Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Highway Song

The roads, the roads are mad
and I am mad to use them–
my mind is metal, my soul is tar
my heart is a pit of hi-beams

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I wanted to walk without anything in my hands

I wanted to walk without anything

I wanted to walk without

I wanted to walk

I wanted


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hurricane Chimes

This Says

Some write a thousand poems
Others cry a million tears
I do both and that is how
I navigate these hurricane years

But what about the Laughing Way
The balms of friendship, song, and wine?

I help myself to that help too
No way’s untried, they all are mine

And when I sink beneath the storm
And wear the face I cannot hide
If someone says, He lost who strove
This says I lived and, living, died


How do you get from here to there?
Climb down the river and swim up the stairs
How do you journey back again?
Follow Time’s ghost whistling “Now and Then”


Heart is a muscle
So is brain
Together they squeeze
Brute rock into rain

Dance with who’s pretty
Dance with who’s not
Go home with yourself
If that’s where it stops

One wind to batter
One wind to cool
One wind in the vane
Of Ruler and Fool

The Adversary’s Grapes

My dustpan is dusty

And when I pass
the vacuum brush
over my electronic keyboard

It sings
The Adversary’s Grapes
in a key too high

For me to follow

Monday, June 14, 2010


In the dream I stand
in the first room we lived in
together nearly twenty years ago
the light strong and shining
on the bare white walls
and old flecked carpet
so that they glow as if
illuminated from within

and it is by that glow
(too strong and even for the small
west facing window) that I know
–with gratitude like a spring
rising through dry leaves in my chest–
that I am seeing not just
the room but what it meant
and means I am standing in it

and I realize too (another marvelling
mystery) that all these years
we have gone on renting here
paying the landlord $450/month
which we could not afford
yet though we never visited
even for the possibility of
this light it was a bargain

And then the dream in slow
stages like a ship turning awkwardly
undoes itself or a part of itself
and I see there are no pictures
on the walls no row of paperbacks
around the room no cushions no kitchen table
it is not the room we sparely
furnished but the pure space we

unlocking found or locking left behind
and the mystery of the $450
withdrawals we never saw
on any bank statement becomes clear
why would we pay in that
way for the room we live in
what is ours this light this
space we carry with us waking—

Happy I say more...solid
when you ask me over coffee
how the dream (or this poor cousin
I can tell) makes me feel
but really it is a smaller and deeper
change I am aware of
an almost shy adjustment
to the scope and grounds of here

like someone leaning toward
a fogged window
and rubbing a small patch
bare with his sleeve

Sunday, June 13, 2010


“Has the prisoner
anything to add?”
Judge Doom.

“Give me Life
and a capo
Dust My Broom.”

Friday, June 11, 2010


Three days, one man
guiding us through
the snarling zones,
first on York Mills
near Yonge, then
on Bayview
south of York Mills,

finally on Leslie
where it snags
by the Toyota dealership
just north
of Eglinton.

Portly, peaked cap,
whistle and
fluorescent green vest
he commands we
leave off eating
talking drinking dreaming
and attend

he stops us
dead, straightening
four lanes
with straightarm jabs
the way I
just stabbed dead

The Pet Shop Boys
Stairway to Heaven
and Michael Ignatieff
on my radio

and whistles through
three buses
a dozen Metro shoppers
and a shocking number
of car salesmen
trying to
get home.

He makes us stop
he lets us go
his jerking thumb
is our rainbow

For precious minutes
he is all we know:
one fritter-heavy
keeping the gridlock

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A New Basketball

Of the eight possible limbs
an octopus or married couple
might bring to this
we have between us
maybe three

a left arm (mine)
to hook vague shots
at the netless rim
that clanks and wobbles
with a racket
somehow more encouraging
than swish

and your two legs
dance-trained, still strong
to shag my misses
and your own
loping toward a father
and two sons playing
round the schoolyard’s other basket

who smile good-naturedly
at a face
I can’t see (though I can)

as the gravestones
in the old Jewish cemetery
just beyond the
wrought iron fence
lean to catch
the tremor
of the drum of ball on asphalt

It was a good idea
buying this
a good idea whether or not
it loosens up the five
absentee limbs or brings blood
to the eroding cordilleras of bone
between them, they have

all been
all our years
together, a good idea–

It is not yet night
or quite dusk
though long past day
as we walk home
down the empty street
bouncing the ball
by turn between us
your hand mine
“So loud” you say
the people all inside

Light rain starts
and I see (so clearly now)
dark splotches
on the headstones clustering
and the father and his sons
packing up quickly

Monday, June 7, 2010

Short Cry While Driving

Rosemount, Roseview, Rosehill, Rosedale–
How many ways they got to tell themselves

(Note: Xs to be read as spaces. I’m screaming in a Blogger straitjacket. See previous post.)

Lines from a Book on Famine

(found in Famine: A Short History, by Cormac Ó Gráda)

During the Leningrad blockade
of 1941-43
an emaciated mother whose breast milk
had run out
a vein in her arm
and put her baby’s mouth
to the wound

which it sucked eagerly.

mother and baby

(Note: Xs to be read as spaces. Whenever I try to deviate from the left margin, Blogger, like a demented pedagogue, slams me back to it. A similar thing happens when I try to put an extra space under the post title: Blogger eradicates it. If anyone reading knows a way around this, permitting more flexible spacing, could you advise me care of I would appreciate it greatly. These primitive expedients take me back to my mimeo days. A not entirely unwelcome regression, but still....)

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Enspelled but trying to awaken

peering peering with eyes closed

till castle, kingdom, Evil One

secede. Forest. Owl-roost. Road.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


(for absent friends)

warm slabs ringing
char manifest the
endless wheel our
sparks surging into
black its infinite
white hot braille
in no human
tongue though some
return whizzing back
in avid smears
shooting alive this
nearer air they
crash down mimicking
mere stones famished
for shared heat
they join another
circle around flame

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Edge Scene

Opposite a footbridge
over a narrow chasm
a lone green-headed
mallard stands at the lip
of a rushing fall
of water, distant

from the chuckling
platoon of other waterfowl
paddling the sunlit
pond this pine-draped
cascade descends from,
around which children
chase and jostling
wedding groups assemble;

right-angled to the
current, not
on a judicious rock
but planted full
in the surging stream,
mere inches from the verge,

he keeps a motionless
vigil or a trance,
his webbed unlikely feet
anchoring a lone observer.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Hummingbird

Smashed in flight
against the window glass,
it has fallen to this most
unlikely perch, a
seated man’s shoulder.

In the photograph
his profile, Rushmore huge,
gapes across three inches
at the iridescent head
and pipe bowl body
anchored on thread feet
stitched to denim.

First miracle batted
to the ground
brings down the lot,
and well may these small
wings folded flat
resume their blur
and lift him
to his feet again.