The Empowered Poet Gets No Sleep
The empowered poet gets no sleep.
by Patrick White
There are lines written on his forehead
that his eyes must see in the dark.
Time, destiny, the shells he shucked
for the pearls of the moon
in the middens of his heart.
Spring moves like serpent fire
through the xylem and phloem
of the wild apple tree breaking into blossom
like the voice of a forgotten lover
recanting her long denial.
Soon the lilacs tinting the air
with the fragrance of guest-room pillow cases
embroidered with the memories of old women
spinning the threads of fate
they snap between their teeth,
and swept wing swallows in a ballet
of aeronautics dedicated to survival
when the gnats and flying ants are dancing
like globular starclusters in the sunset
above the tarpaper roof tops.
He waits for words he dropped in the fall
to reach the bottom of his wishing wells
like an echo of birds in the tree rings
of his heartwood carved into fledgling arrows
fletched like the fountainheads of twilight comets
smudging the western sky like chalk
on a blackboard starmap of fireflies.
The silence talks to the ghosts
at the seance of his crowded solitude
and his tears are spiked with flavours of laughter
wadded under his desk like dead gum
that school him in the labyrinths of the Thus Come
as he freefalls through the cracks
of what he had to do and what was done
by a human standing in the shadow of God
like a single-petalled sundial in the middle
of an abandoned garden that loved him
and loved him not. Love's a waterbird
that drowns in the sky of the mind
and falls back to earth, its feet on the ground,
its heart in the stars, the liberated lyric
of its disappointed cry, the art of scars.
He looks in the mirror to watch his face
thaw like a candle tallowed from old dreams
as his vision of himself breaks up
like deconstructed ice-sheets on a bottomless lake,
the crumbs in the corners of his eyes,
all that's left of his loaves and fishes,
his three wishes, as he loops his e's
like nooses around the necks of the lesser selves
of his small i's like a moonrise reflected on water
as the particle of the point he was trying to make
turns into wavelengths of shedding feathers
as if he just had a pillow fight with moonlight
when no one else was watching him.
He's uplifted by his vertigo on the stairwell
of the wind like a leaf in ecstasy where X
marks the spot of the secret treasure
he's buried in like a coffin of underworld jewels
he's swimming through like the midnight sun at sea
drowning in a flashback of insights and afterlives
he only gets to see through the eyes of the dead.
He's omnidirectionally orientated like a Sufi
who's wheeled down many crossroads
every step of the way to self-annihilation
in a long lifetime of rapture and extinction
where the ecliptic and the celestial equator meet
in a dust storm of stars like whirling dervishes
spiralling off into space in golden ratios
of sunflowers, seashells and Andromeda galaxies
unchained from their rocks by a white horse with wings
and a hero who holds a mirror up to nature
like a snakepit that could turn him to stone in a flash
or a lover that went Medusan on him
in a nightmare that's lasted for lightyears.
So many things he wanted to know,
he's wise enough now not to ask
and let the answers come to him
before he's even framed the questions
under glass like diving bells trying
to get the bottom of his wishing wells,
like the longing of nightbirds in echoless valleys,
or words stuck in his throat like creosote.