Wednesday, December 7, 2011



If you wash your face in your own reflection

your face will come off in your hands

like moonlight on Jebb’s Creek

far off Rideau Ferry Road

in the wide open mud flats

of struggling trees and cattails

that French-kiss your boots with every step you take

as if you were wearing octopus suction cups

walking across a window.

Here the stars outdo themselves for radiance

as if they were competing for attention

with the myriad frogs who contend by example

cannibalistic procreation in a small pond

where the creek fans out like the hood of a cobra

is the answer to survival

not oceanic emotionally attached illumination

gone stargazing.

Caliban having it out with Ariel in an ossuary

of frog bones and old myths

pouncing on the facts of life like a fresh kill.

The car lights round the curve at Millerbrook Farm

penetrating the darkness as far as they can

and then pass on

like owls doing a routine flyover

through a dogfight of swallows and bats.

The darkness returning to itself

after a false alarm, seems deeper, richer

more certain of itself than it was before

as if it had gotten away with something

that made it feel more satisfied

with the way things are.

Life getting away with itself

by staying off the beaten path

like a thief that comes in the night,

furtively, unbeaten, for the sterling of the moon.

And the stars seem so magnificently unperturbed.

And the house cats let out for the night

from the nearby housing project,

who escaped death

by dodging traffic across the road

wind their way like the smoke of root fires

through the cedar groves

like a rhapsody of feline fuses

on the trail of something big.

The deer mice listen warily

in the tunnels of the London blitzkrieg

for the cunning of their music to dissipate

like the piety of a burnt offering to the sky gods

who aren’t even aware of them

nor hear the all clear of the stars to stand down.

Here everything that lives

casts a spell of its own

to adapt itself like a fact to its environment,

its own magic trick

to capture and evade life

as it randomly shuffles

exits and entrances

with a joker up its sleeve

like a guest list at a feast of appetites

playing their genetically marked cards

close to their chest.

Here the stars overhead

put everything down on the table

knowing the best place to hide

is out in the open

with light for a witness

and anyone with an eye

to the emptiness

that’s the modus operandi

of the death mask that remains

indelible as starmud sticking to its story

when you wash your face off

in your own reflection

like the last, best alibi you had left

to rebutt the testimony of the mirror

that’s proved to be a bigger liar

than the theme of darkness

that runs through all of this.

Jebb’s Creek with its cargo of waterlilies

flowing into the Milky Way

like a local tributary

of something sublime and unknown

with the same cosmic aspirations writ large

in the eyes of those who try

to live up to them from down below.