The Cleaving Tree

The Cleaving Tree

“The cleave form—
is a contranym”

last night—the tree dreamed me
the world tree—deep inside me
cleaved me again—down the middle
no longer out there—the hoh river valley
the singing cicadas—fleets of seagulls
they were all gone—it was just me
I was yggdrasil—cleaved world tree
split down—the middle of me
like a cracked lobster—opening up
from sternum to—bellybutton
invisible hole—in my broken heart
murmuring down there—to itself
I thought it was—singing cicadas
seagulls eagles—kingfishers crows
feasting in the forest—flying overhead
but it was really—just me
being cleaved—by the world tree
the roots and branches—inside me
the language—that was a tree
the tree—that was me
the cleavage—had begun

The Dying Tree

“I am a doctor
yet I see death

the cleaving tree—inside me
was murmuring—a secret message
just for me—but I couldn’t hear it
it was my doppelganger—of death
and when my cardiologist—told me
I didn’t believe him—at first until
he put the stethoscope—to my chest
and said listen—listen to the
murmuring tree—deep inside me
and what I heard—was the whooshing
of death itself—the backwash of blood
that was killing me—making me weak
the heart of the tree—that was me
veins and ventricles—dying dead done
you can hear it—a block away he said
and so they anesthetized—the tree in me
cut me open—from clavicle to bellybutton
replacing the throbbing me—that hurt
that made me weak—so i couldn’t breathe
the calcified valve—fluttering in blood
the stormy kansas sky—my tornado me
showing me—on the endoscopy screen
the thing that was killing—the tree in me

The Healing Tree

“The concept was already
within me, it was inevitable”

they cleaved the tree—inside me
the murmuring of death—that was me
and I dreamed—of another world
it was my doppelganger—double trouble
and when I woke up—I wasn’t me
I was lost in—the house of pain
a mansion with—many dark rooms
many dark rooms—waiting for the other
teaching me—what I surely didn’t know
nor did I want to know—the hell inside
cut bones, split muscles—bloody nerves
it was all a big mistake—I said to myself
wishing I’d never—made the choice
it sounded so simple—just a valve job
a mere tune-up—and you’ll be brand new
but it wasn’t that easy—pain-killers don’t
kill the pain—pain had its own plans for me
and for a week—pain pinned me down
like an Indian swami—to a bed of nails
I screamed silently—beneath a moon
a thousand nights—Maria Ouspenskya werewolves
no longer a man—more a wounded animal
and they saved my life—for another day

The New Tree

“I was planning a novel
in which two different
species on another world
needed to communicate,
one by light and image,
the other by sound & word”

they cleaved me—back again
I don’t know how—but they did it
one into two—then two into one
the two that was—too much for me
the two that was one—troubling me
a unique collaboration—doubling me
the denouement of one world—dying
this exsanguination—of another world
all that was not me—my own doing undone
this strange doubling—this unique
collaboration of light & image—joining
sound and words—heads & tails
pairs of I Ching coins—yin yang
tossed in the air—thrown on a rug
split down the middle—joined as one
a pair of trigrams—magic hexagram
t’ai / peace—my laughing bellybutton
rubbing buddha’s belly—making a wish
for me it was—the new me
goodbye to all that—that wasn’t me
there in bed—new jonah and lazarus

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