Patrick White

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

I Could Look At It With Sweeter Eyes - Poem by Patrick White

I could look at it with sweeter eyes.
The way boys and cowards romanticize war.
I could emphasize the honeysuckle and fireflies.
I could say that's not a noose in my hand, it's an ankh.
I could run an extortion racket of jukebox mirrors
and have them placed in all the best cafes
so when you put a quarter moon in
they reflect anything you ask them to.
You've got a beautiful face. Man
are you smart. Yes, you're the son of Zeus
and I'm the oracle of Amun at Siwa.

And every occasion I can with integrity
I try to. I praise the larkspur.
I'm exhilarated by the waterlilies
that have almost come to mean
as much to me as the stars on a summer night.
I rejoice in extraordinarily ordinary events
between people, I don't expect to experience again
the way he walks beside her like a green crutch
coming into bloom and leafing like a loveletter
trying to be a strong tree she can lean on,
and so much is so crucial to a blessed few
or a father walking down the street,
listening to his daughter as if she were the Buddha
or middle C and he had to keep his eighty-eights straight.

Born a cellular optimist or too stupid to be a cynic,
though there are days I live like a dog,
and I know that denying this suggestive reality
is to summon its affirmation as if
something in the context of life heard you
and though you're never certain, out to prove you wrong.
And likewise endorsing it, invites its denial.

This is the middle extreme and it should be lived
immensely with intensity like a Sufi gyroscope
in dynamic equilibrium with your wingspan
whether you're homing to a sacred grove for the night
and your heart is a bell of shadows
or you're one of the good sugars of life
fulfilled by the dawn where all the birds
sound like one harmony, but if you listen a little harder,
they're all out of tune with each other,
this one a bass run and that an arpeggio
on a water flute that can hold a note like a dropp of dew
on the tongue of a blade of stargrass when it wants to.
When the long wavelengths of its tears
aren't breaking ashore like a menagerie of glass horses.

My mystic guestimate is. In the dark beyond
the blazing memes that have yet to light a candle to the stars,
love silvers the harvest of the heart in moonlight
and comes by day with a golden scythe to thresh it,
and an understanding that puts its trust in the future of life
like a windfall of apples swarmed by wasps like a train
that had jumped its tracks, or dozens of whales
were beached overnight and crushed their lungs
under their own weight, though that wasn't as buoyant
as the previous metaphor, nevertheless it's not
an injudicious verisimilitude for what I'm getting at.

If your passion for anything is ferocious enough
sooner or later you're going to meet a nemetic dragon
though I'm sure that's just a dream cloak
for projecting my anxieties onto a blaze
of cold-blooded reptiles with inflammable wings,
and you're going to look deeply into the fangs of its eyes
as if you had to go through this ordeal
to suffer for what you love to prove you're real.
Today I lived like one long mouthless scream.
I could have kicked stars in someone's face.

Too much of a black farce to be the credible dream
of the air corridor I'm trying to sustain
like a black hole to the other side of the hourglass
that's timing all this like a heartbeat of picture-music.
Now I'm writing poetry beside an aquarium
at two in the morning with three goldfish
hovering in their sleep beside me like hummingbirds
gone back to the sea as we all do eventually.
And it feels good to see the likeness in disparate things
and bring them together like the moon on the mindstream,
maple fire dancing to the rhythm of northern water,
and though it's impossible to assess the worth
of what I'm doing as a poet in the twenty-first century
I can feel the compassion of a crazy wisdom
in every feather of light that falls to earth like Icarus.


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, August 25, 2012



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