JUDAS' TANGO

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,
this vocation.

 

LATE FRAGMENTS

1. Nostalgia

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.

 

2. Grudge

Wind rehearses its rut,

grists its ledger of damage, worries

cracks,  hinges.

 

Unfair! Unfair! It cries

from its dry heart, starving

in its stubborn quarrel.

 

 

3. Blame

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

of whodunit,

Undone.

 

4. Feeding

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.”

 

6. Dare

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

Magdalena, Magdalena,

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,

different rivers.

 

Coyotes, wailing along an exposed nerve,

drag in night like a fresh kill.

Familiar hunger, feast.

 

from Blood Opera: The Raven Tango Poems