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

 

2014-08-04 16.58.39

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

 

2014-08-04 15.47.32

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

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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

 

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)

 

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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

 

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

 

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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

2014-08-03 11.18.32

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 (71-75)

2014-08-02 20.54.12

71.

World without end

world without end

so this is what it means to know that you have a crazy mother

world without end it was always like this

world without end and then someone broke in

& told us & told us & told us that our mother was crazy

world without end she was normal

she ironed her memories into her kanga

she used that same kanga to wrap her head

to carry us

to dry the plates

to wipe the snot from the baby’s nose

world without end that’s the way it always was

2014-08-02 20.25.13

72.

now that we know that our mother is crazy

we wrap ours about our waists

to protect us from evil

til the hour of our death

amen

2014-08-04 16.58.39

73.

we’re the startling green grass after the fires of the dry season

insistent

& clear

& knowing

& remembering

& expecting that this was not the last of the fires of the dry season

2014-08-04 15.47.32

74.

the earth remains as still as it ever was

dust rises and rises

creating silhouettes of the men in the road before us

red powder

red powder everywhere

and then the re-settling into stillness

the earth is stony, rocky, stubborn

it will only yield at 3 in the afternoon

& it will take in volunteers

in the smallest of yawns

to maintain the red of the the dust

2014-08-03 11.18.32

75.

over here, money is liquid

it melts nothing

costs nothing

buys nothing

moves nothing

but copious amounts of pleasure & satiation

over there money is cold

it moves everything

costs more

induces cold sweat

& can never provoke a smile

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (61-65)

2014-08-02 20.54.12

61.

You & I on the couch this morning

You in your work clothes & I in my bathrobe

Both of us cloaked in silence

 

when is a good day to die?

 

Not Monday because she’s fair

Thursday maybe

because Thursday’s child they say has far to go

 

A list of words to go through:

Laundry

Banking

Baking

Insouciance

Slithery

Computational

Universality

Dispersal

Do words feel the tongue of the speaker?

 

In the middle of a sentence, a dream

After fucking like dogs pounding ourselves into each other

Intent on each of us becoming one other

 

When is a good day to die?

 

At the junction where Broadway meets Main

A heart falls out on to the road

& the bus brakes just in time

 

Look after your heart, mister!

What are you doing?

Didn’t your mother teach you

to take care of your heart?

 

May or August, perhaps

Any month but your birthday month

That would be altogether too cruel

 

2014-08-04 15.47.3262.

This week we swore we’d dismember language

We pinky-promised to make a list

 

We’d take first English apart word by inept word

We’d begin with articles

 

From Monday on, we’d dismiss the specific

the general, the commander & the war

& just like that:

there was no more war & no language for it

 

On Tuesday you suggested

that we bleed out the possessives

Nothing could belong to anyone or anything

Share one, share alike

& I was no longer your darling

 

So we buried Conrad in the backyard

Along with all five European languages he used to speak

We buried Marlowe beside him, greedy fucker that he was

along with all the declarations he made

 

By Friday we could still articulate love so we hanged on

to action words as political cowardice

 

Saturday, there was no more point

we opened blue caches of verbs

No subject

No verb

No object

No simple sentences to point towards complex existences

 

No subjects

No other

No thing

So we hummed ourselves to sleep

 

2014-08-03 11.18.32

63.

Beloved, yesterday I sent my gal to the market

& she hasn’t come back

 

Beloved, I sent my daughter to the market

the loud one

the big one

the noisy one

the boisterous one

I sent my best self to the market

&  now she won’t come back

 

She was to pick up fresh vegetable, fruit

some other grocery — soap & the like

 

How long was she there?

Not very long, I expected her back any minute

 

Yesterday’s market isn’t there any more

That big, loud, boisterous space

where storied & money & goods changed hands is gone

 

All the souls fled except for the ones that hang around

Dancing in the breeze

& whistling through plastic bags that flap about

 

All the scattered things & bodies & embers

All the bits that used to represent life

All the stories that were interrupted mid sentence

when my daughter, strapped by some strangers

blew up into nothing

 

Yesterday I sent my life to the market

It’s as if I never existed before

 

Beloved, where did we take the wrong turn?

 

2014-08-02 20.25.13

64.

Today you bury your son

breath in & breath out

How is it even possible?

 

Yesterday I sent my daughter to the market

& today you bury your son

 

Breath in & breath out

never stopping, never stopping

even in the middle of wracked grief

where did we take the wrong turn, beloved?

 

Where?

 

2014-08-04 16.58.39

65.

Adjectives, nouns & adverbs

in a bowl

like fruit

from last week

starting to go bad

starting to have the sick sweet smell

of fruit going bad

starting to die

starting to know that fruit knows

that they’re dead

the moment that they’re picked from the tree

 

A collection of wilting words

waiting to be thrown out

into the compost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (51-60)

 

 

 

 

2014-08-04 16.58.39

51.

How you left me with your foot in my arms

Your foot, & nothing more to take into the new year

 

52.

2014-08-04 15.47.32

How you left me

Like the sigh after that last kiss

I cannot reach back into last year

to grasp at that sigh

I cannot hold on to a moment

not a moment so firmly stuck to the past year

 

53.

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You left me like blood seeping from bone

at the touch of salt — beautifully and completely

 

54.

2014-08-03 11.18.32

Like a blood dropping onto a clear puddle of water

A ripple from a red explosion & then delicate spidery tendrils

& the water is pinked

as if it was never clear

as if you were never there

as if you were never part of the bloody foot I hold on to

 

55.

2014-08-02 20.54.12

 

So sing, Mary, sing

No one else remembers that song

Sing anyway

 

When you forget this song

then you will come to know

how completely you left

 

 

 

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (45-50)

 

 

2014-08-03 11.18.32

 

45.

He was young

He was shiny

He was slim

He was brand

 

He was earth

He was sky

He was tremor

He was fall

 

He was chartered

He was bus

He was hampered

He was slowed

 

He was kind

He was vain

He was branded

He was armed

 

He was questioned

He was game

He was knowledge

He was stained

 

He was awed, keening, blurred

He was bloody

He was serious

He is damned

 

2014-08-02 20.54.12

46.

Was I ever sober when I declared the hierarchy of love

As chocolate, wine then you?

 

It’s cold outside

It’s cold inside

My skin is clammy with desire

And there’s no one else at home

 

Let me instigate this kind of trouble

Let me trouble this investigation

Investigate this troubling notion

That silk and cotton

Are perfect replacements for your hands

That smokes and alcohol can be remedies

for an unkissed mouth

That this last weekend

Is an almost forgotten dream

 

2014-08-04 15.47.32

 

47.

I don’t want to meet for coffee any more

I don’t want to meet you in the deepest corners of cafes

and talk about newspaper articles and yesterday’s news

 

I don’t want to spend two hours with baby at breast

Waiting for sibling at nursery school

In a cafe full of strollers with other mothers and other babies

Waiting for siblings at nursery school

 

I want you to take me home

Let sleeping babies sleep

I want you to guide me to the sink

Drape a towel over my shoulders and run the warm tap

 

I want you to hold the back of my head

I want you to guide the soap away from my eyes

I want you to rinse my head with water, a tad too hot

I want you to wash my hair

 

On Thursdays I want to walk by the shampoo aisle

with baby at breast

And remember the smell of shampoo

 

2014-08-04 16.58.39

 

48.

There is no power to a wretched god

a ratchet god

coughing up phlegm

 

There is no power to a god

who holds up his pants with one hand

as he waits his turn to walk

through the metal detector at Heathrow

 

There’s even less to god in a good suit

nothing

nothing

not even the remote possibility

not even the light

of a small smile

 

2014-08-02 20.54.12

49.

This morning

we found her curled up, asleep inside a potato

 

When she woke up

she said it was good for her skin, all that starch

she said it was soft and warm and dark

she said potatoes smelled like earth

she said we couldn’t understand

she said that all she wanted was to go back home

 

2014-08-03 11.18.32

 

50.

Days stumble into each other

Friday collapses into Monday

After you

A golden city awaits

After you

A city resplendent in memories and glittery with tears

After you

Home

 

 

 

 

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (41- 44)

41.

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There is no power

There is no power to a cursed god

A dumb god

A rabid god

A terrible, terrible god

 

However

There is power to a nature that doesn’t care about curses

 

42.

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My fiction is a seduction — let’s get married

My fiction does not lie — c’mon, let’s get married

Fiction doesn’t cajole or threaten — what is it with you?  you have nothing to lose

Fiction will carry you, light as nothing but your actual weight

Fiction will place you there, right there, in medias res

 

Once there was a girl who had started to run long before the story started

& then you became the girl

& then you were the one that was chasing her

& then you became the fiction and the girl became the teller

 

What fiction is that if it’s not true?

C’mon. Let’s do it. Let’s get married today

 

43.

2014-08-02 20.25.13

 

A thirsty god finds me at the shore

selling water by the cup

A thirsty god, a broke god stands before me

You pay first, I tell him

You pay first

 

So this thirsty god tosses a couple of coins into the metal bucket

& draws deeply from the cup

Another cup?

You pay first

 

My god turns his pockets inside out

Shows me his wallet, his overdrawn credit cards

You pay first, I tell the damned god

 

I’ll give you a wish

A wish from a cheap god, a broke god

 

I wish, I begin

I wish I knew if she still wore that pink underwear

 

My god sputters out the water in his mouth

That’s it?

Not world peace?

 

I meet his incredulity with steady eyes

My wish, god, not yours

Who died and made you judge?

 

Christ, my god mutters, his lips still wet

Jesus Christ

 

44.

2014-08-03 11.18.32

 

Once a woman came to give a talk

I sat in the audience, rows and rows and rows away

almost in the back

 

After the introduction she got up from the front row

She wore all black — black top, black pants, black scarf

but as she got up there was a flash of pink at her waistline

 

 

 

 

The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (31-35)

31.

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Now I’m riding a wave of Hail Marys and underneath a chorus:

You’re only human

You’re only human

and with that, you’re just a woman

 

Deep baritones and alto currents and the occasional soprano spray

You cannot move in just yet

You cannot move in just yet

 

Now I’m standing at the threshold

A river of Hail Marys rushes by

There’s a tide I’m waiting for

Clear spirits will carry me there

 

32.

2014-08-02 20.25.13

 

She insists on walking on the edge of the ditch with her arms outstretched for balance

but

her mouth is tight with focus

 

The edge of the ditch, like the rest of it, is muddy

She slips

She catches herself

but she will not walk on the generous path like everyone else

 

— that’s for walkers, she says

— that’s for walkers

— I’m not a walker, she says

— I’m a balancer.  I hold the world divided in my palms

 

33.

2014-08-04 15.47.32

what night

what night what burning proof what riding in the wind
howling in the throats of hungry children, hanging strings of broken guitars
what burning proof of light

what incidence what music what leafy branches, now stark, naked, dry, whitened bark
what memories of life what shadows from the backs of women
bending over howling children with churning acid, burning insides, tight, round, hollow hot bellies what leaking

what night burning with proof?

what dry knuckles what country, what crescent moon, what red cross
what worries about what neck-laced bullets, shards, casings, strips of cloth, strips of stories, stories of people, people of a desert glowing with memories of leafy branches and the burning proof of night

what meaning what conclusions of our women raped with knives, hands, broken bottles, bayonets, sticks

wet shop window panes of winter countries glistening, shimmering rain stones bouncing, where we long for love in shiny diamond rings, blood rubies, topaz blue dangling from earlobes, glinting from the newest cell phones

coltane

what meaning in the screams of one woman long confounded by a polish man in the darkest heart of Africa what howling by the river red bottomed monkeys darting off the road, scattering off in the path of jeeps with the blue and white of United Nations, red and white of Red Cross, FAO, We Care, We Care, We Care, we don’t.

what need for the children staring back at the screen, for pennies a day, only pennies a day

less than the price of a grande cup of coffee, a latte, a half sweet, half decaf, no foam, skim milk, vanilla, double shot of espresso

less than the price of a daily paper

What lies.

 

 

34.

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Purple is to Lavender

(Alice Walker)

Purple is to lavender

What crimson is to red blood

Gushing through the sin-stained heart

Purple is to lavender

What royal is to blue

Sky, blue blood, blue day blues

Purple is to lavender

What light is to the absence of white

On your wedding day, wedding night

Wading, wading muck

Purple is to lavender

What right is

In the face of right ways

Right rules

Right, might, height

Purple is to lavender

What crimson is to red

Heartache to love

Blue days white nights

And you

 

 

 

35

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Possibly

If all possible permutations of words

Have been calculated, sentences spoken, sentiments undone, expressions underlined, scored, beaten, shot, gartered, quartered, bent, given, taken, delivered, stored, left, denied and burned in piles, with elephant tusks and women;

If all possible permutations of words have died at the cross with Christ,

Or buried in mass graves of Bosnia, Liberia, Congo, Haiti, Mexico, Rwanda, Acholi, China, Chile, Poland, Siberia, United States, Sudan and Sea-to-Sky highway in Canada;

If any words rose from the ashes in epic poetry and song from the silenced and then disappeared into the nothingness that trails like falling stars, like the smoky wisps behinds your eyelids;

I can still be certain of this – only those three words I hold will remain unsaid