My Oldest Enemy

I was low last night.
I don’t know why.
The words would not come
To form a night I wanted to sleep in.

So I stared at a blank wall
And watched it become
Only wall,
It loved nothing.

I rushed out into the night
And found only a street,
Not death,
Not the echo of compassion,

Not even a dismal hedgehog
Nuzzling the mane of the wounded earth.
I put on my coat,
Pockets filled with used up solitude,
And walked and walked.

I don’t know what I wanted,
A voice, a breast, a crime,
The outbreak of a new war.
I was looking for the source of my ache,

In the silent doors
And the shuttered windows,
In the gardens with their flowers
Closed like the fists of women.

I was low,
And there was no origin,
No starting point of my sadness,
There was no woman to blame,
No wrong, no mistake.

There was only this vast night,
Night of dogs,
Night of flowers,
Filled with the destruction of voices,

Night that I could not sleep in,
Like the bed of my oldest enemy.

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On Street Corners

Have you ever noticed how sometimes at night
the street slowly skulks home up the hill, alone and
head down, whistling to itself,
because the moon went its own way, three blocks back.
I look up, at the corner,
and the boys are passing by in their loud cars,
loud lives going to parties
where girls are probably waiting,
in T-shirts and jeans,
with music and shoes and dreams
made in sizes just for them,
waiting for the bottles of beer
the boys will bring,
offerings of love for their doomed youth.
There in a moment,
continents of lives whirring past my quiet eyes.
Have you ever noticed how sometimes in the night,
the trees shrug their shoulders on street corners,
and bury their chins in bushy collars,
and whistle alone,
because the moon and the world and the dogs
have already quit,
are not listening anymore,
have slipped off to other parties.

Night Poem XXIII

Night of my ingrate tongue,
I want it all,
I want the sky to stop my lungs.

Do you remember how
I demanded everything impossible from you, night?
I sat upon your voluptuous cushions
like an indolent vizier.

I swallowed the whimpers of a thousand adulterers,
I demanded the towers of my oldest enemies,
and sent for the harpist, the lyre.
And before long I had sucked the marrow
from all the stars.

And you just looked at me, and grinned,
you, night of my ingrate tongue.
And instead of kingdoms, continents,
dawns, eternities,
I had discovered the loneliness that is love’s core.

Night Poem XIX

Night of desolation,
you reduce me to this,
husk of a crippled light.
I was a man,
and man is a beast of the day,
filled out like a coat without substance.

I was a man,
and man is a word, no more than a whimper,
in your dark amphitheater.
Why do you strip me of everything,
save these two ancient aches, death and love?

Alone by your silent lake,
pure amplifier of my id,
I fear only death, its totemic heartbeat,
its beckoning festivals.

Alone in your infinite vault,
I remember only lost loves,
the luxuriant spider of a vengeful heart,
the torrid, teasing skin of sudden memory.

Night, you destroyer of my sunlit facades,
I am remade with every dark hour,
the perfected image of your
adamantine agonies.

Night Poem XVI

Who hurt you, night?
Who was it that gave you your melancholic gait?
The suffering of the void became too much for you, didn’t it?
And so you came down here and entered me,
and all the others like me.
Then you could bear the weight of your own heart again.

Now the night dwells in me
like a duke alone in his chateau.
And he wanders from room to room,
speaking gruffly to himself,
and stands at windows,
and turns away with an involuntary smile.

And he fills me with the primordial memories
of ruined love,
of all the love that came and went long before me,
the love that became the night’s blue hurt.
Night, my tenant,
I listen to your afflictions with an ear pressed inward,
and what I translate becomes my strength.

Night Poem XIII

You, my most terrifying friend,
I have needed you before all others.
When the women in my life
pained me with a broken shard of perfume,
I sought you in the moonlit streets,
and we would converse
in wide arcs of anger and solitude.
Being a morose man, I needed your dark humour.
And when the world took its too solid forms,
as if to spite me,
and the day threatened me with
a well laid plan,
I would come to you,
my oldest, most terrible friend,
wine bottle tucked under my sleeve,
ready to erase the edges of what I was becoming,
and you would remind me of what is essential;
the absurdity of the moon,
the chaos in my heart.

Night Poem VIII

The night is a stained basin,
and a hot bulb that grins over me
like a hitman.

Down the drain come voices
of lead centuries,
of sexual hurt,
of girls in love with their eyes.

The pipes are clogged with
hair and bad love.

And the night holds me to the mirror
like another failed experiment,
the third this week,
like a cautionary tale for earnest youth.

Because the girl has left me,
because the night is terrifying and young,
I seek the medicine that brings the
heaviest lids,

I seek a way to become
new on the cold ceramic tiles.

The hours drip from me now,
the deepening acceptance
that nothing is waiting on either side of the divide
of night and mountain.

Shivering,
I rest my forehead on the
stained basin,
with a childlike desolation,
I wait for her,
I wait for exhaustion.