An Island Mother’s Son (revision from August 2, 2013*)

When springtime winds and lilacs are entangled in their throes,
and while summer elms and lindens stretch out their limbs with groans,
you’ll see a man whose mother, back when he was green and slim,
fastened the ropes of her desire to root and branch of him.

His eyes are hungry sparrows flickering indecision
as he sits on corner benches glancing up at women
in silence (his tongue is tied down tight with memory—
the old cords constrain his jaws, keep his larynx empty).

He wipes his lips three times a minute, turns his face and spits
beside his feet; but there’s a taste never leaves his mouth, sits
just above his tonsils and leaks up into his nose,
keeps him doggedly bending his head to sniff at his clothes.

The city takes his benches in when fall winds begin to blow.
In the daily winter of his head grey-green lichen grows.


*Previous version here.

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Count Up the Things That’ll Always Be (The Entropy of Bitter Coffee, a country song)

It was long after midnight when I heard you knock
‘Cause you couldn’t get your goddamn key in the lock.
I didn’t say nothing when I let you in
But the coffee this morning’s as bitter as sin.

We met in the sunlight of those longest days
When young men and women wander bedazed
By moonrise and shadows, diamonds and rings,
Firm flesh, and promises of truth in all things.

Now we’ll stare out the window watching the crows
From a kitchen where silence continually grows,
Crystals of ice on a freezer’s shrinking walls,
Until sometime this evening when somebody calls.

We met in the sunlight of those longest days
When young men and women wander bedazed
By moonrise and shadows, diamonds and rings,
Firm flesh, and promises of truth in all things.

Count up the things that’ll always be—
There’ll be rivers running down to a sea,
Stars sending out their last lonely light
To crawl through desolate parsecs of night,
A moon swelling in wondering eyes,
And the black holes of your collapsing lies.

“They need me at work,” is what I’m guessing you’ll say,
Or “Somebody’s died.” Or “Someone’s home from away.
It’ll be a late one, so don’t you wait up.”
And you’ll stumble in mumbling and smelling like fuck.

We met in the sunlight of those longest days
When young men and women wander bedazed
By moonrise and shadows, diamonds and rings,
Firm flesh, and promises of truth in all things.

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Vanishing Point (Little Sands, PEI)

I was sent a fine, short, dark image the other day about stillness in Little Sands. It precipitated this poem since I have felt at the water that sort of stillness that seems both complete and empty at once. I think it springs from our predilection for assuming meaning in, and imputing intent to, everything, and I suspect it is where the eminently attractive and utterly mistaken concept of immanence came from. The poem then, I suppose, is an attempt to capture that feeling while recognizing that it comes from inside us, from our species’ pattern-and-meaning-seeking brain, rather than being a message written, or an entity lurking, in the gulls and the sea and the stars.

Vanishing Point (Little Sands, PEI)
for Carolyn McKibbin

The wind at its vanishing point between
Day and night leaves headland grasses still.

The early evening Strait stretches
Tight between its shores at high ebb.

Nothing moves now but rising smoke
From the cigarette you left burning.

White clumps of gulls wait for low tide’s
Mussels, dark clustered revelations.

The stars will rise tugging at the moon
And tides as they drift slowly apart.

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Behind the Dance of Moon

tonight you will
hear how the stars whisper
behind the dance of moon tangling

Posted in Astrophysics, Cinquain, Cosmology, Gravity, John MacKenzie, Language, Micropoetry, New poems, Poem tweets, Poetry, Science, Summer, The Moon, Tide, Time | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lists of Words We Have (poems from old notebooks, September 2008)

There are lists of words we have,
implacable, stained at their edges
with the dust of silk roads
to the distant yellows of forgotten linen,
the pale, dry stamens of saffron,
or the patinas of old ivory cue balls,
but gray at their centres
as sodden bone ash spilled behind a kiln
when the potter hurried to fire
a soft-paste porcelain pitcher
with an involute spout closed at the end
and tubular as the lumen of the brain stem
through which our word lists loop,
implacable as blood through
the open systems of vein and artery and gut,
across hours and years of hunger and deferral,
through the cerebellum, cerebral cortex,
amygdala and hippocampus
to become memories and wishes
and harden into habit.

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Another Night Done

Weaving home through crowds—
another night done in this
bagsticker July
below clouds like torn, piss-stained
sheets under the turnt up moon

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Where Prime Ministers and Other Pricks

I am, it turns out, a misanthrope,
And, though I don’t wish you all a rope
Around the neck with a lovely knot
Tucked behind the ear, I’ve often thought
A scaffold—black with ravens and crows,
Where a white dancer dangles his toes,
Percussion knock knock knocking in his knees
While he jangles his bones on the evening breeze—
Should stand on a hill above broken bricks
Tumbled in strews down towards a strand
Where prime ministers and other pricks
Are buried up to their chins in sand
As a spring tide rolls in, cold and green,
And the rising moon finds me still, serene.

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