Spring. Everything’s gone soft, hungry.
Olive groves drift in light that hovers,
hazy and feathered, and all that swims and creeps,
roams and flies, swells and sings
becomes a mouth.
Judas slides through hives of people,
hears their charged, clotted buzz.
Everywhere an agony of expectation,
desire to be amazed:
Did he? Is he?
When Lazarus, dazed, lifts off
his deathbed and lists
into the wince of day, mouths gape
like beached fish.
It hasn’t sunk in yet, the freefall holy terror:
How to be born, again.
Judas takes it all in. Broods
through the restless garden,
tender as breasts before labour,
before the crowning.
Mercy, he cries, and whether it’s command
or plea doesn’t really matter now,
his tongue a knotted rope,
desperate with this need to tell,
Remember Old Lang Syne,
his spastic wooden leg, his catarrh?
How we’d get him going on train whistles and mothers
after the fourth or fifth pint?
Ah, Nostalgia. Just ain’t what it used to be.
Wind rehearses its rut,
grists its ledger of damage, worries
Unfair! Unfair! It cries
from its dry heart, starving
in its stubborn quarrel.
The armed game of shame,
the fling and flung of do and done,
blind man’s bluff of squat and strut.
Oh, pidgin soul in the wallow
I am burning the library to cook nettle soup.
I call it staying alive. You call it feeding the wrong wolf.
Words on the verge of becoming extinct
hive my tongue: Pulchritude, Doxology.
Words that conjure pox
but mean Beauty, Praise.
5. Meanwhile, Time . . .
Vladimir Nabokov, tireless lepidopterist, wrote:
“I have dissected and drawn the genitalia of 360 specimens.”
Who was it who said
Happiness writes white?
Bring on the blizzards!
Harness the sled dogs!
first published on Truck poetry blog. ``Dare`` chosen for the Edmonton Transit Service`s Take the Poetry Route, 2013
RITA MACNEIL’S FEET
startle me, naked
as a blurted secret, shocking
as seeing your aunt’s breasts, loose
as a moon-faced confession.
Just there, in the National Library foyer,
her feet framed in a lineup of photographs:
Famous Canadians, artfully arranged.
They seem shy as come-upon deer, but
mounted somehow, fixed as Victorian taxidermy.
I want to coax them out
from behind the dark frame
and say, Rita, let’s waltz away
from here, let’s waltz
away to Babylon where we’ll splash
in the river with the holy unholy ones.
And you’ll honey the melody like a run
of good luck, like you do, Rita,
like you do, and we’ll sing
soft as willows, plump as pillows—
Howcouldya refuse me, Rita, howcouldya?
from Falling Blues
NORTHERN PRAIRIE TANGO
Every day now, more light tricks you
into thinking it`s tame.
The old couple walk to the river
heaving itself into spring.
High clouds shape into the ribs
of a giant ghost carcass, stripped to the bone.
Raven croaks inside his hunger.
Turn around slowly: full circle horizon.
A jellyfish moon levitates in the east.
The golden sun, drunk on its own beauty, dissolves
in a pool of flaming incandescence.
Deer stare, tense as sprinters in the far field.
The old couple walk to the river,
a path they remember from childhoo,
Coyotes, wailing along an exposed nerve,
drag in night like a fresh kill.
Familiar hunger, feast.
from Blood Opera: The Raven Tango Poems