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cold feeling hit my chest first
sensation like a strong black hand
pressing into my heart
not the physical heart
but the place where dreams
and terror are made
cold wind through the forest
rattled fragile gold beech leaves
the trees trembled
not so stoic as the dark hemlock
with the crown shattered out of it
some remembrance of lightning
the roadside head of the trail
no one dared go out with their dogs
on such a day
the path packed hard as ice
under burden of past visitors
in this silence
down by the bow
where the river dances circles
and laughs endlessly
at the chill sky
escape from the icy grasp
of cedar fingers
dipped in dark grinning shallows
Windows shudder against the wind
Cars below are running blind
through streams like milk
ploughs thunder through the pre-dawn
city waking to quarrel with the sky
The transport ministry's web site
has closed due to zero visibility
and a problem loading
heavy traffic bumper to bumper
through annals of indecision
as masters of the Earth
count the cost of lost productivity
brace against the wind
and wallow in helplessness
Tomorrow when the wind has died
two brothers from the farm
along forty-third line
will cross the road
to the deep ditch
dig a tunnel and excavate
a sanctuary in the womb of the snow
For now the workers turn up the heat
and stay at home
ensconced in a lost fortune
Then we were captive to the dry land
compelled to mine its perilous hills
for the rare king of spices.
Sweet pepper caught in our nostrils
when wind tore open the plains.
We dreamt of earning majesty
or falling and drowning in quicksand
dry tomb pulling us down
to the careless heart of the desert
Under spinning sand
wake to a night sky vision
endless sea that stretches forever
dream water corrodes these shackles
to break and carry us away.
We will become nomads of the stars
but always a barren road
leads to another slavery
of our own devising
Yesterday while writing in poetic style I noticed that 100 words seemed to be going on and on and on. Then I got to the last line and noticed the site only counted one of two words. So I cut and pasted the whole piece into WordPerfect; it counted 115 words total. Caught in the act! Apparently the site counts words preceded by a period or the space key, but not words preceded only by a hard return. So I have to decide whether to start writing this stuff in a word processor (hassle!), or stick with poetic prose style.
Late afternoon a gentle wind pulls the grey smudge south and the sun emerges blinking and sore-eyed as one who has slept all day, casts you an aching smile. But time has lost patience and won't endure this visit for long. Invisible strands wrap the sleepy devil down toward an appointment with the gates of hell where it must crush through steel corridors and cells. The bright lion of heaven condemned to a nightly imprisonment when solitude feels endless. He drags great gripping fingers longingly across the land, helpless as a child who cannot grasp the imminence of tomorrow.
The February night sends no lions
to roar along alleyways,
no trampling mammoths
or hellish serpents coiling
around foundations of churches
and capitalist edifices.
It brings no manacles or stocks,
no keys to lock us in cells,
no mace, cudgel or sword,
no dish of pills like a night nurse
no valium or morphine.
There comes neither fiery hail
nor flow of molten rock,
not even lightning
tearing through dark,
but only this delicate fall
in the still night
burying cars and concrete
drowning all ugliness
muffling all sounds
ending our plans
locking us away
subduing us utterly.
It is not my way to be rude
or even speak objections
but when I keep it inside
it keeps returning.
Last night I could not remember
why I felt so drained and sad.
It came over like a cloud
and dragged me down
This morning when I awoke
you came to mind
and my heart started to pound.
It is the panic of speaking
and the consequences.
It is the dread of not speaking
to watch you
slowly cut me out of your life.
Unless I speak
I have no one but myself to blame.
Sometimes the sun tears a day to pieces
or tears wear an endless night to exhaustion.
Not even the seasons can be trusted.
Every time around, they change the rules
just to keep a heart on the edge of breaking.
Worst of all the moon with her recondite smile
throws a spell across the vacuum
if only to convince the soul she is a live
till all the seas pull with mighty longing.
While day by day she gradually turns
her face into the concealing veil
to hide the bareness of her white skull
cold in the isolation of space.
Two men walk quickly toward you
††† in a deserted street,
no phone call from your lover
††† when he usually calls,
the back door standing open
††† when you come home,
returning to the empty bench
††† where you forgot your camera,
waving goodbye to a frail grandmother
††† who lives far away,
dropping your car keys
††† down the park toilet,
walking onto the stage
††† and forgetting your lines,
watching your cat chase another
††† onto a busy street,
running out of gas on a side road
††† in a snowstorm,
an unfamiliar tone of voice
††† when your boss calls you,
you must know the feeling.
The squirrels do not flatten forests to build their cities, but where one squirrel would not have tolerated another nest in the same tree, now they cram together five or six houses in a single large maple. In fact the squirrels plant forests, not out of any particular concern for conservation, but simply as a consequence of their desultory eating habits, an acorn stashed here, a few beechnuts forgotten there. They build forests the way the humans build garbage dumps. The squirrel population began to increase exponentially after they became more extensively omnivorous and developed skills for herding domestic cats.
In the bitter dusk
sullen geese roost on the frozen river.
In the valley of sleepers
side fields of webbed tracks
search for an opening, bit of food,
along white wasteland boundary,
down the middle a dark upwelling garden
frozen silent in mid-bloom
hints of blue-grey darkness underneath,
but not a trickle or murmur
of urgent dreams racing for the sea
escape this ice imprisoned landscape.
Not a glimpse until the paralyzed course
rounds under the bridge into slanted sunlight
and wakes from a gap into vocal argument
a dark ribbon of dissatisfied noise
peels from its bed of trance.
Mango Passionfruit brightens dull mornings
Chamomile Nights with lotus dark and calm
Lemon Blossom for cheer
Licorice Spice a sweet dessert
Cinnamon Vanilla bedtime treat
Lindentree green and ethereal
Mandarin Orange Spice ripe and robust
Breathe Easy with licorice, mint
††† and medicinal Bi Yan Pian
Fennel Seed for digestion
Osmanthus Fragrance Flower for whatever
Caffeine allowed only Friday mornings:
Taylors of Harrogate Green Tea With Ginger
Black tea with blackcurrant a good wakeup
Russian Caravan like swigging pine smoke
††† (a favourite)
A cup of candy Pineapple Coconut
Now drawer complete without Earl Grey
But thatís not all
This kind of sleep gives a body the feeling
it is slowly being digested,
an intractable peristalsis
crushes interminably from head to foot
awash in a rinsing liquor
of its own secretions
as an earthworm slides
through the governance of its cool
channels of its home
become one with its being
a comfortable pottery of substrate and mucus
so this apartment gradually fills
with the castings of a geophagous dream
head pressing its diet
from room to room
an environs of migranous furniture
a jumble of uncoordinated utility
throughout this grim lair
where consciousness and habitation are one
This morning hollowness of mind
an earthen vessel into which
††† the fluid of a day will pour.
The function of the lonely clay
††† inscribed with ideographs
implying intended function for the dry pitcher
in fact conveys an entire unrelated mythology
of intentions to be carried out
††† whenever the dreamer awakes
from this pall of lethargy.
How much can anyone learn about a culture
by examining its dishes?
The time contains no meaning
††† until the carrier fills it.
Until then we must resort to scripted dialogues
careful recitation of the words
the power of seeming to be
††† a lesson in incantation.
Donít know how to break through
this cold endeavour
to the heart of language
and pulsing warmth of narrative
that springs from the Earth
as life of its own.
All the world is encased
in this rigid skin
waiting for a moment
when something slips apart at the zipper
and the whole thing creeps
out of itself
like a spider giving birth
to its own new self.
What memories of past generations
does the shell of the planet contain?
It crumbles, smokes and sloughs off
these few molecules into the void,
a breath of blue
into deep fastness of dark.
Glimmer of life in the rock
not only the solidified record
of an ancient coral sea
but the filament of something now
fingers its way through cracks and pores
a corpuscle of algae
slip of lichen
boring down, finding foothold
in clefts where ravages of wind
and fire never penetrate.
Earth secretes its progeny
far away from prying eyes,
against the time when our
leaching and bleaching poisons
have sterilized the upper reaches.
Then life will emerge again
from deep rifts and cracks.
Proteins encrypted into the very stone,
time will decode the legend
of the beginning times once more.
Why is it so hard
to place one word
after another upon the screen?
you must come face to face
with your own emptiness.
It reminds me of what I used to pray:
ďCome fill me Holy Spirit.Ē
Looking for love.
Whether or not you believe
in gods or doves
you must crawl out of your
and address the universe each day.
Ultimately you are alone
and must find an answer;
must fill the space with words.
They are your companions.
If you choose bitterness
thatís what you have to live on.
Broken torn apart rubbish of ancient cities blown into a fiery molten mass of rage flowing through the kiln of human matter no sign to the hope of any relief just trying to break through this steel curtain wish the words for a revolution would unleash at last and war tearing stripping all the patina off this ancient stone statue that would come to life if the rain carried more acid from poison skies bearing endless malaise over the countryside pouring strewn lava volcanic ash and the mass of pent up anger yes anger as red as poppies she wears.
Rubbing shoulders at farmers' market: familiar faces, few have names. The cartoonist with raven hair every Saturday for years, now some silver streaks his temples. The Mexican Mennonite with a beard long as mine and a ready smile sells gluten-free corn chips. I say, "I missed you last week." He replies, "We couldn't make it." It is as much conversation as we have ever made. I always want flowers but never buy them. Today I shell out $2.50 for a bunch of dark red tulips, and return home to my quiet cocoon. Nothing moves, cars shush beyond the windows.
You have to find the path, the way you go, the place that turns you on like the button on a microwave. Open yourself like an apartment on a spring day. Slide up the windows and let the wind blow through. It is a delicate balance between confidence and openness. Confidence holds onto your foundation, your root, things you value, what you want to achieve. Openness is a letting go, allowing yourself to be moved and persuaded, letting your consciousness blossom like spring meltwater upwelling through the ice. Keep your toes rooted in Earth, your brain open as a cavern.
Two couples meet on the path, one middle-aged and the other younger. They each have two dogs, ranging from bouvier size on down. Dogs provide an eternal ice breaker. They stop to visit and humans take their cue, remembering we too are a social species. The people stand in a tight circle, four pillars, while their pets circle like planets.
I do not own a dog. I have brought my camera to the park. I give the chaotic party a wide berth, skirt along the bank of the river, pausing to photograph reflections. One dog comes to visit me.
If I were in charge of the world I would not have a clue what to do. I would say, "Let's all go for a walk." If I were in charge of the world there would be no banks and your worth would not be measured by how much you have. If I were in charge of the world, everyone able would take part in procuring food and shelter for all the members of the local community. If I were in charge of the world, people would live life on Earth rather than giving their lives for treasure somewhere else.
We try to shut out the night
lay our day lights across
the field of dark stone rivers
like a net to catch stars
in the matrix of Earth.
It still closes around us.
The stars break their taut ropes
and drag us dazzled
into the timeless depths
to drown in their radiance.
The night is expert
at pulling us aghast, sweating
from our beds into a streaming
sequence of visions.
The lunar orbiter
has created an image of the moon
so high in resolution
you can fall into her face
and get shipwrecked
in all her seas.
The CBC weather forecaster effused: a beautiful spring day. I wouldn't go so far. It was a beautiful late winter day, temperature around freezing, the sun lingering a little longer after I left work and wandered through Riverside Park. River pouring through the dam felt dangerous as drowning in its cold speed across worn stone, standing waves glowing golden-green in the sun. Along the northward path the black willows stood in high relief, their spidery shadowed arms grasping at the sky. I turned around and found a twisted elm suddenly all aglow, exultant in return of sun and light.
A clear desk in sunshine with a vase of tulips and view of the snowy road outside. A little time and space to one's self is like a magic wardrobe, a rabbit's hole or a mage's transferral process. It opens space and time so one can push through to Looking-Glass Land, Brogdingnag or Earthsea. Sometimes I make the crossing here on my laptop, or there at my desk withs a candle burning in the dark, or after work when stopping to sit on a bench by the river until my eyes are drawn to a far stand of pines.
I have started leaving my camera at home, the better to see the things I need to write about, the ineffable elements of a landscape like the derisive cackling of a mallard responding to a noisy flock of geese flying overhead, the duck's silhouette all but lost in the glare of falling afternoon sun in the middle of the stream, a sight useless and unappealing to a photographer yet which draws the senses and curiosity of a writer who tries to penetrate the winter fire into the mind of a jaded bird who would discourage landing of fifteen larger creatures.
How strange. I missed writing here once again. Mere forgetfulness. I woke in Danny's bed Sunday morning, went downstairs, and started to work on the newest incarnation of my website. I am obsessed with this work. This is what I need: to find the groove in which work becomes a game. I spent most of the morning setting up an Amazon widget to sell books I would like to recommend. I'm still tinkering with the first post for the new blog. When I read it, it sound like so many other blogs, selling advice and ideas. Where is my voice?
My voice lies in the hollow of your arm under the shoulder of the hill. It will blow through the maple forests when they erupt lambent with embryonic leaves to the kiss of the April sun. Sometimes it is silent like dark cryptic water flowing under the river ice. Sometimes it is loud when Georgian Bay waves make love to the ancient dolostone cliffs. I need to find it and be true to it, be free, not sell my words into slavery. If you present the genuine article, the connoisseurs will recognize it and be willing to pay, or not.
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