Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hands Remember Best


Beneath lamps, from 
arm caps to stumps to 
castors, weighted into the decks of 
eight-way hand-tied spring coils,
the girls have slubbed their 
voluptuous flubber into 
every contour of 
living room furniture, making 
right full use of 
the room's namesake,
and buried their 
Rubens forms beneath
a cavalcade of 
Klimt coloured quilts.
And while they make their 
cherub puckers and 
Cupid snores, I 
snap a few candid pictures.
Later, boy do I get it! 
"Not while I'm sleeping!"
she castigates, but she'll 
not pose when she's awake.
"Why do you have to take 
pictures anyway?"
she neighs, stomps, then 
coyly whimpers.
So I say, "Because daughter,
memory lives most vividly 
in a red velvet pocket."

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

the body, notes

i am in the woods again. happily and dumbly in the woods. eternal fool in a finite body.

and whatever it is that moves is in the woods again. i hear it. branches snap. trees sway enough to emit their sparked song of dangerous music. whatever it is, for the second time in a week, is near. (from twelve to twenty feet!)

bear? moose? bear are usually sleeping but we have upset the order of the world, another dangerous embodiment. and moose? are moose dangerous this time? not in rut, i think, but largesse and unknowing of their own circumference.

i am in the woods again. happily. and dumbly. in the woods.

what drives me most mad is the not seeing! if only i could see it! (i have seen wolves and moose and bears. and been healed of fear for the knowledge.)

the tall dark pine sways an emblem of alert thirty feet up and only four or five yards from me. no wind.

is it a bear shimmying down? is it a bear climbing up to safety? is it a moose. right. there. dragging its antlers so tragically through bark to hurt the physical realm, to alleviate the unscratchable suffering?

i am in the woods again. upon the white palette. a morsel of mortal flesh. happy. and scared.

*

i do not ask for a mirror but a mirror is always given.

i do not know what is happening to my body. and i am curious. happy. dumb. in the woods again. and despite (and in tandem with) all of my keenness, frightened.

*

excerpt from "Ithaka"
by Constantine Cavafy

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the journey is a long one, 
full of adventure, full of discovery. 
Laistrygonians and Cyclops, 
angry Poseidon - don’t be afraid of them: 
you’ll never find things like that on your way 
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high, 
as long as a rare excitement 
stirs your spirit and your body. 
Laistrygonians and Cyclops, 
wild Poseidon - you won’t encounter them 
unless you bring them along inside your soul, 
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

strange footsteps to where

because you stay at home
i go to the woods
because you stay at home
i travel with the woodpecker
put my hands on trees
wear shawls of black vibrations
soul-bedonking sexual
because you stay at home
i make excuses for ketchup
drive to nearby neighbourhoods
roll up, roll down windows
listen to scarlatti's freakish cat fugue
strip back the bark off the quotidian
and pluck the shining bugs like jewels 
through the juddering trees and knees
of limbs of crowds
because you stay at home

when you stay at home
the distance you refuse to travel
loses me

***

there is a small foolish (feels physical) battle that goes on inside me because my son does not meet the world in ways i can see.

all the while he stays still i am sure the battles i'm engaged in carry me over continents.

but this is not the movement i am concerned with. (this is the movement i need to control in myself, extinguish.) the movement i am concerned with is of the journey of the soul and how it intercepts the real (and oft times accidental) vibrating world.

Monday, December 28, 2015

sometimes, your brother's face

what a surprise to come upon him
standing in the doorway, i mean, you saw 
him stationed there, but to come upon him
is to come upon a bowl that was laid to 
your mother's table years ago, a bowl
that, for the longest time, held nothing, 
or, time to time, on special occasions, 
   flowers.
this time the bowl is smoldering.
you stare into the folds of glass, design
where you thought there was nothing, but 
there are small jewels actively glinting there. 
you are frightened. and you should be. 
   nearer
you tip your face over the bowl
and there you are, limb torn from limb,
a small joyous pyre, fire licking black with flame,
you - burning in there.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

a little late night Ephesians 2:14 (sniffing out the holy)

it has been months since we have seen one another
and so we sit on the couch as closely as young friends might
before they've had a sexual awakening, despite the fact that 
we are family. and then like a bulb of light it rises between us
and we begin smelling the dislocated parts of each, forearm,
thigh, acromion, as though the bits of us were war debris, 
trying to identify if it is you or me who smells,
through the weaving of our blood, so goddamned sweet.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

boxing day, a run, notes

i am running and returning to myself. bra-ha. bra-ha. my breath. down streets. past the woman waiting. past the dogs lunging and barking. past the cement. towards the gravel. past the gravel. towards the mud. over the mud. towards the river. my footprints resisted. the mud frozen. my weight inside of me. each time my weight inside of me. a sharp turn. into the forest. and the sudden perfect apprehension. my body caught. apprehension. my mind caught. apprehension. my soul caught. even still my body still moves. black river. chunks of ice. movement and the illusion of stillness. stillness and the illusion of movement. something is hitting me around the good clean air of my brain. green stalks shout out. small chinks of ice. teeth. crystals. even my fingers can not obliterate them. we've turned toward the cold harsh winter. (finally! blessed! finally be!) my warmth is so little. i run on. past trees whose presence is larger than girth. trees as big as tomes of words. bra-ha. my breath. bra-ha. my weight each time inside of me. at the tip of the trail. anything might happen. at the tip of the trail. the trail will carry on. (will it?) at the tip of the trail. a tree will have fallen in the windstorm. (will it?) at the tip of the trail: a red ball below. in the sudden amplitude of the magnitude of forest the sudden amplitude and smallness of man. a red ball at the bottom of the trailhead. i run on. bra-ha. all along the stilted leaning trees. all through the empty forest. rings a clarity. and i am tipped yet backward while running on. like once i was. i am tipped yet backward and opened up. my lover coaxes my bud. all through the empty forest. small red ball emerges. ringing clarity. i am tipped yet backward and leaning like a tree. my warmth is so little. bra-ha. i run onward. bra-ha. the mud is frozen and resists my prints. and yet the clean air holds the small passion of my history. then a bed of ice. a bed. a field of ice. i come to a sudden impassable. somewhat frozen. stream. my feet must stop. and on the opposite bank a salutary wave of green fern. a salutary wave of green. i tap the ice. once. younger. i would break it. i tap the ice. i hear density. i tap the ice. test it. know it. further out. i tap the ice. the colour graded from milky white to transparency. each tap different. each tap concise. each tap a tome of words speaking with my history. each tap entering me. i hear the density. the density speaks. (what does it say? but clearly i hear it!) younger i would break it. now each tap and its melodious referent breaks me. (each tap and its melodious referent breaks me!) i am up and running. i am up and running. my shoes are wet. no barriers keep me. bra-ha. my breath. bra-ha. i am returning to myself. bra-ha. i run on. this is human? bra-ha. i run on. the world is ordinary. (is it? is this normal?) bra-ha. the tomes of light and dark are running along with me. i am running. i am running. my weight inside of me.

house

there is nothing eloquent to say.
instead there is only this:
sometimes when you awake in the morning
you hear small scritchings through the walls,
sometimes the sounds identifiable,
attached to the amplitude of bodies,
to children you have named,
or perhaps even to ones who once named you.
sometimes it is only the house itself sighing.
once you caught a mouse in a trap,
finding it only hours after it had perished,
never having known you'd heard its scurry,
its fur already a scrap of cloth. 
you stuffed it into the garbage
feeling nearly nothing
but a spark of afterthought -
this was once living.

Friday, December 25, 2015

christmas 2015

my sister is in her house two streets over.
my mother in a neighbouring town.
my husband in the united states.
my daughter is lovingly folded into what she calls
the butt-grooves of her sagging mattress.
my son clicks away in his room on his mouse.
my mother-in-law calls on the telephone
but i can't seem to answer.
i am reading about Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni in Malta.
the walls are stone.
sound circles back, amplified,
religious-like.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Immaculate Conception's Visiting Choir and My Greatest Gift Was Smallish

I want the vibrating sub-stratum of the repeated word sung in Gregorian chant.
Clarice Lispector, Água Viva

Having honed all year long
our hunger of the holy
We make our way
Through the wet streets,
Which we wish were snowy,
To the church which will,
For one evening of celebration,
Host a visiting Christmas choir.
Sadly for me the building
Is not made of stone,
But is porous brick,
Dry walled on the inside
By men's trowels.
The choir files in,
Each member wearing
An exact red polyester-satin blend
(Resembling curtains)
Replica of the robe beside it,
Pinned with a reused
Crushed and reshaped
Off-white, almost peach,
Nylon and wire poinsettia.
Each time the choir members rise
They scrape the legs of their seats,
And as they raise their voices
To meet the over-orchestrated music
Played through the speaker wires,
Only one, in the two dozen,
Raises her eyes
Toward the superfluous lumber
Which creates the decorative underbelly
Of the ceiling, reflecting Christ's
Final earthly mire.
So I stare at them
As they stare at us,
With their mouths open, then shut,
Feeling slightly neglected
By these bodies given to us,
These nearly futile pipes, windfull organs, 
Through which god's songs
Will always be
(So abhorrently to modern dogma) desired,
Sung, 
   Repeated, 
Unheard fully,
   Called upon again, 
Offered,
   Unrequited, 
Forgotten,
   Then once again,
Through the forlorn
Rained upon
Littered winter streets,
Adamantly required.

***

My Greatest Gift Was Smallish

When we were young,
Very young, 
The holy was hot upon us.
We shone by proximity
For it was simple -
A simple tree
Translocated
From the forest
To our living room
Revealed to us
Within our very own
Living quarters
Its mystery.
Family
(That mum didn't want to see all year)
Came home
And she wept, immaculately, like Mary;
It was a miracle.
And a ratty old angel
Whose wings were held together by tape
Was placed atop the tree
By a tall cousin
Who stood on the floor flatfooted!
And each heart flew up toward her.
I hated my lovely brother no more.
Bedtime tiptoed toward midnight
Though the clock might have still read
Eight. See, something had hold
Of our house
And was wrapping
It all tightly together
In bright bandages
To balm the wound
We carried out alone
Into the great distances
Of each new year.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

it's all dust and space

love, someone said love;
and then someones elses built lovely houses around it.

and it is lovely
if one can work through the sentimentality—

that curtains are lungs
and lungs are invisible muscles working towards infinity.

when i shout out
it isn't me—

it is merely the particle
demanding its homecoming.

Friday, December 18, 2015

the increment beyond has fallen out of fashion

You are in your car in traffic.
Or in your smart work shirt, your smock, your suit.
Or you're in the grocery aisle. Or you are in your 
Child's room picking up toys from the carpet,
The yellow and blue space Duplo man 
Lying on his right arm (right if he is facing you).
Or you are in your silk blouse with the plunging neckline
Or in your red dress with its forgiving contours
Or in your wool sweater (the beloved one with the wasted waistline).
Or you are at your mother's house 
In cigarette smoke.
Or you're in her house in the 2000's 
When she has given up smoking.
Or in the ObGyn's office
Again, with your legs up.
Or under your husband
As he is coming down on you
Into your ear with his warm whispering.
Or you're standing at the sink
Washing those same chipped dishes
Again, the ones you swore you'd replace,
Scrubbing those same stained pots, again, again.
You are clearly in your life,
Vividly, standing there, in the middle of it,
Planting potatoes, 
Gingerly moving the sprouts lovingly skyward.
Or releasing them, reproduced and formed 
like baby piglets, from the cold firm earth.
Or it is snowing now, again,
And you are standing in the snow,
Your hair glistening and getting wet,
Your larder full, for now, of embodied wages.
Your hand is on the doorknob.
You are about to open the door
To begin your dissertation.

Stop wishing you were somewhere else.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

the abomination is us

god's need 
for Sodom and Gomorrah
to burn
has not happened yet for her.
we lay our hands in ceremony
upon the great menagerie of stuffed animals,
the lion and the lamb,
the gorilla and hippopotamus,
the cats, the dogs, the unicorns,
even the deviant slink of ferret.
it takes years for us to line them all up
and hug and kiss each and every last one.
good night, we pray together, nightly,
touching and kissing their black or pink noses.
then I lay her out, gently, alone
upon the vast runway of her softened pillow,
I, the custodian, of this, by night, tired out
weak light lithe little sac of nearly sick body,
cherub faced, rag-tag feathered, unflown wings,
which comes so readily, one last time,
for nursing to my shoulder.
then after, the very next morning,
with the defence of a sac lunch 
i send her out, alone again,
to the busy roadways
and busier intersections,
by foot, in taxi cab and on into
the city of time-cocked school buses,
where all sorts of snorts will occur
from the breathing hard yoke seated nostrils
and all kinds of hot furred bodies will jostle closely by
as though through stomping cattle chutes,
and where what seems to be a tender touch from behind
will lay upon her rainbow shoulder a cataclysmic burr,
a homemade sticker from another house
which proclaims something she has never known,
a sentiment which sticks and burns,
something like  f—k  g—s.


***


we come from a simple house where it is right to love.


nothing else needed to exist for my children.


but now, remarkably, my children enter a larger world where every difference is marked, and every mark is an opportunity for judgement and damnation.


exiting a school bus the other day in a good neighbourhood in a good city in a land of freedom (the united states) my daughter found that someone had laid a homemade sticker on her shoulder. (this is not to say that this might not happen in Canada.) in this case the sticker said f— n—s. she was so angry to be manipulated into becoming a billboard for someone else's hatred and intolerance.


I changed the sticker in the poem only because to slur sexual preference is a closer and more personal issue for my daughter, and it held more closely to the inference of Sodom and Gomorrah.


our deepest grievance against nature is our inhospitality toward one another, no matter our differences.


considering the photograph below should create a place of confusion and sickness inside us. it should make no sense.


the abomination is us.
Elliott Erwitt, Segregated Water Fountains, North Carolina, USA, 1950

Elliott Erwitt, Segregated Water Fountains, North Carolina, USA, 1950

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

tree

perhaps it is only the roots from the cedar which hold the river's steep embankment in the still moment, away from failure. I hazard out over the edge, not wanting to take all the cuttings from one side, but participating instead in an act of symmetry while cutting away from the core, hoping that this means loving and is more gentle.


at home I prolong the act of symmetry (now in its inverse) and in their gathering spread the cedar limbs out in equal intervals over the lip of the old enamelware pitcher. I set the pitcher on the middle of the table which marks the middle of the window.


do I feel better?


what on earth have I accomplished?


Christmas nears and this is akin to a tree.


I have tried to call my son a number of times. he doesn't answer.


I receive a note. depression doesn't travel in good clear channels.


what business did I have bringing a child into this world?


if I'm still and think slowly (locate my senses), the room bears the beautiful faint scent of cedar.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

imagination, everything is unobtainable but desire and death, notes

moving forward it is always for us humans about the incomplete act, the distance, the longing, desire. imagination is more poignant than the isolated experience itself. imagination wants, rings; because it is not completed, never completed, it continues to move, seeking; imagination is in itself immortal.


experience or an act of reality is, and immediately fades; it is mortal in its each moment.


moving backward nostalgia in its way is infused only with imagination; at no point in history is something one thing any more. as it is only experienced through the mind, imagined and reimagined, it continually moves out toward the next event and the longing for the event (to be interpreted in a certain way), which can safely never be recreated in real life (and thereby can never perish!).


some might argue that imagination is less than reality (reality - real, imagination - an act of longing), but how might size be attributed to such things? certainly it would not be difficult to call attention to the fact that the majority of our lives are lived within the act of imagining. and the acutest parts too. (even staring at a moment of reality, let's say at a dead body, immediately our minds set forth in a forward and backward motion, the reality of the moment solidified, succinct, frozen, completed; maybe even boring.)


so I would argue that reality is the smallest moment in time, and as it is continually perishing, barely exists!


imagination is, I would argue, a far reaching, even eternally reaching living organ which can never perish. (only the person who is the house of the body out of which imagination rises can die and only once, in one moment.) imagination itself can not be touched.


so why do we rush to accomplish things, complete them?


we want only the illusion of accomplishment or completion. what we really want is the pursual, the distance, the ability to desire itself.


and why shouldn't we? desire exists in everything living, is the base part of the equation of organic creatures inside time and beingness.


fruition? fruition happens once. once. over and over again. dullard lumps of body cut off like stones falling from the animate body of life. done. dead. irrelevant but for what can be imagined (and remembered - imagined!) out from it.


and so what is our fascination with nostalgia? what is this ringing in our ears, our veins and directly through the cores of our being which calls us like dogs toward the place where we originated from? what is the nostalgia, the riddle, the call backward toward home, toward the original body?


we became once in reality; the one event happened once and only once for all of existence, thereby executing itself - but for imagination. becoming left in its wake the possibility of mind with the shapes of ear, mouth, language, the sensual body. we will be called back (and call back) to that mortal moment of becomingness for the entirety of our mortal lives, loving our immortal aspect above all else for it is the only tool we have to reach beyond the mortal cell. nostalgia is our living love affair with our origin.


and we will call to our origin through our future as well, outstripping time, using our imagination to move toward, to long for, to desire, this forevermore approach of what feels like knowledge and understanding of existence.


but there is only the call. there can be no real answer. no, never that. and we should not want it. but instead there will be the call and an echoing, vibrations and reverberations. not understanding the necessary lack of fruition can be excruciating, can cause deep anguish, so we must learn to love the call and the calling, we must learn to love to be so deliciously tortured, to use imagination well and thoroughly to journey through our skin traversing every imaginable distance, and allow ourselves to be used well and thoroughly by it too.

***

i was moved to remove the word beloved from this morning's exploration for clarity's sake; however after a brief conversation with my lover about imagination and desire, wherein he brought up an idea from saint augustine's Confessions, amans amare, being in love with love, i must return to at least bring forward what is always present for me; always present, i believe, for all of us - behind the veil waits (is!) the beloved. all longing says so. god? perhaps. the deepest form of our living lovers? maybe. biological or quantum? a possibility. our origin and our final resting place in wholeness? inarguably. but whatever the form the beloved exists in, we long for it. perhaps our longing is so strong it has given the beloved shape, called it into existence.

now, to make our lives a love's song. (do you hear how dangerous it is to speak in this way? how trite it sounds? how foolish? yet we must brave it.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

shape shifting while waiting for food at Wendy's in the wilds of a friday night

it happens as fast as a tear in the flesh, one moment bleeding into the next,
the way the two men metamorphose in front of her into wolves,
their nads gangling and shining ripe red, their fangs in their patch of fur fashioned.
two methadone patients muddy up the air's scent, make treetops,
stationing themselves between the wolves and their petite morsel,
constantly constantly shifting their legs, nervously aggressing the status quo,
confusing the attack, sudden jack rabbits. like ya man and like fuck, to hell with that!
taking to the air in continual disfigurement to civility: a murder of demented crows.
the other woman with her crooked hip, waiting waiting for her food,
sly as a fox, appraising, meeting this fresh woman's eyes (after all you're one of us)
i can't believe these guys, motioning to the dubious teenage boys
bumping around behind the counter like plump dumb chickens.
had she a blaring bright second she'd snap anyone one of their thin necks.

Monday, December 7, 2015

my son was a boy and my daughter was a girl

my son was a boy

the raccoon kittens his paws over his little boy face
and washes his prankster whiskers in water

what do i need to know to know anything?
watch! this happens and more! there is sacredness

***

my daughter was a girl

the young fox worries and works 
the tar paper out 
from beneath the grass
green and even 
over the grave plots

marvelous, this girl
who frolics recklessly 
with death
in the sunlight

god's wife, godette (god's sister self)
must have once been a girl like mine
adorned in a stainless fur dress
with strong legs beneath
and able teeth cutting a perfect smile

Saturday, December 5, 2015

the world is a dangerous place

thank god for security cameras.

she is pressing over me, urging me to watch, just watch, not instructing me what might happen, but assuring me that something... something horrible? something unspecified, yet - what? - wrong? devastating? illegal? immoral? what? - something will certainly happen.

put the clock back to 4:40, she says. is the white van there? just watch?

and i do. not knowing where to place my mind.

am i to be afraid? i want to shout this! i want instruction! or will the terror that builds break, and will this, in the end, become hilarious?

no. no. it won't be. she is serious.

watch, she says. just fucking watch.

ten or eleven dark figures get out of the van. they huddle together but move quickly enough to the back corner of the lot. the leader, the one out in front, is carrying something long in front of him, jutting out. could it be a rifle?

what is it?! i exclaim.

he is ushered forward by the momentum of the men.

watch, she repeats. with this word she ushers me forward. my face is close to the screen. i have no idea... i have no idea...

they are near our garbage shed. beyond the garbage shed is woods. will they walk to the woods? will they drop a body? suspicious package?? what? shoot a dog? i have no idea! my eyes are wide open. will they hurt one another? someone else?

watch, she says.

she scares me.

the man in front of the group stops at the edge of the concrete, and whatever he holds in his hands, he unfolds once. the possibility that it is a gun is gone. but what is it??

then he unfolds it again. and what my mind can imagine is, for a second, utterly vanquished. i can not imagine what might happen.

then he holds it in his two hands. and it opens.

the men, so organized, so orderly, such a unit, all grab the fringe of the thing between them and open it.

the woman who urges me on is breathing deeply through her thick flesh-pink nostrils.

my eyes are beginning to return to their true apertures.

they shake it open and arrange it. lay it neatly to the ground, a blank space they, for a moment, are claiming.

they take off their shoes. they kneel on the blanket. they prostrate themselves in unison.

see! she shouts, as though we have witnessed - what?

i relax back into the chair, my body so grateful for this release. it is lovely, i say to myself, to the screen, they are praying.

it was a ruse of a story after all. in the end, because of the feigned terror, she was trying to be funny, employ shock value.

but when i turn to see her face i see there is nothing funny at all.

***

later, after a short impossible discussion about - what? race? faith? belief? economy? what kind of country do you want to live in? what kind of person do you want to be? who are you and what are you (or, what do you think you are) entitled to? i go out back to bring out the recycles. the van is still there.

i see no one, from the door of our building, outside or inside the van.

but when i drag the box of boxes to the side of the shed past the side of the white van i see the men are all piled in very snugly to this little van. they have their hoods up. their faces are dark.

why are their hoods up?

i smile in their direction.

and return to the building for a second box of boxes.

the plates, which i have noted with curiosity, are from toronto. the north is so very culturally homogeneous. really, i wonder, what these men are doing here? real curiosity.

and slight hesitation. (why are their hoods up? what are they doing?)

i drag the second box of boxes out through the parking lot and along the side of their van and then to the garbage shed wall.

i turn again to face them.

the driver has engaged the vehicle. he is leaving.

but seeing me he steps on his brakes to allow me to pass back first.

i let myself smile and raise my hand in a gesture, no, after you.

he lifts his hand, thank you.

each gesture between us is significant. each one. even my dragging the boxes out.

he rolls down his window.

anything is possible in this world. anything. anything. anything.

i know this.

and yet there is no way i can afford to - what? not enact my beliefs, my ideas, hopes.

he rolls down his window, this man, this muslim, this person who also lives in this dangerous world, and he wishes me merry christmas.

and then drives away.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

a walk to misery bay, november 30 and notes

arched arms of cedar curving upward, beseechment, rib cage
juniper like soldiers' legs in staunch starched uniforms
austerity, yet riches, of the frugal beds of moss
trunks of trees fallen, media vita in morte sumus
how they wear the new snow, glistening, like candles in their head gear!
how one feels instant recognition, they the kings!

***
in the midst of life we are death

as we walked i peered around in wonder with eyes bent on discovering a secret like a child. but i was a child! and it was because of the wonder! i don`t know where it came from but something of this tableau informed me. directly. it spoke to my blood. through me spread an indefatigable feeling of something akin to christmas. over the shelves of alvars the meekest life persisted. and here there was wealth, and elation.