Saturday, November 9, 2013



You know what a sea of poems is leaking out of me,
maybe it’s a hemorrhage, or the road’s just flooded out by the beavers
for every raindrop I can catch with my tongue?
Blackberries are saturating a butcher’s apron
like my mother’s wound I’m bleeding for inside.
Carried it all my life like legal scar tissue
I hid like a switchblade in my boot. What happened?
Did we live through it or is this just the black box
of the wreck? I wanted nightingales for you
but the creeping finality of this conversation is just going to have to do.
Like everything else. Demolition rainbows. Isn’t that a clever thing
for your smart ass literary son to say? Cause it hurts
so bad I don’t know what else to do. What do I do, Mum?
It seems I’m a sixty-five year old man with cancer.
What other patinas of time can I hide behind like a Parliament Hill
copper roof trying to green the bloodstains away
as if they weren’t ripe enough to eat yet? Bitter pills.

Are you still sawing flower pots out of plywood
for the umbilical cords of the yellow roses
to cover those shabby brown shingles of a house
coiled like a brown snake in its scales on your pillow back
in that secret garden you kept stashed away in your mind
like Eden in Stanthorpe? Or was it a refugee camp
I used to watch you sneak back into through
a hole in the fence, and I never asked to come. Not once.
They were your blackberries. Your jewellery box.
Or all those Evening in Paris perfume bottles I used to bring you
for a day that never came, stuffed away in blue steamer trunks
like amphorae at the bottom of a classical shipwrecked cemetery?

Were you trying to strangle it in the womb with a noose around its neck?
Were you trying to make a snake bloom? You can’t
train snakes to bite other people, but you already know that.
The equanimity of your silence condemns me, how ancient it is,
like a sphinx at a lion gate of Sekhmet whose
been looking at things a long time now, come and go,
like life and sons and landlords, social workers, cops,
ambulance staff with mobile emergency signs
screaming like banshees back to the hospital
you just came from to have your thyroid out
when the scalpels slashed you across the throat
like a big, happy face with stitches. Me, I’ve got
tumours with diaper rash. Remember the blackberries
where the beer bottles were buried in the Sikh woodlots
oceans of wood away we sailed like wood pile pirates once
among the deflated liferafts of the used condoms?
And laugh about it, didn’t we? At how
we had to survive like Roumanian Roma in Europe,
laugh at ourselves like Picasso’s Les Saltimbanques,
forlorn, but sometimes we were, weren’t we,
we were, we were, gleeful and together for awhile
just to have gotten away with it? Forget about the hampers.
Any well trained mutt can learn to appreciate dogfood.

I wanted poetry for you. That’s why I never wrote a novel,
unless you asked me to. Wrote two and stuck them in drawer
to give back to the church so we didn’t owe them our souls
like any other debt collector at the door with his big, red paintbrush,
and the letter X. Rejects. Plague year. 1348.

Enough of that. More to come. Give it a break.
Thanks for all the loggers knees you ever sat on
for milk for me. Thanks for not letting me go
when you had a chance to. Thanks for snarling
in the face of pandering reasonableness while
you were giving suck to Rome. Thanks for
turning the fury of a bitch wolf loose on the Sunday school teacher
who stabbed me in the back with a pitchfork
for staring at him while he weeded the garden
through the third eye of a knot in the fence
that turned out to be a black hole into the heart
of a man who thought he was good, but wasn’t much
of an example. Seig heil. Onward Christian soldiers
marching on. That’s mean. The damage done at Nuremburg.
Thanks for the cool new clothes you bought me
in grade ten when I started school again. I know what that cost.

Can you still understand me, Mum, or do I still have a way
of standing things on their head like an hourglass
timing cosmic eggs? I want to be clear with you, so clear.
No more blood eagles as if I were a Viking or something
playing with lungs. I want to fold you in my arms
and just cry. Just cry. As if we were still sitting at the kitchen table.
Cry for all the agony and pain of what it takes
to be human here with twenty five bottles
of Evening Perfume in a blue steamer trunk in the basement.
Hope chest. Birthday cake with a file in it. You got
any clean sheets among all those mothballs in there
I can borrow for my next attempt at circumnavigating
membraneous hyperspace like the Magellanic Clouds?
I want to be close as a ghost of a son to you as I can be
with a southern cross, because you lived there once
and to hear you tell it, when I looked deeply into your face,
it made you happy. And God, that’s all there is,
or ever will be. Blackberries here and mangoes and magpies there.
The silliness of a son trying to tell his mother he loves her.
Let’s not say folly for a change. I’m sick of wisdom. Time for a pill.


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