Collected Poems 1969 – 2014

THE WAKE UP HILL POEMS
NEW AND SELECTED

For JoAnne

VILLANELLE BY THE SEA
May 1975

I’ll die with water swirling around my head
And down and down the wind shall drop its song
To leave its word unspoken till I’m dead.

My word is wind’s word, spoken from this bed,
It caught the cold air once and spun before my eyes.
All die with water swirling around my head.

We are old men linger, nursing old hatred
You’ll hear the laughter interweave again
To leave its word unspoken till I’m dead

What woman’s voice, what woman’s hand has led
Need to see where Proteus in song laments:
“i’ll die with water swirling around my head.”

What woman’s hand, what woman’s voice has led,
Me to the sea, to sing by windblown waves
To leave their words unspoken when I’m dead?

The face of one remains when all have fled
To see how death will take his green eyed son:
I’ll die with water swirling around my head
And leave my words unspoken till I’m dead.
I HAVE NEVER TRAVELED

I have never traveled
beyond the lines of your face.

If I were to follow their wide ways
I would be led back, always
to start again with your lips and eyes.

We have never mapped the unknown
hands would be lost
in a confusion of silk.

I cannot find the beginning
it come to an end
you are leaving
a new dress blows
in the wind.

October 1973

THE CORRECT STOPS

August 1975

the fiddles whine and boots stomp
the dance disturbs the dust.
Hand on hand the dancers whirled
filling out their circle.

Here are the correct stops
the fine rage remains.
The old meters alternate
and suddenly the patterns change.

The Ottawa has shed a husk of a white scales,
Currents whistle and groan.
The river licks a cold wound
and crawls toward a cold finale.

What motion it makes, sinews of chrome
to hasten the journey,
what feet it has to lunge into the ice flows,
returns to rip the frozen ground away.

You hear the sharp discard
shoot across its surface,
Crystal wind chimes will so distant
the music goes unnoticed.
IDOLS

May 1975

Oh take me to the River’s edge in spring,
the water swelling to the willow’ s root.
Your face I see dashed on rock–ledge, circling
in a thousand eddies about my feet.

Your eyes I see dancing, as though sun-glare
on the water could spy me tracing wave ends.
The silver shroud of silk received the wind’ s care
and two jewels wrapped in many folds suspend

The downward flight for my inquiry.
A coracle I see: your lips, drifting,
twist of crystal sinew for a smile, days
of solitude destroyed in memory.

Rituals of earth and water contend
for the season’s end. Heat is upon us
and snow is upon us. A woman’s face

Who contains idols that no one comprehends.
I have forgotten all but this. The loss
of mind and eyes leaves nothing to erase.
TAKING LEAVE OF A YOUNG FRIEND

I spoke to the boy, ears strained
eyes finding the two jewels
on his face. Good morrow boy
in answer to his whimper.

Let fall the aged props
that yesterday
seemed necessary, dikes
before the water rising.
There is no water now
the ocean floor, baked ceramic
sprouts no green.
Therefore, goodbye boy.

Will you, like I, build a house
upon the ocean floor
or, foolish, seek out some green world
to observe the confessions you soak
from the last fragment of your childhood.
Make a choice of images, filling each
with the subjective delineations
of the conscious mind. Not poetry
this, “nor was meant to be.”

The noise follows, the noise
of the commune follows like a shadow
on an afternoon, not fading fast
but lingering in the dusk.

The sharp edge is blunt
only the solemn man can maintain
his edge: a monk, solitary in penance
harsher than any antique order.

Confinement interrupted by visitors:
music, there is plenty of this.
Tunes passing from heart to heart.
Sun passes thus through a clear shallow pond
falls on pebbles giving each colour.

Yet follows solitude, pondering
tired eyes to greet the night.

Do you know what can come of this?
(Many dull lights that beam in the boarding
house rooms,
finding no union with the moon,
the only light, reflected light
that shines faint upon this grey brick.)

The sprawl, uneven, of such thoughts
flows over the bounds of ancient form.
Thought so hungry for a form
that no form of suit the need.

To construct a shape within a word
it’s a funny thing indeed. A word
that follows on another’s heel
should wait eternity for the like
to follow so closely again.

There is, somewhere in the night
on a corner, a boy crying, lost
seeing nothing, lost.
Where he will sleep I cannot know

I cannot begin to know. His universe
is not our universe. To fashion
an image of the only world
in this world…
the last men to squeeze the words,
water from a dry sponge
will sleep tonight.
Tonight the sky will show
the moon, round and white.

FOR KAY
March 1975

Each young poet confesses his mistrust
each in good time, yet I no longer
look from the light of Kathleen’s eyes
see the white frost on rooftops.

The low noise of new roots
grinding food for new flowers
would amuse me more than the fast
world driving down the narrow streets.

I led by Kathleen’s eyes
and almost find her hand.
She is bent toward the cold ground
listening.

SPRING THAW

March 1975

On gray and blistered sediment
water and gold embrace in dance.
The convolutions still produce
amusements with the elements.

At the onslaught of spring
water spills from rooftops
and we may see the sun
in puddles, daring not
to stare into the sleepless eyes.

Here is a measured light
harmless in reflection
And there are angels, blind
dancing in an arc across the sky.

THE EVENING CLASS
November 1974

The drone of the young men
caught at debate
rattles in my head
as I rise to leave.
Along the sidewalk
trees once wrought gaping
cracks. Now brittle and
weak they stand, sucked
dry bypassing time.
The night wind is cold.
It brings to me the
words, scattered and shrill,
now confessions
that ring in my ears.

NO TITLE

You may find the people
Shy away from the pains of labour
but never bring tired thoughts
to bear your shame on them.

January 1975

THE HUNTERS IN THE SNOW

for Joseph McGowan

The ground is cast in steel
by the white
Frostings of late November.
Uncertain thoughts
come to mind and I see
the blurred outline
of a man
through the snow
pacing
pacing, carving a path through
the woods.

Weave in and out
among glazed roots.
The Oaks in cobalt legions
Are marshaled against the seasons threat.
Pacing
pacing, into the hurried
counterpoint
I come to follow
yet the snow
overshadows us
erasing the footprints
burying the man.

August 1974
THE ROMAN MAIDEN

what new Roman maiden
struts and twitches into view?
We’ve seen old washing machines
twist and jerk off offensively,
but what new device is this,
uniformed and indexed, new
like a brand-new car?

Old men reform their legions
you can understand their ways,
unbroken, aging reluctance
to gaze upon the passing freak,
passing from half remembered
nightmares to brand new
realities. The empire
was never like this
in the old days.

These conclusions were necessary
once, now they belong
to the wind.
The twitch, electric, defiant,
passes and leaves behind
these sputtered confused thoughts,
of old men broken,
huddled together and bewildered.

August 1974

POEM FOR KATHLEEN

Alone, the wind caresses
her hair, rearranges it
the seaweed thus shifts
trapping tiny specks of the moon.

The slap and shuffle
of invisible hands
on the beach
the sand etching a picture,
alone, she leaves
footprints cupping water.

Cold sand like marble
carves her image
begins again,
refinishes and recommences
though she remains,
remains alone, amused
at the constancy of the night.

She is able to pierce the water
Channel it through her hands
direct the shift and shape
of sand, molding
reshaping. Castles
they are castles
and it is a city

and a civilization would appear
from her slow fingertips,
shored against the lap of water
the clutch of the wind,
yet she has left it
to the Moon, the great
White hands of the moon
and it is born to the sea
the inconstant sea.

June 1974
MY CRAFT OR SULLEN ART

For Al Purdy

there amid the tables and smoke
old men and young men wrestle
with their words. Here is the spawning
apply new politics, amid
the sawdust and cigarettes.

You listen to the dark cry,
the regular sensations
of tone and colour suggest
you heard it before,
the same unmixed prose.

So it is nothing more
than maudlin confession,
there is, of course, no time
for anything but this.
THE POET’ S REPLY

Returning
returning to the same
compost heap of misspelled lies
why?
Lifting grating windows
striking matches, not seeing the smoke
rise through the rooms
you butt cigarettes
to punctuate the time.

It’s like prose, endless, shapeless prose
and you come home to it
every night sweating and nervous
sick in the stomach,
home to brazen cages,
the new illness.

It is like prose and we have no grammar
to end it
no talent to lift it to verse.
June 1974

THE DIVORCE

Amid the infections of the street
she was able to return
to the fire
Earth
Air
and water of things.
Amongst the retarded hopes
and fantasies
the thought emerged
the glimpse of paradise
though his mind was lost
in the unsorted papers spread
out on his desk.

Hesitancy
dissociation of gesture
eyes that teach perfection
la belle Feroniere (“d’Awinci”).
The glimpse
of paradise, silent
fixed, her attachments
through thin fingers
received his verse
half smiles received
his traditions.

She
enfolded the sky
in her arms
until the street
and night
and rain
brought colours to pour
on the pavement
White lights and scarlet
running together.

May 1974

TO MY SISTERS

May 1974

You will wonder far with a lonely heart,
the age demands it. The scrape of feet
on alleyways, reluctance to depart
for the wide ways is what you will meet.

Italian restaurants with the enameled walls
will house maybe an argument or two,
distractions improves with each betrayal,
you will ask, “is there anything to do?”

Is there anything to do rebounding
from one cell to another. In answer
a cigarette is smashed. The resounding
silences follow you like a dancer.

A furnished room awaits the fall of feet,
where you enter the moon curses the street.
A BOOK CLERK’S DREAM OF PERSEPHONE

Beads of mercury glittering
beads of mercury her eyes
and I cannot control them
or bring them to rest.

I will bury myself
in my papers, make them rustle
and it is the rotund clerk
hot lathered who would
offer his assistance.

The night air streams
out of the moisture
for the poet
ambrosia rising up in a mist
from the grass
for her
it is the night air
nothing else. The swelter
and shifting cloud of night air
drove her into my shop.

.

SATYRICON

March 1974

A carefully cultivated spleen
is a rarity today
now that television
has given us our limitations

All we can ever glean
seems hopelessly
imperfect
and there is no real satisfaction

PSALM

these tragedies
our children make
disturb the sanctuary
of the heart

the Lord
the giver of silence
descends best on us
in silence

do not dwell
on the frivolous sadness
this is outside the heart

the Lord
the giver of journeys
comes best in patient solitude
a candle
a book
these are not weapons
but the gauze and compress

THE DANCE
March 1984

The fiddles whine and boots stomp
the dance disturbs the dust.
Here are the correct stops
the fine rage remains.

The Ottawa has shed
a husk of white scales
currents whistle and groan.
There are shallows melted on the crust
riddled with pearls unstrung and falling
on water.

At noon no shadows hide
behind the stones
at the river’s edge.
THE POET AND LUCIFER
on seeing George Johnston skating on the Rideau Canal

Above the blaze
of sun on the ice
alone, white
as the chill
Bent
as the river
smiling composing verse
through the hollows
a gray landscape
children pointing
snickering
wives almost
remembering
Young men secure
in earmuffs
and Colombian cigars

through the maze
through Sunday’s children
he dances and laughs
silently
skating whistling
silent verse
unheard
and already forgotten.
SHORT ODE
February 1974

he wrote from every cell
and still failed to cohere,
caused an industry to erupt
and I can write
only from the heart

so cohesion is still
but a dream.
THE UNJUST

“A man who has no heroes
cannot gauge the passage
how his life. This man
who would cast a haze
upon his listener has
no heroes.”
The echo
would cling to the walls
the age of surrealism
it’s over.
The echo
invented long ago
chased from wall to wall
by the force of dead utterance.

There is no madness
the reflection of wintry days
inflicts a genteel harmony.

There is the faintness
Of brandy , the stain
of tobacco
and the flicker
and crackle of fire.

The storm has passed
and the song of love
was feigned, this
is the correct word,
feigned, there was no
marriage.
He remains
and ever will remain
alone,
alone
with all the paraphernalia
of an adventurer
nurturing the sublime art.

“A man who has no heroes
cannot fashion
his own life.
I had many heroes
in my day: Kipling,
Wells, Chesterton, Churchill…
all fine men, giants,
all literary giants
and they had heroes…”

There was no stuttering
no twitter
note tightening of finger
the elocution was alluring
the pitch perfect modulation
scintillating
articulation magnanimous.
“I strive to write a love poem
but the task seems monumental…”
“… there is naught
‘twixt thee and me except
a translucent night…”
old words from young mouths
mocking old men
now mouthing
forgotten lines
“there is no home for the unjust.”

December 1973

NO TITLE

you take me to the sea
where thoughts grow
in a process
consistent as the sky

There is a bacteria
in your mind
but you wash yourself
and change the lie

And I search the rocks
along the shore
to find access
to the dancing stars

You take me to the sea
the sea discordant
as an argument
churning and slashing

At my feet
and you are shouting
from the boat
I drown in the brine

And watch the sky
inconsistent sky.

November 1973
NO TITLE

Flakes tremble from the sky
the mind circulates slowly
through the season
and loses its texture,

The premature generation
the arrest of its childhood
cannot enter adulthood
cannot find old age
cannot learn the right way to die.

Decent number 1973

December 1973

FOG

sonnet 4

beyond the stars you float
yet still remain fixed in my view.
Forever fixed in 20 places
I have seen an image of you
and in each star burns a doubt
which kindles 20,000 faces.
Only here under the light
of an alley way you remain
taking back verse like a dentist
pulling teeth, and there is pain
in the process and there in the night
your love of words closes in your fist.
And still beyond the stars you remain
while others here enjoy the comfort
of a thick mist.

November 1973
MACLAREN STREET

Just to watch the shadows
Of the trees choking,
grasping skeletons,
shadows, spineless
lost in an ebony sky,
shadows from the mythologies
of dead cities:

This opens a new grace
for even an unknowing heart.

The humming, midnight
Chant, curling
like smoke,
sets a music
to the listening ear.

Old machines of rusted cogs
Crank when the factory
is emptied of carts,
the foreman’s curse
the workers’ curse,
and grind an eternity
clothing ragged children
I’m not quite feeding them.

Old machines screaming
into the darkness
of this evening
lend an ear to the rustling
that engulfs the disconnected
thought.

Schools are dying
for a purpose
articulated
by a “new kind
of barbarian”
the clown
is ship wrecked
on the crackling new cities
of this age,
the scholar
is blinded
by the politicians’ iron
and stuffed with amusements
that will hold
for another century.

Yet when you fly
into the wide arc
of blackness
there will be icy fingers
snapping
and winds singing
the slow old hideous songs,
drawing you back
to the street
this ill lit
unheeding street.

October 1973

A NURSE’ S TRENCH CONFESSION

Pain in wreathed smiles
this winter, wracked your face
and lead me into a great dream.

When we were at love
there was the beat
of jack-boot
when the families were eating turkey
there were the profanities
of armored divisions
and likewise in our mind
the struggle continued
on all fronts

When God shook your body
pain in wreathed smiles
wracked this face
and let me into a great dream.

October 1973
THE BUBBLE OF DESPAIR

In the gray
rain washed
streets
you found a man and his wife
together dancing
by the store
Windows
and the child
sensing
but not speaking
or containing
his joy
skipped
alongside.

You wept clear
unstopping tears
so vulnerable the innocence
of love.

In the gray
rain washed
streets

Where drunkards
as curious animals
trip aimlessly
we have strolled
too many nights
without even talking.

October 1973

CURIOSITY SHOP

Light dances upon the ladies
music streams from a box:

Silence and curious faces
light upon the guiltless ladies.

September 1973
SLEEPLESS NIGHTS

I am suffering a restless night
when you enter the room
of my heart.

You enter through my eyes
like stars you remain
there forever.

You enter through my brain
as mountain flowers
spring up and out
from between a crag ,
and you proceed
as a splash of light.

I cannot find the way beyond
this empty night, yet seek
the path with which you chose
to kiss away this frightless bond.

I cannot find the entrances
wherein you came
yet if they are the same
as those by which you leave
I will, the next year or the next,
walk from this room lit by your eyes,
through sleepless nights again and again.

October 1973

THE EXCHANGE

The jellied seed
of your conviction
has been sown
in my heart.

When we departed
I noticed in one pocket
a watch, in the other
my mind
and began to plan
an argument
in my room, alone.

October 1973
POEM
FOR
EVELYN

What
I remember
of you
is found
as flowers
growing out
of the rocks
from which my songs are made

and as
flowers
in the sky
at night

a shadow
of your figure
tall
restless
in the dark
left
the track
in the snow.

October 1973
THE HAUNTING

the allegory
of the sea
Will
Haunt us
We
being sensitive
Young men
angry at each other
the sea
churns
and foams
in our night
so that sleep is impossible.

October 1973

NO TITLE

Who has counted
the people
that flood
through the city?

They are as stars
moving in a dark
universe.

September 1973
FOR CYNTHIA

your tears are not guided
and flow without purpose.

That is to say
youth has merely
opened your eyes,

while time has not
yet taught you to see.

August 1973
HER MAJESTY’S SWANS

Ottawa – June 1973

Though the textures differ
the cloth is woven
on the same loom
by the same craftsman.
The skill of the weave
of one standard
the sole measure.
patterns are dappled
and catch the eye,
in hypnotic streams
sunlight and water
a new paradise.

Yet on the river
Black at midnight
swans in our dream
making perfect love
of grace and ignorance.

NO TITLE

August 1973

You stood by the lake
cool by the rush of air,
fanned by the heron wing :
prehistory drifting
across the water
in a great mist:
the beginning,
ever making the beginnings.

CONJURINGS

August 1973

I turn again
to the blank page,
when this music
conjurers an eye-mist .

Where are the friends
who once took my heart
and fulfilled the sensitive
sorrow?

What matters
is not the turbulence
but the purity
of expression.

On and on and go the prating
voices, yet how closer
does the word
in fitting the feeling?

True love fit the feeling
and filled the crevice
of the soul.

Yet I am left
to scratch with a pencil
and leave the disparities
for an eternity
while true love
is relayed
in ever shrinking channels
and friends take various avenues.
ABOUT THY HEART

August 1973

the journey of my life
circles forever about your heart.

When the best affection
strikes me like drops of rain
on a sunny day
I rest comforted
until the trip
is recommenced.

I am lost
and clean to you,
who had
and have sincerity,
who had
and have knowledge.

Of things past
you are interested,
of things to come
you are concerned
and of the present
you are enamored,
using time
to study
the simple laws
of motion.

POEM IN SIX PARTS

I

hushed in silence
even beauty dares not speak.

The hum of electric lights
at the train station
remains an eternal
continuo.

Even beauty dares not speak
and who sees the cloud
stained at dusk,
gored by the sun
mean tempered
and of mind to burn itself out?

Who hath seen the passing water,
the distortion of form within its mist,
it carries such lineage
to the sea
which is as dark as night,
and as persistent?

Even beauty dares not speak
an in verse
is of no importance.

There are 10,000 stars
and on each one a man’s fear,
burning hot as the motors
which light the stars
of this modern world.

Heaven – no, not quite.

This I pass on
through virtue
of instinct
vanity.

II

Through instinct and vanity
is thy fare met out.
Facetiousness will earn thee praise
and apathy will fill thy table
and thou wilt provide
so that stronger bards –
impoverished by the true health
of their mind –
May sing their song.

This is your entertainment
and from it the laughter burns out
and leaves the pathetic envy,
and the scorn which I leave thee
this too will die.

III

On the summer day
we will forget our grievances,
during the pouring of wine
the meadow ablaze with sunlight
that singed the ruffled ram
as it doubled over its course.

These days are the best,
these days falsified
with an ill mixture of beliefs
feigned for the fleeting moment.

IV

Even beauty dares not speak
and you see how it’s said.
Even beauty dares not speak
but is reserved for the dead.

V

Formless in the mind
painful in the heart,
here remain the last germs
on aging system,
the gentle old men with good manners,
dying and talking of yesterdays
and even beauty dares not speak.

VI

I leave you, think of the copse
and the Dale,
the grouse surprised
and the loon whose cry echoes
in the night,
the persistent night.
And this by virtue
of instinct and vanity.

August 1973

NIRVANA

August 1973

Your pipe winds
it’s clear miracle
around the Grove
of birch trees
that
breaks its form
as wind
whips the water.

THE STRENGTH TO TRAVEL

The strength to travel
is on us now
my friend,
the trees and paths
winding
call
with frantic, howling voices.

Not so much the faces,
framed in despair,
nor the
sun or dust on
winding
streets
lead this heart of mine a stray.

Distraction lies in
ignorance of
balance
in proportion
calling
now
it unheeding, silent voices.

July 1973
FOR DOROTHY

I

I strain to write a love poem.
It has become quite difficult as of
late.
There is a woman
I knew
during those dry months
whose contoured view
of the world
was a comfort to the both of us.

Our eyes met
and when they met,
out through nights of clouded faces
to find the place of rest
and I’d look from out of a book
to you smiling
and not so far away.

I strain
to write a love poem
but the task
seems monumental.
There was apathy
I should have
kissed her hand
and left the room
and the faces that were mannequins.

II

In other words
the day once came to light
when two lovers rolled their eyes
and woke in the chill of the winter months,
doors barred against a chilling, unknown terror.
The traveler came to different doors
and crashed with a thunderous knock
while fat faces appeared by the window pane
and mothers met him at the gate, the traveler outside,
in the death of their youth. Two lovers they,
had never met, gave birth to something gold
the lead them both to worlds unknown,
through uncertain flights. The nights
once came to fall and spring of the year
had died when a boy and a girl who’d never met,
had perished in the cold.

This could never be, Dorothy,
I wrote those lines for another
and reserve a smile…
and no! That is not it at all!
That is not what I meant at all.

III

You and I have watched
giants trouble
into the trap of a new season.
I fished for images
and you for something else.
There were applying trees this year
and hawks circling the old church,
crows and branches snow
sifting through fur canopies
in this wooded
meeting place.
There was a deathly pallor
that sickened the both of us
and I could have cried on her shoulder.
There was emptiness and apples
from the orchard
from the trees.

Clouds circled our days
in winter and fall
and days circled
our memories of
other lives
we’ve lived.

(You smoke cigars
and I could tell it was
you by the noise of your breathing
and you’d swagger
buy me and I felt the air rush by
when you’d gone.
Or I’d guide the circumstance
with brilliant
sundry pomp.)

I fished for
and you for…
the images
and other things
have changed
still
my friend my love
our memories of other
lives
we’ve lived…
SHADOWS

– One of these days we shall have to abandon the growlery and nail up the door.

And this skyless night
finds her sitting by the light
that forms a meek defense
against the sour thoughts that lurk
in the shadows of the room.

Her pen has left its scattered tracks
across the paper pinned beneath her arm
in the sour music pours
into the shadows of the room.

There is no solace
in defense
nor sorrow
on the page.
The sounds
Around
are much too bright
for such a downcast little girl.

And in this skyless night
when stars are blotted by remorse,
a woman plots the past
from sour thoughts
that shift and laugh
in the shadows of the room.

March 1973

FOR DER DICHTER (L.S.)

When I looked
at a picture
of you,
taken during
a quiet time,
by river,
I saw no
water in your eyes
and the viewing was almost sad.

I might have been glad
to see you turned
to stone,
preserving a cold
kind of peace.

March 1973
DER DICHTER

Hermann Hesse, you are an Eastern Star
glittering through the darkest of my nights.

The seasons leave you ever in my sight
and when lovers bed down to sound sleep

I watch you dance across this soundless stage.
You are an evil star that tries to keep me

From my dreams, a sprite not to be trusted,
in love with the universe, not to be reckoned with

By sane minds, your heart over-sized
with joy and sorrow, the guiding offices of your life.

On the streets men and women pass
while children make semiprecious gems
from the crust of St. Stephen’s snow.
The inspiration is taken from these games

And there will be passing chatter between
those wrinkled, half torn and silly masks.

The secrets of laughter that you left,
bearer of human longing, also remain,

Goading me out of many night’s sleep,
biding me this lonely watch to keep.
SONNET THREE

The rewards that Kathleen thoughtlessly brings
are gifts of love, fruitful and unreasoning.
The sunlit mornings brought too many tears,
lying in golden puddles, formed by fears;
the treasure of sorrow that I gave
proved less the machinery that could save
the darkening night from covering what she’d made,
but this love would not let the sunlight fade.

We have reached an harmonious stillness
where silence doth guard against the illness
the joy and sorrow, when fused together,
slew in distant places, in harsh weather;
and bounty Kathleen thoughtlessly brings,
yet a gift of love, fruitful, unreasoning.

March 1973
PASSING AWAY

Is this drab, deceitful night
a ghost of what may be right?
Are these reflections, aptly stored,
caused through peace or by discord?

A night might well be a dream
and sadness not what it seem,
there may be no such thing as soul
and what there is is not the goal.

That hope which brought us yesterday
has passed two laws which will not stay,
passed in imagery that is blurred,
fogged in trappings we preferred.

But more than hope guides us
and more than love will sit beside us.
A cold solitude, dry tears,
void of laughter, will fill our fears.

The sun burns out its own glory
Intel’s once again the story:
there may be no such thing as soul
and what there is is not the goal.

March 1973

SONNET 2

Is there one silent place to spend
this time watching the sun bend
across our universe, a place
that affords a for grace
to dance across the cosmos,
a place to recoup what we lose
when fighting for the days to end,
where the sun doth.round it’s bend?
There is the joy found dancing
and here’s the beauty prancing
and pain with joy romancing.
Here is where sky doth touch the ground
and here the clouds make not a sound,
here men measure what they have found.

1973

AUTUMN NIGHT

You find
there is
a lingering
note of silence
in the
steps that
follow the course
leading homeward.
The low
Humming
of autumn leaves
in the process
the death
enacts
finds the song of
the host being
taught once
again.

February 1973

A WINTER’S EVE

Leaves humming
in winter breezes
bring the thought
to my mind.

A candle
is the symbol
of harmony
while the smoke
in darkness
holds no regret.

February 1973

NO TITLE

A crust of snow
will crack under
your heel
but leave
no definite
record of your
passing.

And then
up through the void
of chaos springs
desire
to sing
the news of change:
joy, smoldering.
February 1973
A SHORT SAD POEM

Today, in a more natural setting
you realized the importance
of watching the sun
recede behind clouds.

This thing unfolds itself for you
and poetry is in a grievous way
and I, against the more natural background,
enjoy the absurdity.

NO TITLE

Ancient maple trees crackle
in the low, humming wind.
Crows spangle a cold sky.
Someone made footprints
and on a winter day
Kathleen heaves a sigh.

December 1972
NO TITLE

Under whose guidance
do the shadows on my walls
dance so beautifully?

As I prayed tonight
a fly on my shoulder made
me laugh at myself.

March 1973

ON SWIFT

Your tears are well dried,
old poet whose fears, too, have died —
even though you frown.

March 1973

FROM RAGS TO MIDAS

and then there were
those tall girls,
pastel figurines,
laughing as I made the rounds,
trying to do their particular dance,
the waltz — and I stumbled
with wine in hand,
laughter crackled
from carved mouths
and painted finger tips would point.

But suddenly a flash
and roar of Phoebian light
caused the punch bowl to dance –
thunder rolled heavenward
and people stood transfixed
and I transformed,
Titan-like. Those sirens
forgot their songs that instant,
and were fleeing
when the realization
came bounding;
I stood, a new and great healer
with Midas’ touch,
only better:
everything I pray
become smaller.

July 1969

SABLE ISLAND RAG

Tomorrow, if I am crazy
or sad enough to find myself
dancing a jig through the clouds
that drift around and beyond
the purple mountains,
or running through the gray Atlantic fog
(and this is to escape the shadow
that once walked in front of me),
I will return to those times
when we were too young to remember
creeping death, when our shadows of forgotten.

I wait for the Appalachian missed to rise
so that I may grab up your conscience
and mine to wrap them in a box
with ribbons and seals.
Now this would go to the shoreline,
to a Savior who was to carry his cross
and to our broken mothers
who were busy building their own,
too crazy to notice the gifts we bring.

I’m left without a beginning
in the past, bouquet of wilted flowers.
I’m left with one eye open
to look out from the only window
of a decrepit lighthouse on Sable Island.

February 1972
THIS NIGHT HAS BROUGHT

This night has brought
the same ancient songs
that you and I have sung,
carols of joy and sorrow,
Lays of hate and silence.

I have seen tears
and dried tears
and laughter.

There is a silence
but lingers in the rooms,
wrought by the passing of the years,
and the light of my candle
dances on the ceiling
and the shadows could be Greek gods.

There is hope and death
and snow melting on the ground.
The setting, my love, is quaint,
the scent of my tobacco,
ancient music which entwines
about me like two thick serpents.

Your face would complete
the decor so perfectly,
its absence moves me
to tears.

December 1972

SONG

Life is not wrought
by the purpose,
but blessed with the meaning
that every man must find;

The highest quality of meaning
lurks in the silent places
of the universe,
where no man has ever been,
but where every man must go.

March 1971

THE CLOWN

As laughter crept back into your voice
the sadness left me soon alone.
Accomplishment bent close unto my haggard brow
to whisper condolence that I could hear:
great joy was soon to return again
to dash all boredom, trouble, and fear.

November 1972

THE WEAVER

I’d watch you
at your loom
spinning in mock creation:
new worlds
from your
hands.
The thread
winds
through joy and sorrow
unbroken by any
intrusions
and I distant
until you glance
up
and weave
another thread,
another rhythm,
a New World
of mock
creation.

1970

YET TO COME

Old woman
if I were so far past my prime as you
I’d lead you by the hand
to my well-kept rooms
and stroking her wrinkled head.

They be plenty of tea
in china cups
and the music
that we love.
I would not let
the conversation drift
to tales of years
gone by. I’d grab
my sheets and
sing to you
a silly
song
of
yet
to come.

1969
DANCING (AND ROMANCING)

There were nights
when stars seemed
to dangle from the sky
my friends drank milk
from mountain goats
and ran through
water and wood

I have old dreams
of these starry
nights and cry
anon to waxing moon
but
seeing the white
flowers droop
on sloping hill
I find the dancing

And romancing still
on high and love
lie beside me
gathered not
in the mist
of passion
but in nakedness

I would feed you
with dreams of faeries
elves dancing
and romancing
among susans and queens
I would ride you
swiftly through
water and wood
endlessly
taking no trade

1969
KATHLEEN WAKENS

For word twenty years
she has been planning a journey.
This was since her first moon.
While her last be as beautiful
as her twentieth spring
when poetry flew
like a dove into her heart?

October 1972

RETURN

Asked on kindles right
a naked figure climbs stairs
frightful of the day.

1972

1972

THE BELLS

For John B. Andersen

Through the slowly falling mist
came the ringing of bells.
I wondered if I had had too much wine,
but no! It was the holy bells
bringing songs of joy
to you and I in the wilderness.

We feasted on a rocky summit
with freedom and fear
dwarfing difference with luck
and loving all men.

Now I sit alone
listening to Mozart,
clear and unfailing
like the rattle of autumn leaves.
Where’s the romance?
I long for the bell
and the cry of the wind
and that holy day
when all the countryside sang hymns.

Through the slowly falling mist
comes the cry of bells.
Our bottles stare, empty
and full of dread,
but the holy bells
sound almost silent,
bringing the song of joy
to you and I in the wilderness.

1972
ARCHILOCHOS

Mercenary soldier poet
who could as easily gut a man
with a bronze lance head
as with brine-salt sarcasm,

Archilochos, you found yourself a girl
here when you left the parched
ridge-back, boar-tusk, dusted infested
hills of Paros.

Here is the mist-broody valley of Thasos
you saw the new world first,
far from the intrigues

of home and from here came your best poems,
grunted, sighed and stroked
out in smiling pine groves.

1989
PHILLIP’S COURTESANS

An upstairs bar in Salonica
beer, a synthesized band
smoke and children’s chatter

But such fine marbled faces
the girls smiling and pale
like Philip’s courtesans
painted on the tomb.

They talk of boys and sip
Singapore slings
and when the light goes
gaze over the balustrade

at the street below
where bronze wrapped
giants rage, their horses
rear up and flare in the night.

SPRING IN SALONICA

When spring shines in Salonica,
at the Mazlum café
my black-eyed girl strokes
her tissue-faint song.

You won’t leave me, my
black-eyed guirl, alone
at the Mazlum Café
where your songs blow

away all regret and where
your hands play and your
butteryfly eyes pour
out such pale light.

-trsnaltion of a Ladino song from the Greek

HOW IS NOVA SCOTIA

for Jonathon Tucker

Gold papered sun on pine boughs, toss
up to me your blustery, whispered myths,
stories of the sights they caress –
the notion of nymphs and elves is plumb.

They blow over and over the same parched
treeless land, ample hours and then come
to this rapt shore, green holdings of wind
and rain. You see the life lodged here

before red men and white, yellow and black,
for they were the azure haired in the sun
with remembrance of the old, the golden
shadows gone before Glooscap came.

Tall in the vales, old when the place was young,
sowers of the first song, the mother of tunes,
giver of bar lines and black notes, over hills,
blown here from the barren lands no one

has heard tell, sands of nameless mounds, voiceless
save for the rasping echo, winds that suck up
the damp from the grass and live again to feint
susurrus we dream and the shades of the woods

and haunters of the paths here, and the birds
share, flying recollections from far, the polar twinge
bringing them back. The whispers wax to song,
lifted up in a swell at sea, overwhelm us

when we fail to hear them true, come from away.
Choirs haloed here amid oak and birch raise the shrill
again, gathered at the close of each day seen or unseen
you hear ‘em there in the green and white closeness,

firm and intangible both according to season, to the strength of their rhyme.
Come time, come still too and old friend synchronicity, father
of time, maker of tunes, blower of breezes, and friend to the small
fry that jaunt the winds, disguised, enhanced by the gold paper

pressed on hills, pressed to our bosomy breathless hills,
dressed in colours Duccio could only dream, wreathed in the still
dawn, an old master might paint had he whim and wisdom,
and spring left in the turn and twist of his limbs.

2009

ANGEL

Its either an e life or a life the angels
look down on through the various mists
and fogs, the turgid days they can just

remember, triads of lives they once
lived, here on the new wired planet
place of dreams. About angels why

do we need em so much, especially
the girl of the species homo, wingy
feathery things only the old masters

saw them, really, I wonder if Moses
Socrates, or the Rabbi Christ Himself
saw em. Giotto saw em and Fra Angelico

if the wine was good or plentiful
or both, they saw angels flying
pointing, smiling Leonardo could’ve

seen them scratch their angelic arses
if they have them. I have not seen
an angel, but Heather the Nurse

has, in a hospital, the ushers to
fat old, dead old Lunenburg County
birds, gone in wards two through four.

Fat on eighty years of cabbages, spuds
and fried fish, and men stiff as corpses
in the bad way, the back of a working man’s

hand knows its target and never missed
all those years. So angels roused them
selves and helped out a sister or two.

But I think angels are here, they play
guitars, blow flutes, paint, hold cameras,
they carve out sensible verse, clear

tear making lines, worked over with care
and architects who place us in pre
meditated Heavens, or novelists who

design cathedrals of the sentence, the

four different kind of sentence, and they
use each blessed one. Aw

2001

Angels ~ 2002

Why can’t we see angels,
the world always saw them, up
til maybe the turn
of the last century.

Are we a more sober lot,
education, perhaps, as
Yeats said Science come
the religion of masses?

But why can’t I see a whisp?
Lord knows I commune. I
drink red wine and pour it
each Spring unto the four

coigns of Heaven. I sit and ponder
the pines in my backyard. Leonardo
saw them, Carravagio saw them.
I have a screen-saver by Titian

who saw them. You can’t say these guys
are less talented than I, nor less
educated. My Degree is McGill
and I have the tradition of

public schooling: I am not an
ignorant man, but I cannot
see angels. I have tried every
vantage, sunsets and mornings

my faith is stretched. Nothing
good comes from churches, they
bore me and you to tears, as bad
as a town council meeting- no

angels there, I fear, I do fear
by the way, I do – I look up every

day to see one, or a feathery dropping
like you and you and you.

I want to see an angel – I’ve seen
Travolta play an angel and dug it.
We’ve gone for walks in the woods
and no angels and every year I must

see It’s a Wonderful Life. Maybe we are
alone on this Earth. This Earth a cosmic
blip. A once in a cosmic life offer –
maybe there’s no suburban god,

Protestant, Catholic, or what so
God damn ever, maybe it was chance.
We be dead, but our few decades
same old, same old, and I do

just about every damn thing to
see angels dancing in the pine
boughs, the spruce arms pinning
the sky back to clouds and thin air.

So we spent ten thousand years
drawing them up and maybe a
hundred dressing them down. Same’s
true for elves, banshees, trolls, troggs

and the like – we start the millennium,
forests stripped of rabbits, wolves
and crows on the make, coyotes
on highways, deer sized up, let a-

lone nymphs, dryads, dwarves of
the mountains, and angels in their
orders. The next time a universal
saviour comes, we continue to flick.

He will miss the round of the myth

and saga blokes, consigned in the nanno-
seconds to history’s useless bin, forgot
at birth, at death gone the tears, gone the joke.

Its quiet out there where we poke the bushes
stark, the roads empty, the dells derelict and
coast line hollow, old stills dried up, fears
stand still, gone the joke, gone the tears.

Bats
They both had gentle smiles
one hit a home run back
in ninety-three. Never met

one a tall man, curley black
hair, the other an older girl
quizzical and quiet. She

watched him a thousand miles
away, some gentle drawn out
blues egged her on. Gathered

together thin, fine a humming
bird humming down her beak.
He hit runs and she’d clap

when she was alone. She’d
been a maid and a cleaner
shared much with his mom.

And when we look back
they were free, more free
than we could imagine.

So when we broke into
their time together a game
in Toronto, some time ago

and I unable to find out
her eyes unconscionable gaze
said so what’re you staring at

she said I’m staring at his ass
I said but he’s an African
and she said, so it doesn’t matter, beau,

its tight and I’ll look as long
as I’m able. That’s a tune
features Joe and our Aunt Mabel.

2001
Like
I am a bird on a wire
it is winter and I think
my feet are stuck to the
fucking wire. I flap

and grow cold on a wire
and I see those dozers
below eating, eating flesh
and starch and pickles. I’d give

my wife to peck on the bun
of that double cheese,
bacon burger with the
works. The idiot who said

free might with luck
be my supper on the snow
filled highway tonight.
Its cold up here and life is short.

2001
Blessed are the peace makers
Ich ich ich – the ugliest word
in the world for I. A gutteral
slushing slur denotes self, ego

yo, aye, eye, captain but ich
rhymes with dick and fish –
smelly consonants, like as

not a cause of the tribal bash
against the gentle jeg,
the jolly I, and now trash

like as stitch together the
seams of Europa with deutsch
marks writ small, together

wiff their bum sniffing buddies
on the western front, the germans
who know how to cook, and say je.

2003

2000

Out in Dave Simpson’s Boat
August 11

Out in the boat Dave hale at helm, rosy faced,
brazen, Poseidon of Artemesion, shaker
quaker of land, tamer of stallions,
and Heather Heisen, daughter of the old man

of the sea, lithe and sinewy like a current
in the teary eyed face of ocean, the sun
caught in her tears. I try to conjure
images out of myth and ask why

they come no more: those dryads,
hamadryads, blue haired Neptune,
old Triton blowing his horn of conch.
I stare at waves’ dancing crinkle.

No the bushes don’t burn and the angel-
faces no more shine for nano-tinkle, box boys,
we who die when comets smote the sky,
come round in the rolling years.

The boat today in Mahone Bay, August, the Day
of San Lorenzo, when the stars drop,
careens across the silver tipped bluffs
of Okeanos, myths composted as new-age trash –

cut and slash of not quite enough money.
But look at JoAnne, pony tail and baseball
cap. Note precisely how her lips
mold a joke into silent laughter, where

the real story burns from invisible,
from the dead to the quick. It’s Sunday
and we sound the glib waters of the mere,
stage set for hippocamps and creatures out

of Poussin. Nicolas in a swoon: Flora
Helios, Neptune, pales nymphs and the rest,
I see here in her face, radiant, darling,
slow in the halos of the sun at noon.
Boogie-Woogie Lite.

I knew this up town lady with a double barreled name
drinks thin lemon min’ with a little bit of gin
on the side, drives a SUV, votes NDP,
knows her wrongs from her rights, her daddy taught her how.

A couple days ago at her country club she says to me,
as my band was setting up, darling can you play your boogie lite?
Well I just tumbled from my chair, picked myself up
and combed back my long greasy hair

and said to her, but, but, but darling, I can play it fast
and I can play it slow, I can swing it and blues it
but darling you gonna loose it cause there
ain’t no such thing as boogie-woogie lite.

She looked at me straight in the eye, pouted out her lips
tried shakin’ those tight little hips, I guess
the mistake’s all my dear, thought I’d found a man
who I could trust. But you don’t like my roses

you don’t like club, you won’t sip your tea.
My friends across the street with the japanese tree
lock their up their doors, say you’re such an ugly sight.
I lay my sticks down, said, babe, you lookin for a fight?

and said to her, but, but, but darling, I can play it fast
and I can play it slow, I can swing it and blues it
but darling you gonna loose it cause there
ain’t no such thing as boogie woogie lite.

I can jump the boogie and bump the boogie
and when it’s just you and me I can hump the boogie too
I can stretch it out to sixteen bars, play it flat out
whisper it to you or shout it, play it on a flute or on a kazoo

but, no matter how I do, I play it with all my might.
And she pointed to the door, said go back to your zoo.
I said pack it up, boys, we’re goin’ back downtown
‘cause all they want here is boogie-woogie lite.

They said to her, but, but, but darling, we can play it fast
and we can play it slow, we can swing it and we can blues it
but darling you gonna loose it cause there
just ain’t no such thing as boogie-woogie lite.

I knew this up town lady with a double barreled name
drinks thin lemon min’ with a little bit of gin
on the side, drives a SUV, votes NDP,
knows her wrongs from her rights, her daddy taught her how.

Now that’s all changed ‘cause I got a gorgy gumbo
born down in Skunk Hollow, likes a little bourbon in her beer
says, honey, play your music funky, play it right, play it tight,
but don’t ever try to play your boogie-woogie lite.

I kissed her and said, you know it Gumbo darling,
we can play it fast, we can play it slow, we can swing it, we can blues it
but we’re never gonna lose it cause there
just ain’t no such thing as boogie woogie – lite.

Christmas Colours
for JoAnne
The cardinal lights on a pine bow
heavy in the month, sun makes
snow drip drip to the ground
and the gentle flame lights

up the new sky. JoAnne hits
the top of the stair, running fingers
through her hair, the still
morn adds her smily dimension.

A fire spreads a new scent
pinging through the downstairs
part of the house, and new snow
fills the light in halo round

the place. The passion has not
yet begun. It is the day be
fore the day planned for months
the sloping year about to bounce

back, we still have these moments
of peace and good will, the wait
about to solemize into prayer
and the old smell of church pews.

We have little business left
but to walk outside along the paths
into the wild woods just outside
the door, the empty frightful

forest where the foxes bay
in spring. Today everything there
is open. The path, the pine
bows and the cardinal who sits there still.

1999

Oh Christmas Tree
The blazoned scroll of light, cerebration of pointed
rounds diffused on hardwood floor, once more
the boylike and precious fusain, anointed,
spewed across the stage, cats cocked, sleeping hour

on hour the winter down. Music lodges in the room
one plastic box to another, rill and ground
of chant rifling through vexed time. Bloom
of light drawn up, two thousand years found

here in hanging patterns repeated
on the panels, clear honed like soap
stone, sketched along the planks pleated,
feathered into vermilion, blush blue, tope,

canary, and amber unfolded in tune. Light
refracted as sun and moon, agile beyond
denomination, yet here again delight
hatching, heart’s eye new and fond,

before the party men crusade in the name
of love. They want passports, minutes, fame,
oh come, oh come Emmanuel, it’s a game

always. And it’s rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel,
comfort us in this blaze of hues, jet
against the spume of light, turquoise and fell
white, purple, scarlet against the gold and silver fete.

2000
DAD

November 15, 1995

You never knew how to try with less,
pushed through, through, and through the paces,
a rat in a big wheel, money, sex only enough,
and power but a grimace, a hurt so distant

that she could not in her sickness begin
to fathom. To take it all away beyond your ken
too. Heart fragments spit out into self-
centred strings of what you might

in the deepest recess of your mind
call love. I listened to the Long
and Winding Road at the Go Station
in Burlington, the middle of the sleepers,

the industrial heartland, no heart, no strings,
waiting there for you to get off and take me home.
What I did not know then, in the small bubble
of my exploding years, was that you could not

find your way home, and were just to start
the plummet, the star-fall into the beyond,
and when you got there it was a small, hurt face
sticking out of a suite in glasses, brief case

clutching you. Dad I miss you now this strange
November under thin clouds, you are a puzzle
a porcupine of mood, muscle, want, always
lost in the spaces, not knowing where to go.
NOT SO GLUM CHUCK

You listen to Charles Brown sing Like a Mother
less Child and later in the children’s section
of the Dartmouth Public Library you stand
musing on some cliche of Yeats, something

about a public man. The children are sweet
and want to play computer games. Some are with
parents and some have found a safe place, away
from school, to look at girls or boys, and their

eyes might meet, and a pink- faced middle aged
man worried about money and a spreading
pee stain, hears the mewing of the younger
ones and can barely choke back tears

they bounce around this wholesome
room ful of books and tapes and even cd’s
they wear pastels and they have short shiny
heair and they know they must belong

to this space filled with the words, the songs
and the weaping tears of genius adults
who give them these children’ things
as gifts and compensation in some vague

way of saying I’ve botched so much
but like love and marriage I still
somehow believe you’ll make all
the difference. But now that kids

only provide a warm and clammy texture
to our time hear we can only pace
up and down the rows, cause a librarian
to wonder why you carry your briefcase

across your crotch and feign a curiosity
pf Old Mother West Wind Stories. So
we all come back to Charles Brown,
thick tongue crooner, take your love

and go your way. Aint’ no use in your hanging around.
Brushes on a snare, plucked guitar, piano rolling
out blue notes and far away a glum man smiles at Grandfather

Frog on his lily pad in the Smiling Brook.

2000
CHICKEN AND RIBS DOWN HOME

My old conservative ways, I can barely kill
a chicken, I swear they know the blow will come
as surely as we know when love has gone,
or when we must surely give up wine.

You walk in there – into the pen and grab him
by the legs, you choose the one to kill,
to cut in a chop, and thirty five years
of books and talk and thoughts at two

thirty the morn in moon light are naught
to guide the ax as it bears down –
one second there are trees and roses
in the distance, up side down, spinning

vortexed out of sight and the black, and we have
five thousand years of theology, a whole wack
of millennia to build us up to the black,
but our new friends the chicken has only two

months, wight weeks as it says on the bro-
chure, no Aquinas no Guatama Buddha,
no Kung Fu Zu, or Christ. Not even a funny
picture of Einstein at Yale, or Princeton

or where ever it was. No, the chicken
comes waddling around in a cardboard box
with starter grain and water bottle
and then goes outside. It begins a trip

a short clean trip, without distraction
or thought into my gut. But I know
it sees the sun glint on my ax. The grind
of rock on steel before the blow.
ENVOY
for
Joanne

Oh might I sing the slow steady aire, wound in and out
through glade and bower, ‘neath wire and wits of you
my love, still turning, unmoved mover, girl of blood
red lips and hair fine like palm leaves, new grown.

Oh might I tune a long twisty song, spun out through grass
blade and moon glow, from owl tail to eagle beak though short
way and highway, may it go, sculpting out the thick and dull,
tuned by these true eyes and your still true telling heart.

Oh might I find mid rhymes and end, clean clap on lid and brow
Time’s friend half chimes too, bend around some fine diced
malaguena, this flamenco rendered scene, slide some lattice row
Carlos weaves with what light sends, more than could suffice.

THE DEPTH OF THE DIRT

Never know how much I love you
old dirty not so rich soil of the coun-
ty. Poor stuff rife for cabbage and pork
three centuries of pagani, thick, dull

in sharp shale cracked contrast to the plant growth
and the seascapes, fine constabling
into view around the curve of black top
highway, cape Breton cliffs

or Lunenburg harmonies, cold salt
spray, german peasant rows
and irish song good mix
soulful mix the best parts

of a good place, I won’tleave
it, tempted not by the cornfields
of Ontario, nor the wine stores
or Dorchester Boulevard and the good old

fight. You can have New Orleans,
the Nevilles and mac. I have a row
of spuds and the chickens and trees
Miko and her kids and so much more

and then Jo rolling over in the wee
wee hours, under the moon under the sun, oh
Father H. she watches, she guesses and says what-
I can only guess. It carries us off into the sweet time.

I haven’t got all the words, we got English words –
four hundred and seventy seven
thousand words to talk a talk but I need
only about two hundred to brush

out this umbrage of face and names,
heck I got nephews and one fine niece
girls my old favourite, and the trees
that sashee by my favourite window.

Lovers Meeting

for Burt and Nicole

August 8, 2000, Mahone Bay

An old ballad descants: journeys end in lovers meeting
and it must be so. They were never wrong the men of old,
but they left us to fend in this hew world, and odyssey to go,
so we all become Ulysses and Penelope and go our ways,

through all the demons and trolls out of the myths,
custody once meant care or responsibility
a battle for , vows drew us all together, now bercome a curse,
womb was where our love grew, now rhyme it with tomb.

So you two have sailed beyond battles, curses and beyond
the tomb, your journey ends in lovers meeting. Burt and Nicole,
your trip went through highways, overpasses and skimmed
the wine dark sea – aboard the Cat – get to Mahone Bay

under moonlight, eyes young as stars as they were
twenty-eight years ago. The trip begins and ends
at the same time, proves the years between made tonight
the way we look tonight, and aside you hairline and my gut,

young and clear, amazed the years are naught,
the trips interweaving like some great fugue
out of music, bring us here this story food and star
filled night. Mist rising on the Bay at high tide

birds still in the branches. It is a job for a draftsman
and a poet – good their eyes have met again. Now
your trip begins around the island, up to Cheticamp
then back down again, though now, travellers,

Penelope has her Odysseus, the monsters slump away,
the Sirens perch mut along the cliffs, and Burt,
with your Nicole, the huff and puff of time blows
westerly and your journey, these six years, becomes a holiday.

Those Old Primordial Blues Again

For the lights in Kansas

Hey la bas, hey la bas, hey la bas boogie
goes lower and back in time, swoops down
to the primordial swamp to find Adam
looking up the skirt of his Eve. The things

we cling to. Hey la bas, hey la bas,
hey la bas boogie, turns time around
and strolls, not walks, sachees down
the sand sealed road to where I live.

We move slowly t the islands
in southern oceans, steaming,
furious in changes, butterflies
change into birds over night,

bats change to cats, and dogs
no longer run free now corporate
sponsors for rock and roll bands
monkeys turn to whales, and fish

into wieners, oh the variety is without
limit. Limits we impose through mute
years the words burn back down into our throats
the myriad small ways of hurt

lurch ahead too fast for that old monkey
Darwin, we evolve in our mini little ways
into fat bags of organs and innards. We
evolve into flaccid sacs of blood and guts.

No case for the rock within us, no chance
for aught but change, not but the quick change.
We seek to stop up the squishy proteins
hitting our brain, prying out he electric

balls of string where thought is kept, so they, you-
I don’t know who, wrap up each day, praying
for things to be the way they were before,
for time to start and stop without the blood

and guts in between, the stubborn sluicing bits

that never stay still for very long. Your heart
too is a squishy little thing. I’ve plucked ‘em
out of chickens, still, no funk left to beat.

Dead and humble, the chickens that is, still
at last and ready to pluck, and when all
the evolving is done, JoAnne turns ‘em
and bastes them till they’re ready to eat.

Hey la bas, hey la bas, hey la bas boogie
goes lower and back in time, swoops down
to the primordial swamp to find Adam
looking up the skirt of his darling Eve.
2000

Dear Django

Dear Django, I don’t care you’re gipsy
born in a trailor park outside of Belgium
the mystery is nothing to me, I am a man
who keeps mysteries on a key chain

locked on a belt loop. I care only to see
your fingers on a fretboard. Technique
the test of sincerity. Angel chimes
from Sweden. The four candles under

the slips of brass angels, figures swirl
about in circles and you must strain
at first to hear their jingle jangle. They
move perfect in circles, their little brass

sticks strike the brass bells when the flame
heats the blades above their chubby heads
and they begin to spin, striking out
the perfect four four time like you do when

the heat rises through you and your fingers
like spiders draw out webs fine, true like
stars out beyond the roof where the clouds
sleep and wake, rain down on tired eyes.

2002

Smell Out Death

Something there is doesn’t smell out death,
plots, hatchings, turnings envious and spite
all miss it entirely. Pride and selfishness
also face the empty wall. The fall of the blade

glints of the fond eyes, love, lips and such
hips that dance together moving like waves
in a flowing brook. Like children well treated
like a wife loved up and all kissed down

smiles as she goes about her job and most
of all the poet dances a soft shoe on ribs
of his own heart’s cage, see all good and
bad. The top circles of heaven know

all about death. Their eyes meet and they
warm to the surprise of the knower. Not
age, not the baby mewling in its crib might
see it creeping along the rails. Breath sucked

down the brakes where the black train blows
into the forests where the deer start and wolf
stalks. At the junction sit a lover and a girl
just gone virgin. The poet stands behind fevered

thinks it better to become a brakeman and take
himself away, away from the crossroads
where lovers, virgins and poets always meet
packs a bottle, hat, a shovel and a winnow rake.

2001

Disney World
This wired little world hums loud and worried,
men check their hard drives and their agony
is the choice of what to delete, like life

it is a bad metaphor, because it is based
on fiction not fact. The fact is hard
drives don’t really exist. Firewalls are

what soldiers used to face in foreign
wars. Women today download the rod
of hard drive. We once thought they

required care and we pretended to
protect them under the guise of good
manners. Maybe a an old fashioned guise

was better than no guise at all,
but we are groomed to listen and jump
when the man says jump. So plug

in children, plug in, hear the gypsies
sing of the sun bouncing on the sea
at some place we have to pay to visit.

2001

Do Not Go
Do not go, gentle
Knight, into the pitch
and toss of worlds
stretched wide. Strap

on the buckler, the lance
your squire’s left you
will have me, your girl
with this steel out

reach across the time
and place of your dying
fore-guessed in the years
before our loving, be

fore our hands hold,
our arms wrap and our
lips brush, feint as gossamer,
but do not yet my love

it is early your mid-day
undone again, and when you
ride to meet the bar-bar warriors
stuck back there in darkened

forests, rude in their boredom
listen for leaves and watch
out for the ravens brood
this will return you to me.

Paradise too is full of leaves
a-twitter and nervous angel wings
watch for them, see their
frightened beat should you go.

They will beat out
the arrival of a girl your
shining girl who is never
far behind you in peace or in war.

2001
Hurricane Season

Night fogs fall and rain-splish on sun-roof
rattles, and I run from kangaroo men and dying
chipmunks, get mugged in an American
inner city, spat on, and I wake into faery

driven panics of death and solitude.
I reach across a king size mattress
and you are there, make moan, ah, go I,
don’t die. Try to return to whence began,

but it weren’t a happy place. But the rain’s
let up and the night stiller now. I tap your
arm and turn back in a hurricane spew. Recall
many nights and prepare for many more,

I reach out again and you let go a fart,
quiet twister of your own, half-hardier
than Isobel’s vulgar house-breaking wind.
When I start, the radio snaps and the sky’s alight.

2001
Fats and the King

So it’ll be sex or money or the sorry
lot of ideas. I’d rather be Fats Domino
than live in to the next millenio
alive in a mythicalogical New

Orleans. Sorry that it become
so compiclated. The rich folks
and the poor do the Domino twist.
So important the space we’ve grown

just smile like Fats and take us back
to the spot when Elvis strode about
the town with black and white and the crowd
called out, for a few years it did not

matter and now through civil rights
and all that cheap shit between
the King and Fats a movement is
required. We need new geometry.

2000
Not Much

January 2004

May I be a asset to friends
like the oak down the street, true blood
cleaves rock and manures the grass
drizzled on the top of the cake.

May I reserve my rascally tags
to evenings when I’m alone under
August skies, catch the stars fall
on St. Lawrence’s night when the first

whiffs of autumn comes and heaven
falls into our hands. And love more
the young who start from birth pangs
and intuit the rasp of rusty steel,

pay prices just for being the silly
monkey. How long will it take before
we are like Star Trek, smart and thin
beyond simian grovels. The kids

start at the same old square we
did who have played half the snakes
and ladders the holy mother gave us
to play. The game is boring now

but for the new trees planted, willow,
walnut, ginkho, smart slow starter
in the acid and rock of Nova Scotian
top soil. May I begin to count the straight

and good deeds, shot right out from the hip
or right out from the place poets shrink
now to name, the ever expanding universe
the alternatively shrinking place, the heart.

The Troubadours
In the line stretched out from the hubbled stars
to us and we still see only the shadowed lack
luster skies, and it might be New Brunswick

from the old King or Nova Scotia, at least
a bit of Latin, a granule of Provinces that we
say every time we say the name. We live here

under heavy molten skies and the icons of angels
do only some good, whether from the pits
of New Waterford, or the wharves of Lunenburg.

We the living must still run out the circles
of time, huff puff while the clean dead not
blood nor sweat dance across galaxies smiling.

We who shuffle off to garden rows, who slide
down bannisters, can only laugh betimes, for it
it sans mercie and it is not a belle dame. Only

in our wondering is Norma, is Wanda, is JoAnne
a belle dame, and we are only knights who wend
the horn, asthmatic blow on the horn. Short time

we blow, and stars rush out in the wake of our
living breath. And I get back to a yodel, a blues
Carter family and Jimmie, the tuberuclant brake man

as Finn Bar a brake man quick eyed, lord of the house
special designed instructs my friend, Donovan, who
stays here on this side of the crust, the mantle

of heat, where we crawl only by our quick
counter beat, our love thumps out the beat
this rhythm we lovers use to measure our days,

our dance the diastasis, where we make it through
and Finn Bar among the first to fly through
and it will be a success, we the living must stretch.

2001

SENTENCE FRAGMENT

Old tune blown
through the pipes,
old tune of heather
and foul weather
blown through the pipes
restores me to the green again.

New seed sown
through the soil
new seed underground
and found
2001

NO TITLE

You remind me of a better place:
the sentiment you can now get
on the internet, the life of the past
faked out in a merger of truths

quatrains forged in the past
you sing all the quaintness
outlasts the bittering bile coats
the new, the un new the tv

made life we un live bland
and portioned weight losers
diet pecks at the soul the paper
thin soul pissed on so much

by the imps and demons sing
in the open sun. But you re
mind me

2001

A Garden in the Rain

As death means life and growth means rain
in spring the black and white meshed again.
Only we are blind without sight. Him-and-her,
April haze sucking on the brown grass,

lilies of the field, the bird of Con-
fucius, know where to live and die,
but we of the wondering eye blast the short
spaces – but you might say an old man be

comes a boy, and the gypsies, disorder stops
short when finger tips touch fret board, yin
and yan, or when Einstein pushed it back to God –
yes we have the sweet contradictions, arias
we can hear even in our little spaces our
manufactured corners. So the millennium
is a Janus of confusion, all over minded traces
forgotten rifts out over the distances we

cannot close. You who are still, dance and you
who talk – observe the budding green
in silence. Your dreaming comes true, the monsters
down the darkened hall will find us all. You who

are dry shed tears, they will drip drop down
your cheeks – they soften the sear winds to come.
Winding back the dots on a map bring us to war
the colours taken from the same rainbow cause

grief, demonstrators and entrepreneurs meet
on streets over chemicals pull me push you
down when they miss the point, the practised
misery, hard to get youth into middle age

but it can be done. The rain rings on the sun
shades. Billows of fog creep in across the grass
still brown of April when life about to re
commence. Celebration of youth from stiffened

joints and ages of wisdom from a cream faced girl
the one in the painting looks slightly stoned
smiles the goofy smile ~ you know the one
I mean. She strides across her world and Frank
will sing the Girl from Ipenema, and we will invent
democracy. Draw tight the loosened boundaries.

2001
My Little Gumbeaux Girl

for Dion Dimucci

Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh I got a
girl and Gumbeaux is her name she got
kisses and they drive me crazy
heh, heh, he, heh, heh, heh
listen to me folks she got a mile
on the top and even more down
below, she’s a pretty little thing
and she goes by the name of Gumbeaux.
Cooks and cleans, makes me kinda
chubby eating her food, heh, heh,
and I’m gettin’ shinier everyday
‘cause I’m with Gorgie until I die.

My respiration is good and when
my heart skips a beat I know it ain’t
pulmonary machinations, but its
love for my little Gumbeaux.

Sometimes my head feels lighter
and my heart can get no righter
and ever the day I felt her
I never wanted to belter, thats

because my little girl is a
Gumbeaux girls, sweeter than
her I’ll never need, neater you’ll
never see. This is my Gumbeaux girl.

2001
How the World is Wound
Still mist go slow when you must go
rise out as far as parsec knows, worm-hole
to the far air where waves still role the first
poly flois boios on the near shore.

My heart is small and beats a small part
of this peak and trough business, but it beats
honest-to-God and tough, and I’d like to see
the phantasmal surge of waves on a near shore.

We go ways always ineffable, like the kiddy cars
of the fairground, the crash cars bang
into each other and we scream with laughter,
bump and dent and we howl with delight

or we go fair and straight like a straw
in a can of pop, and so we suck and blow
and then there’s a glass empty, with bubbles,
that goes too, and we’re left with a sticky mess.

Close fog off the fir marching coast the silvered
water and the loon circled lids, sits cousin to clouds,
fine example for us, imperceptible purr and pad
of ghost ships built across that cove, carry some

kind of god there, or some distracted nymphs of the place.
And we sit when you come out or drive more
carefully, through your cupping hands, broad
faced spirit of the coastline. The purple flowers

who stand a way still, glad of your hand in their hair,
and out, far in the waves Neptune’s pets glad to
leap unknown and undetected through the spume
and spray. They too ride waves into the widest

stretch of things, where the light curves around
and comes again, through the pulse of the world. Waves go
good, they sound through nightful fog and mist,
heedless of its shape or f how the world is wound.

2000
On Hearing Karel Husa’s Apotheosis of This Earth
“The earth dies as a savagely, mortally wounded creature.”

Karel Husa

Only in music can we strip
off our clothes and see the
stretch marks of dogma,

gristled and greasy like old
chicken too long in the fridge,
wreaking and honest.

Your tune, barren like tundra,
empty as fog off the sly old basin
ripples on shoals,

all shoals now, Mr. Husa
gonna be all shoals
when the water’s gone.

Wood voices and stirrings
dry as nipples on a foal
comes back at you –

we poets choose between
bangs and whimpers,
you birds have eight

possibilties and a tech can
punch the odds into a lap –
top to find the out

come. We should be so
lucky, music next time
round. Mind the kids and the

woods, Mr. Husa, where
the barbarians come
laughing over the Rhine,

March four ten, and fifteen
hundred years a blank
but for those who worked

in stone. Bind the groat
to the mortar, bind the
groat for the block. They

poured over each crack
and bone in the black. Kids
and woods shot to hell,

Mr. Husa. Your piece

comes at it right, you
who sat in the middle of it all
ahead of the game.

2004

God in his wisdom gave us beaks
to cluck and slivery little tongues
and a chords to scream the world
lost in a helpless tangle and then back

girls and boys, the breezes seemed
to seductive too good to be true
and the food so much and so long
of it now the mesh chokes the sun

flash on the blade. God gave me
a pretty solid left arm and opposable
thumbs to grip and grab and this is just
what I do. Grip and grab, the swing

and bang bang down do fall
soft bite. Angels mat their wings
just so and so and so, feathers
warm and soft

January 1999

Approach the junction only to learn either route
means the same old thing, more walking, more sweat
only taken better, the stride perhaps steadier
longer, with less force out put to make. You

are not in middle age for nothing, so take what
pathway you pursue, there will be some deviation
no doubt, but all between dream and wake
arduous and easy, man and wife.

Yes, it means a slice between the blacks
and whites of things or ideas, only extinction
the final jet and fair of things, but then
who knows how the head-wits of old age

fit us to walk, take another crossroad
to where? All life here in the universe
has the same fabric so the magicians
believe. So, our choice again is the same:

between the winding sheets of nirvana and misery,
we find the last bong of the bell begins
only again another little mosey. The rain
down can rain, or the shrinking suns can shine.

1999

JIMMY RODGERS
Something there is doesn’t smell out death,
plots, hatchings, turnings envious and spite
all miss it entirely. Pride and selfishness
also face the empty wall. The fall of the blade

glints of the fond eyes, love, lips and such
hips that dance together moving like waves
in a flowing brook. Like children well treated
like a wife loved up and all kissed down

smiles as she goes about her job and most
of all the poet dances a soft shoe on ribs
of his own heart’s cage, see all good and
bad. The top circles of heaven know

all about death. Their eyes meet and they
warm to the surprise of the knower. Not
age, not the baby mewling in its crib might
see it creeping along the rails. Breath sucked

down the brakes where the black train blows
into the forests where the deer start and wolf
stalks. At the junction sit a lover and a girl
just gone virgin. The poet stands behind fevered,

thinks it better to become a brakeman and take
himself away, away from the crossroads
where lovers, virgins and poets always meet
packs a bottle, hat, a shovel and a winnow rake.

2003
The Jobs You Have

For JoAnne on Her Birthday ~ 2003

Draw back the curtains: cumulus clouds plait
across those naked branches hinged with moss.
She looks up from toil, the hour’s gone late,
woman firm of hand and back. Gain nor loss

implicate you: chase not praise, nor respite,
and no Vermeer to browse inside your breast.
We who make the legends and expedite
what splendor recalls to us, to outlast

death, in words tapped off by close and remote
poets in the seasons of space, can trace
the four-four of your moves, your in and out.
We get lost in the jobs you have and guess,

feeble of wit, if you feel it early or late
and surmise what you take for morn or night.

MOWING THE LAWN
Dark song, deep eyes boring into the fog,
rearing horses, bronze flash of ghosts
from some town gone back to earth
in the spin of atoms, the form and reform.

We look for the unmoved something and find it,
then lose it, and so too old to know
the fire loosed in the breathless night
out in the dark, or assembled more

times out of the flux, keep losing until
neither sun nor rain, cold nor warm
can bring it back again, over the far
and wide the pull of the first bang.

A sweet scent rises from the grass under sun
fresh cut and spread across the lawn,
wheel ruts down pressed in the dew, too soon
I chose to mow again, but use the time

kneel down to sniff the sugary grass sap
reaching to sky and Father Helios you draw
everything up, like the old doctors planned
to sail to the moon on the vapours you draw.

They needed not Bernouli and his twist of air
to fly aloft, lie here they thought, on the beach
and let the vapours draw you off, so the candy
scent of grass mown too damp here in May

will pick us up and send us into the waltz
and the doe si doe of clouds burning into this green
day, where angels step in reel and the still
chamber of the morning starts to beat anew.
Forgotten Ciphers: The Colon Knows
Mozart equal to Spring, naught equals naught
distributive qualities of numbers, no, hardly, but
seeing, oh Mozart, we make the cipher, only the be~
loved of God, beloved of God’s creations: the Gods

and Wolfgang reminds God: the twelve Olympians
were made to remind the two legged guy life
is better than death, Our God may’ve forgot it
when He did the seven-day-charade. He condemned

us before Jenin, before Belson, and Rap. Death not
so good as life. Hmmm. A poser thinks the Creator
of the universe, so Mozart comes along reminds Him
of the Gods and the Brotherhood : Magic Flutes: even

God back to the Best? After how many millenia?
Find it in two millenia of painted squares, Old Masters
dabbled in Light, Gold, Gardens, sought paradise not
denied: the gods, the spirits of rocks and we who

can divide the winds brush the beloved cheeks
into a million orifices, we who designate species,
blocking out the appropriate squares for bugs and birds:
wreck the heavens with chaos: gas: the collective farts

of humankind. We who slide into oblivion might
listen and sing. Churches litigate, parliaments entreat.

Our ministers are the finches, our archimandrites
Wolfie, beloved on God, Mozart equal to Spring

2002
MY ROSES

My roses come and go now its July
sly in their shades ~ ridono nell’angolo tranquillo
che ho fatto per loro ~ ridono nel vento dal nord.
Sono dei altezosas! ~ and I sit inside one, sober

mind! A star cluster implodes in my eye,
bass drum’s two and four kick still now and silent.
At the start we may suppose was silence.
Kicked started into a million brass funk bands

sway, set a-sway in God’s first light,
the same gold splashes here inside
my hybrid tea. My moon, my lunacy, lit up
only by bouquets, ribboned prettier than wine
and midsummer the years swell, so I hide
here. Well, its cool and still like the moon.

2003
BIRTHDAY

Birth of day and birth of night
hills and valleys, twisted vistas of radiated
gases out there beyond the clouds
we who sit here in the water logged

grasslands, the damp soil and the budding trees
you need sun and water to make life
you must dance and lie to make life
too, you hear the birdies twittling in

the fir trees there is life and branches
sit the singsters, heavy with leaves
verdure, verdant

2001
November 3, 2002
Marriott’s Cove Nova Scotia
Almost in the mood to make a poem
there’s ossa bucca juicing in the oven
Tyner on the box and Joanne glazed for Christ –
mas, trees and bells in her portal – autumn

rings in the birth, leaves dead weights
on the branch. Gold fire before they hit
the snow cast lawns. The jazz on the spin –
the spin goes on. Enough for a poem.
Ode to an F-16
The red, white and blue of it
the black, white and red of it
colours, not outlook, in look:
tribes and money, baby, lots
and lots of money, lean green.

The peoples of the world rally
around their new flags, they cheer colours.
Africa not big enough for Miss World
and she too small for you and me.
Repair me with money, honey.

(Music where colours are dimmed
by the light unbent, only, speaks
to the corners of things, the ends
of things, tunes and chops, charts
and bars, the true language of man.)

(A school choked by sociologists
flat, house of cards, wait for the wind,
a church choked by sociologists, flat
blown, bloodless, drinks juice at mass
from dixie cups, refuge the next war.)

The red, white and blue of it
the black, white and red of it
colours, not outlook, in look
tribes and money, baby, lots
and lots of money, lean green.

A vector drawn cross the desert where
the dogs scramble for a bone in the sand,
draw blood for it, burn farms for it, stone
the girls to save their ways. Our legions dance above the clouds
across the golden arc. They know now
the red white and blue of it, the black,
white and red of it, colours not philosophy,
blame too easy to make, tribes and money, baby, lots
and money from the aid, blame, baby blame.
Our legions close their lines, knowing who the new huns must be.

2002

Pine Boughs Outside

Pines boughs brushed carelessly
against the late February sun
set the snow crusted white blue
silvered in the frozen worlds

out from the sure places we trust
in our starts and stops cars and high
ways and off ramps, equipment
mostly works. We look heaven

ward and meet with jet silent
spaces the limping waves re
ported by physicists not valued
by the man in the street, our

only gifts music and painting
some history squeezed out and phil
osophy. Wine the final craft
makes the open spaces shrink

into comfortable and manageable
parks fit for human mind, kind
ness the final craft life long
life long move like ship on open sea.

Pine bough torn in the wind
storm like a piece out of Dvorak
maybe a symphony or a serenade
for strings dodged in the cold

woods like our here and gone
place our cartoon reeling stealing
our shlocky shocky bits from our
reasoning cut to the unfeeling bone.

2001
Starting Out Again
You saved the best lesson for now,
Finn, at long last living as the distant
nebula, you see beyond the Hubble,
teach how big a missing piece

is good, dance away into the waves
of the exploding dwarf stars. They
too cave in on themselves, shooting
strings of light and red light through

the dunkling gloom. Too, it was a principle
that lifts our heavy dross through the sun
shafted day of your turning away and we,
though lighter for it, are still clumsy boys

and girls trying to dance like Fred Astaire
and Ginger Rogers. We slam down hard,
bound by our untuned gravity. Shed
the weight before the final equity?

Too hard for most of us here, Finn.
We who make a sin of our reticence
will strain our eyes in the night sky
to catch sight of the child starting out again.

2001

THE GIRL DOES GOOD
The angels retuned when you
were born, a minor key when
you found the first man ~
tired of firking by himself.

They said, “Go back, child
and look at the little girl
set to when she was no
more than two, mother smacked

dad on the wood stove, printed
there, stuck with her as you are
and Pat you turn still the episodes
clear and dramatic as the day

they occurred. Dad does
this and mum that and its
the “this” and “that” you bear ~
hove down years marred to

days with yes, turd, daze,
I’m in a daze and can’t get out
of it. Bit by bit you do fiddly do
get out. Barrettes snapped

on to the side of your head,
little, learned head. The big les-
son, far from clutching fingers.
And I see the neat lkirts

tucked up fine, done like all kids
of bad mothers and gone dads,
done neat and pretty ~ all the de-
tails wrapped up like a gift.

You, always a child in

combs and pinafores
waiting until the shouting
recedes, thrown the world
uncut and stumbling, chose bad.

Girl’s red hot and bright
like a birthing star or comet
passed over head. She moves
in the dark and the bright

fabricate a world: man,
then a house and cats, the whole sha-bang,
go to and cut off, settling down not for. You, child

in your garden you’ve had built, as long there’s
chicken gravy on your rice, everything’s nice.
Now beyond our blood shot eyes, angels dressed in scarfs
and hair bands, set the groove, out of the compass,

angels silhouetted against the doodads in the snow
and the jungle fogs wisps up the canopy of green.
It took this time to find them floating up upon your
head and your shoulders and your fast eyes in the gold light.
2001

NO DODGE NOR SWERVE

(Fat Villanelle)
The dream Provence snapped shut
killed the chansoniers, faster than a fart
by no Raymond of Toulouse, my purple
tongued friend, but by la nuict froide et sombre,

no a dolce memoire – chanson published
in Paris in fifteen hundred n’ sompin’ –
so, back to Maritimes where temples
fall and architecture refuses to rise.

In Province where the troubadours’
wiry, plink a plink for you derives a moorish
source, but for our occidental manners
and means: horsemen in tin suits ride percherons

swart, fast and straight, tanks, no need for stealth
we ride at them and they feint to blow us up
in some useless desert god’s name.
Pervert what we knew as kids, Ezra Pound

and the Renaissance, white guys significant
then, my purple tongued friend. Not so today
self-prop, self, self, self, up think, god or art
what the fuck’s the diff. God or art no diff.

Sameness the aim. You in Province epi-
center of the storm. Long doc’ or long dick
tick tock, or tock tick, when you blow
it off, don’t have a woman by, blow it off

alone or with a symposiast that may come
and go in the sweet alleys and by ways
– or – get drunk, look at tapestries, hear
hocketts of Machaut, fade and rise

like phoinex brood, not in this temp-
ra-mental age where the girls think they
own your nuts, je suis un demi-dieu

like Antoine de Bertrand once in song
and they are prepared to obey. So, my
purple tongued friend, my dear antagonist,
wait for your poet to come alone, to prance

by Jesu, as an old man and we will walk
in Provence as it was meant to be done,
start still, get up and move, start quiet, get loud
and we will see the troubadours in our wine.

You lay down your correct and I my conserve.
We meet in the middle – no dodge, no swerve.
SPRING NIGHT
The chill drafts do not distract
JoAnne in the gaunt moon’s refract,
Pearled in shadows, an open shell
Of silver beams, strung like tinsel
About her hair. The time wracked

World sleeps still now in the white backed
Twilight. Eyes closed, gold coins stacked
In dreams, dancing as a timbrel
Taps an old refrain: the moon waxed
Over pine boughs. Angels enact
The scene with the tin of a bell
And the petals of asphodel
Amber and white against the black.

2001

SAILORS AND SOCIAL WORKERS

Pit thirty years shucking scallops
pitch asnd toss vomit bad bent back
over the slime eightteen hours a day
she got four years with thin boned

men in classrooms, on still floors
to read books on the development
of the mind the joke being we
know naught of the mind. She spent

four years and maybe five figures
to get the paper to sday she can tell
you what to do. No sixty foot swells
Morgan-dreams, dregs off shoots

rum, smoke and the years jag by
stagger like a ruined man who can
not find his way back home.

2000

NO TITLE

Come November fog down on gray land
the winds across the waves white, fanned
By the December winds. Dead the rose
the sire sun gone, the quick beat slows
the house silent now and still save for the tinkle of sand.

Come the lub dub of the moon’s face, bright
on the evanescent snow, coyote serenades the sight
Eyes manufactures icons to kiss, the portrait grows
of mother and child and other working folks. The heart redoes
the summer’s slight of hand with gold, this black night.

Make an old master’s scene with haloes, Christ berate
the merchant’s in the temple, give it to them straight
much noise and crowing, what a dirty November owes
but it is late the woman come hair in bows
reminds me it s busy day ahead and the hour is late.
The gold leaf vanishes deaf to my demand
left with the well settled fog pinched by the slight
chill . She asks how can you sleep in this state.

2003

September 11, 2001
Number 2

Not to speak before the thought
is well formed in the head
trunched along to the south.

The news will strengthen us out
news spreads out over the waves
of the space out in the broad

bosomed night. We are the lovers
of the minute the hour the time
for doing what ever so damned

we want. Your thugs bruise them
selves on our platinum souls, not
to speak we will invent our own

religion based on blues and high
tech’ pray to the gods of the nebulae
the stars the gases waltzing

in sequence where the dogs
cannot see and the cat roll
over in perfect harmony. Win

your man and win your girl
like a man’s man what we
need to win a troubled war.

2001

September 11, 2001

for my friend S. D.
I like Mozart: the ends tie up neat,
a cosmos inside the bars we live,
outside his feints and ducks and
I like his tunes, matriced to –

gether like a perfect shrimp net
off Digby. He knew how to make
perfect love. Love beyond my
knowing, beyond wailing and necessity.

You know what you get and syn –
chronically you don’t. He maketh
the dichotomy beautiful. The onliest
one I make is a salmon pink rose

cut from my bed, the death of the rose,
but we have Plato to tell us
of the oneness of the rose.
And we have Mozart whose ends tie up
neat without end.
She Wants to Shovel
We get out fast to shovel snow
in the falling rain. We wear coats and mittens
clutch plastic shovels and we sluice and sluice

and I’m over forty and not supposed to go
gentle into a snowy drive, but here is the creator
up above with a certainty that passes all

understanding and He invites billions
and billions of raindrops to plummet miles
through the safe and soft layers of the at-

mosphere, caressing each flake of snow
and it is a symphony in sound, droplets flat
out on stone and metal, tinging off my ford,

bouncing like silver comets across and into
my eyes, and I am thinking of beer and heart
attacks, and grip my plastic shovel with soaked

mittens, specially designed for this task, true like
a lever. I am soaked and thirsty, my job is
half done, and suddenly a notion the snow

like all evil will be overcome, but with warm
air and raindrops it begins to seem like a party
is going on and this is what causes the bile

to travel the warm pink and sticky way to
my mouth and sparks of madness from bum
to brain and back again. But when I put

my shovel down and look through the
untroubled sky. Let the droplets blind my eye
it comes: a party and I’m so happy I could cry.

2000
Tannin Bomb

Spume of light
Christmas tree

blue, scarlet
born of the jet

cats cocked
gossamer, naught more.

2001

Always Turning, Always Still

Stars blast into iridescence, shoot through the cosmos
on a mindless atom’s twitch and bluster.
They blush and bloom, hubbling into view,
these first auspicious candles, erupting once more and blaze

into black holes that prick the breathless wind,
pucker back into themselves and evaporate.
Our stint, relative to you and me, has us laugh,
as we poke through stone, those quirks and quarks

fill our clamour with seconds, hours, weeks and years,
and Matter, when the great night closes somewhere
on this galactic waltz, does not count. But
the breast, with its infinite storage and beat,

rhymes out beyond the grasp of time, stores
the primal stuff in its bloody chambers, takes on
our memories, fears, rages and our loves,
stores them in safe keeping for ever and a day,

folding and unfolding in time seen and un-
seen, no matter. The tick and tock of the heart,
another great paradox, mutual embrace of move-
ment and stillness, always turning, always still.

1999
Sylva Culture
(After That)

Summer spit up August done flash in green pan
one time one we here, back yard sun dribble
down on leaf, baby oak we freed and birch weed.

We sit, one time, one first – we do only first – death
a first, not a last here, in green-shine – chickens
fly to gold dabs in the sky, their fowl instincts

lead home, bested we that wait for: that old shock
– we raise meat kings all summer, June July and Aout,
the hens go owe! – girls always shout loudest – its

a fact. – Our trees vlamincked in the August dust
dyed red, you live then die. Like fast August, you
become September and we know all what takes

place after that …

2003

Happy Tenth Anniversary

Ten years of sun, moon, stars,
songs, toil, sparkle and words
drawn out in measured breath:
you have given me all this

and more – a decade of boiled
eggs and sandwiches, the yolk
is light as we move along the road
with all the curves and twists:

you have the road map and I
drive – fair enough – it’s a good deal.
Ten years this house has nicely boxed
what grows in our hearts and minds.

Or, to get to the point, my love,
I wandered over many lands
and saw many faces and strange places,
gave and received both gifts

and curses. But the succession
of blather stopped when I met you,
when I lay in some hotel room alone
and far away. We talked by phone

and when I put the lights out
that night I knew I had but one trip
home – to you. These ten years
have been the best, all doubt

stopped, the days stretched wide
like a wave on a sweeping curved
strand, sun dazzle and breezes,
shore birds piping on the sand –

or some such scene close
to the fine, gilded panoply
of heaven – but it could be better,
JoAnne, so let us try for ten more years beside.

2006
The Blue Moon

January 31, 1999

What grows big when it goes small
and starts to fall when it stands still:
fall down can fall, up jump may jump?
We stare at the blank of our gone time,

life through the galactic Hubble haze, we shrink
and expand and all the quarks in the pale chamber
of our small heart, removed by their very
stillness. Despite the contraction

and dilation of the skies, you can see
with your telescope or your naked eyes
that frozen flame, the ever-fixed brand,
does not tilt to thee, but plaits your garland

of snowflowers and old slow boogie around her,
in the pale loaming of the year. We will flounce
like clouds light-years wide, around the Maypole,
unvexed by time and quick to grasp an old wives’ tale.
The Cup

Care and joy inter mix spread bread
o’er knife thick and creamy too much work
rot the brain rub salt and sand: bed and board
wine and breath, fat and slow but for work

think, brink and here is spring spills out
on the shoulder of daffodils, creater mihi
nihil est novum bis ich es horen zeit nach zeit
stand at the mouth of the cave peer inside
into the black the aperture yawns in your face
and start to walk, walk, walk. Or smile and walk
away. Spring come soon than late, April smooth
baby’s pinched little ass. Fling aside. You got

a headache says Queen Mum, take an aspirin
don’t take the dirt. I gave her cakes and I
gave her ale. Beads and bracelets fine. Goatherd
sing me the song of Daphnis, and you get the cup.

2002

The Hand Can Reach the Near
( 1.)

Night dream I: alone twist up pillow,
long and short of mare, wind chime
a bitter refrain, taps out my go song –
each day near: gone far, come the near.

( 2.)

You there across the spring and coil
prairie, still, flat mattress of the soul,
grab my number line, the grid fastened
to my hairy old honker, the fixed

coordinates’ design, the thread:
old girls with the scissors. You know
now, don’t you? We have sets, matrices,
squares and a compass too, nick off

parsecs, secs, . decades, millenia, hang ‘em
on a blade of grass. You there across
the spring and coil of it, breathe –
fine old in and out of it all, can be

reached in the night. Well, you grabbed
the number line and crumple and crumple.
A useless little ball of scabby-think, stink,
skunk of thought, you crumple it up.

( 3.)

For me to toss. Emend the sunset, emend
the near and far, toss the near, toss
the far. The ad- part be to, bring to
the – mire part, mira, the root word
of miracle. Your inhale and ex too, bring
mira to our good old king sized matrix
of spring and coil. I wrote across it
three o’clock the fay time, damp of grog,

(afraid, stomp out to toilet pee, fart,
stomp back, smile, lesson anon, the pillow)

cool once anon, good the night, good
near when reach longer grow’th. Good,
you wife, twist close and wide awake
long down the hand can reach the near.

( 4.)

Abide this world, a grain in the ocean,
a grain in the sea, sleep JoAnne down
beside me here there in the hoven far
and near of the circle, the planets

dance for thee, the inhale the exhale
of universal swing and sway for thee,
angle of my free time, gone grid
gone numberish spooks. Sleep down

beside me, girl, in the nights we’ll
weave some fantasy, twixt sleep
and light, twist close and wide awake
long down the hand can reach the near.

2003

The Latest Spring

Leaf half peeled emerald bask in the new sun
a thousand regrets moored at my heart like some
old sailing ship, a brigantine, once wave tost
singed in the brine, now still on the inland

lake, pennants fluttering. Or is it my heart
called to some old port I saw once as a boy
aboard the Lachrymae, torn out in the Spring
vernal of the year. Pilgrimages still abeat

in the latest Spring: winds from North already blow,
cool the meadows, dandelions heavy before grey
death spreads their seed across our little world.
Our little world: no sooner is the thought tied

to my brow when some cheap cliche from some
kind of box comes laughing coxcomb into it.
Leaves and ships and hearts stand true and always will.
But my blue heaven gets hit on by all kinds of soaps

and drinks, polishes, health products, tooth
paste and thin smiling women, who are desperate
to believe. Yes, and all kinds and colours too,
the white girls and brown, the yellow and red

join in because mouth wash and kotex cover
over the boundaries better than music and paintings,
Hell of a lot cheaper too. So age in youth the rub,
this forty-ninth May run in: madrigals and wine

and the fine old discomfort return on winged feet
and if the barolo’s good, you may see their gossamer
forms bent to gather up the light, the gold strokes
over the muddle of green and when the flies allow,
on our hair.

2002

The Longer I Stay in Nova Scotia

The longer I stay in Nova Scotia
down by the slinking shore, the more
I live by fir and blue jay, and gay
old ignorance of letters and class,

never a competent mix, like gin
and coke they never did go down.
When I hear my records of Segovia
play Bach I want to cry, but I

don’t intend to move away. Don’t ‘ee go says I
to me – the horsemen got your old haunts –
the Rideau Canal gone to the Goths
and the Golden Horseshoe, blacktopped out

of sight, and the lake where you swam as a kid
smells and fish no longer f–k in it. So
I’ll stay here in God’s country, home to
welfare, and fiddles and the ghosts of spiny ships.

2000

The Lords of Mycenae
Bronze flashing lords of Mycenae, dying piece meal
there in the low lying fields, in their family since the time
when gods walked among men, dying slash and burn
by the menace beyond the hills and beyond the seas.

Silent charred strata, arrows scattered on dusty floors
bones of huddled palace serfs between the great stone
bricks balanced there in the old times by the cyclops
now battered down in a moment. The sun shone

too brightly then, the orbits of the stars rent askew
by the gone armies wielding iron daggers? Perchance,
just new swords, newfangled spears and shields,
a new peoples’ army? Gone, the dapper bronze captains

polytropos Odysseus, sacker of cities, elegant megarons
hilltop hub of precious fields, or the King of Kings
lord of Argos, face wrenched in golden agonies: these
a silent invader from god knows where. The screams

stop, the gold no more battered into earrings, bronze
lance heads, and low, sleek, wave-slicing ships,
stories of dried out old Egyptians, their pyramids,
rubble piled on rubble as befits a mute, barbarian king.

When in the wheeling stars’ peregrinations across a black
sky will we greet the serene and golden kings, sons of Aphrodite,
Athena, and the son of Time, givers of gifts, those
havened lords who gave us memory and then our birth?

2000

The Valentine Gang

February 2009

Unopened nights we pass side
by tired side
under the one snow covered
roof
foundlings in a mean world
riveted by iced up sea, bound
by the new puritan precepts
of get and spend. We don’t
watch television and we don’t get
the news
we watch the kittens joggle
on the rug and we read
in the gloom at set of sun
and rise of moon, the entourage
of hibernal stars
on a night uncovered
of cloud, fog, or mist,
the steady bruit
of the world
far afield but for a snow plow or an old boy
rattling down in a dodge ram.

We sit here side
by gold splashed side
in a cascade of fine light
twenty-four carat bright
each season, night after night.

2009

FOND LOVE

for JoAnne Elizabeth Conrad

Through summer sun and winter snow
I watched the days and nights that ran
Up my column and across my row
a pattern of praise – I forget where it began.

This day that brought you forth into the fell
world where I was ready, waiting out this
game of life and breath, of flower and fauna
for you to deliver me from life and death.

Why it was so I never could tell-
an examination or merely a quiz?
I knew your bonny smile many years ago and ah
waited your coming as to quote what the preacher saith –

await another coming that will soon be gone,
occasioned in the hammered gold, not sad
we dance this day in sun and snow anon
and happy returns bid us our fond love to add.

Glad Rags

for Ray Souster I.M.

You must sit up in the chair
straight back to write a good poem
choose the font, the size, easy
on the eyes, and then type in the rhymes

internal and end, to fill it out right
loneliness, abandonment more
that sex and motherhood be
the stuff, we are left alone

practically every second day.
Worn down this way, feel alone
refuse to see the golden corners
of solitude; flowers each to each

have to split roots to love. It’s
tough, and alone in the final flush
of flower-hood, thrown in the garbage
bag, come and gone alone, glad of life.

Life of a Master
for Terry Whalen I.M.

I listen to a string quartet of Haydn
opus seventy-six, number two and picture
the child of a wheelwright from some
flea bitten town nowhere in an empire,

he could sing and was undersized for lack
of food, tossed out when his voice broke,
on the streets, the winding streets of Vienna,
puffed up, over fed Wien. He stole into concert halls
sang and played, uninvited to swipe
cookies and cakes, was hired by the richest family
in Hungary, worked for two decades, liveried,
starched like a servant. Out of this he invented

balance, order, made all the pieces fit
so well the bluebloods noticed. So the chaos
continued through dinner dates and concerts
and the London girls lionized. But he bent

the disparate parts into perfect shape and with
a laugh or two thrown in for good measure. Before
he died fascist Napoleon’s cannons pounded the city of dreams.
“Don’t worry children,” he told his clerks,
“Papa is still here to take care of you.”

2008

The Professor

I assault you Love, you buggered me and made
me fat, you took me from books and long avenues
with views of the sea. I converted became a Catholic to get
you off my mind. But here I am left in a wilting

little town alone and looking out windows all
the time. Love, you bugger, my latch lifts
on the breath of the wind. The choice
to live long and slow or die in a bramble of words

All the lines spun in a net. Poetry is not physical
like music, like pounding in on drums. Charlie
Watts is in better shape than I am, my life spent
casting out metaphors. Love, you bugger,

leave me alone, I can get enough of you, vicariously
in Puccini, and in art. Art, you bugger, I
am too small to live in you, you want me to think
all the time and give up my lifestyle.

I’m almost burst out of middle age and must settle
for solitude and a lesson lost, what I was born to
and time like a metronome beats it out plain
and simple. Only one dogma: life comes first.

Self-Awareness

Paranoid and picturing figures in the pine boughs:
I sit and hear the Queen of the Night hit the high ones,
Callas I think, that shrimp, the LeAnne Rime
of opera singers. Branches wave to me at

a safe distance, any closer and I’d bite them off
and suck out the sap. Paranoia, caro nome,
you smile and tell me you understand, you wait
for me to book off one last time and I won’t.

Because I love Pamina more than you, you
are both black and white, you hate me more. I
tell them what they want to hear. Not to give
it all away. The sky is painfully blue and the leaves

monotonous green. Spring is not the toughest time
of the year. I’d say it’d be the Fall. Not the end
but the prelude to the end. When the bile settles down,
when the owl and hawk tighten their circles overhead and frown.

Time wedgies my ass. I sit here and do new age
breathing, and self-help, waiting for her to come and turn my page.

2008

Thelma Says

Thelma says you got to hoe the hills
don’t you see the difference between the lows
and the highs a farmer sees when he tills,
when he walks over his fields, sinks his toes

in the loam? Worn away she balks and mows
down the wildflowers on the lawn and instills
grim harmony with her string bean didos.
A nurse, she watched old men die, their thin rills

run dry, quick and slow deaths come of the bills,
the hours, and moils shore up less than he owes,
grins the care provider, each one fulfills
less than his hopes, and neighbor Thelma knows

all about life and death and potatoes
and you can’t cure envy and greed with pills.

The Whole Avenue
The old woman down the street unstrings her shoe
she once earned her minutes, turned down Mr. McGoo
in the name of love, she saw the end rhyme
and the nature of the days piled up against the crime,
god awful life mixed into the grey and lumpy stew:

she stomped off in search of a young man, a new
lover, long on love and short on the stories they tell you,
found a man fresh out of school, squeezed him like a lime,

came on to him like a Hale Bopp under the lazarine blue,
until he caught on, too late and began to construe
her curves to the degree of her sign and co-sign,
left her before the term was out, he deaf, she blind
and the young and old try to fuck out the whole avenue.

2001

September 27, 2008

There is the great black forest
The woods dank and sweet, no Dante,
Things to be gotten through lest
We veer off the true highway,

Blacktop way, the arc of branches
Knit at the top like a living cathedral
Sappy Canterbury, knotty Durham
Or some such hulking edifice

To celebrate a baby. The shadows
Lean and the breezes break on through
The fairy world open to you, the stinky
Faeries flit across our bleeding eyes

As we cross the forest floor to the other side
We are a small and chubby pair unsure
Of the fork to the path, look up to the vaults
Of the oak and maple and pine of a Nova
Scotia wood. They make barrels of the spruce
Don’t they, you ask, your grand-dad was a cooper
But I only watched him, I don’t know what
Trees he used, I reply. I thought it was pine,

Soft enough for those old kippers.
So we walk on through the old wild wood
Ready to curse and ready to cry
Tired and probably lost though neither

Will admit it. You do the money thing
And I’m supposed to be the ideas guy.
You will look to me and say shut up
About it. I look at you and get mad.

We walk through the forest, the cloudless
Sunless maze in sullen silence until
We find pictures in our noggins
To remind us of what we think love

Should be. Then I find a tree with nuts
And you spy a clump of chantrel mushrooms
There’s a spring, there are wild grapes, and if
My nose don’t fail me, truffles are off there.

So two we’s can fend for ourselves
In the wild woods with the owls, the hawks
The stoats, weasels and boars, the lawyers,
Doctors and the politicians – the preditors

And the damp. I am filled with joy – we can
Stand it and survive, two kids in the dark
And I repeat can Dante – because we
Won’t get out of the woods but after we’ve

Walked so far we’ll see the bars of light
At the edge of things and the pine sweet
Smell to give us hope to sleep sound
When we stop on a hot summer afternoon.
Tomorrow
Come dawn, trips light, gold splat
on silver grass tip, edge of our vids,

pass all we know, for all we ken
grass gone fast green at noon.

Helio hoven rooftop, drip down sun
port, song Hadjidakis: plink a plink

in the mind, mind fade aureate back
yard, goeth down ray spikes, grass roots

black, dew rise, blood neath cloud, sky
drains off, parsecs away: rips off fell death.

2003
Tree Adds

Just the light
oh Christmas tree
delight us in the sprays

of blues and reds
sing against the jets
of night, our three cats cocked

in the winter. Sight
unseen, it’s a pattern
fanned out on hard

wood floor, a gossamser
of hues, flayed here, bent
here, for joy, not more.

2009

Unfinished Poem

Ice cakes brittle and hum creak and croak
in the late February waned in the sun
a walk we take to see Caspar Davids washed
out in the growing time polished pearl

as spick as a lute piece of Dowland
a crazy title with a jig or a pavan, crisped
out under Julian Bream’s fingers so the sun
dances on ice sherds in the basin ahead

of our walking, our faces stung by sheets
out of the sea’s broad forehead, sheen
undisturbed like a promise out of Newton
untracked tracked, not disturbed by knots

or cross grains in the wood, so the
bowl of the lute, rattled into tune
like the rare sun here on the cold blues
of the frigid sea, the gloamed hues

2001

Chicken Liver Triads

JoAnne has a special gizzard sauce
she makes when I need to eat
the saucy part of the chickens we do.

I like the stinky parts and she brings
them too, plates them on my desk
by the multi-sync 97f 800 mega hertz computer,

the flayed organs of fowl in a briny sauce
brown and sweet and with a kick, she
brings it on and I drink Plunketts

shiraz, a grape from Persia grown
best in Oz and in the golden State,
counter points the taste. My love

my love, bringer of jollity, my sun
in the oak trees reddened at August
end, in French sounds like an interjection.

Ow, negative connotations, take us away
Variations on a Theme of Tallis. Your jokes
like an ax, voice carries a tune like a Sunday

Christmas with a creche and a Baby
a sacrifice neither can change, down
sluice of blade, none of us can

change, stand out side of the current,
the dirty and stinky sluice the salmon
killing stream, I eat the insides

of chickens I have raised and ponder
the taste: the urinal savor of heart,
the lung, and then the soft, whole, flayed livers.

2003

Mt Wife is Warmed By Spring
My wife is warmed by spring and blows a flute
With breath that’s born of Winter and of Fall
Primes my straight new blooms, and dried up, gnarled root

She plays all the parts, needs no recruit
Sings in and out of tune, the nature of it all:
My wife is warmed by spring and trills her her flute

Her seedlings down pressed weigh heavy with fruit
By summer’s end when she, long hours recall,
Primes the straight new blooms and dried up, gnarled root

Life opens around her leafy institute
Up the sagging lattice, atop the crumbling wall
My wife is warmed by spring and trills her flute

And when she plants her rows as a salute
To the gasy stew of sun and rain she stems withal,
Primes the straight new blooms and old, gnarled root

As raging quarks and quark begin to crawl,
Time ravaged, sit and hear the hours’ toll.
My wife is warmed by spring and blows her flute
Primes the straight new blooms and old, gnarled root.

2003

We Dance

Edwin Hubble, the father of the Cosmos
We dance the Tarantula Nebula way out there
just as the moon shines in on our bed and the old
Gods persist in the light haloed branches here
in the uncouth narrows. So set up your alter

and pray for me, for you, all the creatures
that hang out in the forest green. Spring
trips in on gilded slippers of the new
slime, when the young go crazy and the old smile.

2009

We the Favoured Few

for My Wife, JoAnne

I am not afraid to look into the glass
every day and behold the old friend
I love more than ever, disheveled and weird

stare out from his matrix back at me, close
and close to the Mother in her cold
and warm time, another rolling year. O

Mother, take me, your lilliputian boy come
closer to you , in song and shallow slice:
your breast, garden of spuds and leaks.

A Dowland fantasy , a tune plucked
out on a big bellied lute, Mediterranean fret
board, Lady Cliftons’s Spirit, Earle of Essex’s

Galliard, and it goes, back to weepy old Mother,
her cold and warm season. Lachrimae for
freedoms lost and fears new found. New

found Correct and Crazy tuneless, croonless
elites, city folk turned against fine old tunes, move,
always on the move, in their calibrated crusade.

We few, free of terms, stripped of nomenclature,
Mother of Melody, of winds in the pine
boughs, comfort us, your servants and slaves,

you, of Old Masters in paint and haloes gold
and masters of the bellied lute, tested in sincerity,
we, wired to your techniques, free of thugs

in tin suits or turbans, we herectics of the correct,
the corrupters of colours, the pensioned-off, the twisters
of pledges, disrespectful of your comeliness. We few

who gather on the holy saints’ days, drink wine by the jars,
man the ramparts here in the woods and gardens,
amid lilies and herbs, assess life in syllables and bars.
2009

When I Leave

Back from the trip far from the center: poems
wine and my girl, close the gap wonder no
more we are still unmapped and hunting
our tradition. To live with Mother Nature

focus on the strings of the guitar. You’ve got
to have the talent – what my talent is I’ll
never know. Come and go – your face broad
and gentle in the taverna eating Greek food

years ago. I saw your beauty bent there in the noise,
the dream I cry over still. Your love is true
the flowers grow for, the clouds dance the fandango
for, my love, only words to reach across to you

in our king sized mattress. You the worker
of your dream world. and I like a wondering
sprite out of some old fangled opera stand at
the periphery of your sight. You do one thing

as perfect as a Shakespeare sonnet or a ballad
by Frank or Tony. You sing and laugh and preen
your garden of perennials. You make life a sonnet
when most us of do verse libre. Your riffs are tucked

up neat and nice, trim. In the fogged vision you see
it straight, and I jealous not of a man but of the time
we spent apart, of the time I spent in dark, you my light
brought this to pass and we can play. When I leave

the next trip a video clip of a bloody man down-
loads in my brain ~ the lines in the highway can
not explain it away. It is a man bleeding and torn
because years have not ribbed off his crib.

He stands there in the dark crying and learning how
to stand up and shakes a rattle out there so far away
across a province. So we cut to the quick I miss you
and each sandwich is a tribute to the truth of us now.
2001

Work

Sun on ice, on sea brine swallowing and puking out sea weed,
the snap repeats, snow points do they waft or careen across
the close and near where land and sea meet. No, fuck, they
do not. They simple fall out of the sky, the grey unmade sky

and land on your tongue or your toque. They dampen your
hair and it goes soggy and strait over your collar and scarf.
The waves creak under the ice cakes. Walk down the road
to the sea to relieve the boredom of work. This is winter.

2002

THESE FOURTEEN YEARS
When I hear your voice throughout house
jabbering with Weasley and Dolly or gabbing on the phone,
when I see you in the garden striding to and fro
in your plastic, leopard skin macs, scolding weeds,

or snoring gently in the night when my tempests
haven’t driven you from the bed, when I smell
your morning breath’s sweet and sour report
of all you ate the day before, or the chemical lather

disguised as exotic fruit in your body soap
washed off in the shower, circling down the drain
corroding our pipes, making you smell like peach mango
or cucumber watermelon, or when I touch your face

as you smile, or kiss your neck on a bitter winter’s eve,
on a fierce summer’s afternoon, or clutch you
near me to ward off devils from the wild woods,
or when I see you trudging up the stairs,

groceries in hand, or coming with the coffee
when we’re at work, or crying in some remote
Byzantine chapel in the mountains of Mani
when the angel wings overwhelm you,

like a new morning, the thought dawns on me
every time, that being with you almost every hour
of every day is the only medicine for being without you
every hour of every day, these fourteen coursing years.

2010

Liberals

(not of a political party of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, but of a new kind of creature, come like locusts out of the desert)

They talk and talk and drink and drink
Have the means to become artists and poets
And the street smarts of the idle rich to convince
You that black is white and green is red.

Show me a middle class artist a mulish
Old school man stuck in the long-ago
Because he thinks it was prettier then
Mired in disaffection because he can’t find

Words to con you, nor the time to polish
his craft. The best he can do is lecture
In a liberal arts college, higher than a doctor
Or a lawyer in the bullshit ladder. Be seen

Is the law, psychology in the best medicine –
I hate organized religion – just give them a conformist
With a sense of humour and they’re confounded,
Stop to smell the roses when they think someone’s

looking. And no one is – they’re all stopping to smell
Their collective roses with backward glances
To check, and no one’s looking, except the backward
Man stuck in the past, so far right that he can

Look over their shoulders. He will never get published
Nor any galleries hang his stuff. He’s on a data
Base that bans him from the Tate. When we
shoot out into space beyond the Hubble eye,

Closer to the eye of God, the Martians will call him
A racist, proud to be green, and he’ll still be so right
Oblivious to their slimy prattle born of centuries
and their puritan maniples that march across the night.

2009

Insomnia like wine that has aged too long
gives me a glimpse of death in the shadows
of a full moon, shades linger in the hallway
to the bathroom, wine conducive to sprites, fairies

that dance before my shrinking eyes and the night out the front lawn
silver splotched where the fear comes creeping up towards the door
to remind me that my legs are thin and
my gut too thick, a shadow of a man with gray hair

spiked by sleep fitful and turning one side to the next
sleeping by fits and starts awaken by the waxing
and waning of moons and the clouds in uncharted tides
and i don’t flush the toilet lest i awaken her who sleeps

healthy and logically under the quilt she stitched the evenings
in winters past. I turn back to bed, passing the mirror
and the worried man in a worn t-shirt and boxer shorts
pulled halfway over his pot. He looks out at me

and seems eager to talk, but I have no time, must get back to bed
at least she is warm and I close the drapes
on the doors and it is black and I reach over
just to touch her face or back to make sure she’s really there.
2010
NIGHT VIGIL FOR THE MOTHER OF GOD

I live my life like the drunk who thinks no one spots
when he nods and buckles about in his chair,
I chuckle when I guess no one’s there
and I’m the only guy who gets the joke.

Except for you, but for you, you look
through. Does that mean I’m a hypocrite
when I see myself as a minor genius
and present a face to meet the face?

You go with me in my prayers — I don’t mean
you’re the target of my prayers, but every night
when the numinous light pours down from above
through the bathroom window, and hovers over the toilet

where I sit in prayer — you follow in the love shone
down on me as I intone my love for you.
As the smell descends, my love rises with the light
from the Mother and Her Son to the Lover and his Bun.

2010
Swimming with the Murphys on Bras D’Or Lake
Interspersed between the cursing of the motorboats
and the twelve toned monotony of cars on the flat top
you could hear the waves splashing on the pebbles
that lead you into the water. And if you’re lucky

you could hear the primeval silence that still lingers
in the pine trees, the birch, spruce fringing the lake.
If you looked closely you would see a yellowy film
like melted margarine on the waves and smell the oil

spat across a silver surface of the water, patina
of jet. And the rot along the branches of the pines
and spruce. What can stand alone today and be what it is,
silent, obedient, and looking up to find honor?

We had a swim in the saltwater lake
and it seemed like any old swim at any old time.
The water slicks back your hair and it shines anyway.
Is it real? I guess I’m lucky to see it. Who’s to say?
from Fast Poems 2011
November 19
It still takes me five or ten minutes
to get used to the stink of chickens boiling
in the big pot, headless, swimming in the foamed water
so we can pluck their feathers, before we gut

and clean them, stack them tenderly in the freezer.
All summer long we feed them grain, grass
and apple bits. They are engineered to lard on weight
and in eight weeks or maybe ten ready for the chop.

While rosemary, chives, oregano, and thyme
are doing their bit to add to our Christmas feast
after the snows are comfortably down
to hide the weeds and leaves unraked on the lawn.

We mimic old-fashioned rhythms of time and season
We bend and stretch and reach for the sky
when the sun escapes, the foul smelling air
behind the purple mountains and through the trees.
November 21

My mother waits to enter the temple
of the Lord. She has subpoenaed in prayer
eighty-seven years growing wise with time,
what time she could feel, what time she could know.

She waits for papers delivered, for papers signed
the first time in eighty-seven years growing wise with time
her rooms joined with sun and stars commingled
to circle about the pathways of bliss.

In a theater long ago in Hamilton – Ontario –
she took me to a concert performance
of Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the first long one
known to man and a real dilly to play.

Half way through the second movement, the longest
second movement known to man – at that time –
the orchestra lost its place couldn’t find its way,
it had to stop and I remember forty odd years later

the conductor said, take it from A. My mother
waits to enter the temple, and she has known all along
she would get there. Trust has been her strength
and finally it will shine from clerestory windows,

and arches pointed true by their Gothic builders
and she will wander up-and-down pale and perfect.
A fourteen-year-old girl listens to the choir sing Rejoice, O thou
fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation.
December 1

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by
word of mouth or by letter.

My grandfather took my chubby hand in his paw,
a cooper’s hands planed barrels fifty years,
six days a week, gripped the shark
toothed cross saw to cut pines into staves.

I never wanted to start a mile and a half walk
from Western Shore to Martin’s Point every Sunday morning
of a holiday in Nova Scotia, but it seemed
I had no choice and was dragged there and back.

But I could see the sandy paths leading down to the silver
ocean, sun climbing its high summer way
just hot enough to appreciate the lemony
smell still and cool inside the old Anglican Church.

The trace of tobacco and hair and toothpaste
and the catatonic railing of a minister
made me laugh into a sleeve. Not so bad as starting out,
in those days a boy didn’t have a choice but to walk

to church with Grandpop. Hand numb, I knelt by him
closed my eyes and I could just about smell
french fries, salt, vinegar in aunt’s tavern. All happy
because it would be ready after the walk back.

December 2

At that time, the scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people

No wine, fish, and no oil today
things get tough and there is no other way.
And tomorrow morning at the first light of day
We go to cut a Christmas tree and drag it all the way.

No thoughts, passions, does humility come
from this, no twisting or turning from godly diss.
bless us and keep us safe in the night
it doesn’t get any better than this.
December 3

Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men?

I lack the atheist’s naive faith,
never to believe pines and chickadees
perched in boughs and strings
that bind the universe tight

ten millennia of passion and hysterical prayer
as accidents of biology, outbreaks of chemistry,
or a mess of records, jump started into victory
or failure by dumb and unimpeachable science.

The venerable Yeats called science the religion of the masses
and how many punk professors make a comfortable living
with their mantra, I have issues with organized religion?

I’m not comfortable with punk professors and pedants
with puritanical conceits, preparing students for Trivial Pursuit,
hell, you might as well read a newpaper or watch tv.

December 4

Dance for joy, O earth, on hearing the gladsome tidings; with the Angels and the shepherds now glorify Him Who is willing to be gazed on as a young Child Who before the ages is God.

I saw a fox, a silver fox at the end of the garden
peeping over an embankment at the edge of the woods,
he caught me unawares. I thought he was a bob cat.
I stared, knowing my time was book ended by his sensible care.

In the growing mist of a settling fall afternoon
he ghosted into the gloom, but before he disappeared
the oblique shafts of sunlight found his face and an instant
I could see the fox, the silver fox and he was gone.

December 8

if a man does not know how to manage his own household

Once, when eleven and hopping mad
I kicked a hole in the wall
down the end of the hall. I felt my shoe
hit the wall, jumped back
shocked how thin the plaster was,
terrified at such a hole. I thought
dad’ll whale me now, he did threaten
and even took off his belt
and it was a long belt, but he never hit me.

My mother hit me once or twice across the face
when at school I discovered the word
bullshit, brought home from school
bullshit, bullshit, bullshit all day. I thought it sounded comical,
light Bullwinkle the Moose and I transmogrified
into a flying squirrel. But I was a squirrel
with a red and purple cheek and no more bullshit for me.

But my father knew better than to hit something smaller than himself
and so devised a much more severe and cunning punishment
for a hole-kicking at the wall in the end of the hall:
he sequestered LPs: Elvis’ golden hits volume two
(found later fifty million Elvis fans can be wrong)
Dion and the greatest hits of Bill Haley and his Comets.

They were gone for weeks, years
for a kid with the time ratio of a smart dog,
a kid in suburban south Ontario. When the orchards
still blossomed as we walked to school
before the bulldozers and tractors steamed into town.

December 9

He clearly promised them that they should bear a divine child, from whom was born the Uncircumscribable One Himself Who became a mortal, and through an Angel commanded them to cry unto her: Rejoice, thou who art full of grace; the Lord is with thee.

A flabby teenager pushes a stroller
down Main Street, spongy, bouncy
grins at her friends in tank tops
ripped off shorts, roly-polies fast
food, Facebook, America’s next top models,

a lifetime on the hips like Venus von Willendorf
with a pony-tail. The first image
of mother and child and how myriad
in the millennia when mother and child
dressed up funny to anyone come to look

at this madonna and her kid
so carefully swaddled in the stroller
until she gets the corner light,
crosses the street and waggles out of sight.
December 11

τί ζητεῖτε τὸν ζῶντα μετὰ τῶν νεκρῶν;
Why do you seek the living among the dead.

Found Poem

Sorry, this is the first time I’ve checked my email all day!
Too busy to be on the computer with Christmas on the way!
I’m not sure if he responded to you or not
I don’t know where he is, not here right now, the snot.

And so I’ll respond in case he doesn’t bother.
We’re both figuring we’ll be home early in the afternoon,
but neither of us knows exactly when, late or soon
I would guess by two or three or four o’clock.

and then I’ll be running out again, making time
to pick up sweetie from the babysitter at five.
I hope to capitalize on some child-free time
at home tomorrow afternoon to keep my brain alive!

Not 100% sure what we’re doing Christmas Eve,
but I assume we’ll be going to church, or not.
LOL Does that answer help at all, or not?!
If you’re in Bridgewater just give us a call –

there’s a good chance at least one of us will be here.
And sorry I missed your call the other day.
I was picking the baby up and didn’t notice
there was a message until it was too late.

There’s just been entirely too much to do this week!
We’ll meet up somehow after Christmas, though!
December 14

No wine no fish today and I’d love to have some cabbage
and a boiled potato or two, with melted butter
puddled on top, pepper, and a pile of salt.

No wine or fish today, and I want to quit
Wasted the whole day thinking about what to eat
and what to drinkity, drink, drink.

We fast from grace, we fast from beauty’s care
“I’m not comfortable with organized religion
gives me the scare.” We fast from emptiness

we fast from grace, we fast from what
went on before, and from being poor
and now with winter coming on we are
pallid and sorry to have to close the door.
December 16

The Prophet Haggai, whose name means “festive,” was born in Babylon at the time of the captivity of the Jews.

I wrapped up all the stockings stuffers early this year
nothing else to do but work, watch movies and sleep.

No Aberlour or Laphroig today
no nosing amber, here in the desert

forty days and nights grow lighter by the hour.
What a way to celebrate the coming of the Lord!

I sit down here deserted, bored by humility,
bored by the saints above, and when it’s over

I’ll stuff myself over the optional amounts.
Just to get my all back from the Mother of God

and her beardy little Son. I will hear the cattle talking
on Christmas eve, and I will go their way soon enough

so make way for the prodigal one.
And I’ll have fun, fun, fun till daddy takes my T. bird away.

Forty days and nights grow lighter by the hour
I hear fairies dancing in the snow-drizzled bower.

December 21

In Bethlehem now beholding Him in swaddling clothes, that holdeth the earth within the hollow of His hand, we all offer our prefestal songs to the Mother that gave Him birth

The plow will come to me away so late
To clear the arteries on this longest night,
And dig a track home, a pathway to my gate.

No one to censure, no one to berate,
I follow an eighteen wheeler‘s Christmas light,
And hope the plow will come to me away so late
.
Across the Pictou Causeway the winds inflate
A tunnel through the trackless places of the night
and I must dig a track home, a pathway to our gate.

And I thank God that trucker‘s there to fix my fate
Happy to see Rudolph’s red ass pictured in light,
The plow will come to one away so late.

At the causeway’s end the sniveling winds deflate,
My angel with eighteen feet disappears as I exit right
To find a track home, a pathway to our gate.

It’s just a storm on winter solstice night
And I see electric candles, familiar sight
The plow has come to one away so late
And dug me a track home, a pathway to our gate.

A SONNET FOR ST. VALENTINE

A desperate search for appropriate rhymes
with valentines, hearts, the clichés of love,
not minced like modern verse, but columbines
pure metaphor, unmixed, from above,

like the line of a madrigal, unbinds
our fancies in the stuff dreams are made of
words that agents and editors brand crimes,
like Rome, who struck him from the lists thereof –

Valentine, gentle saint, pinioned hard by
the Milvian Bridge, tortured for acts of love.
As stony centuries are born and die
his grace returned to us rising like a dove.

JoAnne and I join in the amorous throng
With seafood, cider and a Willie Nelson song.

2015
Friend Larkin

My paranoia stems from my mother and dad,
especially my mother, a paranoid old bitch who
tortured us in a slick and subtle way, feigning illness
to stick in the spear point from the arras of her faith,

flows from my distrust of professors and politicians,
atheists and rapists, tree huggers, self-marketers,
shooters of cops on the streets, where good people walk
elitist drivers of German cars, measure their worth

for all to see, flows from the boy who wipes
away his tears, counts little plastics soldiers,
green and grey, American and German, and there’s some
missing. Friend Johnny or Hugh stole them and they disappeared

into their suburban homes where they must hide to this day.
Hidden in a dust ball resting in a corner of the recroom
in the basement where the older sister sleeps in her bedroom
removed from the rest of the family. We who put up

and shut up no choice. The old sister who saved her candy until
mine was gone the bitch and then brought it out to eat
to savour in front of me and I suffered from indigestion
and envy and the shame of having eaten mine so

fast and I still don’t remember what flavours were in the snaps
and kisses. Flows from the first itch in the prick
my prick, pubescent piece fired off at a touch, stiff, my fingers
hitched up the trousers and I look about to see if anyone noticed.

Larkin another paranoid poet looms in my imagining, bald pate
sarcastic old bastard in a twitch of rhythm and a twitch of rhyme
said the same old thing. I would have talked to him and more
if I had had anything worth saying, I would have been glad to listen.

A Drummer’s Philosophy

A busy sky above and a frozen ground below
between, the overgrown planet bounds
night to day never tired of the simple
rhythm, a double roll ratta tatta ratta tatta.

Never thinna always fatta tatta fatta
sounds like a triple roll to me, feels
like a history of beer and chips wine
and cheese and sausages rolls and cake.
DIFFUSION

The new age gurus, grab just enough
from the Vedas and the noble Upanishads,
a clever teenager will have more, will exploit their gift
of gab and marketing to hook you and reel you in

a fish out of water, hugging air and vapours that transmogrify
and distill into profit. Spend thousands on trips to Bali
Hawaii and Belgium to lay your fragile head at the feet
of a wiseman, a wise guy with street smarts enough

to convince unbelievers, shedders of values, losers
of traditions carved by passions, by brushes, paint, notes,
by war and peace, twisted through black and white
into wisdom carved in stone to find the unwavering center.

When you have the do-ray-me, peace comes plopping
slow, settles like acid rain in the fragments of what
the philosophers and prophets and the Desert Fathers called
the soul. It’s fun at all costs, hurray the invertebrates

show us your soul on Facebook and twitter, you can
stop the suffering, roll back the millennia with the touch
of a button and me too, but there’s still a feint whiff in the air
of French perfume joined in the random velocities of molecules.

JANUARY THE FOURTH, TWO THOUSAND AND FOURTEEN

Shovel snow from the steps, dust the cars
in case we have to go, call clients
Monday morning, arrange the week ahead
plan for London and all stops in between,

build your dollhouse room by room
a world within a world and paint a picture,
set the clock and sleep and carry in the wood.
Christmas comes and goes and the new year begins,

plan a business to keep us going, take charge of this
and feed the cats and make the bed
and make sure that Dave is fed. Days go by
we walk along the railway paths to fight

off the challenge of potato chips and beer
the Roman novel drawing near, living life
on and near the land, we have no time to tally the hours
the days and years. But for what it’s worth

Happy Birthday My Dear, five or fifty makes no break
it’s in the eyes and in the hands that give and take,
it’s in the breath and death and birth.

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