poetry

 

Taking her bag to be mended  
(from every robin i never quite saw – sonya smith)

The leatherman is a stranger
yet he thinks I look like someone
from a Canadian drama. It has an elk.

But I’m thinking of bears. Aurora, trucks
I ought to need. Goats, bighorn sheep,
a pack of dogs to deal with.

A canoe, in case. Icefields and thick walls,
satellite internet, them wishing they all could
reach me. Long underwear.

Hours and hours gathered around. Blankets.
A bedroom in the eaves for the kid to re-enact
film stills; dawn light on her face

playing on repeat to replace the leaving.
Peak, lake, waterfall; antidotes to loss.

 

The Painted Gate  
(from Wasted Rainbow – Caleb Parkin)

Anal sex, he says, is
inherently traumatic.
Then I say, and he parrots,
physiologically, as I fiddle
with the silver ring on my finger,
pick at the chair’s 1970s stitching.

Picture us from above.
Notice on these regulation
green walls, a single painting:
a garden gate, subsumed
by foliage. Observe the bristle
of its thorns, the bright red
syllables among its roses.

 

When I Read Diagnostic under CONFIDENTIAL 
(from Being Called Normal – Sarah Shapiro)

I think it’s related to esoteric mystical knowledge
like predicting rain from moisture in moss
or life through the aleph bet of gematria

should you wear a raincoat in this new
world of extreme weather     but the word
is just a fancy way to say test
say people spent their careers devising methods
to organize minds on a bell curve

what is the etymology of evaluation
now that’s a better word      all about worth
about value dependent on people’s subjectivity
to get it going      and together diagnostic
and evaluation are the appraisal and catalog
so what’s your price.

 

Mornington Place, Morning  
(from Frank & Stella – Mark Wynne)

face-to-face with the blue
trapezoid

 – velocity –
I could no more fix my mind

the double helix        fear
thrown out

 there was something about other people

 – their lightly dipped
hieratic heads  –

kiss-curl licks
swirl around their eye sockets

I smear paint from five-litre tins
– coax it, finger it –

pick at their stickiness

Tangier  
(from all it would take – marc swan)

‘Tangier is one of the few places left in the world where, so long
as you don’t proceed to robbery, violence, or some form of crude,
antisocial behavior, you can do exactly what you want.’

William S. Burroughs

When I say Tangier,
a small bell rings;
I hear a call to prayer
in language unknown to me,
think of Burroughs,
Kerouac, Ginsberg,
Corso, Ferlinghetti—
peripatetic Beats
who frequented those
dusty streets, narrow
alleyways, crowded
thoroughfares
slipping into the mix,
doing what they wanted to do,
no permission asked,
no red tape,
just getting there
was all it would take.

 

Analytics
(from Live Ones – Sadie McCarney)

Maybe the pigeons, manic
overeaters, peck too much
at their Pollock of used gum.

Maybe we try too hard to break
ancient gossip into gears and ions (something tangible) the way

off-white LED backlights dissect
the progress of the coming train.
If we need to know which train

arrives, it’s because the half-
light spurs us to separate fable
from witnessed fact. We need

data to file under Arguments
Against, charts to map a history
thick with theory: midges born

from rotten meat, gunpowder
in the elixir of life. We need
to be certain of people, of poems,

of sundry uncertain things. But
the pigeons peck. The half-light
beckons. That train is a silver question.

Flat One, 6am
(from Where, the Mile End – Julie Morrissy)

do those moments belong
to someplace else               somebody else
a giggle I don’t recognize
a dance I’ve never seen
skin against a door
a split second stirred

half thoughts

half words

half smiles

hang in air I can’t touch

air within––

cool blue surrounds a kitchen counter
at unexpected corners, my eyes cry
the sting of smooth leather

that counter

that counter

asserts itself, resolute
a boat in a basement
the roll and pitch of bodies

some days I turn the corner
at Bathurst and Ulster, fall flat on my knees
palms smack sidewalk

pop

Pennsylvania Back Then
(from Do Horses Fly? – Brendan Cleary)

i

in the 3-sided shed
I’m walking with the dead

running skipping & jumping
walking slow & fast

so in a dream was it?
water from years ago

stopped in mid-air
every splash & trickle

ii

ah the grids
the passing instants

wrestlers & athletes
wrinkles arriving

Blanche Eppler in 1885        
pouring water from a pitcher

unselfconscious & naked
half telling a story

half captured half free
long before the Talkies

before the Lumiere Brothers
their train making havoc

before Chaplin & Marilyn            
before The Matrix

a man with a beard
swinging a pickaxe

splitting the air
in the world above

cutting a shape
into Silicon Valley.