Wednesday, November 23, 2011



Old gate off its hinge.

Matted like a lapwing in the long blond grass.

What is there to distract me from?

I pass, but not as a predator.

I seek the high field at the end

of this narrow dark road at dusk.

I’m out for stars. I’m out for solitude.

Like these deep cuts in the road

my scars have taken me out for a walk

in the gathering darkness,

nothing to keep in

nothing to let out.

The sumac denuded.

The last of the asters ruined.

There’s a farmhouse back here

abandoned years ago

like an old book in the basement

under the covers of its collapsing roof.

And the ghosts of two children

hidden deep in the woods

from the authorities,

autistic prodigies

who could fix anything mechanical,

clocks, watches, small engines

anything the neighbours brought them

but their own hearts and minds

and that’s how they lived for years,

with nothing but their own estrangement for company,

fixing things the neighbours broke.

A cage. But with the door open.

A road. But nowhere to go.

A house. But no one to shelter.

A mind. But no one to know it.

The chassis of a rusting car.

A bear.

I get caught in the glare

of my own mental headlights

wary of making more noise than I should.

And then my eyes

adjust my fear to the darkness again

and I’m not sure I should be here at all

unworthy of the silence,

unknown to the trees at the side of the road,

no clockwork universe

to bring these backwoods geniuses

that even they could fix.

A fox on the path. A startled bird.

The barking of a farmyard dog

way off in the low-key distance.

Stars in the ripening twilight.

A clearing with maple saplings to say

here nature picked up where it left off

and broken shards of moonlight

still clinging to the windowframes

as if it had to break through its own ice

to draw water from a stream.

Perseus holding Medusa’s head

above a barn drunker than it looks

swaying from side to side

gaping through its doorless loft in shock

at what is happening to it.

Aldebaran in Taurus, the Pleiades,

Castor, Pollux, Auriga and the kids,

an airliner leaving Ottawa without a sound,

and something that sweeps over me

like the shadow of a thought

with an owl for an eyelid.

So little harmony

so much tension among the stars

and their conflicting myths of origin

in the chaos and confusion of creation

and yet around here

in the stillness and profusion of their radiance

blessed and hexed alike

they all seem fixed.

Here where the unknown breathes

and eternity doesn’t seem

like anybody’s business but its own.




Brutal blue.

Deadly nightshade.

The heritage streetlamps coming on,

blooming without petals.

In the gloaming, lovely word,

the winter sky acts as if

it’s never even heard of us

and things do not so much appear

as emerge.

Brake-light poppies in the parking lots.

Musical chairs for cop cars and ambulances.

Afflictions of concrete.

The asphalt backs a dark horse.

It sweats light

that someone’s made a liar out of

from Jersey Joe’s Pizza Parlour,

the Giant Tiger department store,

and smeared like lipstick across a mirror

as if to say, yes, there was a kiss

but I didn’t mean it.

Separation where there should be love.

Miscarriages among the roses

bleeding on bedsheets from their eyes.

I’m one small town away from nowhere.

My heart on ice

as if it had just been pulled out of a river

like Rasputin, a northern pike,

an overturned boater.

My words curl in my mouth

like the scrolls of the gnostic leaves

and the bitter cold air

is trying to pierce my nostrils

and insert Venus

burning ferociously in the west

like a nose-ring

I’ll never be able to get out again.

Commotion and gaggle of geese on the ground

but high over head

lost in the glare of the light pollution

the wild ones

are haunting their way through my poems.




These words turn homeward

toward you, my dark wood,

because of all assignations of the night

you are West, you are dream and secret

you, deeper than jewels, sweeter

than the taste of stars

in the eyes of wounded black berries.

You, longing and lucidity,

singing in the last of the shadows

of the sacred trees for the unattainable

that summons me to you.

Endless, the farewell, endless

the dusk the nightbirds follow

after the swallows

have danced for the stars

in an aerial display of their own.

You, my star field, my wildflower,

whose skin is the skin of lunar waterlilies

and the tide at the tips of my fingers.

My new moon, my despair,

my solitude, my silence, my absence

which among these thousand lonely lakes

has looked upon you and seen

as I have seen in your incomprehensible eyes

how unfathomable they are to themselves

in your depths, your death,

the fullness of your abiding evanescence.

the quiet intimacies

that have just crept up on me

over these intervening years

that have done nothing

but linger in the moment

as if you would always be there

and could be found nowhere else

but now forever in this doorway

this broken window into my heart

to let go of

over and over and over again

like the rain, this stone, that leaf,

the wraith of your breath

hovering like a thin autumn mist

always at a distance over the harvested fields.

O diminished one, subtle one, free,

how is it you can inspire me still

though your ashes were given back to the stars

like a message for their eyes only

so many years ago that time itself

has upgraded all my starmaps

and made you alone, far one, bright one,

this lonely holy road that’s walking me home

as if my final destination, like yours, like you

were everywhere in whatever direction I turn

to ask the next star, where you’ve gone,

has it seen you, has it heard

was it too soon, was it too early

is it too late, too perilous, too absurd

for the morning to return you

like a singing bird to a green bough

to the dead branch that lost the moon

like its only blossom

on the rootless tree

that it took you from

when it took you from me?