dream of quietly passing under a fat black cross that has too
long blocked me from seeing the sun.
each time I step through the shadows of its arms—a shrouded
body on it falls upon me—is me—this body—these my heavy curtains.
folds have been traced down to beaten paths nowhere in centuries
of paint autopsy pituitary-phosphorous.
I dream the I has a bag of stories over
its head & is screaming!
The smallest sounds have the biggest centres.
One little god grill-cores old 45s.
A cheap but crucial device—a
trinket-maze bestirred—it makes the big centres of the smallest
sounds smaller—the whirling around them hearably still.
Even Pytheas of Massalia (325 BC) presents
us with a foggy half-aquatic burning muddy edge—interpretation of one element as another.
The British Isles vanish or come again under
application of magic.
There is no longer any distinction—no
actual mists over peat-bog—no land or sea or air—but a mixture of tarn traeth lungs eyes stumps
Where was the ilys of Thoule or
Thyle now becomes a glassy expanse traversed neither
wholly on foot nor by just boat.
The details won't matter—them
The secrets won't matter—stolen
purses gagging on branches.
What might matter is the errors—That
goof-ball! Can you believe they study the nervy quirks of his
If error is character then she was a real
cracked plate—somehow crawled up a stick & spun itself absurdly!
As record of error the notebooks sprawl—but what if the hand–poised between a fist & a shadow turkey—gets
gussied as an icon to point to details & secrets?
We chart our course by such aromatic flawed
victuals: Down The Dark Streets Alone by Lilian Victoria
A memoir of girlhood in the 1920s—her affair with Frederick Horsman Varley (self published—unedited—Vancouver 1982).
The grease of the creature becomes graph-pikes
The cut-out tongues of these Cretan boots
make good pot-holders.
Or perhaps it helps to remember Rimbaud's
comment about Lamartine: still there are too many seers strangling
in old forms.
Or get all mushy over Schubert's lieder
without understanding a word.
It was later than metaphor when the arts
jury finally finished.
Our brains smudged thumb-prints on windows
in barns at dusk.
They gathered into loops the press release
they had written together.
Failed lariat throw—no—no—cartoon
speech-bubble lassoing grass.
They wished words well everywhere—effusively—because
of the hour.
Goodnight conjunctions—you cute little buggers.
They were laughing but they were sick of
Night like velvet—bolts of it in bins—night
a tsunami of pepper.
To brier the pulse then—a
shared asunderwaking—each line a quill stitched below the skin
between the words.
An ardent appeal to the hearth-god Compulsion:
Snap-snap us in Your unpredictable buck-&-wing.
How far out of themselves our vibrant partial
truths have been lured.
Yet the ensemble swears its intent never
The midwife's broken the water—doctor's
on her way.
Rest your head—little father—on your arms on the table—&
dream about a small boy whose soft-spot won't harden.
In a doll hobby store the dad buys little
skylights—half-bubbles of hard plastic—to tape over the boy's soft-spot under his
One night the dad peeks in at the son asleep
& there's this blue film projecting from the boy's soft spot
onto the wall . . . quick vanilla monstrosities—fathom goop—juggled panic—fries—Vikings bartering trolls for quahogs—a hoola-dancer in a jar with a few marbles . . .
Wake up—bearded! Where are your glasses?
A toddler is untying your laces.
There's a note.
Where they used to keep the lions or monkeys—they
now keep gardening equipment.
This park & petting-farm is as far from
their birth townships as some folks ever got or get.
We are still only two hours from where nothing
(The old boy’s network is just one normal
sentence after another.)
Gawk in through the bars at the tools—their
still blades jammed with almost-edible encyclopaedic dirt.
The blizzard-bird-of-cultivation—in captivity.
From the clutter and confusion of shared
days—all the usual doubt worry disappointment hope—somehow it gets written.
Old before dry—other wise—long-stewed—ungenerous to memorizers—a
grope crevassing rhymes—flirting with its own inattention.
It goes—well no one quite knows where it goes when
It is a useless but needed invention.
It makes our dead less dead.
Oh sure some still hope to have less to
do with memory & sentiment the further our expedition paddles
into the element-confusion of the Ulterior—but look—along the far horizon-edge—new
sentences rear up as grated feudalisms.
What topsoil tells the hand—the hand tells
a pencil—a pencil tells type—type tells a program—a program
tells brains—brains tell the gods—& the gods tell topsoil:
Feed the pinch or the swell.
I can't flail my way through these sinuous
tatterplush vaudeville burgundies.
So half-awake I pound my arms to try to
part my fizzing muscles & slip through into the blinding welcome cells reserve.
Not for the pincushion gods—but for the
An Oak Hunch (Brick Books) was nominated for the Griffin Poetry
prize in 2006. A new long poem, White Porcupine, is forthcoming
from Book Thug, fall 2007.
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