Marshall MacLuhan

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Marshall McLuhan

Black ants drip off my pen.
They crawl across my journal
organizing themselves
into marching battalions.

It doesn’t matter what each ant
weighs or means. What counts
is the accumulated weight
of all those ants. Just twenty-

-six of them: that’s all it takes,
as they divide and multiply,
shuffle their feet, form and reform.
All this jazz about medium

and message is meaningless
when internal organs start to fight
and the body’s civil war
tears me into tiny pieces

that the ants seek out,
reshape, rebuild,
and reconstruct into
new and relevant meaning.

Blind

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Blind

Warmth in a color,
with heat visible to the touch
and shocking pink a shock
to seeking fingers,
not one that you and I,
gifted with sight,
would ever understand.

Blindfolded, they wheel me
round and round the garden
in my teddy bear reality.
Gravel scrunches beneath
the wheels and I am flooded
with the inability to see, to know,
to be sure of the shadows
that are no longer there.

The ones who push me
talk and tell but cannot show.
How could they hold a rainbow
before my eyes or let me hear
the northern lights crackle the sky,
their visible Niagara a curtain
of fairy lights dancing up and down?

And those glorious organ notes
quivering the body, angel voices rising,
falling, grasping at my eye-
lashes, peeling my eye-lids apart.

Song of songs and the singer
deaf to his own sublimity,
oh dealer of cards, fingerless
pianist, bold dancer prancing
on your amputated stumps.

Comment: Raw poem, written for Gwen Martin who opened my eyes to the fact that blind people can perceive color through their finger-tips.

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.

Raccoon

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Raccoon

Two footprints on the dew damp chair
show that he has been here.

We know he visits at night.
The cat wakes up, jumps off the bed,
leaps to the window, and hisses.
Then she falls silent.

The raccoon steals food from the feeder
and shuffles the pottery shards
we leave out to gather water for the birds.

We never see him.
Sometimes we hear him grunt;
occasionally the wind chimes rattle furiously
as if caught by a giant gust..

We peer into the dark,
turn on the outside lights,
but his absence greets us
like a long lost friend.

Last night, nothing:
this morning, an empty feeder,
those footmark in the dew on the chair:
we know he was there.

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.

Brandy Cove

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Brandy Cove

for my cousin
Frances
who lives in
Australia

I remember helping our nana
climb the steep slope
from the beach to the headland.

“It’s easy, nana,” I said. “Look!”
I leaped from tussock to tussock,
up the path, each patch of grass
a stepping stone leading me upwards.

She stood there, below me,
breathing hard, her left hand
held against her chest,
just beneath her heart.

“I’m catching my breath,”
she said, panting.

I ran up and down, then held out
my hand to help her.

It was so long ago.
Who now will hold out
her hand to help me
as I too age and grow
slow?