Patrick White

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

Galactic Darkness - Poem by Patrick White

Galactic darkness. Luna moths
drawn in by the zircon oases of
candles on the coffee-table
burning behind plate-glass
like the muses of consumer longing,
given how far it is to fly to the stars,
though nothing blocks the way,
their wings spread on the windows
like death masks and decals on a suitcase,
stamps on forlorn loveletters
that can labour over every sacred syllable
for effect, but still eat
the ashes of neglect for real.

But, then, again, how can you fail
if you're mad, if you can feel
in your blood, how the stars
can start fires here on earth
using the fireflies for chemical fuses?
Or the moon, her moths, for proxies?
Bless the beatific insanity of crazy wisdom
pursuing an earthly excellence
in the eye of inviolate perfection
to add its petal of light to the shedding
of the unsayable rose that ignites the soul
to the dragon of longing and devotion
that dwells within like serpent fire
waiting on the wind, that's you,
to give it wings with every breath you take.

Just because you can name all the trees
in the forest, doesn't mean
you've explored a wilderness
or suffered the dangerous ordeals
of your rite of passage through it
to uninhabitable states of mind
your adaptable presence
spontaneously humanizes
with the unlikelihood of you even
being there with your mountainous outlook
and sidereal overview about
the apparent impersonality of the universe
putting its roots down in you like fruitful tree
with a windfall of sustainable planets at your feet.

O little mystic, in midnight shades
of Prussian blue, it isn't true if you
were to look into the face of your god
your eyes would burn like an oilspill
on an ocean of of prescient wavelengths
that will turn on you like a snake
from the burning faucet of a toxic housewell.
Embrace what consumes you like fire at the stake.
In the blast furnace of the universe they peer into
like the source of the mystery that absorbs them
the astronomers have recast their eyes
into philosophically ground lenses and pyrex mirrors
silvered by a quarter ounce of their vaporous spirits
looking for clarity in a cloud of unknowing
the way the morning air cleans its stardust off with the dew.

Nothing less than everything all the time.
What does the world hold back in reserve,
or your bodymind all you need and prefer
to be as lost as a feather in the shadow of a sundial
as the nightbird you are now, afraid
of where the wind might carry you
far from the aviary of that golden cage
of a voice-box that's trained you
what to say to strangers who ask
when was the last time you went looking
for continents in a flood, or even
went down with one like Mu or Atlantis,
the kingfisher captain of the ship?

Take a cometary approach and leap
from your black halo into the sun
as if you were jumping orbitals
from a burning bridge where
the serious arsonists come
to commit suicide by flinging themselves
like fire on the water to see if,
like the reflections of the stars,
they can get over their hydrophobia,
by realizing the pilot lights of their fever
can never wholly be put out once
they start spreading like a wildfire
through the zodiac, house by house.

But you don't need a fire department
in the inflammable amethyst village
sequestered in the coffin of your spiritual life
like a seed afraid to come out of itself
like foxfire after a cosmic conflagration.
You don't need to dream your totem alone
in a fire-tower in the woods,
high among the crowns of the trees
polling fireflies and meteors by the minute,
to see if you've got what it takes
to get something started within yourself
that isn't just another demonic firecracker
you throw at the ghosts of your afterlives
like pebbles and beans, to scare them away.

Pinocchio runs to the pyre of his karma
in the sacred ashes of someone else's lifemask
though the flame at the end of his nose
is a dead giveaway he's attached too many strings
to the box kite self-immolating in the power lines
he thought he could do a quick fly over
like a transmigratory bird avoiding a snake pit
that's trying to catch its eye like a liar's holy book,
two minutes with a hook, then dead air
when the hits are shelved like golden ashes
in the urns of an elephant graveyard
where the poachers come to salvage
the tusks and crescent moons of their mnemonic relics.

Any fool can make a religion out of a salvationist alibi
by telling themselves that we were all no good
before we were born, and we all need to be recalled
like Toyota suvs for legally culpable emergency repairs
at mystically specific authorized garages
and shrines with forklifts for spiritual vehicles
to have their undercarriages inspected in the pits of hell
by gurus with Jiffy Lube all over their coveralls
greasing the wheel bearings of the celestial omnibus
to turn round and round and round
like the wheel of birth and death suspended in mid air
and going, as the crow flies, nowhere.

Don't scorn the fire in the darkness of the coal
that burns on the inside when there's nothing
but diamonds freezing at the door on the outside
or looking down in longing like the stars
at the flurries of chimney sparks rising
like intimate insights with the lifespan
of enraptured gnats at dusk, to illuminate
the fixed assumptions of the mythic shining
with impromptu constellations of their own
in a smaller darkness closer to home
that glow at night like astral plastic stars
stuck to the ceiling of a child's bedroom
made infinitely intimate and wondrous
according to the orders of her intuitive seeing
when she walks in the starfields, following
the fragrance of whatever's she's dreaming
whether the road evaporates like smoke
from a fire on a cold night in the distance,
or unfolds like a starmap of wildflowers,
a bird with a library of feathers for wings,
she embraces the vast, vacant, interstellar spaces,
the sublime, empty vastness of the tabla rasa
of her imagination, the light emerging out of the void
into the eyes of the uncarved lifemasks
of the most tender and homely of things.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, August 8, 2012

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