Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Rain on Glass

It's raining here, 
a mournful spring rain.

I guess I might just go out and drive slowly.

I've been thinking how when I was young 
and it was raining, I would daydream, 
the rain hitting the classroom windows. 
It was a real treat. 

It would be a treat too
to be sick and stay home. 

It is also wonderful, 
the rare days off work 
when we are scheduled so much. 

Always the real reward 
is set against the deprivation.

I miss you.

I daydream.

First There is Force

The first 
that we're aware of 
is force

   [Before -
   there was 
   nothing]

Something pushing something

Always 
on the conveyor belt
we look up

But it's in 
that we should 
peer

We must 
learn 
to penetrate
nothing

*

I am kissing these hands - ing

The sunlight's shining down on me - ing

The bouquet of flowers is exploding - ing

The transcontinental plates are shifting

*

At the edge of the horizon 
the mirror slices the image of my ship in two

Only one half remains, its image

The other half does not disappear, ing
but has simply vanished.

Vexillology

Whatever happened last night is over.
Maybe you got drunk. Shouted at your kid.
Walked down the mall corridor with toilet paper
winding from your pant leg. Maybe you, 
just for a moment, forgot your promise.
Maybe you were a monster. Maybe a mite.

Today is here. 
Strike the flagpole. Vibrate with density.
Pull the cord.

The Circumference of Shape

If you think you have it
then roll it in yarn
stick feathers to it
soak it in sassafras
then burn it
sprinkle it with parsley
force-feed it to the dog
while he's out on his walkabout
he'll casually shit it out
then bury it

Maybe then you will begin to see it.

Monday, February 27, 2017

It's Late

The curtain between our rooms is opened.
I have fallen asleep with my broken glasses on

holding Anna Karenina, heavy in so many ways, its
pages rifled open but eased back into the blankets

like a sleeping infant, my own hands yet creased 
as though around a bottle. My son has forgotten 

why he's come in and so instead just says, Mum, 
remember when your moccasins were too big 

for my feet? Playfully he demonstrates he can't even 
squish the width of his toes inside them. We both seem 

amazed that this was the truth and now the truth has 
been rewritten. Again he lifts the curtain. I take off 

my glasses.Turn off the light. Remind myself to wrap 
his birthday presents in the morning.

Longing For Soft Silk

That time of the serial killing,
the ditched mama otter 
in her slashed pelt
and whoever
staged the fetus,
coiled symmetrically 
beside her.

The porcupine, center road,
torn open 
to a Jacob's ladder.

The tortoise shell 
crushed
to a bowl of tokens.

And that hedgehog
weaving 
its last maze,
dribbling 
from its mouth,
wearing 
its crown of chemo.

Here I am shipwrecked in February,
every surface glinting its thousand eyes
of impenetrable diamond.

Winter, you refrigerator, you absence, 
ice-formed axiom mask, what coldness,
how you withhold from me!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

When You Are Done, It Begins

You have written 
the thousand masticating minutiae.

You've sharply glanced your wicked eye 
into the envelope's sealed bowers

and danced headlong around 
time's crumbling columns.

You've fashioned your self as sieve
and strained the muck of the world.

Now that it has passed, what's left,
the emptiness, molts itself a chrysalis,

and ensconced, begins transfiguration
to negative form,  perfect like crystal. 

Perhaps one day you'll write the poem
with no hands, no face

and a mind that merges with sky 
as cuneiform as colour.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

X Versus Y

It's a day in the year of our Lord like any other,
motor cars, flower bouquets, fashionable sequiturs,
except that God died a while back for us
and irony became the substrata we invent upon.

There's a spill on the bedroom floor,
an upturned inkwell seeping its sail toward you.
If Tolstoy's characters were nervous and lost 
in the strange wheel turning in 1873 Moscow,
what then can you hope for, 
you
ceaselessly 
modern 
bastard children?

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Roan

Suddenly he raises his proud face,
snorts gasconades of filth and fire,
concusses the ground
stamping his place.

Like gneiss: I too have raced plains!
Laboriously plucked my way over mountain ranges
and braced through the depths of the sea's rage!
I too dare love.

He rolls his mad eyes and exhales.
I taste the green decay of his fanatical singlemindness.
He has met me this time at the city's gate, 
a comparable specimen, perhaps more,
at least the same,
my son, fifteen.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Translating Tranströmer

Taking Tranströmer's Allegro
I kick out every second key
and climb right inside Haydn's piano.
Sure, it could be a prison.
But feeling the wires wrung so,
metaphorical wings can grow.
The clangour becomes more than

a flying carpet or rolling stone.

Like piloting a war plane
I command the music.


*
Allegro by Tomas Tranströmer

Jag spelar Haydn efter en svart dag
och känner en enkel värme i händerna.


Tangenterna vill. Milda hammare slår.
Klangen är grön, livlig och stilla.


Klangen säger att friheten finns
och att någon inte ger kejsaren skatt.


Jag kör ner händerna i mina haydnfickor
och härmar en som ser lugnt på världen.


Jag hissar haydnflaggan – det betyder:
»Vi ger oss inte. Men vill fred.«


Musiken är ett glashus på sluttningen
där stenarna flyger, stenarna rullar.


Och stenarna rullar tvärs igenom
men varje ruta förblir hel.


*


Allegro (my translation)

I play Haydn after a black day
and a homely warmth comes into my hands.

The keys want. Mild hammers strike.
The clangour is green, lively, yet still.

Reverberations say that freedom is
and that someone does not pay the emperor taxes.

I push down my hands in my Haydnpockets
and copy someone who looks upon the world composed.

I hoist the Haydn flag - it means:
"We won't give in. But want peace."

Music is a glasshouse on a slope
where stones fly and stones roll

and stones roll straight through,
while each panel remains whole.

What the Heart Wants

The heart that is a snake
demands a neck to drape. 

The neck demands a head.
The head - a hat, a hat tree and a pillow.

The heart that is a horse
demands a plain.

The plain demands a moon.
The moon demands the heart again.

And so the heart moves   on 
unfaithful.  [Yet also boldly faithful.]

The heart that is a house
demands a chair.

The chair demands a saw.
The saw demands a crossbeam.

The crossbeam calls forth a noose.
The noose recalls the neck.

A kiss is laid.
Something betrayed.

And the chair tends to get knocked over.

At the heart of every heart
lies a shell.

The shell's exterior belies its swirl.
As below a shelf twists a vortex.

Every conch requires its ear.
Its trial. Its complex hearing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

another of my mother's brothers is dying, notes

uncle norman has a tumour in his head. despite the fact that it is shrinking, he would like someone to put a bullet in its place. no one will, of course, and so uncle norman has stopped eating.

my mother and i have a show-down at her kitchen table. i'm almost fifty, i say. oh ya, can't beat me, eighty.

it is impossible.

my mother is on her way to visit uncle norman. maybe she can say something to convince him to eat.

it is impossible.

yesterday i found the piece Lu Yu wrote about his beloved books.

The Wind and the Rain by Lu Yu

Though I am seventy, I do not want to leave my books;
I fear that only death will be able to snatch me away from them.
I wake and poke at the lamp beneath my window,
And so I pass through this night of wind and rain.

i don't think uncle norman reads.

i don't want my mom to convince uncle normal to eat. while he wastes away i would like her to read to him.

what a possibility.
when i am old and dying
 accompany me with strength
withhold food, serve words instead

Passenger

Whatever animal it is
that you carry in your hands

Look down
be surprised

It has fur 
and beneath that, body

It has breath
and beyond your hands, direction

Be it joy, or the most harrowing sorrow
it is your animal

You carry it

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Six Hands For Wringing

On the one hand 
You took your sword and stabbed me

On the other hand
I opened the door and gave you temporary refuge

On the one hand
We made a house of mirrors, poured with a soft core

On the other hand
We made a baby, an exterior plane of reflection and a soft place of resistance where death would frighten the living
Over and over and over again

Monday, February 20, 2017

Assembling a Bouquet of Broken Branches (day 1)

They tell me that I should slow in gloom
and take the time to gather
all the little wooden sticks 
which have fallen from my bundle.
They tell me that I should measure 
the distance between each stick 
as though between boundaries of towns. 
Should allow the light to write its long 
and drawn out ambling trajectory of saga.
Should meanwhile fill with finger foods 
naming each stick like a beloved child.
They stress to me that time is essential.
They say, stand silently in the stream of it.
Don't scream. Don't a write a poem on day one.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Because I Hated It

When I was there 
I hid inside
an oversized sweater. 
I hid beneath 
my hair. 
I hid around 
my boyfriend's penis,
behind my 
challenging attitude.
I hid in plain sight 
in the bunker
of anger. 
Sarcasm 
was a staircase
that led 
even deeper. 
Sometimes 
I hid outside 
school, 
walking
the small-town streets 
called Mausoleum.
And here I am 
chatting about it
twenty-some years later, 
unable to detect 
any reason 
for hating it.
What is liking something 
after all,
but a slow brewed gratitude 
born on the feet of 
an aging amnesia?

Thanks for the chance of balking.
Thanks for the opportunity 
for anything at all.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ailment, Followed by a Question

The end of the hour troubles me.
I claw back.
The edge of twilight cuts.
I close my eyes.

Two rabbits rend the hedgerow.
Is one chasing the other?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Blueprints

Those who remain in the privacy of their antechambers
retain the full measure of their energies.

Those in their bedrooms powdering and scenting
are really engaged in the spendthrift of exiting.

Those in the kitchen who are shackled by turnips
and tendered by meat hooks, spend to feed.

Those in the parlour, the foyer, on the front porch, 
are stitching and stitching on their high hog badge-like teeth.

The gentleman on the sidewalk in his coattails
circuitously walking his rottweiler and chihuahua 
is expending fully through this fine caprice.

Let us not forget the hermit TaoYuanming.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Waiting For the Grasses in Andrew Wyeth's Painting To Move and Betray Death

           Thinking of Mark Woods~

November First - you will never move again.

Death, you are so still.

We had been daydreaming along with our guides and brochures,
meandering through the galleries, beneath the stars 
alongside the farm's well stocked corn cribs
until we were struck still by your motionless visage of grasses,
your voice voiceless.

Let's say: nary a hair moved again upon the grisled chin.

Is every painting a death knell?


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Circus Exceeds The Circus

The circus resides inside the ring
but is the fluidity of its gyroscopic parts.
The elephant is roped but the motion
of its leather legs can never be contained
between anyone's driven thighs or by token.
And the trapeze artists,
while they swing from post to post,
their minds soar between the spines 
of cracked books and glossy magazine covers.

I have never really wanted the nouns.
Have any of us?

Confronted by the megaphone of my past,
the gimpy man who's climbed to the top 
of the soapbox to exclaim,
with his tinsel voice, the tin shell of the old 
glitter embellished pronouncements,
the gentlest response I can muster 
is, let this poor man have for himself
a monkey. May it sit upon his shoulder
with a chin-strapped cap and some
fine ornamental epaulettes, making kinlike sounds,
keeping him warm.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Like a Leaf in the Fluctuating Forest

Likeness, what are you exactly?
Metaphor for—? Like the
endless sky on a loop
like that of a Fisher-Price toy.
Like an armload of wood
glutted to a hardwood 
floor. Like hauling a bucket
of water (not the water itself
but the real heft of hauling it). 
Likeness, you have so many days, 
more than a week, but a lifetime.
A pretext, a projection, a cipher, a glyph,
like your mum...
Once similar to that soap opera star.
When exactly like you?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Funhouse

The whole of the floor of the world tilts one way 
toward the fantastic baubles
reflected in the bombastic mirrors. 
Slammed
against the walls, men right themselves
and are measured for suits, relax
into weekend clothing.

What I want you to know is
that while the surge swells left, 
you can go right.
     Jump off the cantment,
light and land amongst the deer
who can.

Tungsten

The company said tungsten
and so we all lowered our thoughts
and began to herald tungsten 
as the right and rich behaviour.
Tungsten, we thought while we slept.
Tungsten, we urged, 
and our breasts dried up.
Tungsten, you bastards, tungsten!
And our minds refined and firmed
and our fleshy thighs interred,
and our teeth, while we smiled, 
flashed callous, metallic.
Success. There was finally success!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Another Faint Note in February (notes longing for the bridge)

It must be recreated.

A note that goes out and is longed for again.

It can not die.

Although it does sicken back.

It must find resurrection. Find new form! Rise!

The fingers can draw it forth, the tongue, the mind.

It can not be abridged by hope or apprehended by violence.

Forgetfulness has its place. Thank god, thank god for forgetfulness.

The Profundity of Stricture (A Practice Performance)

We drive for hours to arrive beside the big and frozen water with its proficient wind,
to sit and give ourselves over (after reading a few poems) to the soft erasure of sleepiness,
and to listen through the cracks in our restfulness to the constant discipline of winter's banishment of 
leaf, flutter, creature and happening.

We sleep on, sleep on, listening.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

the damned bowl

we wanted a special bowl
and so we bought one

and we kept it for years
but somehow it wasn't special enough

and so we bought a table to set it upon
and we kept them for years, wanting

and so we bought a special house
and moved the table and the bowl inside

and we kept them for years
appraising, often, the light in and out through the windows

in the spring we filled the bowl with fresh washed pebbles
and in the summer berries
by fall acorns
and in winter the puckered faces of clementines 

one night there was a fire...

the one shard of blue glass with soot
how it made us ache

we wanted a special bowl.

*

a grain of salt plus light

eating the body of the universe through a green bean,
cracking through that green door to water,
one can not help but be amazed how
the aqueous conception becomes matter,
and then how that body opens up its mouth
to take inside it, once again, the prime ideas:
translocation, change, touch and charge.

*

tao

the brown earth, which has no will
finds itself frozen solid in winter

          and worked open in spring by the momentum of a brook
          born only by transition. 

*

three variations of a single song

i.) a break moves across glass
because perfection is greedy for it

ii.) a crack moves along glass
because the fracture is implicit in wholeness

iii.) while kissing each of my baby's fingers
her laugh breaks, as does the delicate shield on my soul

something begins draining away
as something else is filling

Friday, February 10, 2017

After Hours

It's two a.m. I'm standing on an otherwise deserted street,
socks well used and falling loose at my ankles. What might it look like,
a middle aged woman with her hands pressed to the glass of a dirty window?
I'm thinking about the moon and how each ocean wave cradles the orb.
Might we be afraid of immanence for fear of being proved wrong?
Two a.m. on an otherwise deserted street, a junk shop at my fingertips.
Prove immanence wrong then! I will yet be drunk on something.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Measuring the World By Eye

Nestled inside the forty grey days
is the one sunny day of winter
which throws the perfect shapes
of objects atop the snow without
hesitation. The shed, the hedges, 
the neighbour's newish apple trees,
now occupy our backyard like
the ladderback of a chair occupies
a child's horizon if he's hiding
beneath the table. Around the edges
of this single tableau I see other
"like" winter days from years ago,
everything bordered inside of me,
a season.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Letter To Some People Who Are Not Ex-Lovers

You, whom I am not writing about,
I am not writing about you.

For instance, Basho never knew me
and yet the juice of Kyoto's fruit stains my wrist.

I never met Pina Bausch however
one of us is miming, is miming the other's every step,

though Van Gogh's crazy dazzled spiraled heart comes for us,

it's not longing for me or you, but our projected view - the infinite,

and Jean Paul Sartre, you are only Jean Paul Sartre (and his works),
not the cold inhuman night I keep leaving.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Using a Chair

Sitting on it, of course.
Posing near it. 
A crutch for making love.
Tenting blankets.
Drying Clothes.
Changing the batteries in the smoke alarm.
Changing the colour of a room.
Paint the chair brown: sad room
Paint the chair yellow: be moved to fill a pitcher
with dandelions.
Decluttering agent - throw it outside.
Weapon - break it down.
Survival tool - burn it.
Measure time -  create a folium of photos of it.
Use its rungs as an abacus.
Peer through its slats.
Lick its varnish.
Wedged, wended, warped wood,
yet always a chair.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Compression

January is one thing, January and its idling of heaters,
January and its amber eyed cats, scintilla encircling the ankles,
its yellow light a pleasurable boundary rebounding off night's opaque windows.

But February is another. February with its daylight wending into six p.m.
February and its ice palaces under steadfast construction.
Its entombing blue ice casting its glass-cold light, a colossal still-born.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

evidence and impact, notes

how does one erase evidence?

long ago i wrote letters and journals. will destroying them alter me? do i burn them? will burning them upset the air? can i wet them and let the ink stains flow to the ground? what will ink do to the soil's precious nutrients? have we wreaked imbalance as soon as we have entered...

Yoshinori Mizutani's photos 

cormorants weigh the wires
flora, fauna and fishes suffer 
while black birds rise and flourish

all those years ago in northern thailand. i can see it now. 5pm and the lines were descended upon by hundreds of black birds. hanging above in lines as though watching. but i couldn't take the time to figure it out. to break through the foreign language. i too had descended for a time from the outside, invasive species. i too would quickly tear myself away.

cleanliness for a fee with lock and key:
white sheets, glass doors, soft bed
but i was used to floorboards

i sneaked from the room through the night
to escape the breathing next door
the man who had followed

from Austria?
foreign foreign foreign
twenty years later i can still smell him

of course there was my unforgivable trip to the nomadic village. i can never forget the ridiculousness of it. and yet never remember it well enough. broad green leaves woven through saplings as roofs, while we all flashed starkly like white sticks, standing, looking about the village. looking for what exactly? while they held and blended into to the trees. waited us out.

the difference between us and them
we paid a guide
they were their own

black birds in the wires
you left at twilight
but i still feel you there

today, seeing Yoshinori Mizutani's photographs, the thailand experience informs me on so many levels. the world's natural order and disruption. my foreignness. but too, the foreignness of others to me. i think then mostly i thought of myself as the misshapen one. and yet each relationship, while contiguous with the whole, is independent. it is between the two parties, one beholden only to the other.


on the guide's wooden floor

everyone else was paired
and so you drew close
two embryos ill-adapted to one another

words, journals, letters
you too are invasive
you too have black weight and white feathers

Friday, February 3, 2017

Deciding To Use Certain Words With The Children

We're reaching over a chasm...
We're monkeys rubbing pitfalls...
We're lost souls rummaging road signs...
Humans gaping over a rattle-bag of gadgets...

Our eyes are sad.
Our eyes are daring.
Our eyes are desperate, lonely, longing, savage.

What will our eyes cleave to?

The wrench to rectify?
The wrench to envelope?
The wrench to cast?

The son is breathless.
His eyes are eternities with particular haunted hollows.
He reaches hoveringly into void's starkness.

The mother interrupts. 

Instead, she suggests,
let's just say it as it is, cruel.

(*the actual word i suggested we use was mean. the words he was thinking were not descriptive but destructive.)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

And So (We Find Happiness in the Gaps)

If we have a stone
     we like a stone
          for an hour
               and then smash it

If we have a fire
     we admire it
          and then douse it

Having our bodies
     we cry for the sun

Flying towards the sun
     we cry for what we once were.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Poem In Which Living Takes Place

I am asleep and dreaming.
There is a room right off to the side
from where I'm sitting. 
The door is closed.
I can hear the splash of water.
My son waited all day long 

for my ex-husband to return 
and now he's smiling. 
I can feel it through the wall.
My ex-husband is lifting cup after cup
of water over my son's head
to wash clear the foam from his temples.
He follows each cupful with his hand
which moves from the end of his 
long thin familiar arm, making
sure our boy's eyes don't sting.
My son is telling his dad about
something funny that happened that day,
but he wouldn't know 
because he couldn't be there.
It hurts to listen through the walls
for more than one reason. 
The water is gentle 
and warm in its cycle.
Our son giggles but I know his 
shoulders must slump;
he is shyly testing the world 
from behind the aqueous curtain

I'm sleeping so well through this dream
it is genius and could last forever.

Then it strikes me, the only good plan,
to never teach our son to wash his own hair.