Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Lazy Song at Last

Lazy Song at Last

Write this on the breezes stirring
in this quiet, nameless spot where      

woodland rock descends to wetlands.
Take the ambitions I’ve no use for

anymore, sail them on a maple key
down this trickle emptying the bog.

With luck they’ll find the river I
hear faintly beyond the trees, maybe

reach Lake Huron before freeze-up.
But even if they stop at the next        

windless inlet, snagged on some chance
tangle of debris, it’s enough to watch

as they drift silently away, helped
by these straying breaths of pine.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Hold Hands

Hold Hands

     after Robert Fulghum

Hold hands, yes, when crossing busy streets,
or on icy sidewalks, or slippery stairs,
hold hands when walking in the park,
hold hands when walking up the street to the convenience
store and back again. Hold hands if you feel like it.
Hold hands when receiving milk from another’s body,
or offering it, or looking on as a not-so-innocent
bystander of whatever sex.
Hold hands before you kiss,
hold hands after making love.
Hold hands like they do in the movies
(there’s no need to try to be original),
hold hands when no one else is doing it
and when everyone in sight already is
(see originality). Hold hands with strangers,
not every chance you get (obviously) but
certainly far more often than you do now.
Hold hands when getting good news
you can’t believe, hold hands
when getting bad news you can.
Hold hands today, you’ll thank yourself tomorrow
and—this part’s magical—you’ll thank yourself yesterday
Hold hands when you feel like it and sometimes when you
don’t. Hold hands across a table in a restaurant
and in waiting rooms, and as the plane takes off
and lands. Hold hands when it’s obviously
the right thing to do, and sometimes when it might be
exactly the wrong thing—chance it then sometimes too.
Hold hands at your own times, for your own reasons.
Hold hands at home.
Hold hands with yourself (you don’t need
to call it prayer though you’re welcome to).
Hold hands when the lights go down
and when they come back up again.
Hold hands at awesome spectacles, hold hands
at ordinary ones, hold hands at famous fabulous
landmarks and famous boring ones and famous mixtures
                                                  of both.
Hold hands when you’re least expected to
and also when you’re most expected to
(this was said already but it’s important).
Hold hands at places and events too numerous
to mention and easily imagined by anybody:
beaches, fireworks displays, off and on in
movies, your child’s first recital, your child’s
last recital, someone’s graduation, entering or leaving
a cemetery etc. etc.
Hold hands fairly soon after reading this poem.
Hold hands long after you’ve forgotten it.
Hold hands when one or both of you
is going into the dark, and hold hands when one
of you doesn’t come back. Keep holding hands
a little longer when an official- or kind-sounding voice
tells you it’s time to let go, because it
isn’t quite. Not yet. Hold hands.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Drinking Frappuccinos on a Dementia Ward

Drinking Frappuccinos on a Dementia Ward

At last, the night-mind’s unconsoled colic                          
—bleak lashing tears, fumblings in shredded  
junk—gives way to day’s sweet milk you       
once brought me, need before word, word    
before names, a world certified by just           
this warmth, soft touch, familiar smells.     

There are holes in your head, there are holes 
in mine as well. I don’t speak carelessly—
How could I in this place made only of          
particulars: one bed, one bureau, two scuffed
chairs. A tiny plastic dog that was the year’s best gift.

Self’s own siege grinds devious. Opaque as opening
your hand while keeping it clenched tight. Hard as the
glare ice that forces water from my eyes
and lets soft colours bloom.

What a passage nature shipped you on. Its                 
scissoring deaths and random flaring births, your      
dogged hemmed-in fight stamp witnessing to space. 
Vacuum voice to murmurs, murmurs into void.       
But heart is not a hole. In its dark, thick
wild shoots and rustlings, swarms of succulent     
tiny tadpoles huddling in mud-rut puddles.
Deep earth hum of sitting quietly together.

This peace we sit in, sipping, being beyond    
names, is also beyond time, a thousand          
day-nights passing exactly the same way:                   
sun coming up, sun climbing a pale blue hill, sun
going down. Milk of moon and cloud exchanging places.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Poem Written on a Circle (Tangent: Lines by a Bed)

Poem Written on a Circle  

The hospital is a strong animal.
Never more lustral and barbaric
than when entered before dawn, in chill
drizzle, and exited a half-day later
in sheeny damp, twilight spangling gutter water.
It could never be my ally or my enemy.                 
I harbour an abundance it can never quite despoil,
which it does me the honour of despising openly.
The traffic jam on Avenue Road is an abundance 
too, forest of ruby taillights thrusting
such opulence silently ahead.             
Home again, I read a few ancient poems, too      
tired to take them in deeply but needing their     
pine-cliff vistas. Dusk sways, scenting the air
with pollen curtains. I fix myself a salmon
sandwich. Switch on a dead man’s lamp.             

(Tangent: Lines by a Bed)

Lees of loss, typhoon renewals—all mapped. 
Can you tack into the strangeness that is sanity?

In. Out? Spirit bubble in your throat the whole
globe’s turning. Hold it, floating, a moment longer.

Shadow is light’s mute ecstasy.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Three Days Dry

Three Days Dry

Bigger and closer. Things jumping                   
to view in random zooms. My own                  
eyes lunging at me from mirrors. Looking
a little clearer (is this possible already?)
with more green mixed into the brown
than I remember. Effect of moss, rain-
washed, gleaming from old growth hollows.

A space. Thin envelope of air, or
not air, around what I seem to be doing.
Like one of those clearings we kept
watch for in our camping days.   
Silence. Not ringing yet but feeling it could.
That chuch-like sense, as we laid out our gear, 
of a place set apart, cut out, from the larger forest. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Slipping Through the Cracks

Slipping Through the Cracks

Makes it sound like magical escape.
Like a fish from a net that isn’t torn
or a fugitive through a cordon
drawn tight and drawing tighter.

True, some do go on the lam from help
all their lives, the decent concern they’re due
an alien element that would suffocate...
But it lets us off the hook, this phrase—

For no one ducks assistance quite unnoticed,
quite unexplained. Always there is one, or
knots of few, cabals of knowing large as all,
who see eluding’s chance before it’s true:

Spaces opening around the silver scales,
shoulder to shoulder admitting yards, then miles.