THE AMERICAN FLAG JUST BELOW MY STUDIO WINDOW
The American flag just below my studio window
one floor down, a real estate office carrying the colours
on the left and on the right, the Maple Leaf,
stubbornly clinging to its flagpole like the bough
of a tree that won’t let go of it even in a storm,
are both snapping in the air like two mad dogs
at the end of their chains, as if they smelled bush wolfs
moving through the dark without any respect for property.
Poor dogs. Poor wolves on a night like this.
Store lights smeared on the black asphalt streets,
a Fauvist palette, or the trail of a snail of lipstick
on a mirror in full eclipse. Everything tonight,
a jaywalker, a refugee, an exile, or a pariah,
with a mind shattered like pottery into any one
of a hundred ostrakons. No country for him,
his identity ends at the limits of town
as the willows rave in the asylum of Stewart Park.
The windows are rattling and the doors are banging
their pots and pans to keep the ghosts at bay
as the hard eyes of the rain sadistically whip my face
while the waters of the Tay froth like a troll throwing a tantrum
over the rocks under the Rainbow Bridge
that’s standing its ground like a harp in a rage.
Nocturnal greys with a tinge of infra-red in the clouds.
For anyone who likes to look up, it’s a night
to keep your eyes on the ground as I make my way
to Devil’s Rock, to watch the white mustangs
of the river run wild the way they used to drive
sheep through town a hundred years ago
before the coyotes and coydogs took their toll
and the vagrant hearts of the shepherds
found it a lot easier to go with the flow
by leading from behind with a couple of dogs
turning their flanks than I do tonight,
with a hemorrhaging heart in the eye of a hurricane rose
stirring the cauldrons of things up like the golden ratio
of galaxies and sunflowers thrown into the mix
like memories of better days at an exorcism.
Things torn away like children and lovers
caught in the turmoil and undertow of cosmic venting
that breaks the koan like a one-fingered wishbone
and achieves liberation followed by
the interminable solitude of going it alone
on a starless night out into the open fields
trashed by autumn after the harvest,
complicit with the storm, the pathetic fallacy
of the objective correlative that plunders my soul of adjectives
until all that’s left are these verbs gnawing at my bones
like a neolithic grammar of scarred calendars
and discarded manuscripts not worth another draft
with beautifully illustrated cave paintings
spit on the walls of my inaccessible skull
like shamanistic magic under a Hunter’s Moon
I can feel, even if I can’t see it, under this snarling
wolf-hide of clouds, from the inside out,
howling back in agony over the roadkill I’ve become.