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

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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

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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

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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

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

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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

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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

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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 (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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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 (116-120)

116.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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?

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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

 

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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

 

 

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (100-105)

2014-08-02 20.25.13

101.

Your fingers & mine are already locked

& in a moment we shall overcome

the trials of an unlocked poem

 

 

2014-08-03 11.18.32

102.

Descent

as a title

as me hovering over you

as the September moon

close but not quite there

 

Descent

your eyes are already languid

& we haven’t even started to write

 

This poem will not respect our commitment

to dignity

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103.

Twenty four hours

& I’m already forgetting

even as I hang on to you

 

Two days, ten years, a minute ago

I can’t remember what your kisses used to mean

 

What’s your excuse?

 

 

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104.

Time appears this morning like an errant sun

& yet we know

we know it’s not going anywhere

 

It’s us spinning ourselves around it

telling stories that hold us together

by need

& us going on & on & on in the same sweet spot

 

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105.

The moon blows back  compensatory myths

out of colour

night skies full of incompassionate stars

– these are everlasting points of equality

 

Under this we’re spun the same way

& we dream.

 

 

 

 

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (96-100)

 

2014-08-02 20.54.12

96.

today we woke up

both of us barrel chested

we looked at each other

& laughed & laughed & laughed

 

it was funny to see that both of us

had lost all evidence of youth

we laughed until we ached all over

 

& then it became clear:

our belly muscles

the ones that used to hurt from laughter

had now relaxed, opened up

 

& now we have more space for grief

& now we know each other

as containments for much more

 

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97.

one mother:

this is who you are

this is where you’re going

& this is how, when & why

 

another mother:

this is who you are

this is where you’re going

& this is what will happen

how, when and why

 

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98.

yesterday my skin became the sky

& you remarked:

the sky is so blue

 

last night you said:

the stars are so bright

 

you couldn’t see that i was imploding

that the stars are a sign

that there will be no sky tomorrow

 

2014-08-02 20.25.13

99.

Having already

lost a beautiful string of lettering

that had formed into a poem

I should take the day off

 

These days

lost poems remain lost

a requiem to one is the best I can do

 

2014-08-03 11.18.32

100.

It’s the movement, isn’t it?

 

From a collection of recipe bits

to grinding, chopping, frying

steaming

releasing the aroma

from the combined bits & pieces of you & me

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (91-95)

2014-08-03 11.18.32

91.

with hands on my shoulders

the man led me backwards

down a long hallway

past the rooms where women come undone

past christmas

& used wedding gowns for sale

past rooms with old laughter

sweating up the walls

he led me backwards

all the way down to Eve

who sat nude

& declared

that mercy was for losers

& condemned me

to liberation wars of convenience

 

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92.

the man led me

backwards

into a wooden chair

he removed the blindfold

 

what games are these, i asked

chance, liberation, war & mercy

 

you’re now mine, he said

you’re now mine

along with spike milligan & the goons

tattered manuals

& old love poetry

you’re now mine

i found you a spot on the shelf, see?

 

2014-08-04 15.47.32

93.

another man

a masked man

demanded all

one hundred & sixty five kisses

if i had any expectation of release

 

so i told him what i know to be true:

a lipsticked mouth must never be kissed

a lipsticked mouth is not for kissing

a lipsticked mouth is art

is protection

is political statement

is the distance between now & never

 

2014-08-02 20.25.13

 

94.

I’ll love you in a minute, you said

blue on brown, blue on brown

I’ll love you in a minute

you said

 

& in that chasm

nature unleashed itself

— lightning struck countless times

earthquakes, firestorms

children died & were born

died & were born again

 

in the minute I was waiting

terror smiled

blue on brown, blue on brown

waiting for the world to settle

 

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95.

& then there were three men left in the country.

Actually, strictly speaking

there were two & a boy

but we called all of them men

 

the boy to remind us how to have sons

which was to say

that having sons was not like having daughters

 

the other was

pure & unadulterated pleasure

which was to remind us how to have a man

which was to say that having a woman

was not the same as having a man

 

the third was a man of the old kind

who was there to remind us

that we needed a man to tell us what to do

to remind us, we reminded him

it felt necessary

because he had no other use

because we did what we needed to do

whether or not he was there

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (86-90)

 

2014-08-02 20.54.12

86.

I don’t believe in the reclamation of innocence through the cooling of sheets

Come

Let’s set these sheets on fire

Let’s burn them all night long

 

I don’t believe in the saving grace of dryers

So let’s set these sheets on fire

After we can descend into hell

& take heaven with us

 

2014-08-02 20.25.13

87.

Almost  quarter to heartbreak

& I’m picking up pieces of you off the living room floor

I’m replacing your bits neatly into the cupboards

 

Remember Achtung, Baby?

You shook your head & I laughed

& laughed and laughed

You carried me home, drunk

Remember?

 

Now twenty three minutes to merriment & it’s achtung

Stop

You & I are marionettes

You & I are marionettes

Stop

 

It’s now ever after

This, too, is ever after

& only ever so

 

2014-08-03 11.18.32

88.

The signpost just north of August reads:

All skinned passengers keep right

 

My skinned peeled off on Thursday

In a fit of rage, demanding the right

the need for

Touch who left Wednesday morning

 

Mine left slamming the door behind her

& the sign reads:

unskinned licensed drivers may keep right

 

& since I don’t drive

I keep left

Keep being left

Stay left

 

2014-08-04 16.58.39

89.

Jasmine,

What shall I tell my feet?

With what words can I convince my neck to stay
How can I say that we will be okay?

The three of us?

The four of us, since the varicose veins refuse to leave?

 

2014-08-04 15.47.32

90.

Let’s not sit with young lovers

What with their hands locked, intertwining fingers

She asleep

Lipsticked mouth hanging open

Her head on his chest

He with his heavy eyelids sleep or love,I don’t know

His other hand on her thigh

His hair fallen over the side of his face

& all of us on the bus ready to protect young love

whatever it takes

 

Let’s not sit with sleeping lovers

We’re sentry, we’re sentry, we’re sentry

 

We cannot sit with these lovers

Vulnerable , weak, stupid

Falling asleep on the bus

What with interlinked fingers and pinked lips

Her mouth agape, his hair falling across his face

So beautiful, so lovely, so shimmery

I can’t stand it

 

So let’s not sit with the young lovers

It won’t do