Thursday, January 17, 2008

And there's more!

A Staircase in a Foreign Country

It wanders up from stonework riverwalls
And the old town’s cobbled lanes –
From tourist traps and pork knees,
Sweet lager and plastic half-crowns –
A timorous, frayed-ragged stairway
With the best seats in the house,
A skybound place to level out.

In the market marble coolness
Of a new town office courtyard,
Skateboarding kids work magic feats,
Fleet foot street artists with coterie crowds
And no box office, ticking off the seconds –
Anticipation of each moment –
Ollie, bail and second chance.

There seems stability in the hills;
Peace at the precipice, a house of God,
Veranda over the roof-tiled canopy,
Where sunrise tries to catch one’s shadow
And send it out across the skyline.
Fingertip metronome counts off the beat
For skaters in the scarlet fire of dawn.

Dear John, I’m leaving and taking the cats with me.

I never thought you’d say that it was so;
That with our finance you had been gazundering,
You went far further than I thought you’d go.

There were irregularities in our cash flow –
From our accounts, you swine, you had been plundering.
I never thought you’d say that it was so.

Oh yes, you’ve been found out! And now I know!
Just in the off-chance that you were wondering,
You went far further than I thought you’d go.

But now the acrimony ‘gins to grow,
The forecast of my soul predicts great thundering,
I never thought I’d say that it was so.

Our matrimony dealt a fatal blow,
Your plan was proof, aside from your small blundering;
You went far further than I thought you’d go.

So now you’re leaving, taking half my dough,
The alimony cheques will keep us sundering,
I never thought they’d say that it was so;
You went far further than I thought you’d go.



Thursday, January 10, 2008

There and Back Again.

It's been too long.


There is an old farmhouse, north of Boston.
I stopped by once. Its peaceful aspect caught
The scarlet sun’s swansong, the Appalachians
In silhouette as cricket-music fell.
Rocking chairs paced their motions, a little
Out of synch, still looking to the horizon.
An empty pantry, rusting range, wooden floor,
Wooden bedframe’s crafted skeleton, curtains drawn.

I read about death in an old comic book once.
It said that it wasn’t like a thief in the night,
Snatching you from your bed, leaving no trace but
A faint depression in the mattress and the smell
Of stale sweat on the pillow. It said it was more
Like someone you’d known forever, an old friend
Who stopped by every night, a loyal old friend,
Who picked up every thing you’d forgotten
You even had, so that it wasn’t there next time
You wanted it. And, that, over time, there just
Wasn’t anything left to keep you there;
You were the last thing death would take home.

There is an old farmhouse, north of Boston.
No one lives there now, the old man was famous;
But there is a clearing outside, and a path
Through the woods, passing cairns for forgotten
Little gods. You may find old photos,
Small foreign coins, footprints in the mud,
Roots weaving their stories in the earth;
And the spot, at a fork, where footprints end.

The Mountain


At the mountain’s peak, I stopped for
A while, cast an eye over the pines,
Rolling out towards vanishing
Point, layer over layer, rank
And file, phalanxed shoulder height,
Mottled units toiling under
Sylvan dictat. On north-eastern
Slopes, a fallen mount gasping for air,
Pleading with avian windpipes,
Tree-cacophony, crushed larynx,
Wilderness howl in falling twilight.
Suddenly the tree-pier did not
Seem high enough.


On the mountain’s side, verdant canopy-
Shelters, tree-grounded, gigantic fauna
Remembering Triassic brothers
In serenity and sanguine nostalgia.
The earth has ears, a heart, a mouth, bait;
Unrooted feet striding wordlessly, turning to
Constituent carbon, clawing through meat,
Unnamed vital organs, blood and carbon;
Hair falls out, becomes carbon, nutrients,
Teeth fall out, carbon (calcium?).
Eyes, tongue, brain. Carbon.
Flight through treetips dancing on leafstages
Outstretched and dissipating further
Boundless offerings and earthtunes
Knees soiled, hands caked in fecund soil;
Disgusted, croaking eyes observe my retreat.


On the foot of the mountain, my little fire
Cooks, browns tender meat, fresh loaves
And fresh produce for my pilgrim’s victual.
Lying on green mattresses, bathed in ember’s glow,
The mountain looks over the pale, rising smoke.

Crow and Phoenix

Crow flies down to the body.
Rain gathers in puddles, browning green earth,
Moonlight hidden behind jet blue clouds.
Crow pecks at the frost-bitten fingers.
Phoenix, old and diseased,
Bullet-ridden, one-eyed and weak,
Hops and flutters beside Crow.
Nuzzling his feathers, he clears his ancient throat.
“Shame,” says Phoenix, “There aren’t
Many left like this one.”
“Even fewer now,” crows Crow.
Phoenix stares at the corpse.
Crow says, “You will die.”
“You don’t know the half of it,” says Phoenix.

El Tres de Enero (for García Lórca)

Nieve cae, tranquilidad sagrada,
La zumba baja de la caldera
Hay la ruida sola.
Media-luz de la madrugada,
Nieva por aire negra.

El cielo cerrado tiembla,
Deslumbra la luna miedosa.
Quiero que quede oscura
Por siempre; esta noche plata
De relámpago y nevada.

[Snow falling, cathedral silence,
The bass hum of the boiler
The only sound for miles.
Half-light of the small hours,
Snow falling in black air.

The blanket sky rumbles,
Obscuring the timid moon.
I would it stayed dark
Forever; this silver night
Of snowfall and lightning.]