Patrick White

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

I'M Going To Stare - Poem by Patrick White

I'm going to stare the sweet, white oblivion
behind the purity of this page down
until it breaks its vow of silence
like the hymen of a nun
and there are little scarlet letters
of red-blooded apostasy
lying like rose petals all over the snow.
I'm going to track birds all over this page
like the linearity of an unknown Etruscan alphabet
everybody's trying to translate into their native language
like the lozenge of a sacred syllable
that disappears on their mother tongue
like the first spring thaw of the year.
I don't care if the hunters in my rear view mirror
scratch their heads at the strange signs they're tracking,
I'm going to expand their vocabulary
with beasts that have never appeared
on anyone's wall before.
I'm going to teach the Neanderthals
to paint like Hieronymus Bosch.
I don't really care if it means anything
because someone somewhere
is going to interpret it as something.
So I'm going to follow the circuitous blossoming
of my own mindstream ignoring
the sexually frustrated logic of those who think
if you link a lot of empty words like cattle cars
up in a row syntactically
somehow that makes you a grapevine
and the smell of diesel is not that far off
from the bouquet of the industrial wine
you think you can serve up to Dionysus
without having him spit you out of his mouth.
Doesn't bother me if a lot of half-wits
want to break their brains
trying to see what the other one means
biting into black walnuts
like the prophetic skulls of Rinzai koans,
this is my poem
and it's going to mean what it sees.
I'm going to ride this wavelength of insight out
until it breaks like the arm of a spiral galaxy
on the shores of sunny California.
I wouldn't abuse the prayer mats of those
who want to touch their knees
and foreheads to the ground
like the landing gear of space modules
making a lunar touchdown
but I'm going to ride this poem out like a flying carpet
as if the direction of prayer were everywhere
and nowhere at all at the same time.
I'm going to veer, bank, soar, and glide
down the bannisters of my own thermal stairwells as I will
and let the wild, unwed daughters
of joy and freedom move me as they will
like a red-tailed hawk until the air cools down
in the late summer sunset above the abandoned fields
rumpled as unmade beds with bruised pillows
and Venus is the first to carry her radiant candle
down the long darkening hall to bed.
I'm going to do a ghost dance on the moon.
I'm going to leave my footprints heaped up
like junkmail that found its way back to your threshold
like a cat that you just can't get rid of.
I didn't learn to go on the warpath
like Sitting Bull or Geronimo
by following the footsteps painted on the floor
of a Fred Astaire dance studio.
This poem's going to expose
the sterling lies of the good guys
and undermine the romantic myths
of their anti-heroes like house flies.
Profusion of white, albino prairie
I'm not going to just sit here
staring at this empty page like the first time
I saw the cover of the Beatles' white album
and my first wife on acid.
I'm not going to o.d. on all this white
rejectionism that sticks its nose up
at all colours of the rainbow
or look at it like the last thing a junkie sees
like an overexposed flashback of his life
before he passes out permanently
like a snow globe that's learned to breathe underwater.
I'm not going to freeze to death
like a blizzard in a syringe.
I'm going to piss on it and bleed on it
and cast my shadow upon it
like an extra dimension
that knows how to stand up for itself
like a heretic at the fire stick of a stake
who rubbed all that's suspiciously
homogeneous and pure about death the wrong way
just to get something going
that would spread like wild fire
and leave a mark upon life as indelibly black
as this page is intolerably white.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 14, 2012

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