Patrick White

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

Quietly And Like A Thousand Other Times - Poem by Patrick White

Quietly and like a thousand other times,
I want to go. I don't know where. It doesn't matter.
This moment now is as homeless as it gets.
You can have all the entrances, I'll take the exits.
Been so long I don't trust what happiness
would turn me into now, though I think
it's just as stupid to despair. I've let go
of the crows and doves of my emotions,
the quantum insanity of my thought experiments,
and if I ever had dreams, they're lost atmospheres by now
like a childhood among the asteroids
that happened astronomically to someone else.

I started out on a qrailquest, a maculate clown,
a partial fool, and though I stayed in the shadows
of my right-brained peripheral vision, more
a magic circle than a halo, I kept my third eye
out for it in passing. Strange how time mutates
the journey without losing the narrative theme
of the original psychodynamic. Now
I'm drilling for oil on the moon like the watershed
of a full eclipse and I'm no more averse
to the darkness as I was to the light. Either way
there's more sincerity in being lost than in being
insufferably found. However rough the storm
who ever comes to the aid of a lighthouse
with a heart as empty as a lifeboat and says
hey, get in, we'll be swept out to sea together
where the earth can't threaten either of us anymore?

Doesn't happen. Much. There's something fatuous
about security that takes your edge off like a keel
and leaves you bobbing on an inner tube way out
of your depths and your legs dangling
like participial jellyfish out of the mouth of Satan
like Brutus in the coldest ditch of Dante's Inferno.
For lightyears I've practiced the furious discipline
of a purposeless art, and betrayed myself
in the name of compassion for the beautiful absurdity
of celebrating the immensity of my own impoverishment.
I passed the test I set for myself like a stranger
at a dangerous gate to prove I was still sincere
in my own eyes. And even when I suspected a trap,
still, I was a wild shepherd of wolves in the wilderness,
and I hopped the fence. Intense as a wounded exile.

As soon as anyone starts explaining themselves to me,
I immediately hear the bells of faithful alibis.
Unfamiliar demons arise like infidels of the truth
and I'd rather follow last night's wolf moon down
below the treeline, than cry over another fool's lies.
Not bitter, not overjoyed, my curiosity amused,
given how little hope there is for any of us,
I'd still rather err with the largesse of dragons
who know more about shining and burning
than the fire blossoms of a thousand Chinese box-kites
looking for the ley lines on tinfoil starmaps
that never lead anyone astray creatively, least of all,
stop longing for the more subliminal phases and shadows
of Venus on a moonless winter night at perihelion.

Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference
between artifice and a genuine sacrifice
but it's a matter of taste whether you want
bubbles in your poetry breaking the surface
like effervescent sacred syllables at a seal hunt
coming up for air, or add your breath
to the nucleation of new worlds in hyperspace
by going along with the drift, the gist, the flow,
the probable concourse, the aniconic fractal,
the supersymmetrical elaboration of the rococo,
loading every rift with ore like John Keats,
or the wound of a rikku teacup at a Chanoyu
ceremony for the taste of Zen with mended gaps of gold.

If you're still too distinct to tolerate life with a smile,
at least try not to wince, and pray for a day
when your facial expressions are not in the name
of trying to better anything that isn't spontaneous.
You can call it mind, form, matter, and then,
you can reverse the spin into the opposite
thought, the annihilant emotion, and achieve
spiritual immolation in a rapture of nirvanic self-destruction.
Nihilism when it isn't in vogue as fashionable sentiment
looks at the world and says it's empty as if
something were there that isn't anymore, an absence
that let the meaning leak out through their pores.
The little green apples of disappointment are sour
but if you hang around long enough, the return journey
is sweeter than the first, and disappointment
gets drunk with the wasps in the decaying taverns
plying the windfalls of dusk with nectar and ambrosia.

When things go supernova creatively, it's not the end
of anything. It's just one prelude over the line
like the Big Bang before it was wired for sound
like one hand clapping and all the lights going on
when you enter the house of life late at night
like a stray thought in your mother's head
that nudges one stray photon into a collaborative avalanche
of interdependently originated genetic chain reactions.
You can be an inert gas and light up like a flavour
of neon or argon, with a fixed address
at the candy store of a highway motel, or more
significantly radioactive like a heavy metal
you can shine like an enfant terrible orphaned
by your own catastrophe in the name of art
as the potted plants wither on your lethal windowsills
for the lack of deuterium, and the waterclock
glows in the dark like a small zodiac on a stopwatch.

There's no lack of fraudulent embassies ready
to forge a false passport with a name and a face
into countries that don't exist without a border and a map,
but in all the years of my transits and zeniths, nadirs
and pain thresholds, gates, doorways, taboos,
dares, taunts, threats, holy wars and peaceful defeats
without any regrets, I've secured my passage
by exploring spiritually poetic realms without
a lack of identity in a universal mindscape
that doesn't have one separate from everything else
for fear I'd give myself away as an imposter.
Why sip from the waters of life when
you can gulp the ocean whole in every drop?
Quick, quick, said reality to the passenger pigeon.
Humankind cannot stand too many birds.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, January 30, 2013

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