September 13, 2010

still "editing"

So...I owe emails all over town. And I should be working on tightening up a third draft I got a two-week reprieve on (oh super). Especially since I bribed myself with all the nice things I would let myself do once I finished, like install Chrome to watch that Arcade Fire thingee and order myself a whole pile of poetry books. Instead I'm noodling around, reading Philip Larkin, doing disservice to the art of poetry by dashing off whatever comes to mind.

I wasn't going to post this, but then I joked about it on Twitter and I have a bizarre code of honesty when it comes to that particular communication medium. (Blog posts on the other hand...pack 'o lies.)

Earl

When we heard you were coming,
we got weak in the knees.
Ran out to stock the pantry
with all nice things.

We shut up the bins and took down the trellis.
Fastened every new-bought shutter,
scoured leaves from the rain gutters
til the neighbours were jealous.

Last time you came, you took to the park,
clung in wet embrace to every old oak.
After toppling the gazebo like a joke,
you splayed their rings to leave your mark.

You’re a heartbreaker, that’s for sure.
We heard about your trouble down on the coast,
but we’ll put up with more than most
for bragging rights of what we endure.

We’ve tracked you, too, hearts afloat on your wake
of flooded basements, cancelled trips.
Your first name always on our lips,
praying there hadn’t been some mistake.

And life is long while we await your arrival.
The quotidian pales once our plans are complete,
so don’t be surprised if we run out to greet
you in a headlong rush, a dazed thrill of survival.

September 12, 2010

roughing things out

Hawks in Calgary

It was the week the mail carriers
were wearing bicycle helmets,
that stifling August, summer’s fatigue,
all thoughts of hat hair banished
by the third split scalp.

I sat by the fan, wrote a love letter in five
verses, watched the mail carrier with
new boldness march the lane til one
alpha falcon talon-smashed to bits and
chin-strap the brave blue polycarbonate.

After awhile, the mail stopped coming
altogether. Given avian strafing,
the city allowed it. Diverted funds to study
why hawks were flocking and how they’d
discovered their natural enemy.

So maybe it wasn’t that you stopped writing.
Bad timing is all. Though I can see how
it might have scared you: the way
you just waved and I
swooped right in.

Sooner or later, they will fly south in
your direction, beyond us both.
All I do now is look out the window,
watching their wide, smooth circles.
Nobody comes or goes.

September 11, 2010

hot Saturday night!

Desolation: an introduction

There are rigours to despair.
You cannot give way too quickly.
Losing hope is not like losing
faith: its hammered-silver cuffs springing open
at the sight of sleight of hand,
spotlight glinting off the palmed key,
or when you eavesdropped
on the sleeved doves
cooing from the waiting arms
of a red satin lining.
Or that time you stood up
in the sacristy, the rushed baptism
where you helped grasp
an unwilling baby and
through the holy aspersions
caught the leer of the callous priest,
flaring nostrils of a wine-wrinkled nose.

Nor is it like sets of keys
misplaced or like
the time the wind plucked your hat
in a cinematic gust, selected you
from the staid shoppers
worrying the windows, judged from
the pique of your fedora
how breathless how laughing
you would be forced to
chase it down.

Magicians claim trained birds
prefer the calm of crimson.
Colour blind faith
brought to the tailor. Ask him
about despair, its slow surge.
There are only
two occupations still
requiring his services:
magicians and bridegrooms.

According to practice,
things should start drooping.
Do not lower the flag
but let it be lashed
to tatters by a wind that won’t quite
be given its way.

There are things that will be
changed as by the termite.
Feel as much as the block of wood,
or the sand as it is leeched away
from the roiled shore.

For despair to take hold,
give it space. The only way
hope dies is through exhaustion.
It is a fire in the damp winter,
the cupped match
put out
again and again by the wind.

You must be unwilling,
stubborn as any other
heap of atoms attached
to being.

But if
you do it right,
there will be nothing left.
It will be like a dream
forgotten in the telling.