Geese

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Geese

The arrowhead precedes its shaft and leads its feathers into night’s perfection. Summer catches flight and waves good-bye to Arcturus as an obsidian knife flashes black lightning across the icy threshold of a morbid sky. Darkness, swift and sudden, blots out each scattered scat of golden grain and swallows an iris of stars. Inverted, the Big Dipper hangs its question mark from the sky’s dark eyelid.

When daylight breaks cold sunshine over broken ground, the great white geese lay their burdens down by the riverside. Pristine as they drift to the land, flake by fluttering flake, they accumulate the colors of mud daub and anonymity as they grub food from the neat ploughed fields that march their earthen armies across the land. Fallen angels, they sprawl down from heaven and abandon eternity to adopt their waddling time-and-earthbound shapes.

Now, the afternoon gropes steadily to night. Some people have built fires; others read by candlelight. Geese litter the riverbanks with their mud-stained snowdrifts. Freshet mud besmirches them — or is it the black of midnight’s swift advance? The geese step on thin ice at civilization’s edge. Around them, the universe’s clock ticks slowly down. Who forced that scream through the needle’s eye? Night gathers its darkening robes and the seabed reaches its watery arms out towards a magnified moon.

Ghosts of departed constellations drown in the river. Pale planets scythed by moonlight bob phosphorescent on the flood. I walk on the beach sensing the flesh that bonds, the bones that scarcely bind, the shoulders and waist on which I hang my clothes. Now I stand nameless in a shimmer of moonlight and listen at the water’s edge to the whispering night. I catch the mutterings of snowflakes strung between the stars.

My dream stretches out a long, thin hand and clasps bright treasures in its tight-clenched fist. The moon hones its cutting edge into an ice-thin blade and the lone dove of my heart flaps in its trap of barren bone. Moonlight and starlight run their twin liquors, raw, within me. What will I bury beneath this year’s fallen leaves?

Absence

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Absence

I left my father lying there
unable to look him in the eye;
I was his only living child,
but I never flew back to say goodbye.

My absence tore apart my heart.
I couldn’t face a hotel room,
no house, no friends, no family,
in the town I once called home.

I remembered my dad for a little while,
but then his face just fled.
Now I seek his smile in this photo,
but his eyes fill me with dread.

No life, no light, no focus,
nothing that I recall;
I look at him quite helplessly:
but he can’t see me at all.

 

The Return

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The Return

I opened the car door
and he ran across the parking lot
and jumped into the back seat.

“Where have you been?” I asked.
He thumped his great tail, sniffed,
and licked the hand I placed on his shadowy head.

As we drove back home, he thrust his head
between the seats and placed his paw upon my shoulder.
Then he licked my ear and the side of my face.

I pulled into the garage and let him out of the car.
He raced to the end of the drive, surveyed the neighborhood,
and drilled an invisible pee into the snow.

I whistled, and he ran back to the door,
whimpering and scratching, impatient.
I held the door open and he bounded in.
“You’re back home now,” I told him.

He ran to the cat’s bowl and lapped some water,
scoffed her kibble, and lay down in his usual place.

At night, he lies beside me in bed,
a fluffy spoon carved into my body’s curve.
In the morning he walks through the kitchen
and doesn’t make a sound.
The cat senses he’s there and bristles and hisses
at rainbow motes dancing in the sun.

He’s sitting beside me now,
head on my knee, as I type these words,
one-handed, because I’m scratching him
in his favorite spot behind the ear.

Vixen

 

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Vixen

Meductic,
New Brunswick.

She climbs up from the head pond
a ripple of red and orange over the highway.

 As quick as a fox, they say:
black socks, brush winter-thick
held high and proud,
as quick as a shadow
melting into dark woods
on the highway’s far side.

She is followed by her cub
who is not quite as quick.
He is struck by a truck
and ground into the gravel.

 The fox-stink of memory
clings to my nostrils
like slow-motion death
dreamed at night
frame by bitter frame
.

 Now a night-time of silence
falls from the lips of fading lovers.

Full Moon Fading

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Full Moon Fading

Full Moon fading outside my window
still draws up water, attracts high tides,
drags the wolves by their drawstrings
struggling, bedraggled, out of my chest.
Soon to be invisible, they clutch and claw
as they climb the moon path’s golden light.

The piper has paid his rent and packed
up his pipes, leaving me at last alone.
A silence rules my lungs. Five deer stand
silent in the woods beneath my window
and I watch them as they watch the piper go.

My body’s house lies drained and empty.
The Fading Moon flushed out my body,
leaving it high and dry like a great white whale
abandoned, breathless, on a summer shore.

It’s all over now, the cough, the splutter,
the sharp reality, the aches and pains
that told me I was alive. I miss my music.
I miss the swish and roar of my incoming,
outgoing breath. I miss those Full Moon
fingers tinkling the tides of my inner being,
making me strive to keep myself alive.

Sun and Moon 2

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Sun and Moon 2

Eagle paints my eyes with daylight.
He offers to fly me to the sky.
His feathers trap sunshine in his pinions.
Morning is a rebozo draped over his plumage.

“My mother is blind,” says Eagle.
“Her sight: cold ashes in the fireplace.
Stripped of her dreams,
she wanders in darkness.
You must give her
the fire from your eyes!”

Tiger offers to carry me to the sky.
Flame speckles his pelt.
His eyes are two scorched blocks of charcoal.
“I will break the bread of your bones,” says Tiger,
“and warm myself on the fire of your blood!”

Serpent offers to bear me to the sky.
His scales are shards of emerald and ruby.
His serpent’s blood runs cold through his veins.
He weighs me in the twin dice of his eyes.

“Where I lead you must follow,” Serpent says.
“There is no other price.”

 

Comment: Here as promised are the words to yesterday’s song as composed and sung by my good friend Cat Leblanc. This is the second stanza from the ten poem title sequence of Sun and Moon. Here is the link.

Pony

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Pony

for Jude
(and the WYPOD)

“A pony, a pony, my kingdom for…” Of course,
he didn’t want a pony. He was losing the battle
and the kingdom’s sceptre is not a baby’s rattle
to be tossed aside, even for the fastest horse.

Ponies and palfreys are not for kings. A princess
may ride a pony, and a side saddle, fit for a queen,
may grace a horse’s back, but a horse between
a princess’ legs is crass. How cramped the dress,

how wrinkled the nobleman’s brow seeing
his daughter, his wife, the female of the breed
straddling, legs apart, a broad-backed steed.

No: ponies are for Christmas, not for kings fleeing.
A horse, then, hung with bells, covered in red:
not with ribbons, but the old king, flayed and dead.