Patrick White

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

If You'Re Not Walking On The Waters Of Your Own Mind - Poem by Patrick White

If you're not walking the waters of your own mind,
seeing through the eyes in your own blood, you're
in danger of falling through somebody else's mirror
and like one less star in the sky, we're all a little more blind
and there are a lot of eyes out there depending upon your light.

Shine, my friend, shine. Intensify the grey shadows,
the nipping eclipses and blackflies of pestering doubt
until two days of hot sun at the end of May
puts them all out like pitted match heads and asteroids
swarming your atmosphere and orbits like acid rain
trying to make a sea-change. Go pearl-diving deep enough
into the darkness for the singularity at the bottom
of the black hole. And you'll break into
a whole new way of looking at the nightsky
with billions of stars you've never seen before
waiting to greet you at the end of a tunnel of light.

Just as poverty makes me more generous and wealth
diminishes the value of the gift, doubt is merely
a left-handed way of affirming what I deny
as my denial bears witness to the fact that I am
this suspension bridge that sways between one precipice
and another, one breath, one step, one pulse, one leap
from one shore, one peak, one valley, one wavelength,
one extreme to the next. One moment
I'm Hermes Trismegistus firewalking on stars
with a heartfelt message from the gods, and the next
my winged heels catch fire and I'm Icarus falling
like a cinder into the third eye of the sea that's going
to wash me out in the flashflood of the very first tear it sheds.

When you fear the abyss. Turn into space.
If the serpent fire of the dragon begins to feel
like a prophetic furnace of cold ashes you're buried in,
show it how long your eyes have been dancing
like fireflies on a flammable starmap around
the axial Maypole of the vernal earth
and how many times you've immolated yourself
in the starfields like a wild flower that blooms
in its own flames, consumed by desire without being burnt.

Let your song conform to your voice
like the skin of music, like the moon's reflection
to the laryngeal wavelengths of the lake
thriving with subliminal fish that will
jump into your lifeboat of their own accord
as if you were the high note they were trying to hit.

Sing as if you were the first submarine on the moon
to sound the depths of a sea of shadows.
Long before the Impressionists, the sunset
was painting the effect of its own light like burnt sienna
glowing on the cedars and pines at dusk. Write
like midnight and dawn in your own eyes,
not the scenic calendars and schools
of retinal responses to a dying love affair with the light.

Admire the fountains, but seek out the watersheds
of your own efflorescence in the depths of yourself
if you want to shine by your own light
in a darkness that's never been touched
by the sun and the moon and the stars,
and you're the only candle, lighthouse
and constellation it's every known. Shine
like the lantern of a sea star in these depths
long enough and it isn't the lustre of what you see,
though that's not a negligible gift, but the eyes
that evolve out of your lucidity that's the real blessing,
the light upon light of the dark revelation
beyond the obvious mirrors of the moondogs and irises
chromatically abberating the lens at the other end
of the telescope like the eye of a crab
under the carapace of its cretaceous observatory
as if it were enlightened by the flashback of an old acid trip.

The stars don't abjure the black holes
for not shining, and the black holes
don't despise the stars for not going deep enough.
Everything's perennially new under the sun
at every moment of creation, if you open
your eyes wide enough, despite what those see
squinting through seashells in their deathmasks
as if they were hiding something from themselves.

Surrealistically crazy and wisely unrestrained,
the picture-music never uses the same voice twice,
like an oracle never repeats a prophecy
if you weren't listening to it in the first place.
Every morning's a new dance-card. Every night
a standing ovation for the lyrical improvisations
of the wind in the leaves of the willows
and Byzantine silver Russian olives with metal feathers
that never rust, until they want to, down by the river.

Sing your heart out, your eyes, your mind, your blood,
your doubt, your confusion, the evanescent absolutes
of your jubilation, the fireflies of cosmic eurekas in the dark,
the heavy bells of the sorrows you had to abandon
by the side of the road like one room schools and churches
and walk on lonelier and lighter down the road
like the wanderlust of a wayward spirit that blindly trusts
in its own imagination to reveal the hidden harmonies
of chaos as well as the cacophonous dissonance
of conditioned orders of consciousness going to extremes.

The logic of metaphor doesn't move in a straight line
like an interconnected freight train whistling through town
as bars at the railroad crossing come down and go up
like the thresholds of duelling swords on the clock
while jaywalking immigrants cut through a hole in the fence
and have no idea what hour it is, except
none of the dream grammars of their mother tongues
have a past tense, or a table of contents for their solitude.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, January 25, 2013

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