Today, for you, for National Poetry Month, I give you a couple of poems: a couple of pages from Fast Commute, plus a thing I wrote one spring or fall not so long ago, largely to myself, about how breakneck things get in the spring and the fall, when the work, the myriad work, is always most intense and I start to get a little shall we say spiritually whingy.
And I must share this news, for it is so relieving—further to my post about my aunt Heather: a place has come available for her, close by, beside the water, with people there who know well her disease and how to meet it, and next week I’ll move her there and celebrate the end of two and a half very trying years. She’s got a challenge ahead of her, but she’ll be so well supported through it. And hey, if you’ve heard any new jokes lately, wing ’em over and I’ll tell them to her on our road trip. I think she’s responding especially to the shape of a joke these days. Question? Punchline. Laughter!
Finally, two quick plugs: the next issue of Brick will be out in about a month’s time, and if you haven’t yet and have been wanting to, you ought to subscribe. I can’t put my finger on it, but together all the contributors in this issue are articulating something of the vertigo, the uncertainty, the murkiness, the fraught nature of the present moment. It has been enlivening to read closely and re-read their work these past months.
And secondly, if you’re still looking to buy a signed copy of Fast Commute, please do send me a note and I’ll put one in the mail.
Earworm That song’s been in your head for weeks, the spiralling cadence you can no longer isolate from your own gaunt thoughts. You can just glimpse your pattern, its exacting toll, conjuring something, any beautiful thing, any object, any adulation, any cadence fully embodied, to hold aloft, glom onto, throw yourself onto, as on a bomb, to ensure those you love aren’t subject to this vital breaking down that needs time and aloneness to repair, starting at the centre, working outward. The dishwater of days, the sheerness of the cliff rising up before you, the impossible load heaped upon you, everything extracted, everything impossible, the pathetic compensatory model, what that model exacts, how to carry these people you care about through to the other side, these people who need you. If we can just vacate this dishwater, your chemicals postulate, and climb into that right there, the four to the one, that flawless chord progression, that resolution both simple and fraught, that held root, if we can just broadcast the tenor of this burden onto that structure, sing that song to ourselves for three, four, six weeks straight, make of it a mantra, then maybe, just maybe, we’ll be freed. The last thing you want to do is act. You want to be swept away. From Fast Commute Paint smudge. Shoeprints through a spill of yellow locust leaves. Overhead, the jagged edges of a different leaf, larger, still green. Forgetful of shape, pattern, name—English name or Latin name— all I do is look at them, passive as television, only reach out my hand when they’re ailing or brightly hued. Cars on the overpass, a drum with no beat, just frequency, spraying detritus over the barricades, each stroke presumed individual. The freeway held above the neighbourhood like a trophy. Small yellow leaves swarming in side-road gusts. Vegetable gardens beside a church, fences around the died-back. Landscape fabric and stained mulch. The grass saturated, the grass torn away along the artery, dandelion, clover, marigold reflowering in approaching frost. The slough we pass on the way to the liquor store. A juniper grey with berries, flashing with waxwings. A rush of wind through squat maple as the temperature drops swiftly. All the while, engines along the raised vein. Walking the sidewalks of an old suburb I do not know, googling how to make pysanky dye out of all these black walnuts, sidewalks on one side of the street, a childhood jack-o'-lantern neighbourhood, the clouds frightening and rapid, low and sudden, tall branches whipping, cars profuse along the thoroughfare, a drone that forms in the south maybe, the on-ramps— how the ear must have it start somewhere— behind structures of cinder-block, behind exploding scarlet Virginia creeper, exploding terrier on a rope in a yard, no beginning or ceasing, the wildness right up to the wall with its shitty graffiti and holes cut for firehoses at points blanked out by the flashing sides of trucks. The angles of the roofs, the rain barrels, flower beds, fertilizer spreaders. These versions of where I come from. Knowledge of home in danger of becoming academic. An empty can of energy drink under a sugar maple. A black squirrel crossing critical thresholds: roadwall, greenstrip, chainlink, trail, wooden fence, property. Ubiquity of Tims cups. Buckthorn. Creeper. Confetti of locust leaves reanimated by SUVs through the subdivision. The bright yellow mush trails to nothing as the rain picks up again, falls sideways.