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

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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?

 

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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?

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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

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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

 

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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

 

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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)

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101.

Your fingers & mine are already locked

& in a moment we shall overcome

the trials of an unlocked poem

 

 

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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)

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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?

 

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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

 

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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)

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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?

 

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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

 

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (81-85)

2014-08-02 20.54.12

81.

Last night she comes round to our table

cupping her hands and says:

    • I’ve been collecting words.
    • Only beautiful words

She opens her palms

& words cascade onto the table

creating something sublime

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82.

She smiles & leaves

she returns with a phone in her hand

she says:

  • these you will need to listen to
  • these words will lace your brain with poison

She hands the headphones over to me

She whispers:

  • poison

I’m sure she says poison

not:

  • glory, glory, glory

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83.

It’s finally warm in Vancouver

Granville Island is resplendent in beauty

I’m being pulled out of a hole in my head

There’s a pressure there, like birthing

Enjoy, says my Kenyan friend

Drink some water, says my Polish friend

I wonder if I should sit down, my Acholi self suggests

Vancouver is beautiful

Where am I going, leaving this body?

Vancouver is beautiful

Why am I still here?

Vancouver is beautiful

What is my responsibility in all this?

Vancouver remains beautiful

Enjoy your existential moment

Drink waer

Sit

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84.

We don’t fight, we don’t quarrel

we don’t finish each other’s sentences

or ask questions beyond the banal

or plan

or dream

or hold hands

or go anywhere

or think anything at all

We smile, share meals

clean up

watch TV

sleep together

& wait for the other to die

2014-08-02 20.25.13

85.

I returned unrecognizable to those I’d left behind

I returned contaminated

covered in nastiness

spewing nightmares

(You see? You see?)

I only said I wanted to finish the song

(You see? You see?)

Now they won’t let me anywhere near the source

It’s not me, they say

The me they knew had nothing

wanted nothing to do with music

(having been away for so long)

The me they knew will never come back

or get to anywhere near the source

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (76-80)

2014-08-02 20.25.13

Views from the bus from Gulu to Kampala

76.

Tree stumps in a clearing

Still

Like children right before the lunch bell

Waiting

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77.

A wooden coffin, a backdrop of unending forest

Soon, the coffin whispers

Soon

the trees nod in response

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78.

Three children by the wayside waving at the bus

The bus roars past

I’ll be back, the bus wants to say

Kids only hear: back!

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79.

A man’s gaze is fixed on the lower branches of a mighty tree

Not now, the tree states quite clear

And not tomorrow either

He can’t hear

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80.

Words filter through

Letting in only nightmarish narratives

& other terrible things

Spider webs ever growing crowd my throat