Patrick White

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

Not Sitting Here Trying To Flint Knap The Splinters Of A Mirror - Poem by Patrick White

Not sitting here trying to flint knap the splinters of a mirror
into Clovis points for pygmies to go hunting mammoths with.
Maybe if I can make them small enough to go on Twitter
or Facebook, two minutes with a hook in the imagination
and I might be able to make of a little stardust, a big constellation
of gaping fish dying of thirst beside a freshwater lake.
I might make a big splash, like Basho's frog,
for the lifespan of a haiku in prime time for nitwits.
I want to lay my vision out like a surrealistic starmap,
I don't want some lazy idiot laying its egg on my forehead
like a carnelian, or worse, a contact lens on my third eye
to cure my astigmatism by eating little peep holes in my vision.

I don't want a news feed for an intravenous muse
spoon feeding me whatever she wants me to hear
like a distant rumour of inspiration running like an opioid
at the end of a morphine drip with fangs.
Beauty's not an ephemerid, nor the truth
a media fashionista on a catwalk, or an anchor's desk,
that doesn't so much as illuminate and deepen
the darkness and the light, but distract the heart with agiprop
and show off its lipstick as if Van Gogh just ate his paint again.
God bless the insane glorious souls dying alone in vain
as the old order changeth and giveth way to the new
and the language of the spirit that expressed itself
in a grammar of wildflowers breaking into a purple passage
of New England asters, is all thorns but no roses
on a bouquet of razorwire that was born without leaves
but still fits the brow of some silly poetling like Apollonic laurel
for having enough money to buy a good book review
if you don't have the breasts or the chest or the talent
to get it for free.

Why make a mockery of the lie poetry used to be
when yours is so trivial and petty your pretty snowflake
is going to piss in its pants if it ever encounters
an emotional blizzard or a spiritual avalanche?
And that little night light of yours you keep on
like a dream journal beside the bed, isn't going
to seed the darkness with stars when all you've got to sow
is artificial sugar and organic sea salt. And even then,
you're not Carthage, though you share the same impotence.
What does the candle know of the calling
of a lighthouse on the moon, waiting for light years
or why the foghorns are always in mourning
for the ghost ships it exorcises with a warning
not to come near, or its all downhill from here to the bottom
of a housewell with the literary ambitions of a black hole
the fireflies won't come to sip from without going out
because they won't drink from any fountain mouth the stars don't
and you haven't even gotten drunk on the blood
of your own skull yet, singing by a river to a moonrise.

Let the strong rope unravel as it will into a million weak threads
clinging like a mountain to a spider web, or a spinal cord
that's never been frayed like the delta of a river or a mindstream
that can smell the great nightsea of awareness up ahead,
or even a shoelace passing like a needle through an eyelet.
The planet's on fire, this is Dresden, this is Hamburg,
this is Gaza in a squall of white phosphorus, this is the inferno
that sweeps you off your feet like a whirlwind of igneous Sufis
and evaporates your eyes like dew off the grass in a flash
of inflammable insight that not even your guru or your shrink
are fireproof enough to live through this astronomical catastrophe.
And you, you want to write and tell me, in poems
that make me want to ask them to come over and do my hair as well
how domestically troubled you are by the pebble in your shoe.
You blindfold yourself with a no smoking sign
in front of a firing squad that thinks it might be a good career move
to make a literary martyr out of you like James Joyce
going blind in Trieste while Ezra Pound
sends him cabbages and shoes to survive on.

Bathetic, trivial, irrelevant and effete, you think
it's radical not to explore the roots of things
like an underground fire in a valley of cedars,
or immolate yourself like the sumac in the fall
hoping to ignite an Arab spring in the middle of your perishing.
Two parachutes on your back, and one in the trunk of the car,
and still you won't jump, even when the stars
are underneath you expecting you to join in the firewalk
and Icarus hands you a fire-extinguisher
and says, here, put them out if things get too hot.


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 28, 2012



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