Friday, May 22, 2015

The Wind: A Sound Poem



The wind,
rushing through tree tops,
sneaking around corners
and slipping through open windows;
its passage marked by 
the rustle of leaves,
the creak of shingles
and the window's Aeolian moan.

Stand still and listen.
Feel the wind move past you—
not a creature of free will
nor a disembodied spirit—
just the displacement of air,
atmospheric pressure change:
not real, not romantic, not gothic—
just a thing.

There is no god blowing Psyche to her winged lover,
no bag of winds filling Odysseus' sails;
the howling storm is not made up of lost souls
nor the gentlest of breezes the reminder of a child's kiss.

Tree tops sway,
grain fields wave:
air, the ocean in which we swim,
passes over all of us,
caresses and buffets
and carries its own sounds across the still night.

It is air that brings us the golden trumpet,
the violin's vibration,
the bluster of the politician's speech.
High pressure, low pressure,
air moving from one place to another,
always on the move, always some place to go.

What's that sound?
Hush. It's just the wind.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Rubbernecking on a spring afternoon


Windows wide open;
spring air flowing through
cannot disperse the odours
of rust and must clinging to
the propane canister
securely strapped into the back seat
for refilling.

Traffic stops, unmoving, impatient.
A siren approaches and cars,
already going nowhere,
scramble onto the verge to make way
for the ambulance
on its mission of mercy.

At last it is my turn,
a left turn, then a right,
west under a brilliant afternoon blue.
Firefighters direct traffic
one lane at a time
while emergency medical technicians
secure a man, prone, on the sidewalk.
I rubberneck as I pass
and a fireman smiles, waving me on.

Bumper to bumper we crawl to the light,
straddle the train tracks and hope
there’s no train. I grab a pen and a scrap
to scribble these thoughts
on the flat surface of the horn,
then look up to see a vapour trail exiting a cloud,
straight and insistent as an arrow shaft
without the fletching.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cursing

Her cursing is the songline of canaries–
beak open, head thrown back–
warning predators away from eggs
or downy chicks hidden beneath a yellow wing.
The sweet warbling is a spill of notes
on the evening air
aimed at the departing sun,
the stalking cat,
the blackbird with its beady eye and sharp bill
waiting for the moment when the cursing stops
and it moves in for the kill.

But this is no bird, though bird like,
wispy white hair like feathery down
fluffed out from the skull-shaped head,
blue hollows for temples,
a beaked nose over the clacking jaw.
Her bones are not hollow,
yet seem delicately so, as though the wrong pressure
would cause them to snap and splinter
and no wings sprout from those angular shoulders,
but arms covered by the nightgown’s white sleeves
hiding purple bruises of blood
that pools unbidden beneath the surface
of her parchment skin.

She curses at the nurses
who pump her full of pills;
at the physiotherapists
who exercise her swollen joints;
at the waiters
who bring her food she cannot chew.
She curses at God for not letting her die,
and she curses me because she can.

And all the while Death,
like a crested blackbird,
waits for the cursing to cease,
the jaws to relax, eyelids to close,
the breathing to slow
so he can move in for the kill
and stop the song forever.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Draco of the Stars

Who art thou, worm,
nipping at Herakles’ heels
as thou slitherest past the wary claws
of his milk-mother bears?

Didst thou guard the golden orbs
where they hung from Hera’s boughs
against those pilfering sisters,
Atlas’ legacy?

A gift of Gaea, golden apples for a golden day
—Hera and Zeus, incestuously joined—
so pleased the bride that she sowed the seeds
in her own garden by Atlas’ slope.

But that giant’s spawn, wanton girls all,
slipped across the lawn to steal the fruit,
sun-yellow juice dripping from their laughing mouths,
and raised the goddess’ ire.

Where did Hera find thee, that she placed thee on guard
on that Hesperidean soil?
Wert thou plucked from thy native land,
forced from the comfort of thine own underground home?

Or did she conjure thee out of ivory and fire
with precious gems in thy ruby orbits,
copper and gold for thine impervious scales,
invulnerable to all but Herakles’ well-aimed blow?

Wert thou slumbering as the hero,
draped in the Nemean’s mane,
crept alongside thy sinewy length
and plunged his blade between the stars that are thine eyes?

Didst thou thrash as thou wert slain,
jaws spread wide, venom dripping from impotent fangs,
wild eyes seeking thy murderer
even as the light left them?


Or art thou a different worm, not the victim of Herakles’ labour
but of his half-sister Athena?
Gods fighting gods, uncles against nephews,
storming the ramparts of Olympus itself;

’Twas the banished first-born with their hundred hands,
giants and cyclops from Tartarus released
who joined the fray to overcome their brothers,
revenge on Chronos posthumously complete.

In the peak of battle, didst thou sleep unperturbed,
belly full, basking in the golden light of noon,
when thou wert scooped up by Titan hands
and cast at the warrior goddess?

She snatched thy dry coppery coils
and hurled thee skyward so thou lodged
in the vault of the heavens, trapped
between a great and small bear.

Mayhap thou art none of these
but the father himself, caught in pursuit
of those milking maids who nursed the hero
thou art forced to chase.

’Twas thy desire to suckle
from those dripping teats
milk meant for thy bastard son
whilst hidden from jealous Juno.

Changed to bears and in the firmament fixed,
thou crept upon them in thy true form,
the seducing serpent, the phallic python,
intent upon slaking thy lust.

Who art thou, Draco of the stars?
Thine origins are multifold, and thou
forever caught in the wheel of the sky
in pursuit of a heel thou canst not bite.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

How to ease a broken heart

I lean against a mountain facing east,
cool rock at my back,
morning sun in my eyes,
and sink into the schist,
feel myself enveloped in layer
after layer of ancient ocean floor,
until I am part of the mountain itself
and can feel no more.

Mt. Rundle-Canadian Rockies Painting by Lanny Grant

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Absence

The pain of partition is no less,
though less often.
A whole day may pass before the memory
of the absent one
rises to surface suddenly, invoked by
a change in scenery,
an overheard conversation, a shell laid
on the dresser,
and it overwhelms with its intensity,
takes away the breath,
the keen longing produces
a contraction
which would draw the beloved
into one’s own body.
These spasms are farther spaced,
building energy
until the next one squeezes the viscera
with its acute yearning.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Crush

She cannot breathe.
She sits beside her crush;
her unspoken longing:
the secret knowledge of dreams,
of busy hands masturbating
where thwarted desire dwells--
enwreaths her like a boa,
not of flirtatious feathers,
but a reptilian hunger
that inexorably constricts
with each exhalation
in its close embrace
until she is overwhelmed
by its steady crush.