165 New Poems: The Mundane, Sublime & Fantastical (151-155)

2014-08-02 20.25.13

151.

forgive me, Jasmine

the foolishness with which I speak

surpasses my lack of humility

from last night

 

the world might heave

& swallow itself

but your arms about me are strong

& I’m safe

2014-08-04 16.58.39

152.

when the instructions were given for jericho

we lined up, we of the margins

we lined up to sing & pray like everyone else

but they pointed at us & called us infidel

& called infidelity from our lyrics

& told us to go

 

so further & further out from the wall

of Jericho from the columns of song

from the layers & layers of prayer

& the centre where a golden god waited for freedom

 

we heard: not you infidel

not you with your infidelity

not you with that kind of soul beside you

 

so further & further

further & further until we turned our backs

to the centre & from the wall

& headed back home

2014-08-04 15.47.32

153.

we headed for ethiopia

i to look for anu

you for aoife of the marvellous thighs

 

we walked a dark night

you held my hand

reminded me to look for the white line on the road

to watch for traffic

to listen for the direction of the river babble

2014-08-02 20.54.12

154.

we walked in the dark

away from the margins

away from the walls of jericho

 

so the stars dimmed

& enveloped us into a darkness

with hard edges & a soft centre

2014-08-03 11.18.32

155.

watch for traffic

remember the road line

stick to our stories

hold hands, hold hands

 

so we forgot about jericho

because we had each other

& a cabin that waited

165 New Poems: The Mundane, Sublime & Fantastical (146-150)

2014-08-04 16.58.39

146.

Because Binyavanga Wainaina asked: “where were we when the beautiful Moses Taiwa Molelekwa died?”

trees line the street like widows waiting for a coffin

where were we when mokolekwa died?

i might have been painting likely not

i might have been loving or cracking hearts for dinner

i might have been walking home or stuck in traffic

or on the bus

or waiting for time

or waiting for time

mokelekwa was dying

mokelekwa was dead

the boulevard remains lined

trees like widows waiting for the body

where were we when molelekwa was dying?

i might have been doing dishes complaining

loving life or hating everything

mololekwa was dying he was dead

where were we?

where were we?

Where were we

when molelekwa was dying?

With their straight backed trunks

dignified trees still line the street

the coffin is on the way

2014-08-04 15.47.32

147.

brother, we listened to you full of life

drank in your music as i marked papers

felt that much

that much

that much kinder, lighter

more alive

where was i when molelekwa died?

where was i split apart by his notes

remember

remember, damn it

remember

2014-08-02 20.25.13

148.

i want you back but i have to contend

i want you back even as i have you

i have your music

i have your smile i have your words

still

i want you back i never had you

i want you back i won’t ever have the music

that died with you

where was i when molelekwa died?

2014-08-03 11.18.32

149.

The trees are still in lines

that insist beyond the boulevards

we were waiting even when we didn’t know

we couldn’t have known

we were waiting a decade

before piano tickles & after

before trumpet blows & after

before we understood that the horns

would precede your last walk home

2014-08-02 20.54.12

150.

where were we when molelekwa died?

the children were little still precious then

the children were incessant still dependant

i longed for music

i longed for you, molelekwa

not knowing & not knowing

on the way home

on the bus

in traffic

longing for this music

longing for this jazz

painting

or not painting

complaining all the time

longing longing

& still longing

other widows line the street

the way they always do

they wait backs straight heads bowed

to receive molelekwa & his love

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (141-145)

2014-08-03 11.18.32

141.

When weren’t they my hands

The dark-skinned ones

Weaving the loom with blackened nails

I see you, man

I see you on the other side of the window

Having an animated conversation

 

My head in my hands but I see you

 

When weren’t those hands mine?

The ones in the fundraising ad

To help preserve old knowledge, you know?

Because only your money can help save them

Us them us them us them us

 

I see you, man

Having an animated conversation

Now your first fingers under your chin

Your head tilted back

Your thumb is the trigger

My head in my hands

Crowd funding crowd funding

Crowd funding crowd crowd crowd

 

Shall I help you pull the trigger, man?

 

2014-08-04 16.58.39

142.

We’ve fallen into story

& inside story this is all there is

This is all there is this is all there is

This is all

 

We fall

We fall

We fall

Into lightness

Into being

Brightness into flight

 

This is all there is this

Is all there is this is

All there is this becoming

What they wanted us to be

Coming into becoming

Into being

Who are we who are we who are

We again?

 

2014-08-02 20.54.12

143.

You kissed me on the threshold

Because

You wanted to show

Your wife to

See you wanted my husband

To see you

Kiss me on the threshold you

Wanted me to see

Love you wanted to show your wife

Love you wanted to show my husband

Love you wanted to

 

2014-08-02 20.25.13

144.

I almost saw you today

Almost you sitting in a chair ahead of me

Intent on the presentation

& I on almost you

 

& then almost you turned

& almost you wasn’t you at all

But just the back of your head nape shoulder

& the memory of my hands on you

Shapeshifting

2014-08-04 15.47.32

145.

& now you’re a tiger snarling

& now you’re a memory

Now you’re an ache

Now goosebumps

&  all I can feel is you

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New poems (136-140)

2014-08-04 15.47.32

136.

we arrive at the courthouse

my thighs & I

judge is already there

waiting for us

so he can be announced

& stood up for

 

we arrive, my thighs & I

judge with his red eyes glinting

i can’t yet tell whether he remembers

where we were last night

 

we arrive, my thighs & I

the courthouse is awash in excitement

the evidence is apparent

the collar of a priest

a rabid dog

a fan

 

we’re late, my thighs & I

late because you you said

we were only 8 minutes to squamish

& you know it took a lot longer than that

2014-08-02 20.25.13

137.

the jury, all bespectacled

the jury of my peers

the peers of my thighs

the jury to decide our fate

 

finally

silence in the court

we stand there, my thighs & I

& await pronouncement

from a judge who’s eyes glint

with something

that may be a memory

2014-08-02 20.54.12

138.

the gavel

a rabid dog

a fan

the collar of a priest

a sweaty palm

a smirk

a quiver

 

we won’t be going back home

if we’re pronounced guilty today

2014-08-02 20.25.13

139.

my thighs & I are accused

of adjusting the truth

 

adjusting the truth?

yes, adjusting the truth

to fit the time we needed

to get to squamish

 

(you know exactly what i mean

you said it would take 8 minutes

& we were late)

 

& now we stand convicted

for this

 

but adjusting the truth

is no lie

the lie may be a fiction

but fiction is no lie

2014-08-04 16.58.39

140.

she’s on her knees

as if caught in the grip of religion

muttering, muttering

a tulip sprouts from her head

the way it did last tuesday

 

she’s on her knees again

like she’s

in the presence of a mighty one

her hands over her face

you can’t hear if she she repeats

amen, amen, amen

 

on her knees

as if her legs have given out

& the lord won’t forgive her

as if he ever has

 

 

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New poems (131-135)

2014-08-03 11.18.32131.

First he came crawling on his belly

A leather bound note book in his mouth

— I sent him back

Then he showed up like a donkey

pulling a cart behind him

he wore blinders like a race horse

looking for a master

— I sent him back for the note book

all leather & bound

 

2014-08-02 20.25.13

132.

On Tuesday he returned

a platter of kisses in his left hand

& a note book entitled:

The Mundane, the Sublime & the Fantastical

Sit, he said

Write

 

2014-08-02 20.54.12

133.

You are the skin of my back, girl

I tell you, you are

You hold me together

even when I hardly ever think about you

 

but when there’s an itch, a pimple

a thing that is beyond my reach

my whole body comes to a standstill

 

Help me, I ask my friends

get that itch, I ask my lovers

& they try

& they approximate

& they want to help me, they do

 

That’s it, thank you

but my body still vibrates with unease

because you’re the skin of my back

& you hold me together, girl

 

2014-08-04 15.47.32

134.

As my head poured out yesterday

I came to understand the following:

for others it light & love

for me it’s only you

 

2014-08-04 16.58.39

135.

that, & this:

A is the laziest but most elegant of cards

that 6 is the hardest working number

followed by 8

2 is eager

3 shirks work

4 doesn’t care

9 doesn’t pay attention

 

Queens are hardworking but extremely privileged

so much so it’s hard to see her work

coz she’s just so upppity

& yet nothing happens without her

the King wouldn’t know if he was coming or going

she holds him

she binds them altogether

& the Joker is a Joker

that’s always true

 

7 & 2 are cousins

best not to let them be together

they can’t be trusted

 

5 is just stupid

but that’s nobody’s fault

& 9 is lovely

everyone knows that

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New poems (126-130)

2014-08-03 11.18.32

126.

I need to forget

the whisper of your fingertips

& the firm hold of your palms

so I can know the sensuousness of skin again

 

but I won’t forget

I can’t yet forget

the way you move beneath me

 

2014-08-02 20.54.12

127.

Men in red t-shirts and khaki pants work inside

men in blue t-shirts and rolled up khakis tend the ground outside

a snake pours out of my head

 

Men in red turbans & blue t-shirts

their faces & hands covered

in dust & cement

(who knows what they do)

women in white serve food

 

a snake slithers

 

sullen women in brown sweep, mop the floor

I sit at the beach with a snake dangling from my head

 

2014-08-04 16.58.39

128.

 

Red ants black ants pale orange ants

red ants black ants pale orange ants

tree tree tree tree tree

palm fronds in the wind

my head pours out

a red hibiscus

 

more women in brown — housekeeping

they will not greet me back

my head pours out

snake after snake

snake after snake

snake after snake after snake

 

2014-08-04 15.47.32

 

129.

first snake slithers in the sand

monkey shit on the steps won’t wash away with the rain

angry-looking guard men at the gate in white

 

my head pours out

starry nights

monkey shit

 

first snake disappears

others writhe about for a while

 

2014-08-02 20.25.13

 

130.

 

a family in single file

the boy — red shirt, green pants — cartwheels

the women— heavy with a multitude of colour — shuffle along

three girls — red dresses, gold trim — skip, skip, skipping

a man in an orange shirt, rolled up pants at the rear

a riot of colour against the blue grey of the sea & sky

they stop to picnic

& colour takes a break

 

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (121-125)

2014-08-04 16.58.39

121.

Thursday morning

a gong from the night sky

the rest of the world is asleep

& i’m madly collecting thirty words

(& their kin)

 

words slip from my fingers

stick to my sleeves

slide back, slide back gravity bound

 

i’m going to have to recreate the whole world

with language from these thirty words

but what’s language without possession

or colour?

 

2014-08-02 20.54.12

122.

Thursday morning 4am

thirty words are left on the living room floor

none of them articles

none of them adjectives

none of them pronouns

none of them coloured or even black

 

The list of things to do in a pile of letters

the calendar is blank for next month

& the past week

thirty words fall in a cascade

(so what is a world without letters?)

 

if I speak, will words fall from my mouth

gravity bound

& attracted to their kin on the floor?

2014-08-04 15.47.32

123.

When you suggested the Lord’s Prayer

there was no indication that your left ring finger

had anything to do with it

 

There were eyes pressed against the window

the window

eyes with tongues hanging out of them

 

the window

the window

long tongues, lecherous tongues

at the window

the window

 

eyes looking straight at me

the window

the window

tongues slurping

 

the window

the window

the window

2014-08-03 11.18.32

124.

Your hands on my skin

like yesterday never happened

like the shiver of a spiderweb in the sun

like time vibrating

like praises to that same god

only a breath’s worth

 

2014-08-02 20.25.13

125.

& forgive us our trespasses

as your finger bleeds into the bucket

forgive us your trespasses

our trespasses

yours

 

the debate rages on

until your ring finger

tired of being married

drops off from your hand

& walks out the door for good

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (116-120)

116.

2014-08-02 20.54.12

You see

the man at the bus stop?

the man with the earplugs tight in his earholes?

the man who is breaking?

who is dancing

who is dancing & breaking

who is break-dancing, breakdancing?

 

Look,

the breakdancer is losing his fingers

the man’s fingers are falling off

breaking off, breaking off

 

Broken fingers

dancing fingers

broken dancing fingers

scattered on the pavement

scattered & glittery because blood spray

glittery & bright because different nail polish on every finger

bright & shadowed because the sun catches & sends light back

to shatter everything on to the pavement

 

See the man?

We may need to reassemble the guy

the man

the break dancer

the man broken by exposure to unadulterated music

 

117.

2014-08-04 15.47.32

A prose list, a list of reasons:

God on my skin

The DNA on the inside of my ring

Your insistence on devotion

The regularity of the foghorn these days

Superstition

The buzz on my scalp when you say:

okay, that’s it, good bye

 

A white man, many white men will let other women

other white women go ahead on them at the line up for

the bus & then walk in after them as if you’re not

a woman, as if you’re not there

 

You’re already not there

he wants you to know

you’re not there

 

We were already dying

we might as well not be there

 

The rustling of leaves reminds us

that we’re always on the way back to nothing

Nothing

We were already dying anyway

 

I won’t kiss you good bye

Superstition or not

Foghorns mark time that we forget on longer days

The DNA on the inside of my ring

where my skin caught & bled yesterday tells me

I’m already dying, scrap of skin by scrap of skin

God on my skin, god on my skin where you kiss me

& a small list to explain

why I won’t kiss you good bye

 

118.

2014-08-04 16.58.39

so at first we had a rhythm

my bones did

but now

after the fourth murder

of me

my bones now

rattle

 

we had a syncopation

my bones and i did

why the pattern

why

the pattern

after all this was the fourth time

wasn’t it

the fourth time

to get killed

murdered

(might as well say it)

slaughtered

whose going to remember

 

so my bones have gone jazz

& you’re never going to know

when the next beat comes

where the next clackle of

femur & clavicle

 

(none of your

nonesense)

 

my bones do

rhythm & not

rhythm

tell me don’t

tell me don’t

the fourth time i should know

by now

i should know now

that there’s a spot on the kitchen shelf

an empty glass jar

labelled: tired-bone powder

 

119.

2014-08-03 11.18.32

shitstory

not murder or pillage et al

shitstory in the telling

engraving

remembering

 

that

i love you

(that’s herstory)

i love you – that story

i love you

not shit narratives

not shitstory

 

120.

2014-08-02 20.25.13

So I heard that your were done talking

that you’d reached the end of your words

that the rest of your life in silence

will be matched by respectful nods

from strangers who heard that you had run out of words

 

So you’re not talking anymore

but have you given any thought to how it looks

you bobbing your head up & down

in response to strangers nodding at you

 

you’re a snake

 

what does it look like with your head bobbing up & down

in response to strangers nodding their heads?

What do you think?

 

Oh, wait

right

you’re not talking anymore

***

& now that you’re not talking

& all I have is the bobbing of your head

up & down, up & down

this is what you told me

 

that your dad & his friends laughed

when they made lewd jokes between them

(none of which you remember

except that they laughed)

& all you remember is the laughter

& not any of how those jokes made you feel

 

today the men at the office make race jokes

as if you’re not there

& they laugh & snicker

laugh & snicker

 

now all you do is bob your head

up & down, up & down

maybe someday

you’ll forget how you feel about that

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (111-115)

2014-08-02 20.54.12

111.

The signposts were up

for the readers, for the poets to clue in:

No more poetry with possessives

& there you were, holding my hand

a possessive

my hand

 

Signpost 1:

your head is broken

your is a possessive

your head belongs to you

 

Signpost 2:

my head is broken

my is a possessive

I own my own head

 

Signpost 3:

our heads are cloven

our heads is a plural possessive

 

Signpost 4:

a hateful eye meets a mean eye

 

Signpost 5:

exit ahead – Amach

we’re almost there

hands still entwined

we’re laughing

homestretch

 

2014-08-04 16.58.39

112.

The glass in your hand

is full of the night sky

the moon in it is clear, full & bright

 

Take a sip

this taste of glory

doesn’t mattert

doesn’t really matter

 

The moon shimmers in the glass

resplendent

next to the red umbrella beside it

the moon in my mouth is a delightful crunch

your blue on mine is a moment I can’t buy

& the warmth down my throat

is worth a morning that will not show

 

2014-08-02 20.25.13

113.

second floor

green paint

a clock counting down to eternity

the moon

a soft & exhausted sun

two or three women who look alike

men who look nothing like you

a scowl

we’re still walking through this poem

 

2014-08-04 15.47.32

114.

out in the distance

the desert creeps

in the same pace it has for millenia

as the lineup of witnesses decreases

— they have work

children other obligations

so now just you & me

to watch the desert crawl

 

2014-08-04 15.47.32

115.

On the top floor

Christ & the devil in deep conversation

fineprinting, the two of them

fineprinting the laws of devotion

& the meaning of sin

 

beside them a scawl on the wall

a heart with an arrow

between N & A 4evah

 

Shandon explodes in a warm glow

nothing changes

nothing remains the same

now I know, I know

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (106-110)

2014-08-02 20.54.12

106.

How shall I hold you

you who is not my mother’s child or my own?

We have no shared blood

you are not my kin

there is no reason for me

to hold on to you

die for you

kill for you

make breakfast for you on Thursday morning

& yet I fold you into myself

like a signature beyond script

 

2014-08-03 11.18.32

107.

You pointing at the stars & me at you

like stars we’re made of nothing

& headed to nothing

but the journey through

to this the most sublime of moments

 

Is this what it means to be a star?

 

Here is our fondest path yet

you pointing at the stars

& me at you pointing at the stars

evolution & revolution

 

You’re complete, you said this morning

you’re complete

but we’re flaming out, we’re flaming out

 

Is this what it is to belong in the country of stars?

2014-08-04 16.58.39

108.

I have forgotten which lines I whispered to which love

Some lovely phrases borrowed from conversations in the breeze

Solemn words, heavy with heartbreak or history

Lightness, lightness, light

Words like giggles

Words like songs
Allow me to rephrase then

What I’ve told all of them:

It’s you, just you, only ever you

 

2014-08-02 20.25.13

109.

A dialogue meets a woman on a bench across the street from the coffee shop

she’s white, blonde

middle-aged

cell phoned

 

twenty minutes later

a man returns

but she’s gone already

 

Same dialogue meets him at that bench scross the street from the coffee shop

he’s First nations

young

drumming, drumming

an upturned cap on the ground in front of him

there are a few coins in it, or not

he sings where she had been speaking

into satellites stringed across sky

 

a dialogue meets the man

who drums out the din in the coffee shop across the street

where young hipster laptopped people socialize

with the background of rabid metal music behind them

 

2014-08-04 15.47.32

110.

we climb together

you hand firmly on my arm

come, let’s go

iridescent blue across obsidian

& after all that riding

after sweat

come, let’s go again