throw ourselves like keys into the grass at night
and down on all fours begin a systematic search
even when there are no locks on the doors
and everywhere is passage, no exit, no entrance,
out in the open as obvious as space with nowhere to hide.

We fashion compasses and destinations out of
our labyrinths and cul de sacs. We lose ourselves
so deeply in what we're looking for we're dying of thirst
immersed in it like fish crying out for lifeboats.

One mile west. One mile east. One step back as
the other moves ahead. Progressing backwards,
in a looping universe is as good as regressing forwards
whether you're walking with galaxies along the Road of Ghosts,
or standing in your own way without giving your assent
to the creative potential of coming to the end of yourself
like an unassailable impediment, an undeniable fact
that returns you like a key to the open gate
that's always been yours to enter by as vagrantly
as the map of a lost leaf on the mindstream
that's been following you blind for lightyears.


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, February 5, 2013



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