Sunday, June 28, 2015

initiation, i (too young to throw the self completely from the self)

his bedroom smelled of shadows and someone else's darkness

when he leaned down into her it was both through invitation and repulsion

little deaths flew out from her dark caverns, ghosts in black cloaks, from grottoes she didn't know existed

then teeth and claws dragged him forward and thrashing back down into her voracious hunger

there was pain, pain like a fact, occupying the region of her pelvic girdle like a knife's bone handle

and then there was death everywhere, death

and a small trinkling of bright red blood flashing into the folds of bedclothes

it wasn't personal

she had been called to leave the command of herself and had entered the handing over

a new woman lost in the stumbling forward thrust of -

where am i?


initiation, ii (old enough to have given up on the self)

outward she poured herself

out through the bed clothes 

into the cracks of the ceiling

following the pencil-lined estuaries to the landscape beyond paralleloform

old enough to know there was nothing to be gained, nor even given

yielding, no longer occupied, kernel riven

it wasn't personal but absolutely imperative that it flowed out from her 

then he skulked, forward, man-shrined sepulcher, over the horizon

and entered her region, unopposed, dispersed

a surprise to them both - 

they sang and they sang like birds unveiled in an unseen forest

Saturday, June 27, 2015

notes from last night's drive

i am driving down river road. the river is onyx and folded, a surface of foil. a murder of black crows pulverizes, through weight, the top of a fledgling pine. hawks hunt wide fields. sandhill cranes strut slowly through dust. while america, just south of me, beyond all hope (for i had given up) is busy changing.

Friday, June 26, 2015

the sweater

i have lost the shiny button from my sweater
it's mixed up with the pebbles and the bird scratch
i have utter trust it's here, somewhere near my feet
for i know my sweater, sweat pink and thick, constancy
and i know it had a button, the button like memory of body
and i know i lost it
see, i see its absence as its seat—

so acutely, the loss of the old world, for me
but not only my own childhood 
for i feel (and believe) 
that all children have lost something
as they stumble about with sweaters flapping open
from door to door
none searching near his feet

a window covered in rain and time
i could weep; i do weep
a gravel road, the crunch of feet, sweetgrass scent's soft release
if it is nostalgia—then the whole world has lost it
the world a dull boy now
with a sloppy open sweater
with holes for pockets.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

notes on beards, bodies and corpses

the other day while i was working in the shop marissa's father, a beautiful sad man who we have not seen since his daughter's funeral, came by. he looked a little like a new man. after all those years of being a clean shaven father, he had grown a beard. those around me at the shop teased him a little for his new facial hair. small echoes went out into the aisles of goods which would be spoken softly later but injuriously as judgement. they did not like this change.

why on earth might we judge anyone for something as unavoidable as hair?

marissa, a sprite of a girl, had, over the years that i had known her, short red hair, blue and purple electric hair, long strawberry blonde dreadlocks, and then baldness from chemotherapy.

he touched his bearded chin and laughed a little but there was no real fooling anyone. his eyes remained terribly sad.

i spoke up and joked how in my forties now i am fighting the stain of a mustache. who might avoid the onward march of hair in all its aberrations and indiscretions!

the woman manager touched my shoulder, an unusual breech of etiquette for her in her coldness, and with a smile condemned me for admitting women grow hair in such places. poor poor erin (poor mentally deranged erin), she has no filter.

and i haven't. and i don't want. and why should we?

when will we learn we are, in effect, our bodies, and they - the master of us.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

american goldfinch

approaching the back door the view through the window opens up 
and i see a perfect replication of an American Golfinch perched on top 
the outer loop of my tomato plant structure, the cage of metal bracing 
to give form to what will be cast upward in lobes of fruit from root.
my first thought is, when did i buy such a curious little statue? 
and then, who else might have bought it and placed it there?
you see, it is so congruous with the sweep of the lip of the loop, 
like a planet bulging in its natural orbit  (and we think we can see planets and orbits;
its in our minds like reality because of the models we've created, sculpted and sold, 
laid to rest unwanted in attic boxes - but owned), its convincing fat little belly projected, 
its neck curved just as the real bird would have it, its yellow ceramic. 

and then it moves. it's real.
and the illusion that we might buy, own and place anything resembling reality 
is ruptured.

essay: decline of empire in the dark ages of america

Sunday, June 21, 2015

youth deluded by the size of his man hands

things which used to please you:
the music of insects
hefting throwing digging dirt
stones pebbles and river water
and pockets plundering and secreting away
a bird overhead
its shadow down below
wheels wheels anything on wheels
tiny wild strawberries a surfeit in your little hand

Saturday, June 20, 2015

the not a feminist feminist

weight and counterweight:

and so if i am down and i want to go up:
   i affect you

sunset vagina, moonrise breasts, swelling band of abdomen
   a mountain needs a valley

but dear sweet world, beloved
   i want a partner, not a conqueror, nor a victim

swim in the sea with me, be the sea with me
   waves and waves of being being

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

notes, attacks and counter-attacks

running along the trails through the park a body rushes at me beyond my vision, a wild flurry of anguish and intention. not sure how i sense it but sure that i sense it, i scream and wait for it to arrive. it never arrives but rather chases me off with its pummeling brandished presence, all broad body beats and a ringing cacophony near compacted silence.

dear little grouse, afterwards you run alongside of me almost weeping. i would gather you up into my arms to reassure you but your reckless heart will not allow it.

this happened last week. this week has seen other attacks and i have screamed and reacted with all kinds of retaliated fury.

are we always the center of our own small worlds?

i've kicked and scattered the black feathers from her beautiful torso and yet i've felt wounded.

this morning i walk beside her and use quiet words of warning but what she returns to me is shocking.

the grouse had not been attacking but protecting her young, her home. my angry daughter is not angry; she is deeply saddened because we're moving.

dear daughter, how i long to gather you up into my arms to reassure you

but your reckless heart will not allow it.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

the gift

i remember it because it was important, a cool thanksgiving morning in october a few years ago, a time in my life before i caused great change. i had left my warm home, probably the turkey almost done cooking, potatoes, carrots, turnip casserole, gravy, blueberry cheesecake patiently cooling for dessert, a husband who loved me watching/playing with our two small children, hyped up little sailors drunk with import, their handmade turkeys wagging in the dining room windows, as i jotted across town for some mundane and extraneous article, maybe buns, or perhaps more milk, something we could have done without, when i saw her sitting alone on her couch, her couch with the three good legs and the one completely busted out and so jacked up on bricks. i had the red light beside her; irene on the corner with all of her no-good goods that no one wanted, intent on making a couple bucks no matter what. but no one else was around. i waited at the red light for no good reason - no other cars passed; everyone else at home with family or arrived at their distant destinations. red light; irene - no matter what that woman could look regal, even there alone on a family holiday stranded amongst the mismatched tea cups and outdated tv sets. i circled back home and then pulled up next to her some minutes later. my mother had given me a hand knit sweater, too big for me, and i, having had too much stuff, wouldn't miss this one thing. it was too small for irene, her tremendous unleashed breasts hanging out and over her spill of belly. i'd like to be able to say irene looked pretty but i'm not that generous. her rotten teeth and bleeding gums were frighteningly evident, her complexion mottled, and her shaved head looked hacked at by a butcher. she said she had shaved it to raise money for cancer but i think it was to hamper the movements of lice. no, irene wasn't pretty, but proud. she pulled the front of the sweater like lapels and closed her eyes to show her finery. i was made deeply happy. i gave her a big fat piece of blueberry cheesecake too on a fancy little plate which she sat on the couch and ate. i told her she could sell the plate after if she wanted to.

i wanted nothing from irene,
and so badly i wanted to want nothing.

it was an unusually cold morning in summer some years later; it was a little like coming upon what was usually an empty field, but this day i saw, instead, a fox or a moose or a heron or a great wide winged vulture—it was irene wearing that sweater, now stretched enough to fit her form. she was moving her stuff to the curb to sell, just like always. didn't look as though she might remember who she got it from, that sweater. it was just another thing to use; maybe sell sometime later.

now, i have done many horrible things in my life 
but this will always remain true, once i gave irene a sweater, and she wore it.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


one day or one night
when no creature was looking
the oak tree
which casts a shadow over our house
cast instead 
an acorn

and the soil welcomed it into her loam
and she sowed it there
like a boil that would burst
like an idea that would flourish

and burst and flourish it did
or they as i noticed
the throng of oak saplings
as i hacked and tore at them

for below the oak swarm
sheltered too sheltered
lowly as though sleeping
the impossible possibility 
of poppies

mustn't one shelter the briefest heart?

and so i hacked and i tore
and leveraged sweating weight
to tear back the shadows
to allow the small pert faces
their own short days
in the warming sun

so it was
and so it is
and so it glows there now
the one orange cherub
stuffed full 
of now and breathing

like this
i want to live like this
if my hands should bleed
and if i should wreak havoc
this be my leverage
this be my violence

Friday, June 12, 2015

sitting in the pretty park, elliot lake

along the naturally fragmented lip of the westview waters,
in town amongst the seagull shit and goose turds,
with the big steel beeping machines backing up,
amidst the motor boats pressing their chests forwards
over the heaving waves, which, in the end, move sideways,
and the wind scattering whichever way it pleases,
you are yet further away walking along straight corridors
amongst more beeping machines and florescent humming lights,

and my heart aches and aches for our manual degradations
and my mind reels, unable to grip air, why why why,
as the seagulls shriek and careen unclutchingly in the buckshot winds.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

middle aged mother prepares to drink tea alone

the children are leaving;
i must be brave. 

nothing has changed, i tell myself;
you are the same with as without. 

but won`t i be emptied?
isn`t this a hollowing out? 

you are always empty;
you have always been empty.

an old tin can lies in the backyard beside the fire pit.
rain hits it, ping; rain fills it, rust.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

let there be flight

you're a window. 
damn, you're fine. 
check out those adjustable sashes, aprons;
[almost got me here!] those casings, braces, angles!
weather comes and goes, a litany of inferences, story's crating.
hail. you remember hail. but you remember the shell of your slow paint peeling?
it all adds up to this, so—what?—relax! let go, open;
the shadow of a pale bird will, some day, god willing,
fly against your vitreous body when you're not looking.
[and we don't have to wait to see what god wills;
you're a window, right;
all flight (verb), at light's first arrow's tug, was designated.]

Monday, June 8, 2015

beauteous treats

at the ice cream shop
the pretty young girls
tie up their hair to spare you

my druid friend
ties up her hair
to save her power

at the ice cream shop
the pretty young girls
scoop delusions for you

my druid friend
letting down her hair 
brushes it a hundred fiery strokes

at the ice cream shop we practice weights:
single .25 double .40 triple .65
see the illustration of illusion?

my druid friend
has perfect posture and a bland face
deception too?

not one hair has been, or ever will be found in the ice cream shop
but just last week—
a finger nail

Sunday, June 7, 2015


my son is moving outward into the new dark deep
that might not be dark for him
but i can't see him from where i sit;
my son is passing into himself.

so busy so often, never near,
no longer small and under foot,
no longer a constant by my side;
my son goes to new far away places even when still.

cruel distance, unable to breathe, i tear him from his screen, 
from the sanctity and privacy of his room, 
to my side, closer, closer, to me;
we part the trees and walk, together, toward the river.

long arms, long swing, delicate sweep,
his line pauses like still dragonfly wings
then passes to the invisible far beneath;
we sit silently, riverside, beside each other,

until the dong that rings the bell of deep
and up from the depths golden light seeps,
the possibility made flesh and thrust between us;
he reels it hard, well played, to our feet.

i have this breathing creature under me,
under the mercy of my foot's sure pressure
but my son is smiling and so i raise the cudgel swift;
after a few good thuds the creature's still.

i have shining red droplets of blood up my arms,
that climb my neck and, three on my cheek, he tells me, 
but he's more interested in what he's done;
i'm more interested in my son.

my son is shining, shining in the afternoon sun
and the blood that passes along my limbs is shining, 
shining like a black river full of shining fish;
i would do anything, anything—even kill 
                                                      to broach thirteen.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

the bathing suit (another dream)

i dreamed an old woman, very fine (but very fine in terms of small town northern ontario 1980's, not london 1600 or 1800), sat in an upholstered chair with wooden arms. in front of her on the floor was a box of goods she was bequeathing to the world, but not giving (her generosity was in allowing someone else to experience her garments); rather she was selling the goods.

greedily my hands dove into the pile of garments and i snatched up three bathing suits.

she looked so regal. i felt like a scoundrel.

"you want all three?" she questioned, shocked.

"how much are they?" i countered, anticipating they would only be a couple dollars each.

"that one is $15. that one $10. the other $10 also."

i put one back and closed my eyes.

"i can't afford all three," i said.

as i said this with closed eyes the image of the bathing suits flooded my mind. the breast compartments were puckered outward and the form of this fine woman's breasts was retained; the crotch was gathered in creases. with an internal and spontaneous mathematics, i gauged the length between shoulders and mound. i would extend myself as far as i could financially to inherit the confines of another woman's body.

and yet i felt lucky.

my mind lingered along her slim waistline, the bathing suit held up to the window's light when i had first found it, blazingly defined in my mind.

i did not know why my eyes were closed. even through the dream i suspected my motives.


this is a complicated dream i had last night, with elements of: gender definition, sexual orientation (not just for me, i maintain) and class bias being probed. i'm a 45 year old woman who refuses to seek the sanctity of class protection. and i refuse to be afraid of the body. and while i recall my eyelids appeared to be closed in a kind of respect or subjugation to the prescribed formulation of class structure, i can't help but feel there was possibly also manipulation going on. (perhaps she'd lower her price, or in fact give all three bathing suits to me! although, in the end, she didn't.) what does this suggest of what is inherent in class structure?!

Monday, June 1, 2015

two poems

i dreamed of rescuing a fish. he was as big as a man. caught up on shoals, on sand bars. i used my whole body to move him into deeper water, a lover applying weight and skin. how slick he was. how cumbersome. nothing about him aided me. i flagged from shoal to shoal, expended, nearly failed, when the fish looked back at me, his flat mouth swollen as though in woe, his eyes as big and round and sad as mud pies. with mercy, he humped himself the last few steps, assuming the lumpish likeness of a man, to the freedom of deeper water.

as he moved away from me i knew the freedom of the torpid water moving over him as though he were a treasure chest moving through the sea, but was not happy.

my husband stood on the shores of the mississinewa river last week. he and a farmer stood sadly over the oily bodies of carp, fat splinters of flesh and thrash, abandoned, by one of man's fishermen trying to help reestablish a semblance of order - to the waters? to the fish? to the fisheries?

there was no smell yet, but there would be.

(true stories. my dream last night. my husband's story shared after i shared my dream.)