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

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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 (1-5)

5.

2014-08-02 20.54.12

The Microphone is not a Gun

The fact that a man picks up a microphone – that’s it, you see? That’s what makes him a rapper. It’s not a gun, it’s only a microphone.

Eminem. Interview with Zadie Smith. “The Zen of Eminem,” for Vibe Magazine.

I agree.

It’s not appropriate to think that the microphone could be a gun – it’s not. It’s only a microphone.

Not like the blues weeping, dripping all sassy like, sexy like, painful like, relieved like, sad again, like no word ever spoken – it’s nothing. It’s only a microphone.

And microphones are dead.

No.

Microphones are not dead.

No

Microphones are dead.

No.

Microphones are not dead.

No.

A microphone will switch on a voice whose cross-hairs marks everyone in the room; more, everyone within earshot.

A microphone will illuminate the dogs, the cockroaches, the foreigners, illegal aliens, refugees, the bastards arriving here by ship, here to take our women, our men, talk our children out into the streets, into hazy drug addicted lives; here to convince us that it never happened, it never did, nobody touched their them, nobody, nobody sodomized our kids, not even in God’s name.

The microphone is not dead.

It’s dead.

It’s not dead.

(The microphone is dead without a voice)

The microphone is all your life reduced to nothing

You’re dead when the message comes through to say that you are, or soon will be anyway. The voice behind the microphone says — kill the bastards! Gas them! Hack them! Shoot them! Get rid of every single one of them.

It’s not a gun, Eminem says. It’s not a gun.

 

The microphone for sure is not the poet who proclaims the death orders.

It’s certainly not a pile of tusks in Mombasa waiting to catch a fire and scream nothing.

Don’t you know that elephant tusks have no voices?

 

Microphones are not flowers, not love songs, not God on the podium, not Christ, or Mohammed, wailing in the desert

God is love! God is love! God is Love!

There is only one God

There is only one God

There is only one God

And God is love in the priest’s hands, in the killer’s trigger finger, your mother’s hands, mine – all God’s love – tell us!

Tell us, God’s man, tell us!

 

This microphone is not a gun. It’s a microphone. It’s not God carrying on, spewing love from the mountain-top.

It’s only a microphone.

It’s not a gun aiming to shatter your innards, desecrate that temple of love that you carry about, as your thoughts disintegrate into dust motes that float only in the light.

 

But have no doubt. The microphone is not a gun, but it can and will kill you.

The one that will save you only needs to whisper the truth that you already carry in your veins —

You’re alright as you are.

You’re lovely as you come.

You’re beautiful even as you look away, even as you sigh, holding you head in your hands, thinking that you can’t take much more than this.

You’re here

You exist

I see you

You belong with me, with us.

I love you

I need no gun, no microphone for that.

4.

2014-08-03 11.18.32

Blue Grey for Jodie Martinson

 

We, who are peddlers of stories, only focus on the blue grey

It’s the blue grey you insist on, isn’t it?

 

Once there was a woman who lived and died, as we all do

But she had a story

 

 

We, peddlers of stories, trade in the dark

Un-mucking details

Clearing shadows

Sweeping the dusty edges of stories that might have been fun, or even funny

 

Once there was a woman with a story

And now there isn’t

 

It’s the blue grey in the shadows beneath the boats

At the marina on False Creek

Nobody looks there and nobody cares

Small waves, small waves

 

We peddle stories, what more is there?

 

Once there was a woman

What happened to her made us take second glance

 

Once, a woman with a story mattered because she had a story

We peddle these things as if they were nothing

One story, the next and the one after that

We get fixed

We get our fix

We fix

 

Once, there was a woman who lived and now doesn’t

She mattered because she had a story that piqued our interest

 

Once, there was a woman, six times, sixty six or six hundred

But none had a narrative like hers

 

Once, there was a woman whose narrative claimed her

Molded her, like clay, into someone

Someone who mattered when her story engulfed the headlines

Her details were important

Having been dusted off from the corners and shadows where no one looks

 

It’s your insistence on the blue grey, isn’t it?

Grey December skies, whitish, sometimes black, belie soft waves under the boats

At False Creek, where red-roofed houses upon houses overlook the water

Witnesses at everyone turn but none are interested

Except you and I, peddlers of stories

Who get our fix, fix and are fixed

3.

2014-08-02 20.25.13

I wish it were night

Because what I need to tell you needs night

 

It needs drawn curtains, Bob melody, warm blankets, sleeping children dreaming, sucking at their mouths and your dark skin

 

What I need to tell you

Needs night

Your hands cupping my shoulder, the heat in your eyes

 

This night

Tonight

This night I need to talk to you

This night needs me, needs you, needs black

No streetlights – black

No moon – black

 

No black thoughts of black people here there every place

That black is black is black is black is me is you

 

What I need to say needs you black night

black skirt on stained carpet

black stockings

black boots, bra, bangles in a gold heap jangling the day away now quiet

 

What I need to say needs night with thunder that tremors

rain in sheets

lightening that brightens the sky for a second — a truth that you are more than the sum of all the parts that make me feel good

:you are black soul

 

What I need to say needs no TV

no shadowing bombs in Beirut

boasting suicides bombs

bragging shots

competitions of displaced people inside outside

borders citizen refugees unwanted migrants vagrants

on the west side of a blue green planet with echoes of canned laughter

 

No fingers to my lips, love.

What I need to tell you

What I need to tell you

What I need to tell you

 

2.

2014-08-04 16.58.39

I’m holding your foot in my hand

Your right foot or left

Socked, and you’re not even Jesus

But

God, I need saving

 

I peel off your sock

or I put it back on

(I can’t remember now)

Your foot, socked in my hand

& you’re still not Jesus

I need saving

I need saving, my lord

My lord, I need saving

 

Your foot in my lap

I cradle it close

Slow enough to diffuse into my mind

 

In this moment

I am safe

 

 

1.

2014-08-04 15.47.32

How was it that in my mind I was walking through the field

Gathering armfuls of flowers

While you lay dying?

 

How is it that flowers don’t exist

that the most beautiful spot on the beach

is where you stood, hands in pocket, glum and scowling?

 

Race and stop, not much matters anyway

Stones and sand are evolutionary relatives

You and I are stars

Orion has become a coward, hiding behind the sun

And none of this happened

None of it happened.