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?

 

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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 (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 (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

2014-08-02 20.54.12

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?

 

 

2014-08-04 16.58.39

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

 

2014-08-04 15.47.32

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 (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 (66-70)

2014-08-04 16.58.39

66.

At 3.15 am the door slams

the last of the whole words are gone

an army of ants had taken their place

& are hauling out crumbs

& verbal punctuations

bits and pieces

ahs & ums

shas & sheez

jeez & jesus!

all crystalline

all salty bits of sound

 

the ants make quick work

by mid-morning they’re all gone

 

2014-08-04 15.47.32

67.

by midday

all that’s left are images

too awkward to fit through the door & windows

 

like the two bald girls lipsticked and high heeled

like their mother wiping off some of the lipstick

like the one girl pouting afterwards

like the other smacking her lips, still smiling

 

like the mad man scouring the pews with his eyes

like the moment that he seeks you out

like the stern point he makes towards you

making all your pew-mates glance at you

 

2014-08-02 20.54.12

68.

a story emerges after church

how he has a wife & daughters

how he has a twin brother

how his name is Forgod

& how his equally mad brother is Forget

 

& how all this

is performance & story without words

 

2014-08-03 11.18.32

69.

Incandescence, I tell you

isn’t the sum of everything

it’s not even the multiplication of light

it’s nothing without the tapestry inside a black sky

 

Didn’t I tell you that stars would wear thin?

Stars don’t change

Stars don’t move

Stars don’t do a damn thing but stare

 

Incandescence is a red moon

a white moon

a low moon

a half moon

a sliver

a joke

 

2014-08-03 11.18.32

70.

A gecko darts silently out of the shadows

& scurries across the whitish wall

& then stands still

 

A mosquito buzzes angrily

she has no access

 

Inside the safety of a net

I snicker

& then

wait

what’s with the sudden itch

of a spider bite above my knee?

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