Patrick White

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

Sweet As A Summer Night You Were - Poem by Patrick White

wild and beautiful, astonishing as the stars
through an open window, simple and stylish
as a single-petalled rose, amorous as
a strawberry as brash as it was shy,
and you had a literary bent for fucked up poets
inspired by the succubi that drank from their hearts
like bloodbanks that paid high dividends
without taking much of a creative risk
you’d get thorns in your mouth
from eating too much cactus. Dangerous
fragrance of a forbidden flower in the dark
that cursed you in the same breath it blessed you in,
what misery and mystery of the nymph phase
wasn’t mythologically attributable to you and the moon?

And that dark side? When your eyes would cloud
with the ghosts of old transgressions from
the firepits that made a lunar mindscape of your soul,
and I’d sit like a circumspect mammal quietly
out of sight listening to Jurassic Park amp up at night
as if I were some iota subscript at the foot of a species
worthy of my wary respect, did you even know
why you penumbrally slipped into an eclipse
of the new moon sometimes and looked at me
like the sign language of another eyeless night?

I loved you like the nocturnal side of life.
You were the asterisk that alerted me
to something stirring in the urns and furnaces
of my starmud firing up the ashes in the kilns
I was tempered in like a waterclock of wombs
hardening into a new alloy of water and fire
like a sword no one before me had fallen upon.

It wasn’t easy keeping my edge around you.
I didn’t want to be blunted like something
sleazy on the moon that couldn’t draw first blood
if it wanted to, and when did I ever, then or since?

Part of the art of loving a rose with a black heart
is not to disarm it of its thorns, or put on a crown
and a crucifix like a sacrificial king on a hill of skulls.
I always sat in the corner with my back to the wall
when I went out with Calamity Jane,
but one look at you and I knew I was holding
the Queen of Spades. Digging my own grave
on Boot Hill, knowing it would kill me to call your bluff
and because I loved you enough I never did
and bit the bullet through the back of my head
like the ricochet off your last relationship with the dead.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, July 1, 2013

Poem Edited: Monday, July 1, 2013

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