Restless Particles (a Hallowe’en sestina variation)

Near the bottom of the street a crow’s nest
rests high in a linden. A loose stick tap-
tap-taps in the wind that oboes its moan
through October evening eaves. That wind wept
rain all day into the nest and through it
to fall on the house below, this construct

derived as a function of time, need, luck.
As to who entered here to pace or rest,
do we need or want to know? Decrepit,
dark-curtained, shuttered—the slouched roof a map
of rusty-green moss, with black feathers swept
into crevices—someone called it home.

Perhaps the roof’s topographical zones
code, by moss shades and heights, the secrets tucked
beneath, or the undreamed dreams that have slept
long among restless particles of dust
a sun might show if it could pry a gap
into shutters and curtains, rend and split

the dark within—if such dreams could permit
light and warmth to settle flesh around their bones.
No. Light could only show how shadows lap
with eager tongues from corners, into ducts,
leak damp cold to spread and pool around chests
of drawers where rings and locks of hair were kept.

The crows have flown the nest. And no one steps
beneath the linden. The dogs do not shit
where its leaves impress wet earth—faint, pale crests.
Only that stick moves here, a clock unowned
and wound by wind. It ticks on, ineluct-
able, the escapement is gravity’s trap.

You’ll stand in this west wind but never adapt
to the thought that people you’ve known have crept
away across night’s cryptic viaduct.

Posted in Art is lies, Autumn, Crows, Death, Epistemology, John MacKenzie, Lindens, New poems, Poem tweets, Poetry, Sestina, The Rain, The Wind, Time, Tropes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Now as the Larches

Even the asters
let their petals fade and fall,
succumbing to frost
now as the larches ignite
the thin flames of their needles.

Posted in Asters, Autumn, John MacKenzie, Larches, Micropoetry, New poems, Poetry, Tanka, Time | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pissing Contest

At the edge of the cape late in August,
with thoughts of autumn and school just starting
to curl about their ankles—as the first
thin, dark tendrils of the incoming tide
begin to lash around the rocks below—
two boys (still only the first loosely-tied
strands of memory time will stretch and knot
into the ragged nets we all become,
casting ourselves weighted with hope and doubt
in search of writhing gleams of certainty)
stand, shoulders swayed back to counter-balance
the thrust-forward hips sending golden arcs
hissing into emptiness. Their liquid
laughter, too, describes such parabolas.

Posted in Art is lies, Autumn, John MacKenzie, Mathematics, Memory, Neuroscience, New poems, Physics, Poem tweets, Poetry, Sonnet, South Shore, The Brain, The Sea, The Sky, Tide, Time | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Because this and that sperm and egg happened
to be reasonably compatible,
and the gestation period
passed without major complications,
and our conditions at birth allowed
each of us to continue breathing.

Because of random mishaps avoided
or not through decisions made by choice
or by default, depending upon
our degree of interest in the day.

Because whether or not we leave this earth
better or worse is mostly determined
by our attention to what we make;
the line’s flex, the brush stroke’s grasp of shadow.

Posted in Art is lies, Consciousness, Creativity, Epistemology, Evolution, John MacKenzie, Language, Memory, Neuroscience, New poems, Poem tweets, Poetics, Poetry, Process, Science, The Brain, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Grew Hungry

Sitting with you, I grew hungry
again—though not the way starved men,
weak, trembling with ravenous pangs,
hunger, gluttonous past reason—

my hunger was for the after-
table quiet when slow tongues taste
coffee, chocolate, blackberries
in their warm darkness, bitter-tinged.

Posted in Art is lies, Blackberries, John MacKenzie, New poems, Poem tweets, Poetry, Quatrains | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So Long

Today the gulls have come down
out of the north wind and sit
restlessly on the water
in the lee of the city.
Are you listening to them,
their sea of melancholy
voices as monotonous
as the waves? Why does their old
distress remain in their throats
so long, taste so fresh to them?
And who do I lament who
refills their eyes with winter,
this flock of minor poets
writing the poems I cannot?

Posted in Art is lies, Charlottetown, Gulls, Harbour, John MacKenzie, New poems, Poem tweets, Poetry, Sonnet, The Sea, The Sky, The Wind, Time, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Connaught Square

Who mourns these elms, diseased, inconsolate,
their long, undulant limbs dropping leaves
earlier each year, small disasters splitting
the rough bark of lesser branches, peeling it
away from the tips down, little by little,
while the wood begins to silver in the sun?

Don’t mourn the elms. They’ve stood long enough
here remembering the hangman. Every sedate
sway of their canopies in the wind recalls
pendulum creaks of weighted ropes swinging
slow and slower from the gallows. Don’t mourn
the elms that spring and autumn rains drape
in grey rags of bark. They and their memories
fall and lie together, white and tangled bones.

Posted in Art is lies, Autumn, Charlottetown, Dutch elm disease, Elms, John MacKenzie, Language, New poems, Poem tweets, Poetry, Social Commentary, Sonnet, Spring, The Rain, The Wind, Time, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments