Recursions of Green (poems from old notebooks, January 2011)

There’s a poem where you step out
of a fountain’s column of water,
morning sun low behind you,

and the water stops as you leave it,
column branching in wide arcs
as lily stems below the flowers.

In that poem I have a cigarette
between my lips, a lighter in my hand
I am forever forgetting

in the liquid motion of your body
under thin, white linen,
in the music that follows you all day

among the ivory and gold and blue
geometries of the walls and courtyards
and arches and towers that echo

your laughter and each other
under the falcons and hawks
whose dance is choreographed

against the sky’s shifting blues
by the sweep of your hips,
the darts of your eyes.

It is a poem I have misplaced
somewhere amongst the dust and clutter
in a dark, neglected attic of my mind,

but I remember how you moved in it,
trailing, light as a Bernini veil in stone,
a spicy scent of oriental lilies

over green pools you looked into
as evening came, bent at the waist,
into the eyes of your reflection

holding recursions of green
pools holding you until your hair
fell over your eyes bringing night

and the moon was a white stone
falling into water.

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A Slice of Poetry

I had the great delight a while back to be one of the persons asked by Becka Viau to contribute a poem to @readingtownpei’s A Slice of Poetry project. I wrote a depressing little poem for it, which is being used. Photo and text below.

A Slice of Poetry

A Slice of Poetry is a pizza pie showcase of local poets John Mackenzie (Charlottetown) and Rick Sparks (Summerside).

Order a pizza for delivery or take-out from Dino’s Pizza in Charlottetown and enjoy!

It is part of @readingtownpei.

A Slice of Poetry

The Sound of the Toaster

After so many years
I wake slowly and listen
For your quiet cough in the kitchen,
For the whistle of the kettle,
And the sound of the toaster’s springs
Pushed down again to darken your toast.
As the hall floor creaks beneath me
I expect, briefly, to breathe in
The faintly menthol haze of your smokes;
It lingers, I’m sure, in the walls
And the ceilings under the layers
Of wallpaper and paint
Woven between the plaster and gyprock.
There is a ringing in my ears, like hammers.

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My Small Gasps

I don’t know what to tell you, Earth.
The grass grew all day.
The trees ached into the sky.
Occasionally a little rain would fall.

This seemed different from yesterday
Only in the times we woke and slept.
Did something change in the content of birdsong
Or in my small gasps at your touch?

The sun shines when it does. But these days,
The ice at the poles melts and flows.
And so the ocean currents grow cooler,
For now; and so coasts that once waited,
Languid, for their warm touch begin to turn
Away now, bright and cold with salt.

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In the Kitchen

Mornings you had milk in coffee.
On the radio, after the news
And weather, the self-consciously
Solemn voice of the announcer:
“Peacefully, at the Prince Edward
Hospital, aged 83 years,
Margaret McPherson,” say, or,
“Suddenly at his home, Pius
Gallant, aged 39 years; resting
At the Hennessey Funeral
Home, visiting hours Thursday
Two to four and seven to nine.
Funeral Friday, ten a.m.
Interment at the such and such
Cemetery. In lieu of flowers,
Donations to the United Way
Children’s Fund or Canadian
Cancer Society would be
Greatly appreciated.” And
You, head tilted slightly, eyes
Fixed somewhere in the middle distance,
A strand of hair straying down
Your cheek with its smudge of flour
From your wrist rubbing absently
Occasionally between flex
And curl of fingers kneading
And kneading, while the kitchen
Filled with the high scent of yeast.

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The Slow Lapping of Water

In the province of night
A parliament of whispers falls
Silent under the laughter of leaves
Slow-dancing with the south wind.

When the July moon burns
A hole in the eastern sky
Everything darkens—as a sheet chars
Around a fallen cigarette.

Do you remember now
How the tide moved? how the sand
Dampened to the slow lapping of water?
And everything tasted of salt?
Do you listen to the gulls, watch the cape
Crumple at each touch of the sea?

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Slants [for Emily D.]

Having said nothing all morning
Do we spread our hands on the table,
Palms down, the tea steaming between them,
Knowing no way to measure silence?

Truth has a certain downward slant
Slightly more like gray light falling
Through a December afternoon window
Than the path of a driven chisel.

Neither purposeful nor random,
It follows from antecedents,
The shape and lie of each against each;
As carbon molecules slip
And smear softly as graphite on paper,
Or stack to glint obdurate as diamond.

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From My Easy Chair

I hear the geese have been heard
Overhead again
Now winter’s hasty winds have slowed.

I hear the brittle teeth of ice
Break upon the shore,
Leave slumping dunes like sunken gums behind.

And out in Tracadie gulls gossip now
Above the shrinking harbour
Concerning tumultuous terns,

And each cries to the heavens daily
Over black masses
Of congregating cormorants.

When I have sat a little longer
I may take a walk out there
(Or maybe some other calls of nature
Might pry me arse from this goddamn chair).

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