Thursday, July 30, 2015

mind   yourself

a black tadpole waits
to bloom in the frontal lobe
oleaginous

in the back of the brain
a door is shuttered against light—
bring a crowbar

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Point of a Nice Lawn

Standing at my back door window
I can appraise both my own
and my neighbour's yard.
We are a little slovenly, aren't invested.
By all intents and purposes - do nothing.
Let happen what will happen.
(The owner's of the house [we're only renters]
mow when it is absolutely needed,
but with the drought this year
bleeding on and on
it is needed almost not at all.)
Next door the neighbours have invested in
plants and bushes, cement columns 
and statues of stags and sylphs,
have a sprinkler system
and yet haven't won the race this year
against the dry conditions.
Both backyards are goat worn scraggly,
rocks and stones shouldering through soil, 
the whole spectacle god forsaken.

I'm on the phone with my son.
Tell me things, I goad him.
Half bored, half exasperated he says,
What's the point. How will that change anything.

Out back, on our side, along the fence
there's a strip of grass that has managed to grow
in the early morning shade, looks almost healthy.
Perhaps I'll go out barefoot and walk there.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hedera

Dear poem,
you must come to me like a lover,
or redeemer, tender stranger, or mother.
Lay into me your claps of ivy clatter,
your suction cups.
I am nothing but the closest thing to ether.
Draw me nearer,
enshroud me in a gentle netting of matter.
Be my iron catastrophe.

how dangerous beautiful the self-determined, notes

july in northern ontario.

november is something else. january more (or less) so.

but july in northern ontario is borrowed by someones elses. the roads are full of impatient people. and patient people. difficult to know the difference. one vehicle after the other. campers, trailers, boats and transports. everyone moving. who knows to where. it's hard to know where you begin and end on the highway in july.

last night coming home from work, the highways muddied in summer's ever coming earlier dark nights, there were yet lights everywhere, the moon just one more round white hood of luminosity. don't take your eyes from the road though. a bear or deer or moose can slip in. you know a driver who experienced just this. followed a transport for safety. then the moose inserted itself. it happens just that fast. two car lengths and a body. then your own at all mercy.

but last night on the highway far ahead (but for how long?) a non-illuminating sight. but illuminated. a silhouette. a boy on a skateboard. on the trans-canada highway! long strides. good speed. a cap on tight. a boy and his skateboard whizzing through the night.

i can't tell you i was happy. and it was only in retrospect that i wanted to be. what recklessness! what thoughtless abandon! a boy on his skateboard striding and sailing right across the country. the whole world pushing up behind him with their lights. the whole world a bearing down threat. and the boy pushing forward. foot on. foot off. the boy pushing onward.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Night I Dreamed of Fire and Awoke

If you should be invited into this world:
burn

If your parents should cherish you:
burn

If your parents should abandon you:
burn

If you should have a friend or a dog or a bike:
burn

If your husband or wife should love you or leave you:
burn

If you should find yourself, despite all odds, in love again, engaged, amused, or sentient:
burn

If you should go mad from your job, from your bills, from your ineffectualness, or from your effect:
burn

If you are dying, slowly, limb by limb:
burn

Even if you're dead.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Boss

My mother knew what it was to ruin a life -
CEO of boredom.

She chained me to camp at twelve

(hopefully and secretly ushering herself to freedom,
but inversely [and deservingly, ahaha!] causing her more work,

food, provisions, laundry).

For lack of all else, I learned
what the wind sounded like through the curtains,

snakes through grass,

feet through lilypad silted bottoms.
Whippoorwills answered my lonely calls,

or maybe my attention answered theirs.

The air off too many days 
became like 

an empty page

on which
at any moment

an insect might stagger across.

Now I spend my days
hurrying up

so that i might arrive at a moment

still enough for a kingfisher to call,
so that i might answer back

by unfolding a chair.

Friday, July 24, 2015

It's Tuesday

Or a Wednesday or a Thursday, 1970 or 1852,
or maybe now.

It's July or August 
or sometime in September.

There are blueberries, raspberries, the last of the strawberries, 
or jam in the cupboard.

Through the bars of your mind you smell beyond dry leaves 
to the pristine snow.

Your hands reach through the bars and touch the fingers 
of your childhood.

You are all time that you are aware of, you are connected, 
you are a community of one.

Your name tag has melted off of you.

You smile, or touch your hair 
without knowing its colour.

Or you run your fingers along your jawbone.

You can't help it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Calling All Beautiful Liars

Gone are the good long, slow walks down the lane to grandmother's house, grasshoppers in the tall grass.
God is dead.
Sundays are now spent in the holy house of shopping.

We have such sorrowful need for a new mythology.
We have such a surfeit of depletion and such a glut of enriched impoverishment.

Someone, somewhere, please, write the hymnal of a beautiful new deceit,
one that heals, or at least maintains.
One that sings like limbs with gentle flames, but one which doesn't travel fast.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

the stranger

the woman was weeping. oh, lost. possibly drowning. certainly there was struggle. even with breathing. i didn't know her. and yet i went to her. i held her on my shoulder. ssh, i told her. you don't need to go there. come back from sharp edges. come here instead. or there. there. go there. the light of the late day laying itself. gently. on the world's shoulder. learn the names of wild grasses. weeds. of flowers. a bird is born from a shadow. see how already you grow better.

it was like this i held myself.
it was like this i healed through the wound of the world.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dust Reveals Where Things Once Were

I opened an empty notebook
and thought myself clever,
titled it grieving,
for it was obvious, you know,
something had died.

It was loud at first.
I tore through many pages.

But when it grew quiet,
obsessively quiet
and began to look normal again,
the grieving settled like dust
on all the things we'd shared
(and we had shared all things).

It was then Time walked into the room.
(I could hear his shoes.)

Then Grieving slowly let down his hood
like sorrow tearing a new mouth in my soul.

Monday, July 20, 2015

sit, stand, applaud

after all - it is the truth which prevails:
you wear this body, bejeweled costume
you enter this world, hallowed theatre
you are player, playwright and audience

pay attention here: someone will say something
or silence will be deafeningly inserted

aren't your arms magnificent!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Resurrection, a Story

(So implies time has been taken with backstory.)

So, she had been crying all day, all night
and so ate a stalk of celery for clarification

and then they made love 
like crescents of clay and tadpoles, catfish and blinking planets

and then when they resurfaced to the kiss of light he asked, 
what will we do next?

And she suggested, let's read the best four sentences—

It went something like this:
         soil.
         sulfur.
         suffering.

then: lemons.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

positively white space, and notes

nothing is personal
     while it's all personal

rather it's philosophical, antiseptic, boiled down to those few thoughts, laid out in undeterred lines, axioms—
your essential core
live life, really live it, let life live through you - witness and acceptance

     meanwhile it has everything to do with you, everything to do with the rare heat you're holding
     the rare heat which gets hot enough to scorch your limbs, the rare flame that is your heart 

***
 
X-husband, how was it that we married, you and i so different? we were so young then, really good friends. i think we must have thought we could base it all on fun or a carousel of pleasure. 

ten years into the marriage the line was drawn down the middle - what death meant to each of us. 

this is always the beginning of a person, what it means to be alive and then to die, thereby how to assign value.

dear X-husband, when our children got into your car this morning and the grief came over me, i saw in your eyes a fragment i never thought to know again, how we belong to one another, how our grief is inverse one to the other, how we are tied like this forever. i saw you do the work of not coming toward me to hold me. reborn between us beyond anyone's permission was love. how shocking that was. how shocking. how shocking.

***

the most difficult thing in the world to do this morning is to write a common sentence like: my daughter's grey t-shirt with the torn arm fits her body exactly as it does, the torn arm of the soft cloth projected out just a little as only i might notice; or, my son takes the stairs up to his bedroom in the same cadence always, with his head inclined toward the center because of how he must pivot to make the stairs. they have decided to move in with their father for a multitude of reasons i'll not itemize to myself or anyone else for there is no right or wrong or good or bad or win or lose. there is only this onward rush of living and the hope for the best life possible. there is love. there are unexplored depths of pain. and there is - i know - unexplored depths of joy to be stumbled into.

but in such a moment - how rarefied the ordinary is, how extraordinary, how blessed were our everyday bodies together for all those years in the one house. i drown in the grief of my son not brushing his teeth in the bathroom with me, or my daughter not plunking herself on the couch beside me as she does.

***

now my new husband and i sit on the couch together
reading rilke he investigates the etymology of german words 
i smell all over the gardens of poetry, flower-like wounds
the children have gone

it will rain soon

***

positively white space
 
there are times when the pain is too great
then what do you do?

those times show you the dark fortress of the self is too weak, too little

to the wind you go
to the solace of expansive white stone
into the nook and cranny of everything

the fissure itself breaks nothing 
but rather is the way inside it all

Friday, July 17, 2015

a history - as though the vase were broken

father holds the hue
mother holds the glow
brothers hold the tails of stems
and sisters hold the air within

Thursday, July 16, 2015

upon reading "The Inevitable Manifesto of Tomorrow"

maybe it's natural
and maybe i'm only sentimental to lament it
but despite all enlivened eager hunkering love 
when my husband's done 
his cock shrugs itself out of me
we've always been moving away from heat
life's too hot and death's implicit in that fire
maybe it's just biological to not want to die
next step: live comfortably, content, complete
maybe it's natural to become machines

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Inside the Vaulted Chamber

At first it was the spry tiger lilies which staggered me.
And then the purple loosestrife lashes, 
the dazzling punches of ranunculus,
the alluring hummocks of fern and wind blown grasses.

Considering the sight an intimate space, 
to note the place where a dense body had lain 
is to have witnessed a man and wife
coupling into the star-born night.

Earth's bed had begged the bear
and so the bear thusly aroused, went down, 
supplicated, gave himself over - wholly, 
abandoned.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Quake

Tremors begin at the epicenter of being
and rake outwards through the neatly laid asphalt routes
and even down the gravel roads, where the world yet dares
to wear them. Booms through stone.

In town, at shops, the merchants and their hired clerks,
indentured poor in borrowed smocks,
reach out quickly and without conscious thought,
to stabilize, first, the most expensive tottering trinkets.

Women of Chillicothe, you are not in our hands first,
but only in our afterthoughts, evidence of shocks
and aftershocks, testimony of what is racked by uneven thrusts
out from the density of our core.

***

Is it even possible that a number of women in North America go missing from one small community, are found, have been killed and left to rot in creeks and culverts near rural roads, and we are not outraged? Too much depends upon the socioeconomic background of said women. In Canada we are in a national crisis in regards to missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Recently Tiffany Sayre was laid to rest after her body was discovered in a culvert near a rural road outside Chillicothe, Ohio. This sad and chilling situation sparks at least two questions for me - why don't we act and react equally on behalf of all people regardless socioeconomic background; and why, in the first place, is there such poverty and tragedy in the lives of women from countries of possibility and means?

Monday, July 13, 2015

grow blown from yourself (notes on the middle aged self and beyond)

if aging affords us anything it is distance from the self.

thoughts no longer seem to come directly from our cores, but distinctly come from the space two beats outward from our cores, hanging in the cavernous void, or swirling.

suspect everything.

imagine if you will the self as a pole. perhaps even, if it helps, call it an I-beam. it is so seriously convincing, standing so tall, so erect at our centers. central. central to everything. so looming.

follow the length of it upwards and downwards, caressing its place in your universe.

we spend a great deal of time doing this.

it takes most of us at least forty years to begin to see that there are ends to the pole.

how we tremble to note that neither end is affixed to anything.

but why should it be? and what could we have been so sure it was affixed to, at least at its base?

nothing. it rises out of nothing and it reaches toward everything, but with distance.

at the top of the pole a length of rope is projected out and at the end of that rope is a grappling hook. this is how we experience the world.

however, the assumption would be, has been, that we at the center thrust the hook outward toward the world, set teeth, pull and interpret the vibrations that travel back to us.

while this happens, something else happens first.

in terms of how we encounter the world time is inverted.

why shouldn't it be?

just because it has seemed, just because [we] [thought] [we] [experienced] time in a liner fashion...

but we do not know what any of these words truly mean. we have only made assumptions about these words through a puerile system we developed out of ignorant births, spontaneous moments of suddenly being, a set of axioms set in motion beginning with the I-beam firmly thrust out from something formidable and stable.

we think we understand ourselves. we throw out the rope. we anticipate the vibrations. we have begun the experience before the experience has happened. we are living the vibrations before they have occurred.

this is real. this is our reality. we are what we have not yet become.

and then the vibrations. and then a confirmation of the vibrations. and then a restructuring and bewilderment of assimilating those vibrations in with what we already believe is true. and don't forget, we have already moved on to the next moment, but are yet residing in the past to experience what we, beforehand, assumed our experience would be.

how many lies do we tell ourselves to keep the axioms standing tall?

now understand. imagine. something like cy twombly's empire of flora. note one stroke, one unrestrained, un_  stroke.

that is you in a room.

back up from the painting.

that is you in your town.

then allow more distance until you can no longer see the painting, perhaps only the wall, or the building or the town on a map that houses the painting. you are out there somewhere, floating free, unseeable, under the illusion that you are substantial and rooted.

as you travel outward from the pole the ears you have on this human head, all of the openings you have on the body of this pole, begin to close like flaps on a box. close and close and further close inward. not to reject listening or experience, but to reject the way your old self once experienced things.

they don't stop closing. at some point the whole structure will fold—

and then begin to open again. this time with ears inverted. this time with orifices truly openings. this time with a self nearly or oddly naked of self, almost like the pink inside of eyelids blinking at the sun over a field of windblown grasses and flowers, or hands moving through water.

cy twombly, empire of flora

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Aubade for the Coming What

It happens like this every morning.
Someone is somewhere yet sleeping.
There is a robin hopping onto a maple branch overhanging someone's garden.
There are clicks in the empty sky as the volume of light is turned up.
A plane flies through the ether 
and nothing exists on the other side of that illusive line.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Centrifuge

Usually, when I bring my car in
the mechanics, me and one of the mechanics' wives
all drink coffee and narrow in
on all that swirls most actively at our cores,
children, property, divorce,
cars the last thing we by accident last minute mention.


I have been crying all night.

I give them my keys.
I tell them i am overdue six thousand kilometers.
We talk about the bears on the outside of town drawn by the fry truck's grease.
We talk about the engorged with ticks flushed and turning in circles moose.
We talk about the ridiculously slow porcupines
but the one quick fox struck dead.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Lace, july 7th, 2015

Midnight at the kitchen island,
not knowing the full effect of.

Moments before the hunger which can only be described as:
need for queen anne's lace or ice.

Standing alone under a light bulb
reading aloud Amy Clampitt's "A Hermit Thrush," 

feeling the rush of wings,
the fashioning of stone inside me.

Healed by words, my face in light
as though I'm the one flowering.

Then one more click—
and I'm buffed and rarefied.

But it doesn't end here—
queen anne's lace can rupture,

ice breaks.



A Hermit Thrush by Amy Clampitt

Nothing’s certain.  Crossing, on this longest day, 
the low-tide-uncovered isthmus, scrambling up 
the scree-slope of what at high tide
will be again an island,

to where, a decade since well-being staked 
the slender, unpremeditated claim that brings us 
back, year after year, lugging the 
makings of another picnic--

the cucumber sandwiches, the sea-air-sanctified
fig newtons--there’s no knowing what the slamming 
seas, the gales of yet another winter
may have done. Still there,

the gust-beleaguered single spruce tree, 
the ant-thronged, root-snelled moss, grass 
and clover tuffet underneath it, 
edges frazzled raw

but, like our own prolonged attachment, holding. 
Whatever moral lesson might commend itself, 
there’s no use drawing one, 
there’s nothing here

to seize on as exemplifying any so-called virtue 
(holding on despite adversity, perhaps) or 
any no-more-than-human tendency--
stubborn adherence, say,

to a wholly wrongheaded tenet. Though to 
hold on in any case means taking less and less 
for granted, some few things seem nearly 
certain, as that the longest day

will come again, will seem to hold its breath, 
the months-long exhalation of diminishment 
again begin. Last night you woke me
for a look at Jupiter,

that vast cinder wheeled unblinking
in a bath of galaxies. Watching, we traveled
toward an apprehension all but impossible
to be held onto--

that no point is fixed, that there’s no foothold
but roams untethered save by such snells, 
such sailor’s knots, such stays
and guy wires as are

mainly of our own devising. From such an 
empyrean, aloof seraphic mentors urge us
to look down on all attachment,
on any bonding, as

in the end untenable. Base as it is, from 
year to year the earth’s sore surface
mends and rebinds itself, however
and as best it can, with

thread of cinquefoil, tendril of the magenta
beach pea, trammel of bramble; with easings,
mulchings, fragrances, the gray-green
bayberry’s cool poultice--

and what can’t finally be mended, the salt air
proceeds to buff and rarefy: the lopped carnage
of the seaward spruce clump weathers
lustrous, to wood-silver.

Little is certain, other than the tide that
circumscribes us that still sets its term
to every picnic--today we stayed too long
again, and got our feet wet--

and all attachment may prove at best, perhaps,
a broken, a much-mended thing. Watching
the longest day take cover under
a monk’s-cowl overcast,

with thunder, rain and wind, then waiting,
we drop everything to listen as a 
hermit thrush distills its fragmentary,
hesitant, in the end

unbroken music. From what source (beyond us, or 
the wells within?) such links perceived arrive--
diminished sequences so uninsistingly
not even human--there’s

hardly a vocabulary left to wonder, uncertain
as we are of so much in this existence, this 
botched, cumbersome, much-mended,
not unsatisfactory thing.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Crow Must Fly to Complete the Task of Crow and Sky

You've been back with me now for seven nights and seven mornings 
and through each one we have loved each other
but because of circumstance, because of a quiet house, because of big ears,
because we have no door, we have not been our true intimate.

That is - until last night, when we could bear no more, 
not of the acute wanting, but of the deep need, 
like how a horse longs with its being to run and is sorrow without it, 
how bumblebees must dither their pile and how their legs and faces must become 
pollen polluted, soused and sopping.

It's the morning after - your beautiful body lies open like the surface of a lake.
A fish has jumped, arced and entered through the perfect eyelet of your surface, 
just as it should have.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Ballast

The night it snowed four feet—

how young I was out there come morning 
frantic among the lilac branches

heave, sway, release

reluctantly, late day, they began to climb again
the lilacs, my lilacs, one hundred year old lilacs

which lined our lot
on the corner of front and second

a squiggle in a town
which was nothing but a dot

which was as smooth as a plane 
on the facade beside the river

which was a tightening 
blue squalled worry line

like a raised vein on a hand
flexed— then long forgotten 

which sent this top spinning
near and far for short and long

the constant shifts
the one true ballast of it all.

Monday, July 6, 2015

ana came in with her hands empty; edna went out - o, o, oh! - clutching her time piece

faced, as they were, with the incalculable duration of the rest of their lives
the brave young children did not want their cat

now, with only two weeks left, on the calendar an undeniable hot red dot
oh maggie! she's beautiful! - they cling to her fuzzed cap 

days grow shorter as we age
whole years grow thin while our eyes grow rheumy

i met an old woman with a pocketful of berries; unfolded them from tissue
i grew them out of ice, she whispered, her eyes a little crazy

in the blessed albesence of early morning light - 
my sight, despite myself, grows anxious for any thing.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

a husband and wife catch up after an absence

in the morning i bake a cake;
you are coming; we will celebrate.

as you come you travel the long dull miles of wilderness and time,
punctuated by stories on the radio.

as i wait for you i release the cake to cool, do the dishes,
consider the clock often and check my hair.

after ten dull vibrating hours, something in you is called from the drabness of motion into the reality of motion, 
despite the moose standing perfectly still like a wooden totem breathing through mashy nostrils.

you creep toward it. there is only one more hour of traveling toward me
but you are willing to move like this, furtively, toward this creature, for as long as...

the moose chews. you want more, always. you dare it.
the moose continues to chew.

back in the car. more humming. new humming. much humming 
and hurtling, a rush of accumulated particles, through the empty air.

finally, you release the pressure which has been accumulating all day around the door—
we kiss and share a piece of cake.

later, in bed, while we talk hurriedly, trying to catch up on all the long miles of time
which have passed between us, i feel a blob of cake stuck to my leg, except it is not cake.

where have we traveled? who have we read? what horrible catastrophes have befallen? 
what hope? what change? what about tomorrow?

another flushed grouse has come out of the bush and shrilled after me!
you had a bloated black snake lie across a trail in the perplexing sign of infinity!

the not cake, which hitched a ride from the swaying grasses which held the moose, 
sinks its face into me and sucks, as we kiss and kiss.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

concerning the myth of plurali$m

hacking at overhanging oak saplings
trying to cut through to light for underling poppies

generous old woman i know 
inditing another young woman i know 

she has a special way of believing in jesus 
not in alignment with our consumer society

it's a cult! she shakes her acorns
she blasphemes! she casts her shadow

quietly i part the branches 
while busily we put 

all good christians 
and all the good muslims 

and even a few good buddhists 
through the cash.

Heritage

John orders hand-made moccasins made in Quebec
by an assembly line of First Nations Peoples (they use their brown hands!), 
sold in Ontario, to ship to California. I speak slowly to John, 
enunciating his tracking number which is traceable through Canada Post -
Our Na-tion-al Post-age Ser-vice, wide-mouthed for understanding,
you know, those particularly stylized Californian brains,
not realizing John is from North Bay, lived in Ottawa,
shipped himself south some years ago.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Scrounging for more than Widow's Mites

Thirty-six empty bodies like windless flags, wildness rung from them, ascended to meat heaven
fill a cart.

Silver fox, red fox, cross fox, arctic fox, raccoon, opossum, beaver, badger, skunk
coyote, lynx.

Cascade of lynx, effulgence on hands, one luxurious clubbed foot screaming own me woman,
where once it made other things scream

A plastic bag of 100 lucky rabbit's feet with formaldehyde stink; 100 divided by four 
does not equal one bag.

One bag can not hold four rabbit feet leaps and so one bag of 100 rabbit feet is less than 
one whole rabbit.

One silver loop holds sixteen coyote tails and I can handle three loops at once but one night, man to rogue, I could not handle two silver eyes.

Thoreau says, "Nature remains an otherness which incorporates man, but which man instinctively feels contains secrets denied to him."

We work hard to deny ourselves nothing.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Parked on a Dirt Road Somewhere Between Empathy and Abandonment

(if i don't make eye contact or wave you down my distress will not be answered by your proffering assistance)

I'm all for love and healing the world
but if I should go away from man
and want to sit quietly beside some pines,
it is not so that some good-hearted suspicious happenstance soul
might have the chance to heap help upon me,
gauging all the while who I am and where I'm from
to discern just what it is I'm up to.

If I have gone away from man
it's because I need to be away from him to heal, 
to love.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Proof for Madness

The big machine is really big.
We are all a part of the big machine.

Somewhere in our minds is the only place safe 
from the big machine.

Our minds house the throng of thrones
of the big machine.