Tuesday, May 31, 2016

upon the white canvas pain

the empty hearing drum
ejects, over earth, flukes by line
toward flowers which speak with coloured tongues


when the eyes are closed
the row boat is unmoored from the heart's shore
seeking, by pull, the moon behind moonlight


milk weeps from the mother's rosy teats
on a journey to the infant's dry depression


inside each grey human being
is planted an empty shape
painted pink


god's eyes
are made of blank unblinking space
which begin and end where?


it hurts...

pleasure ink's efflorescence 

Monday, May 30, 2016

floor as mirror

take pants
grip cuffs
give good jostle to joggle

shroud of shirt
pall of pinafore
blind of blouse

my son on my mother's couch:
she was a threadbare cotton shirt
one white bulbous bowl
the most softly wrinkled clean ammonia

my own grandmother:
one fat crusty black moon toe
one crimson glistening raspberry pie
and a leathery key strap, worked

son, a rose
crayon coloured dirt
a fairy tale, with immeasurable leagues to treachery

i can not see what's fallen clear of me...

Sunday, May 29, 2016

in a heartbeat

opened the front door
steel one painted white
to soften its vehement structure

daughter was to catch the bus
from the street corner near the bridge
to the high school in the neighbouring mill town

wind was wan
temperature tepid
how casually she stepped away

half hour later
same door peeled back
son and i exited with shoulders forward to bolster

as we drove to his primary school across town
smaller children staggered sidewalks
braced in balaclavas

march snow
dry and hard like sand 
pelted and lashed laneways

heart can turn that fast

Saturday, May 28, 2016

the modern palate

after Brussels

from over another round
     of morning coffee cups
we look up
stunned again
for an extended second

then begin 
through our ordinary vestments 
to plan dinner
     maybe a simple salad tonight
eat light 
rend spinach, tear kale
shred carrot and cabbage
then a littering of berries and nuts
atop humble plates of herbage

it has happened again
shrapnel and limbs

light candles
be quiet
chew greens

Friday, May 27, 2016

the mind remembers and becomes that shape

it has been there
     all along
only now 
it manifests itself
     (once more)
     as a bowl of peaches

the air is      clear
and the bowl is 

our hands know
how to be 

which wanting shape 
     to exact

Thursday, May 26, 2016

presenting the finest of silks

you don't like birthdays
not for the traditional sense (defiance of numbers)
but because you can't seem to suffer the attention pleasantly

when you're stared at with a scheduled smile - you're stared at
how might that nakedness be pleasurable?

however, this morning feels like a birthday
it's spring and your arms are bared and the air feels 
like currents of fresh milk being poured over you

you purr inside this private anniversary, the luckiest kitten alive

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Seeking Solace in the Company of ("That From Which it is Made")

Marina Tsvetaeva, it is 2 a.m.
I call to you in your threadbare sweater.
To you and your dead child.
To your weak tea in your shoddy apartment.
(Just where is your home?)
To (on your luckiest days) your horsemeat.
I conjure your poor round face
and your terrible haircut.
They create a seal.
Hot wax sears me.
All the Russias in the world lace their boots.
Your body is a mound of clammy grey clay
which holds, at its center, a torch's breadth for lighting.
I gather my conflicting elements to it.
The potter's bowl fills with water.
And even though you're tired
you drop to your knees 
beneath your wastehaven eyes,
wash word's feet.
You are Marina Tsvetaeva.
The world will kill you.
That's something for us both.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

a letter from a traveler

whosoever be it, mother, father, country, teacher - they drone on and on, again and again. and only once in a while when the spice gets worked in will i raise my head. oh, how it burns me then! and i pay attention.

interminable dark nights. then the one perfect diamond bright steely cut sky.

thirty-eight nights of various potatoes. then like a revelation - rice dashed with lemon and cayenne.

five years ago a beloved treed lot got scoured. big blades worked their noise and left a rag-tag desolation. firebreak, i finally reasoned. how sad i was for five years passing the inglorious man-made devastation
     —then the sugar on the cornflakes, the doe thoroughly revealed, startled, shaking her loose white feathery tail, leaping, leaping, gratuitously extending and leaping over imaginary hurdles.

Chopin was told in Majorca by three doctors he was dead, dying, about to die
     —then his Pleyel piano arrived by boat and he had a fruitful time during a long, cold, bad, bleak, frozen winter.

closing time, 9 p.m. i'm listening to "Letters of a Traveler" (by Ólafur Arnalds, after Chopin) waiting for my daughter to finish her shift, when a clunker of a vehicle pulls up beside me. one, two, three, four little girls spill out eager in pudgy skin. nearly summer, ice-cream weather. with their shaggy parents into the store they thrill in their pint-sized exuberance, then spill out again with their ice-cream colours already last-light-of-sky kaleidoscope melting. maybe two of the girls have Down's Syndrome and the mother, with a sweatshirt tight in her middle section over her pretty summer dress, is pressing outward on her fifth. how on earth might they manage? as they're tucking those babies like eggs into padded cribs one of the pigged-tailed girls presses her ice-cream cone accidentally on her father's unshaven chin
     —the mother quickly licks it.

the ride home is one of many. many and many. this time with fog forming fantastically.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

sometimes there are meeting places, and notes

"The body dies; the body's beauty lives."
                                                    Wallace Stevens

sometimes in the beam of how light streams
while staring at the coloured wall
while touching the shaggy bark of a tree
or near the stumbling fall of an immense percolating river
sometimes there are meeting places

finger there      where 
you perceive
is the      in between
pocket of      air
lip of 
absence      of fullness

how sweet it would be to be
exactly      there


breathing can be
calibrated      finally
last kiss
to eternity


light breaks through the trees
and cuts how you 
hear       you see

      not tragedy
but the carrying on
of the immense 
and percolating river


damn my inabilities. damn. damn.

the stillness. the leaning in and breath. the stillness. my breath finding peace. not that there was peace inside my breath but that it found where peace exists in this world.

earlier that day i had read bly.

then in the woods beside the river touching the shaggy bark of a tree, the plane of its brownness - i said aloud to bly (to stevens, to donne), to the world - if only i could be... if we could meet...

then looking up i laughed.

i will be! i will be there inside that peace. forever [un]bound and forever pouring forward. so death can be sweet.

...but how good it would be, it came on the tail-end of my breath, how good it would be to unbound as this particular entity, but yet be conscious of eternity...

and so i search my consciousness... and so i mine my consciousness...     

porcelain on lace

Vilhelm Hammershøi 
made butter

took the purely 
earthly elemental
and quietly shook it 

taking time
adding nothing

sometimes the right ratio of
curt enough
and soft enough 
parts lace 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

whereupon, fine gentlemen, my wings are clipped, notes

i am having trouble. i am having trouble these days between the world and the terrible place.

my husband is reading The Aeneid. he is crying over book six. literally crying. after all it begins, "So grieving, and in tears...".

listening to René Girard say it, we have perfected the art of violence -

and yet there is still hope. a moment exists, a threshold, upon which we might choose, at any given time, better.

redemption is a possibility. the possibility.

or: the apocalypse of our own making.

what litters the earth? hope?

spring. and the world opens herself like a blouse. what a slender neck! what a seductive invitation.

but all along her beautiful flesh - broken mirrors. this is how we answer.

in the shards of glass - the eyes of man.

i can not manage to become the beneficent soul i imagine my mind might choose to wish to become.

instead, i am this. this alongside the terrible world.

how many eyes we have!


despair is not nothingness
despair is descent
descent as a consequence of failing ascension


as always. as has always been my natural reflex born of my body. this body of earth. the green webbing beneath my mind. i turn to the place of the world emptiest of man but pure of (plant and) animal. i think of clear seeing like rilke in his eighth elegy.

but how much must the world be scoured of man for purification? completely?

are we left only to try to sing sweetly as we, collectively, kill one another and every thing?


physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on, unlooked at by us is no longer each itself. nature becomes restored to the one thing. (richard feynman)


we might kill a great many things, but mostly those things that we name, i think. the things that we have riven. there will always be that thing beyond the naming. won't there? perhaps we should take solace here. let our optimism live in the place where a pure fire will, despite our destructive efforts, endure.


jaccottet. jaccottet and his hope. his souring. his sour hope. his hope.

1966, August

     Heat that nourishes, sets on fire, disheartens. The world seems lost indeed, at times; a total view of it is impossible to bear, a view that encompasses its violence, its shame. Children exposed like that, clear eyes, joy in their heart.


     All I have written, and, particularly, the clearest, the most serene lines, I have, without a doubt, written only to push back the unknown, to keep it at a distance, the fear that is coming closer now, and triumphs, sometimes, at night.

     The brush of mortal light that is supposed to open up the future for us drives us out of hiding everywhere.
     Where is the Being that will give us strength? Who will give us a moment of respite when we can almost no longer break out of weariness? What is the resurrection? The story of a dream?

     That Being is farther away than the farthest point in the sky, more unknown than the unknown. A child has ample time to scream before it intervenes.

     How do you build?

     There are times when I understand those wretched young people who sleep on the stones of our towns and are only vaguely aroused by desire, from time to time: why walk upright, why procreate, why maintain in such a world? Their laziness no doubt responds all too eagerly to that resignation.

     Others are always in a hurry....The patience they will need to pay for that race! But who could blame them, knowing the world in which they live. Like an anthill, and an enormous stick has poked into it, one day, to see. The stick of Hiroshima. The cudgel of knowledge. 


1967, May

     The earth in cracks, in scales, like a ruin. Fertile, flowery ruins. Everything builds up from a central spot, and widens, multiplies, or scatters itself. Genealogical trees. Doomed, bold seeds. To feel yourself a seed of a very old plant—you can't see the roots any more....

     It is still in the realms of magic for me, the low mountain under the almost white sky, beyond a close field, beyond the trees against the light, humming with wind; the mountain as a patch of sky, less clear. What is it, then?

     A dome as seen from here, a flattened ridge and the sky is even more light above it.

     No volume, no relief, no details, rising above the trees, and more light too, where it touches their tops; hence the impression that it is light, floating, suspended. Colour? Hardly: like smoke in the air.

     I had guessed an essential element of that magic before: lightness. I think I am discovering another one this morning. Hard to define. It struck me as I turned around. It was (I think) as if there had been some presence (friendly) on my left, somebody (protection?). Maybe tied up with childhood memories?

     As if I had always had that blue presence on my left, as far back as my memory goes, by no means heavy or hostile, on the contrary: benevolent.

     I think it must be, once again, for me, another image of the happy limit that does not stifle.


Philippe Jaccottet, Seedtime


if i mind my own business... and only my own business...


(but when i'm not looking
my mind-breasts body-breasts are monsters!

they have you in their sights!

and you will become 
their little slaves!)

Monday, May 16, 2016

driving toward june, the radio playing

you are dreaming in the world which is awfully current,
grabbing your attention off to the side of the road,
pulling you from the gravel into the unbanked water
which is not deep near shore but the bottoms muddy

as you are lured off playfully by will-o'-the-wisp or 
searching the tree trunks for moose legs, threats appearing 
so unabashedly akin to what's normal it would seem ironic: 
straight/straight, brown/brown, but categorically 
removed from the realm of moral. 

you are talking to your daughter by your side 
(she has one dry jean leg folded comfortably under her dry body), 
checking your rearview mirror and smiling at your son in the back 
as you're progressing, but you can't seem to straighten the wheel.

all the while time is moving incrementally forward,
hooking on the teeth that won't let anything slide backward.
huh, you think - this is as philosophical as it gets, huh, 
as the water is deepening and what's underneath to give friction 
softens and there you are all sitting dry in the box moving deeper into the lake, 

each new fruit-born moment pressing 
like a damaged shadow on your left elbow, the car moving further
out calmly to the depths, the world's mechanics transferring you,
a benign signed document which will, at an assigned moment, 
initiate an expeditious procedure, moved from one hand into the other.  

perhaps only five seconds have passed since the curtains lifted on this dream
but all of the happenings are fanning open like the novel dropped to the grass
composing your entire story. when you awaken no one has drowned. 
you left everyone dry, moving forward, so far safe.
the car has not even become fully submerged, 

but your heart feels more woeful than ever, as though it were
a strawberry plant chosen in the course of the nighttime 
just after bud break to be rimed speciously in frost, 
anxious now for the bank of sunlight raising its warm edge of oblivion, 
and you turning yourself and your children's faces toward it.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

secluded delusion, with tintinnabulation

the bell rings and the children trickle forward.
the bell rings and their footprints seek to touch and smolder 
the growing inferno of grass shards blaringly greenening the hill.

everything is merry and the children trickle forward.
the bell rings and the green hill grows greener and greener and greener.

but before the bell surely there was silence.
and before the bell surely reigned the stagnant widow winter.
and before the bell the bell ringer was sleeping surfeitly in his bed.

then the bell rings and the world is contagious in her moving order.
then the bell rings as though the something maiden inaugurated long ago
is about to be gauntleted again.

but before the bell was it that the green was stoppered?
and before the bell was all of laughter decanted?
and before the bell did the children sleep winter-long in their beds?

but the bell rings and the little feet meet the green in scamper.
and the bell rings, the palimpsest of last season's silence long since forgotten.
and the bell rings, subpoena for the green pen to write each burgeoning bud newly
over and over and over again.

Friday, May 13, 2016

becoming a phoenix

fire leaps from the mother's pelvic bone
vivifies, scouring you a place

nested suckling blanket for the eventual shredding
the tying, the murdering, the maundering
the defending, the descending of buildings and windows
fire eating all the way down the corded chain

old running shoes for the running of coals
rusted bike frame for conveyance 
motion a flame, rust the active agent
shoe box of memories cyclical starting perch for flame

enervated mind withering, sagging
smoke wings rising, prayer hands in faith

tinder in the hooked mouth as you go: who am i? wait!

becoming dust

Thursday, May 12, 2016

woman child

you've been poured into a bottle which defies you.
you want something. you're frustrated.

stomping your feet no longer affects the world
but you stomp them anyway.

i am old enough to be removed from the anger of my body.
i'm somewhere up above, kind of in a spider's web.

this is how it will be, i think, the body will be dying 
and you will try to stomp it back in.

but you can't always get what you want
and you don't this time. 

it's something small. it's always something small 
and unalterable that equals the total horizon.

i'm staring at your face. you are amazed
that the force of each stomp is not completing your will.

the floor remains exactly unchanged.
our bodies are shouting at one another.

but the physical world remains on its spinning path.
i am dazzled by the light in your eyes.

your passion. it is radical. the light wine carries.

Sunday, May 8, 2016


i had a dream: my love gave to me a wolf's pelt.
my first response was happy.
sleep-buoyed i knew by hand this was important.
the air was clarified clairvoyance.
                                       oh waking mind, how was this significant?
was the animal missing?
was it present?
was the pelt a token to invoke the asking?
                                         my love gave to me a wolf's pelt.
i awoke, naked and disquieted. 

my love gave to me flowers.
a letter. a poem.
his soul...

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

dance has no memory

if you have gone into the world to remember yourself
go again - you have forgotten

if you've put your face fully to the surface of the wet eye to quench your thirst
you are dehydrated - drink again

if you have eaten from the garden
your bones are emaciated - prepare to use your teeth once more

you must take the muscle of the world into your orifices - over and over
you are hollow

you who think you might be done
you only begin to learn life, death's waltz, the one long funeral paced boogie

Monday, May 2, 2016

the stage was set in the 70's, cabin at whiskey lake

there were the four of us, the next generation,
and we were placed where we would be placed forever
as the tornado drove its darkling face over the lake
proving to each of us the magnitude of a dark nothing,
its starling power. timmy was yet in my mother's worried body, 
where he has stayed. michael's pale skin was kind of sacrificed 
in a frail chair against the cabin's door. karrie was set central, busy,
battening hatches and tending to whatever flurry would rise 
in the matter of a minute. i was put off to the side in the bed like a boat 
from which i could watch while i floated, bobbed and tossed,
slightly anchored. i imagine none of this was exactly chosen 
but chose us as the world chooses in due course 
where to impale her trees and how to run her bodies of water. 

                                                    the tornado worked her
indifference over us in battering waves. the sticks of the cabin held.
we maintained our places.

                                                    my father was steadfastly absent.