Under the Underworld

Music’s dark window,
left open by another, long ago
slowly fills with light,
with magical thinking animals,
(beyond my wish to draw them close)
and a monk muttering nonsensical spells.

Some say settle for the winter,
let years go incomplete while you read Rilke
thousands of miles from problems.
Becoming gently cosmic,
my neighbours hear Africa for a few moments,
touch millions of years ago on screens.

What can you learn
by pushing a single button,
at the end of the process.

The factory workers fill with silicate,
the boss a single-cell suit,
catwalk diatoms making a white earth.

Totally pure, white-clad stores
buy workers at Ace Hardware
to combat a too-kind boss.

Smooth black humans
watch ceremonial robots put together
precise atomic components.

Troubled into tiny packets,
thoughts in me keep dry on the journey,
the tiny harmless ants that plague me.

I wish I were not the plague.
It’s the ultimate, white-person’s time
to go live in a cave and
ask the ancient philosopher.

Beautiful people make do in a darkened basement.

In the uncountable moments,
with sleepwalking followers’ words,
indifferent to indifference,
they scroll the screen
looking into their broken future.
Now all nows are about death

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afterwords

for Patrick Lane

poems are/ what we die with…

your weathered body
smelling of earth
unwashed still
lips sealed
new lines
yet unwritten
salt on the tongue

not the knot known
but the not knowing
an I after the I
a wound that speaks
an ongoing guess
of what best to do
that next step
inside your own boots

you stood with the other
wrote no paeans of praise
only thanks for not yet dying
speech like bread on the table
bade us breath the same air
bones for punctuation
a cot in a cold house
your troubled oats
flesh no more free
than each syllable
or counted line

crows interrupt
wounds go unhealed
rays of light die

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Horatian Ode after the State of the Union Address (02/05/2019)

you dress the idea of your importance in perennial regalia
you situate yourself as the highest star in the cluster
neither leader nor equal but impotent in the usual paraphernalia
you’re under the control of the direst forgers of bluster

pontificating tacit equanimity you attempt to hold us with honey
were you wounded by your own unruly and unfaithful family?
you found your mentor by listening for the sound of money
restored to fragile wealth by the potent balm of popularity

as principled as a bird; no accommodation is your strategy
seduction in dress-up; your speech winds down in empty phrases
when not clapping your people fear it’s their own elegy
while sisters of suffrage shine more brightly than false praises

the arrow of time points at our planet’s own apogee
we can’t guide ourselves by the scandal of your superlatives
indifferent tides of unknowns are as inscrutable as a syzygy
infinity takes away the laurels; tragedy ensues in the derivatives

 

syzygy: an alignment of three celestial objects
after Ode iii. XXX by Horace and The Seven Sisters by Marshall Hryciuk

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wild apples

I want to burn your Ontario to the ground

the one built on fear
whether it’s coloured red or blue

I want exorcisms

I want them to stop aping the Republic

there are no proofs for what I say
except that your children are prisoners
walking home from school in despair

am I a child?
do I listen to the wind?

Is your heart like a small chestnut
stored by a squirrel in Queen’s Park?

je suis désolé

I see your leaders infected by the American disease

their lack of poetry assails me
my ears shattered
by blaming and avoidance and
their telltale speech errors

we live to sanctify the moment
accept that we’re part of
nature itself

simplify simplify

yet they want more
more security more procrastination

we need to resist to persevere

looking for wild apples in this grand orchard
under no one’s ownership

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The Czar’s Mangled Blather

(to the tune of The Star-Spangled Banner)

 

Oh, say can’t you see by this dawn’s squirrelly light

How so proudly we bailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

Our broad gripes and white scars threw the querulous fight,

As the spam darts we watched were so boorishly streaming?

And the POTUS’s red glare, F-bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that a gag was not there.

Oh, say does that star-spangled blather yet rave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the crave?

 

Off our shores, dimly seen by the mysterious Veep,

Where the foe’s naughty hosts, in dread silence reposes,

While the Russians with ease, o’er our powers creep,

POTUS fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses.

Now we’re catching the steam from the morning’s first scheme,

In full glory reflecting how malign is his dream:

‘Tis bizarre mangled blather!  Oh long may we stave

Off the bland old decrees and the foam of that knave!

 

And where is that man who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,

Our homes and our country should suffer no more!

More bodies wash in with the foul sea’s pollution.

No refuge to save the young and the frail

From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the jail.

And the czar’s mangled blather with fresh dung does rave

In the land of the free and the home of the brave!

 

Oh! this will be ever, unless we all stand

Between our belov’d homes and war’s desolation!

Bless the victory of peace, on forgiv’n, restored land

Not money and power that sever an unequal nation.

Then change it we must, for our cause it is just,

Then choose for our motto, “No fraud do we trust.”

And the czars’ mangled blather in a bumph-like wave

Ebbs from the land of the free and the home of the brave!

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Confession

Just one time, in a friendly way with this sweet woman,
her arm in your arm, no brassy politics,
apply yourself with tenderness to the memory of your own fears
solemnly, like a river at night,
it’s late but try anyway, there’s no medal, or even a job
we know you’re full of tears
we’re not asleep, we’re restless for the truth.

We didn’t sit on our porches waiting for you to grow up,
you moved like a furtive cat, your ear to the door,
while we were watching the clouds, not you.
There’ll be no coup, no ultimate liberty, no crystal clarity.
From your chair, no rich and sonorous voice only a painful squeak
captive, plaintive, then combative
no guilt, no remorse, only sounding brass, tinkling cymbals
like a chastised child, somber and immobile
having to face his family.

Your certainties are a long shot
you’re caught in the eye of the world
secrets no longer hidden in the past.
‘Poor Angel’ some sing, your pardoners’ charade
‘There’s nothing here, nothing certain, we’ll take care of you.’

Betrayed by your own ego, not a beautiful woman,
one you tried to turn banal,
now you dance to a fool’s tune:
his forced handshake
and maniacal smile.
He breaks our hearts and soils everything
with rhetoric of scorning then forgetting
no enchantment, no longing
no thoughtful love
only con games, whispers, and then silence.
There will be no confession.

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Angry Cries

Fans spread out their arms
and wave continuously,
trying to disperse
the shadows that dance,
twirling and tapping
in the orchard of broken trees,
their hands pulling at each other,
at the wind.
Their fists pump the air
the clouds storming,
screaming above them.
A tornado of black wings
and feather kings
(tap tap-tap tap-tap).
Fall asleep in the breeze.
Flaming eyes,
sea-worthy bees.
All listen to the shadows cries.

Lina Curry

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Teleprompter

on the eve of high winds
sometimes several shredding the now
all of us seeking shelter
the leader’s lack of tone
dimming the lights
debt narrowing us all
millions of souls without roofs
disaster voyeurs chasing storms
hurricanes signifying the end of ease
even the elite without safe windows
there are no quiet rivers

who are the era’s saviours?

I vow to signify
to put a roof on in the void

from Lina Curry’s backwards writing of: ‘My mind not only wanders it sometimes leaves completely.’ and ‘You fight for the things you think are worthwhile, and you eventually lose the things you take for granted.’

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rain-swept

finny atoms, shivering as I write, and trumpets in the bones
endorsing the season, taking aim and then missing
damp desire, antsy anticipation at the core
my town car vandalized by crows

bleak drama of summer chill
playing a slow gyre in black tights
my better self keeping time with the tides
as the water rises I open my crow-like wings

rain no longer sweet, you’d choose this weather for a funeral
and invite those distant cousins whom you never liked
how can we rein in the climate, this bastard season

permanently pale at the wrong time of year
if nothing else the night still has phases of the moon
two by two we sleep through other people’s emergencies

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Shadows of Hiroshima

you lie down in the artist’s trance
translating your selves onto pavement
assuming annihilation

with coloured chalk
you vaporize yourselves
leaving reminders for the dawn

sidewalks strewn with auras
around the disappeared

two-dimensional ghosts
prostrate before invisible firestorms

mundane activity obliterated
for a pantheon of shadows

the lost child
the short walk
the blasted briefcase

the muted dove in pieces

clouds of radon
around a vanishing fraction

this one went around the corner and
never was seen again

here she held the child’s hand
as they stepped out the door
into a subatomic future

this one ran off to a school
that no longer exists

here is the gesture of
someone departing on a train
that will never arrive

this is the trail of a runner
who lost the race

she stared too long

he left only his choreography

you transform yourselves into emblems

your bodies circumscribed

you make yourselves a mystery
but you are not yet gone

you come back the next day
and your shadows have been washed away with the rain

The Shadow Project refers to the description of what happened when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. According to Helen Caldicott, MD, “Because the human body is composed mostly of water, it turns into gas when exposed to thousands of degrees Celsius. When the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945… there was a blinding flash, and [a little boy reaching to catch a red dragonfly] disappeared leaving only the shadow of his body on the pavement behind him.” The Shadow Project attempts to replicate this powerful image in order to remind the public of the horrors of a nuclear war.

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