Friday, December 30, 2011

Goodbye in Slow Motion with Those Trees Waving Back



As if these words could alter wind's lucid course
And make the trees wave hello again;



As if the wind had something new to bless,
Confess; that, finally, today's losses were palpable, explicable

Even; as if there were a reason for this self-pity
To descend again like shade


From the maples and lilacs and palms,
The sweet peach and lacquered locust,


Those cherries, chestnuts, and oranges .... It has to be


All of them, all of them
                                   lining those streets whose names I loved:


Calle de la Bonanova, Rue Descartes, Aldstadter Ring,
And further still, Coates and Sharon, which aren't


In Barcelona, Paris, or Prague, but from Sharon Hill, from childhood,
Places that don't exist anymore.


As if childhood were some tourist destination to visit
Off season, walking those sun-stroked sidewalks,


Sipping wine in the street-side cafés, saying hello to those
I'll never know in a tongue I used to know.


As if anyone's history were myth, and that myth an unconditional love
For loss. As if sorry didn't exist,


Any need for sorry.


If only childhood would tell the wind where to go,
If only it had a home.


If only this poem could hold childhood in its hands—
All gnarl-knuckled, chapped, blood-cracked—long enough


To say goodbye, to the bartender in Prague
Who was from Brooklyn, who talked with me awhile


About what home can't mean to him anymore, who got lost
Hiking in the Alpines and "ended up in here somehow, never left.... "


As if childhood's a place never left and never found, never
Said goodbye to;


As if that mattered now, as if there were time enough
To say goodbye to childhood


With all the slowness loss demands;


As if loss and childhood were distinct.



As if there were someone to talk with, walk and smoke with.

Besides, after awhile, we'd feel a need to sleep,
This me and that you I once was,


Our skin chilled a little, turning to gooseflesh a little, swept
By an August breeze weaving its way through the trees.


It doesn't matter, though, does it?
You've already begun to name the trees for yourself.


But feel that?


The trees are waving, too.


I'd like to teach you the names of these trees, to confess
How much I need to miss you to finish this off.


Alexander Long

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pitch

Begin the morning with a stiff
regimen of something 
quick - shake it off.

Have on hand a notebook
a small machine
something you can pull out

on the sly to calculate
the length of a shark tooth at lunch.
Smack your lips, smile large.

A sharpened pencil 
for back-up in case
one has to scribble

a quick cliché for deployment
in a new situation.
Same tactics new fascination.

Employ the use of nicknames
so as not to slip on a banana
peeled off in haste.

Be confident in humility
flex the muscles of growing
unhappiness enough 

no more or less than what you choose
to draw. Use whatever medium suits
each task. Ensure a timely departure

close the door behind you
before a yolk of sun splits and spills.

Monday, December 26, 2011

One Art

One Art
Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.


Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.


Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.


I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.


I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.


--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Alone With Everybody - Charles Bukowski

the flesh covers the bone
and they put a mind
in there and
sometimes a soul,
and the women break
vases against the walls
and the men drink too
much
and nobody finds the
one
but keep
looking
crawling in and out
of beds.
flesh covers
the bone and the
flesh searches
for more than
flesh.

there's no chance
at all:
we are all trapped
by a singular
fate.

nobody ever finds
the one.

the city dumps fill
the junkyards fill
the madhouses fill
the hospitals fill
the graveyards fill

nothing else
fills.

- Charles Bukowski

Gentleman Alone

The young maricones and the horny muchachas,
The big fat widows delirious from insomnia,
The young wives thirty hours' pregnant,
And the hoarse tomcats that cross my garden at night,
Like a collar of palpitating sexual oysters
Surround my solitary home,
Enemies of my soul,
Conspirators in pajamas
Who exchange deep kisses for passwords.
Radiant summer brings out the lovers
In melancholy regiments,
Fat and thin and happy and sad couples;
Under the elegant coconut palms, near the ocean and moon,
There is a continual life of pants and panties,
A hum from the fondling of silk stockings,
And women's breasts that glisten like eyes.
The salary man, after a while,
After the week's tedium, and the novels read in bed at night,
Has decisively fucked his neighbor,
And now takes her to the miserable movies,
Where the heroes are horses or passionate princes,
And he caresses her legs covered with sweet down
With his ardent and sweaty palms that smell like cigarettes.
The night of the hunter and the night of the husband
Come together like bed sheets and bury me,
And the hours after lunch, when the students and priests are masturbating,
And the animals mount each other openly,
And the bees smell of blood, and the flies buzz cholerically,
And cousins play strange games with cousins,
And doctors glower at the husband of the young patient,
And the early morning in which the professor, without a thought,
Pays his conjugal debt and eats breakfast,
And to top it all off, the adulterers, who love each other truly
On beds big and tall as ships:
So, eternally,
This twisted and breathing forest crushes me
With gigantic flowers like mouth and teeth
And black roots like fingernails and shoes.

Translated by Mike Topp 

Pablo Neruda 

from The Book of Questions

III.


Tell me, is the rose naked
or is that her only dress?

Why do trees conceal
the splendor of their roots?

Who hears the regrets
of the thieving automobile?

Is there anything in the world sadder
than a train standing in the rain?


Pablo Neruda

If You Forget Me - Pablo Neruda

I can write the saddest lines tonight.

Write for example: ‘The night is fractured
and they shiver, blue, those stars, in the distance’

The night wind turns in the sky and sings.
I can write the saddest lines tonight.
I loved her, sometimes she loved me too.

On nights like these I held her in my arms.
I kissed her greatly under the infinite sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could I not have loved her huge, still eyes.

I can write the saddest lines tonight.
To think I don’t have her, to feel I have lost her.

Hear the vast night, vaster without her.
Lines fall on the soul like dew on the grass.

What does it matter that I couldn’t keep her.
The night is fractured and she is not with me.

That is all. Someone sings far off. Far off,
my soul is not content to have lost her.

As though to reach her, my sight looks for her.
My heart looks for her: she is not with me


The same night whitens, in the same branches.
We, from that time, we are not the same.

I don’t love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the breeze to reach her.

Another’s kisses on her, like my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body, infinite eyes.

I don’t love her, that’s certain, but perhaps I love her.
Love is brief: forgetting lasts so long.

Since, on these nights, I held her in my arms,
my soul is not content to have lost her.

Though this is the last pain she will make me suffer,
and these are the last lines I will write for her.


Pablo Neruda 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

More and more I find that life is a series of disappearances followed usually but not always by reappearances; you disappear from your morning self and reappear as your afternoon self; you disappear from feeling good and reappear feeling bad. And people, even face to face and clasped in each other's arms, disappear from each other.
  - Fremder

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ladybug

Six months ago I watched a ladybug 
die inside a fluorescent light fixture.

She's still there, unmoving.

My head was tilted back 
into the wash sink, water freezing
cold so as to preserve the colour.

Ladybug, how did you get in there
in the first place? And how could
you not fly your way out again?

When I was a teenager
there was a bridge I had to cross
between school and home

a gravel path freshly dumped.
Suddenly a cat head surrounded by stones
its face terrified - no not terrified

horrifically distorted, a victim
tortured by sick fucks
on their way from school

or was it in broad daylight?  I dug
stones away with my hands raw
saw only skin from the neck down

an odd colour like corned beef
red but not - pink but not -
imagine the sound something makes 

so far away from love.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

"The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot."

-Salvador Dali

"Even though I'm old my heart still aches."

- Under the Tuscan Sun

Unbalanced

Hello hello, I'm at a place called Vertigo
-U2

This time, absorption was quick. 
Either a testimony to strength
or a here we go again.
Life had taught her well enough
was enough.   

The parry, the thrust, the wound
a strategy,  patterns formed into
reasons not to carry hope
on her head like a clay jug full
of sweet nothings.

This time, she would walk away 
carefully balanced, 
repeating don't break
don't break

don't break.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cliché


Overnight, he became 
a horse she could no longer lead 
no matter how thirsty. 

His heart had become as numb 
as a stopped grandfather 
clock erect 
and alone in the hall. 

Her hands were sore from winding 
yet she would 
sit cross-legged 
on the wood floor studying his face 

until well after midnight 
waiting for the hands to move 
balls to drop – 
a chime, a gong, a tick tock. 

Tomorrow she would air out his dirty 
laundry, shake the ants from 
his pants 
fold them neatly, all thumbs. 

Little did she know, she had been 
barking up the wrong tree. 
It would have been best 
to let sleeping 

dogs lie.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Between Two Acts

I am producing a new chapbook titled "Between Two Acts" poems to accompany photographs of Paris at Natalie Knezic's show opening in London Ontario, November 13, 2011.  


All photos by Natalie Knezic of London Ontario.  Poems by me!
Very exciting!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Just More Wind

The wind makes the house creak like an old banjo
being lifted from its case, singing old memories
down chimneys, swirling up the dusty hearth.

Autumn always arrives this way, in an instant
without regard of any need for warmth.  It strips
a tree bare quickly, like an unfamiliar lover strips
a woman that he doesn’t really love at all.  

In this way, one thing ends to let another begin.
A crow sits on top of a telephone pole, feathers
gusting in defiance of winter.  She puts
on the kettle and sighs as it hisses .

Swirling up the dusty hearth, down chimneys
she sings memories like an old banjo being lifted
from its case.  The wind makes the house creak.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Oars Across (A Frightening Wind)



The wind scares me.
Oaring across the street it throws everything off.
A piece of glass teeters precariously.
They say your heart is beating far too fast
when I put my ear to the hollow of your chest it flutters
like a panicked bird after it has hit a plate glass window.

II

The sparrow lies in the mud, black eyes darting, felled, desiring flight.
A tiny mound of brown and grey billowing softly in the scary wind.
Is this what a heart attack looks like?  Crumpled, grey?
Stopped short by sudden impact?

III

The clock turns 9:50 pm, you’re still at work -

IV

The wind outside is frightening.
They say it will die down tomorrow.

V

Your car rolls into the driveway faster than the wind.
I show you the bird rescued from the mud, it lies in the box, still, dumb.
Outside, curtains on the screen house come loose.
The wind is frightening.
Canvas flaps furiously against the bedroom window.

VI

Ten years from now, how will I pour the wine?
Alone in a tattered screen-house
I remember how a thin sheet of glass
stopped a free bird dead.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sidwalks


On the cracked sidewalks of my mind
there’s a question dressed in rags
that begs an answer. 

Every day I pass by, ignoring its tin can
rattle, the pungent smell, need for bread,
water and a roof. 

The question does not want money
only opportunity.  I choose to mute it
with  nonsensical chatter

television, chaos of work, or a bottle
of fine French wine.  In the moments
before sleep I hear it and know

the question will follow me down
into the lucidness of dreams.  There is fear
in listening

to something that howls for freedom.

An animal trapped will chew off its own limb
to gain it.  The answer is simple, the journey –
harsh.  Tomorrow I may stop

realize the sound of my own footsteps
fleeing this earthly trap clear in the knowledge
that survival

with one limb less
will have never felt so good.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Early Mornin' Rain (partial lyrics)

Hear the mighty engines roar
See the silver wing on high
She's away and westward bound
Far above the clouds she'll fly
Where the mornin' rain don't fall
And the sun always shines
She'll be flyin' o'er my home
In about three hours time

This old airport's got me down
It's no earthly good to me
'Cause I'm stuck here on the ground
As cold and drunk as I can be
You can't jump a jet plane
Like you can a freight train
So I'd best be on my way
In the early morning rain

You can't jump a jet plane
Like you can a freight train
So I'd best be on my way
In the early morning rain

- Gordon Lightfoot -

Monday, September 5, 2011

Here or There

One day the ticking that is I will cease.
There will be no creak up the wooden
staircase of my bones, my toes will
no longer curl like tender fiddleheads
when tickled by the foot file.

All the hinged planes of my body, closed or open
will stubbornly refuse entry or exit,
push or pull, heave or heft. I will not notice
the fragrant nosegay of lavender you placed
in my soapstone hands, falsely carved into prayer.

My eyelids, now the texture of onion skin
have been closed to God by mortal fingers.
The only possibility of flight sprouts new
between the rigid yolk of my shoulders.
Soon I will be nowhere near between

- here or there -

and no-one at all will notice
my awkward attempts to lift off
with some last semblance of grace.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Open Season

The autumn wind ripples across the backs of geese
hunched and chilly in the ploughed field
feathers moving like black and white soft dominos.
There is no technology that tells them to move out
hit the road, beat it or get lost, they just know
to lift off when the ground kisses their feet
with lips subtly colder than the day before. 

My phone goes off, its fake cricket ring tone
startles what seems to be a million feather dusters
beating the air clean of blue.  It’s only the drug
store calling to say my prescription has been renewed.
I smile wryly, can sense a headache coming on.
I turn and slowly walk back down the side-road
to my parked car, avoiding goose dung on the way.

I know there is a good chance that some
will make it past tomorrow’s open season.
Decoys gleam on my back seat in the last slant
of afternoon sun, real enough to pluck.



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Imperfect





Clouds rumble in, unexpected house-guests
to an otherwise quiet sky, pushing
through the door of a perfect summer day
to remind us nothing is ever perfect. 
Cloaked in blue grey, under-layed with rain
winds speak in the flap of tarps
rushing oceans of grass
train whistles hanging too long in the wooden air.  

Last year there were promises of return
from faraway places; now faintly evaporated
trails of words catch and crumble
like dry leaves in their annual exodus to grass.
All that is green today will soon be yellow.
We hibernate as deeply as winter bears
while stars unclothe themselves slowly
to a grim, voyeuristic night.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Alone-ku

Alone and drunk
at the top of a hill -
nobody looks like you

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Briefly it Enters, Briefly it Speaks




I am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years. . . .

I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper. . . .

When the young girl who starves
sits down to a table
she will sit beside me. . . .

I am food on the prisoner's plate. . . .

I am water rushing to the wellhead,
filling the pitcher until it spills. . . .

I am the patient gardener
of the dry and weedy garden. . . .

I am the stone step,
the latch, and the working hinge. . . .

I am the heart contracted by joy. . .
the longest hair, white
before the rest. . . .

I am there in the basket of fruit
presented to the widow. . . .

I am the musk rose opening
unattended, the fern on the boggy summit. . . .

I am the one whose love
overcomes you, already with you
when you think to call my name. . . .

- Jane Kenyon -

Blue Guru

There is a bough on the blue spruce
resemblng the face of a guru.  I can see
his form, a hand sprouting a pointed 
finger towards my living room window. 

On calm days the guru sways gently
forgiving my sins.  The sun and shadow
reveal his own shades of grey and he
does not speak, mouth a silent yawn.

Whenever the wind gusts, he gestures
with purpose, stretches closer
wagging a finger, the movement 
of his head revealing displeasure.

These are the days that I am most
observant.  Rain hangs from the prickle
of his beard, saturates his soggy fingertip
bubbles from the end of a piney nose. 

In the nude of winter, he remains clothed,
frozen in memories iced with last year's 
unforgiving, drenched days.  
Perhaps that explains our natural kinship.

We communicate through intemperate seasons,
in little gusts of wind, peeks of sunshine
the empty quiver that is winter.  His hoary 
finger no longer points, only proffers solace. 

Today, the horizon brews rain.
I can count miles between thunder claps.
Soon, blue guru and I will speak again.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Sorting Field

It's mid- August. 
Every man I know 
is sorting something out 
rolling around an idea - 
not talking 
lost in some sort of distress. 
It must be something 
about the change of season 
or a lack thereof 

attempting to match 
mis-matched socks 
or roll pennies into 
brown parchment tubes 
working on panicking 
when they should be 
arranging a rendez-vouz 
that has nothing to do 
with anything other than 
last spring.

There has to be 
more than this early 
September -

there has to be 
more than this.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fly-ku

broken artichoke hearts 
green and glassy on the plate– 
a black fly creeps

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Altars

It all falls apart
at the knees. 
  

Too much 
bending 
weeding 
kneeling 
falling 

at the feet 

of lovers 
unworthy 
weed-filled 
gardens 
false god 
promises 
posing 
rock stars 
hoping 
for 

suddenly 

it’s all 
too much 
knees give way 
freely 
no use 
standing 
no need for 
canes 
walkers 
support 

smile 
fall softly 

too many altars 
so little time