Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Self expression


  Self Expression

God in a hip flask. Smashing palms, steel doors at the TV stations.
CDs hanging from nipples.
Working a weak brick at the southwest corner.
Fame is power.
Give us volts! Nature is stasis.
Give us our rosy crucifixion!

Ditches ashamed of themselves. Bare clay open to the skies.
Gray wounds from a war which never ends,
Edged with summer glory – goldenrod, asters, harebells.
Brown eyed susans, sedges, tall yellows,
Caring for themselves, waiting for rain.

Plasmas injected with revelations everyone already knows.
Pitching placentas on the busy corner,
Racing alleys in plastic underwear, hand cams fornicating.
Already there are too many expostulations.
Down lava, down engorged brains!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

New Garage

It used to be the chicken shed
But the weasels and hawks killed them all.
Too small for the old car but the Suzuki fits,
One wall morphed into a door and it’s ready to go.

My cat inspects, looks at me suspiciously.
“Where are the ones who smell like this?” she seems to say.
“You ate them, didn’t you?”

No, dear cat, it wasn’t me.
Hawks by day, weasels by night did them in.
See, here in the corner one white feather,
Left behind as a memorial for their handsome struts
And bright red combs, now so sadly gone.

Let Me Make This Perfectly Clear

Let me make this perfectly clear.
I have never written anything because it is a Poem.
This is a mistake you always make about me,
A dangerous mistake. I promise you
I am not writing this because it is a Poem.

You suspect this is a posture or an act.
I am sorry to tell you it is not an act.

You actually think I care if this
Poem gets off the ground or not. Well
I don’t care if this poem gets off the ground or not
And neither should you.
All I have ever cared about
Is what happens when you lift your eyes from this page.

Do not think for a moment that it is the Poem that matters.
It is not the Poem that matters.
You can shove the Poem.
What matters is what is out there in the large dark
And in the long light,

Gwendolyn MacEwen  1941-1987, Canadian Poet

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Death Rain


  Death Rain

She came into the basement to tell me you were gone.
Flesh tube exploded, flooding the cerebral plain.
You shouted once, arms held out in pain,
Fell back upon the pillows never to move again.

Death comes. This nobody can deny.
My mother, father, uncles, aunts are no more.
The death rain fell upon them
And now they are dead and gone.

Everyone wants to live forever,
But this nature cannot sustain.
Everybody’s cotton candy
Waiting for the death rain.

She came into the basement and told me you were gone.
She was weeping,
Mouth full of mucous, face full of death rain.
She sat down beside me but I had nothing to say.
What use words, what use feelings,
When it comes to the death rain?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rock Arrangements

I took a string,
Tied it to a stake and scribed a circle,
Filled the circle with ditch rocks.

So there it was,
A circle of rocks,
Muddy; multicolored,
Sucking up heat from the summer sun.

My grandson comes.
He has his wagon.
Seriously, meditatively,
According to the promptings of his materials,
He carries rocks from one spot to another,
Fits them in here and there.
It takes a half an hour.

Finished he wipes the dirt off his hands,
Comes into the porch where I am reading.
He tells me some rocks were in the wrong place.
“Hmmm,” I say.

“But don’t worry,” he says.
“I fixed them for you.”

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Morning

Sunday Morning

The sensorium is real enough,
Though, like dream worlds, it passes by,
Riding an endless milky way
Of forms, transformations.

But the Buddha world changes too -
Dry and tasteless says the Roshi -
So wet and sweet or bitter too, perhaps,
But in the end different than the beginning,
tho there are no husks left behind
Like the husks clambered over
By the ever moving sensorium.

And no one sends back reports from the world of the dead.
Maybe there isn’t one,
Or the dead, being bodiless, can’t write them.

This pen is a borrowed one.
An old friend has too many pens,
Too much paper;
When people ask he fills a bag,
Pushes them out the door before they can change their minds.

This city is owned by somebody else,
More the product of entropy than anything else,
Yet it keeps up a brave front
With street sweepers and glass buildings.
During floods it holds its breath,
For earthquakes it plugs its ears with cotton wool.

My grandson is happy all day;
Every molecule in his body
Smiles the whole day long,
As if he were all tender belly
And the Universe tickling him with wiggly fingers.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


My hair is gray, almost white.
My left knee is shot; the right dubious.
My upper teeth went south years ago.
The six lower ones remaining need fillings and crowns;
When I eat something sweet they ache.
My ears are plugged up with wax.
I keep asking people to repeat themselves
And thus everyone assumes my mind is wandering.
My taste buds are ten percent of what they once were.
After two hours of reading my eyes mist up;
In the evenings my back aches,
Along with my calves, toes and wrists.
My tent pole still works but rather erratically,
Not to be relied upon and when it blows its bugle
The note is muted, sometimes barely registering.
My face is caving in, my neck waddling.
Even my ears are shrivelling up
Like lettuce plants left unwatered.

In short I’m a wreck, an old pumpkin
About to be thrown on the compost heap.

Yet I sit zazen as steady as a granite boulder.
I can sing fourteen love songs in a row
Without missing a single word or a note.
I can chase my grandson around almost as fast as my sons can.
I can stay up late at night talking ideas and gossiping.
I can concentrate for twelve straight hours
Painting a picture or writing poems.

So why complain?
Well, it’s traditional;
It’s what people do when they get old, isn’t it?

Friday, March 9, 2012


Are drinkers of mulled wine
Mints to disguise the alcohol breath
In the backs of roman churches you will find them
Lighting votive candles

Die and yet they don’t die
Nests ludicrously untidy
All humans who worked in vaudeville
Are related to crows
But they won’t admit it
Claiming originality as the original sin

Crows have a gigantic body,
Composed of thousands,
Moving like an inky cloud of pumping crow’s hearts,
Like a text balloon moving forth from the lips of god,
Here and then gone,
Like all miraculous revelations,
Chopped into tiny pieces by the scientists,
Who never smile in public for if they do,
Between their teeth,
The remnants of crow feathers,
Fingers stained with the orange of beaks.
Their wives have left them
For their habit of inhaling raw meat,
Cawing in the basement,
Moving their arms as if they were feathered wings,
Hooking the backs of their knees over branches when the children are watching.

Humans also have a gigantic body,
Composed of thousands,
Moving like an inky cloud,
Wars for instance, rock concerts.
That’s why crows are studying us,
To find out why we watch pictures of other people copulating,
Stick bayonets into one another
Or walk about in public with things stuck in our ears.
Crow scientists have long lists of our wierd behavior
And seek to find crow reasons for them, one by one,
Until humans are fully known,
And thus unable to blow crows up with dynamite,
Or inject them with noxious substances,
Or shoot them with steel pellets,
And they store all these things in their crow brains,
Which are small, yes, but that’s because
They serve as portals to the entire universe,
Which is where crows live, connected to everything,
Intoxicated with sun and air and moon,
Especially the moon, loved extravagantly by crows,
Who murmur appreciatively when it hangs in their trees
And whose favorite legend is of a crow,
Wearing a veil of moonlight,
Breast filled with radiant sun,
Who knows all about crows and all about humans and all about god
But she won’t tell anyone
For she knows such knowledge would destroy them.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sleeping in the Hammock

One could mention the moon
Hung like a party favor above the black trees,
Or the horses laved in breezes,
Lost in reveries among the shadows.

A human life doesn’t last long.
A few significant celebrations,
Then old age and gone.
Where nobody knows, not even God or Buddha
And the sun rolls its yellow wheel across the sky
To sink, a red stone, into the horizon.

It has always been so, hasn’t it?
Even the philosophies of the young touch on the matter;
You’ll remember the philosophies of the young
Spent on summer porches, among the green of gardens.

A cup of tea is a world in itself,
And the spine curved in the hammock is not so different
from the snailed spine of a fetus,
Forehead nestled into its supplicant knees.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


At sixty Melvyn married a thirty year old,
A Phillipino woman from islands scattered by Melanesian gods,
Green jewels across the Pacific sea.

In a provincial village,
Pigs snuffling compost heaps, thatched huts, barefoot boys,
They said I do.

But it didn’t work out.
Sixty year old men are often grumpy (especially Melvyn)
And his wife came to prefer the company
Of her sisters and their hordes of children.
Travelling by motorbike,
Collecting payments on mortgages lent from Melvyn’s savings,
Overnights turned into overweeks
Until one day she left the house and never came back.

“Where is she?” Melvyn asked one of the sisters.
“Gone,” she answered. “Better get used to it.”

Easier said than done.
Though he knew she didn’t love him
The drug of her half willing body was like heroin.
For months he stayed up half the night, sick with longing.

Now he’s here,
Across from me at the table,
Chewing the bitter cud of rancor.

“Bitch,” he says. “Gold digger.”

Friday, February 3, 2012


Chickens eat anything;
Ten bags of winter kitchen scraps;
Peck, peck, peck,
In two days they are gone.
Meant for the compost but I didn’t mind;
Quano also provides wonderful nutrients.

They love grubs;
When I dig a ditch
Gather round like inspectors,
Shouldering, getting in the way of the shovel;
A white grub throws them into a frenzy
Till the lucky one runs off with it in her beak.

All day they wander about pecking, pecking,
Investigating the vast world of possible eating;
They peck at my pants and boots,
To them a tall column of reluctant birdseed;
They even peck at the dog who snaps his teeth
To show them who’s boss.

Cement mixer stomachs filled with sulphuric acid.
Worms, bugs, grass seed, small mice,
Safeway birthday cake, mouldy bread, rotten potatoes,
Anything small enough or reducable by fierce pecking.
They walk in a weird, water wading style,
Rocking from side to side on powerful thighs,
Rhythmically nodding their heads,
Always ready, searching with bug eyes.

They have no God or Art or Ethics;
Their creative act is laying eggs.
They cluster in a corner of the hen house all night,
Softly book booking;
Then each lays an egg early morning.

When I open the door it’s
“Boook, boook, where’s the feed?”
“Boook, boook, poor chickens are starving!
They pour out, a river of combs and feathers,
Scrambling over one another,
Pecking mercilessly to get first places at the tray.
How strong their desire to live!
How they long to fill the world with bustling, eating and perfect brown eggs!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Car on the road starts a low rumble,
Becoming louder, surer,
Steady roar, crunching gravel.
Then trailing off into the distance.

A Cessna is a giant mosquito
Pulling whiney pistons across the sky.

Always a movement of air,
If not wind,
A crepuscular ticking,
A settling of poured liquid.

There is no bottom to emptiness,
It goes on forever.
It’s not scary, not nihilistic.

When Al opens the door,
There he is, his big, red face, laughing.