Stones (3 May 1808)

IMG_0664 (2).JPG

Stones
(3 May 1808 AD)

stones once thrown
can never be brought back
nor words once spoken
nor the bullet
once released
from musket or gun

here lies who knows who
face down in the dust
shirt soaked in blood
body pierced with lead

nor water time nor love
can ever flow back
beneath that bridge

some kneel some pray
some raise their eyes
to uncaring skies
every one of them dies
shooters
those waiting to be shot

even the soldiers
reloading their guns
never understand
how time’s tide runs
ebbs and then flows
until everyone goes

this you
lying face down
on cobble stones
well know

 

Comment: 

The poem is drawn in part from the Goya painting of the shootings, El tres de mayo de 1808. The painting above is a close-up of Geoff Slater’s latest mural, still in progress, at Macadam Railway Station in New Brunswick. “If only the stones could speak, what stories they would tell.” This re-post was inspired by a visit to Seasons of the Witch on  Mr. Cake’s Cake or Death site with its images of Goya’s Black Paintings. So, we have a continuing Goya mini-Fest, May the Second and May the third.

Tongue-Tied

 

IMG_0679 (2).JPG

Tongue-Tied
(2 May 1808 AD)

bottle tops unscrewed
tighter than the tightest
oyster refusing to open
pointed knife and scissors

plastic this many layered
onion-skin’s pliant defiance
waging its guerrilla war
against arthritic fingers

words tongue-twisted
damning dark mouths
white picket fences
midnight the faces
lightning the teeth

felonious figures
grimy with grimaces
Mother Hubbard’s
cupboard empty hearts

robin redbreasts
battering heads wings legs
against stony cobbles
if only stones could speak
what stories they would tell
this city this sunny square
anywhere

img_0668-2.jpg

Comment:

El dos de mayo, 1808, marks the start of the Spanish War of Independence. The people of Madrid rose up against Napoleon’s Mamelukes and Goya painted that encounter in his Dos de Mayo. On the third of May, 1808, Goya also bore witness to the shootings when Napoleon’s troops took hostages and shot them. Two great and wonderful paintings which we can celebrate today and tomorrow. Also well worth a visit, today and tomorrow, is Mr. Cake’s Cake or Death site with his blog on Seasons of Witches and his introduction to Goya’s Black Paintings. Another site that merits serious attention is Geoff Slater’s art site.

Stones

IMG_0619 (2).JPG

Stones
(3 May 1808 AD)

stones once thrown
can never be brought back
nor words once spoken
nor the bullet
once released
from musket or gun

here lies who knows who
face down in the dust
shirt soaked in blood
body pierced with lead

nor water time nor love
can ever flow back
beneath that bridge

some kneel some pray
some raise their eyes
to uncaring skies
every one of them dies
shooters
those waiting to be shot

even the soldiers
reloading their guns
never understand
how time’s tides run
ebb and then flow
until everyone goes

this you
lying face down
well know

 

Nightmares

 

 

dsc03693

Nightmares
(1797 AD)

coming from nowhere
plucked from nothing
colored vowels
a child’s first alphabet

dark recesses
descending
invading
night’s starless
unenlightened mind

silent owls
flit in and out
predatory beaks
claws clutching
calling for skull
doors to open

sticky silk
this spider-spun
substance clutches
clings like plastic
gluing eyelids
shadowy lives
dance on walls
night’s drugged
dream cave

endless the gangplank
stretched over
troubled waters
reason’s dream
producing monsters
until dawn brings
its swift release

May Second

IMG_0228 (2)

May Second
(1808 AD)

bottle tops unscrewed
tighter than the tightest
oyster refusing to open
even at knife-point

plastic this many layered
onion-skin’s pliant defiance
waging its guerrilla war
against arthritic fingers

words tongue-twisted
damning dark mouths
white picket fences
midnight the faces
lightning the teeth

felonious figures
grimy with grimaces
Mother Hubbard’s
cupboard empty hearts

robin redbreasts
battering heads wings
against stony cobbles
this city this square

Were you the one … Flash Fiction

IMG_0240

Were you the one …

… were you the one who awoke that morning at my side and heard with me the hammer blow fall on an echoing anvil in Oaxaca, in the central square when the rope slipped off the church bell and the priest and an altar boy, an acolyte dressed in black and white with a nut brown face, climbed into the church tower and when the priest said “now” the little boy struck the hammer against the bell’s anvil and “again” said the priest, and “again” and the cracked church bell lurched into its hourly cry of grief and morning, seven blows on the anvil, and a stray dog barked at those domestic birds whose beaks dug deep for the sun at dawn on our neighbor’s rooftop …and a cockerel cried out in the early morning, “cock-a-doodle doo, wake up you sleepy heads, wake up, do,” and the roosters found daylight buried in parched earth, and brought it skyward shining on their beaks, as thin cracks sprang out from the egg-shell sun like crazy paving as the yellow yolk of sunshine crept out from the cobbles down in the street and the Russian egg cup, doll after doll, unfolded daylight as the hammer’s silver spoon descended once more on this frail, egg shell world as our dreams shattered … and where now are those dreams of moonlight raked from a village pond as the orange spilled its life-blood to fill our crystalline goblets with its thick rich morning liquid as fierce and sweet as sunshine sacrificed on a branch and rain from a far-off cloud speckled the tree outside our window with radiance and a thousand rainbows all held in tiny diamonds that balanced and swayed at the branch’s edge then trickled and fell to form freckling pools between the cobblestones and even there the arco iris was multiplied, again and again, a thousand times … and the restaurant next door, with its semi-circular rainbow scarf and below it a painted deer on a decrepit wall, and Cuauthemoc was here, his burnt feet held to the fire that burns within us all, and that mangled man was nothing more than a string quartet of flesh and bone created from a ball of dough and baked in the oven in an earthenware dish with currants for eyes, a raisin for a belly button, lemon rind for a mouth, orange peel for hair, while the white bones stared stark naked from the burnt-out flesh at the end of his perished feet … and the man in the mirrored moon held up his hand to trap the wind as a falling leaf settled in the secret web between index finger and thumb and the cat’s cradle on his fingers bound us together like birds in a spun metal cage … the sparrow’s mighty choir chirped at the roof of the circus tent and animals ran wild all goosey, goosey gander, up and down, and nowhere can I now find my lady or her chamber, for they have gone, and with them went all hope, and hope being lost I ran in circles on the sand, my one foot dragging me inwards, and drawing me closer, ever closer to the rising tide, as night overwhelmed day, and dark soldiers invaded the shadowed beach, and where, oh where, did my little dog go, the dog I lost when he chased a seagull out into the bay and into the quicksand and he never came home and here I am alone in my loneliness wandering like a lost dog in ever-decreasing circles, round and round the central square, without you now, one step, two steps, and who will now tickle me under the chin with a buttercup, and who knows if I’ll ever eat butter again, as the tide climbs higher and the sea grass on the dunes is smooth and brown and cuts like glass with its withered, distorting mirrors of stark, staring eyes standing out in welcoming doorways with dark hands and even darker voices calling me in, again and again “are you looking for love, my love?” and yes, I am, I do seek love, I have always sought it, but I have sought it out in the open street, in the open square, in the fresh air, or indoors, where incense and candles burn, and the sun of god is nailed to his lump of wood or chained to his pillar and the Roman soldiers raise their whips to their lips and their kiss is the kiss of death, and I still search for love and my long lost dog as black eyes penetrate from the blackest paint where Satanic witches spoon salt soup between wrinkled lips, dark open holes for their mouths, and their eyes gouged pits in slatted, wooden faces, and they hover over the deaf man’s table in La Quinta del Sordo or stand shoulder to shoulder with Adam and Eve next door in Hieronymus Bosch’s bourgeois hell of furnace, flame, and factory, where the hot flesh catches fire as the feet are turned to the flame and Cuauthemoc burns, the whole world burns, and my soul catches fire as factories swarm with sparks of black imps, burning, dropping from the skies like fire-flies tumbling in a satanic dance, falling away from the heavenly meadow, lighting a way to the skies and the devil, too, is lost and bewildered, a Guy Fawkes impaled on his wooden stake at the bonfire’s tip and it’s November the Fifth, and the whole world is full of spinning star-sparks burning their Van Gogh holes through the black velvet fabric of the dark night of my still-suffering soul …

Comment:
This is a re-write of what I posted earlier today. It is the same piece but it is slightly shorter, more polished, and better focused. It also now has a clearer narrative line with less jumping between metaphors and a cleaner, clearer sequence.

Desaparecidos

IMG_0137.jpg

Desaparecidos

Last year, in Fredericton Mall,
a mother lost her little girl.
They found her in the women’s washroom
where two old ladies were cutting off her hair
and dressing her in a young boy’s clothes.

Wanted in Winnipeg.
Vanished in Vancouver.
Cheap alliterations in tabloid headlines
disfigure each tragedy.

Sometimes we think we recognize their faces.
This young girl with an old woman’s body
standing at a Yorkville window.
That other girl on Yonge Street
selling her body for drugs.
That flash of underage flesh
mounted by strangers
and glimpsed in a pirate video.

Do you call for call girls when you travel?
That midnight knock on your hotel door
is someone’s missing daughter.
You saw her once before on an airport advert
or on the carton of milk you opened
for your family’s breakfast.

What traveling salesman would you trust
to take your only daughter’s body and treat it well
while she promised him the sexiest time
he would ever have?

But in Goya’s Spain
it’s the males who disappear
usually during the night.

Most times, their families never see them again.
Sometimes, as in this etching,
their bodies are found, nailed to a tree
or dumped in a side street with the garbage.