Crazy Man Dancing With Fireflies

Poem By Patrick White

Crazy man dancing with fireflies.
Another one trying to shoot out the stars.
I hear the woman next door weeping again tonight.
I don't know what for.
Desire's a phoenix in love with water
if that's what it is.
The torch is plunged into the wound
to stop the bleeding
and the ashes get carried away.
I've loved nine women for years
and they've all buried me in a different place.
Or saved my skull to consult the dead
about a future that wasn't living up to the moment.
The white poppy of the moon
bats her eyelashs through the pines.
I've never been as innocent as a cynic
nor quite as susceptible
but I remember the pain of separation
like the mirror of the lake remembers lightning
as the most brutal of all its revelations.
And how you can walk in and out of some doors
all your life like faces
without ever opening them
or knowing whose they are.
Everybody longs for the threshold they haven't crossed.
Poor stars trying to live up to their radiance.
Wondering why it's always behind them.
Why the dreamcatchers never get finished
and love ends up like some kind of cold fish
swimming through endless windows.
Music from far across town
this late at night
like a ghost answering a seance.
It rises above the trees like smoke
and disappears into the moonlight.
Someone's trying to bloom in fire.
It happens but it's rare.
I take a firewalk down memory lane
but all my cremations seem no more to me now
than the shadows of candles
and though I feel intimately removed
this afterlife of mine is not scar tissue
whether things got over me
or I got over them
no matter.
Attachment too is a Buddha activity
and though passions that once
made even the trivial sacred
and the impossible slight
have transformed
the hot blue flame of their hydrogen
into the carbon and oxygen
of more sustainable intensities
the selflessness of my impersonality
is not aloofness or indifference or exemption
or the consolation of wisdom won by acclamation.
Time distills the spirit out of all things human
and you can delight in your past
as if it were the future of someone else
who lives it like the unfolding
of leaves in the spring
that shadow the ripening apple
until it tastes like the tears of the autumn sun.
Joy and compassion
and the lucid spontaneity
of staying improbably ageless
again and again and again and again
as the years rejoice in the young and old alike
climbing the ladder of the tree
from so far down in the dark earth
they're beyond the reach of its ancient roots
and the utmost of its aspirant branchs
scratching at the windows of heaven.
And then most amazing of all
someone comes to the window
and parts the veils
and like the last line of the last act
just before the curtain call
you fall.
You fall toward paradise
as if you'd failed
and had to do it all over again.
But if your heart needs healing
offer your love up like a transplant
to anyone who can use it
and your mystic eyes to the stars
that want to see through them
what their light looks like
from deep inside
the expanding vastness within you
that can hold all that shining
like the sky or the sea embraces
all kinds of its own weather
without ever overflowing the brim.
The skull you drink from
like a wishing well
in the desert watersheds of the dead
is a cup without a horizon.
A real mirage with imaginary water.
A seabed of shadows on the moon.
Low-tide at noon.
Providential midnights when it's full.
But if you don't like
what you've been hearing about yourself lately
when you stop to listen
to what your saying
and don't recognize the voice
you're speaking in as your own
hold your ears up like conch shells to the oceans
that have never heard a recording of themselves
and carefully watch their faces.
And if you make the same stupid mistake
you swore not to make again
learn to recycle your ignorance
so you can save a bit of wisdom
for the rest of the world
to remember what it was like once
to be alone in Eden
with no one else to rely upon
and all you had to add
to the conversation of the rivers
that flowed out of it
all you had to share with your solitude
and boundless emptiness
was your unanswerable longing
even as it was being shaped
by their waters
into the form of the unimaginable.
Into the form of a woman
who tasted then
and tastes forever now
of the original light
of spontaneous creation
however many worlds
and lives and years and nights had to pass
before you first saw her
and felt your afterlife condense into a star.
Crazy man dancing with fireflies.
Crazy man dancing with fireflies.
And it doesn't matter
there's no one here
to understand my delight.
Crazy man dancing with fireflies.
It's hard to read me in so little light
but when you fall asleep
it's the world that dreams
and though I feather the wind
with firebirds of desire
and write loveletters
long into the night
that grow like the graceful tendrils
of ink dissolving in water
whatever the sign of the season
there's no bitterness in the vine
and no departure in the reason.
Though I'm a leaf with the wingspan of autumn
even in the dead of winter
the phoenix is green
and by late summer
there's a crazy man out dancing with fireflies
down by the Tay River
who is too carried away
by the picture-music
of what he hears with his eyes
and sees with his ears
of all that he's been and will be
alone together with everyone forever
in love and out
full cup and empty
eclipsed and forgotten
or charged with the radiant urgency
of fireflies after the rain
to care what any of it might mean
when they fire the valley up for a moment
like blasting caps in a beaver dam
that's flooded the road.
And everything's so nimble with light
so vital and effusive with joy
so mysteriously near and always
all darkness all pain all sorrow
all that's lost and weary
and fearful of ever being found again
of being loved or despised
is absorbed blameless into bliss
like a tender intimacy
into a great vastness
that lives within us all
even as we disappear into it
like the sky in the heart of a bird.
Or just before the soft flare of moonrise
through the leafless veils
of the glowing birchgroves
on that far hilltop
where the pioneers
used to bury their boys with a view
a night just like this
as illusory as it is real
suffused with a spirit of water
that heals the wounded swords
the bruised flowers
the fevered promises
that are offered to it from the bridge
between this shoreless delirium
and the next.
A presence that's always flowing away
like a mindstream among the stars and fireflies
with the power of time
and the effortless wisdom of change
that makes the going stay
and the perishing persist.
A night just like this.
A momentary kiss
that keeps faith
with the eternal flames of the fireflies
that adorn the darkness and waters of life
with indefinable joy
in the exuberance of the mystery
and unspeakable trust in the onceness of forever
and an abiding intuition
that even the fiercest thorns of pain
that have tasted first blood
and greyed the hearts of their lovers
can never be estranged
from the beauty of the rose.
A night like this
The great abyss
lucidly alive with its own shining
and a woman's eyes
and a crazy man dancing with fireflies.

Comments about Crazy Man Dancing With Fireflies

Patrick White, You have the skill and I like to read your poem, but the long poem may make people to get bored. Well written.


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