Updated: Feb 12
11) no sound from the bay. no violence
Hear power saws as I cross the tracks. Two men building a deck.
My uncle lost several fingers to a saw. Had to pick them up in a towel.
Drove himself to the hospital because my aunt kept passing out.
i was a child and called the stubs sore pings
“Where did you get the eggs?” asked the woman with the big teeth.
“At the llama farm,” I said, heading for more with two empty cartons.
“I didn’t realize they had them this time of year,” she said.
the chickens never stop, i say
Her Labradoodle approaches. Are there ever a lot of them these days.
Seems friendly but recoils when I submit my hand for smelling.
Does he sense the cancer?
he is staring at me when i look back about a block on
I have been compelled lately to pick up litter otherwise bound for the ocean.
I put a coffee lid in my pocket and then reflect that it might have plague droplets.
Resolve to stop picking up butts and plastic caps unless I’m wearing gloves.
cat races up from the tracks, arches its back when it sees me
Does she sense the cancer?
I look back a block on and do not see the cat.
There are snowdrops growing along the road into the llama farm.
they have their own waterfall
I don’t see any chickens but the llamas are staring at me.
Push two quarters and a fiver into the slot for a fresh carton of eggs.
On the way home a passing man suddenly starts whistling, tunelessly.
i had been thinking about the expression “whistling past the graveyard”
A little girl is jumping with a pink skipping rope in her driveway. She turns to look at me like it’s 1956.
A block on, I don’t look back.
i liked it better when there were just a caribou and the queen on quarters
We had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to heaven,
we were all going direct the other way.
whenever I awoke during the night and remembered
Waiting, afire, what name, unspoke,
tell me, what is it I planned to do
with my one wild and precious life?
softly, softly, you’ll wake the clams
Waves: Motionless feet and swaying legs.
Undulant shreds in plough furrows gleaming faintly
in the grey light like the bars of a prone and enormous grating.
the mist which is god
Waves grasping at ontological pommels with one hand.
Dimensionless coefficients: ratios of sines and cosines to coils of fog.
Frayed ropes of access ladders, dangling and slapping from the holy grid.
the same worthless tideless quay cooling in the last crimson evening
Waves: Asbestos-covered elbows, pipes, gauges, tanks, valve-wheels.
The bamboo-and-paper punkah swinging above infinite possible shapes.
A skylight of yellow panes, toy towns and vanity fairs, many of them fallen out.
and the devil will drag you under by the sharp lapel of your checkered coat
Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white.
In the ocean are many bright strands.
Seething turmoil of ejaculation tumescence conception and birth.
the curled-up knees of jesus on a spent and satiate beach.
12) what is the number of my days?
Waves flattened, framed, fitted. Skin growing ever slacker,
free-lancing out along the razor’s edge.
The girls passing with their satchels.
back bent head sunk animals know
Waves: The heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating of dark habits.
The wild hair of waterfalls combed straight.
That fever of oscillations where the savour lies, invisible to the eye.
but I still don’t hold with toads having beards and wigs
Wave: An antic shadow cast by a lamp by the bed.
A blinking message link.
Murmurs of surf or the throbbing of waiting trucks.
a hiss in the harsh salt grass of an unkempt lot
The untried and unsupportive space where no shore is visible.
Stagnant air impregnated with the smell
of sugar and bananas and hemp from the docks.
humans in animal skins
Waves: Girls out to catch some sun in two-piece swimsuits and Garbo shades.
Oneiric ascetics, Viennese analysts, American evangelists and ostrich fans.
No trace of the graves anymore.
though I sang in my chains like the sea
Vagues: Lorsque Nana levait les bras, on apercevait,
aux feux de la rampe, les poils d’or de ses aisselles.
Et certains sont devenus mystiques, et certains sont devenus fous.
as the seams hissed
13) a frothy scum and a flotsam of twigs
Waves: An iron fence with scrolled spear-tipped panels
set in pallid reflections in mirrors on dressers and sideboards.
Reflections rising to meet the falling ones until they touch
and rock a little, not quite closing
Waves: Interstitial overlappings between the worlds
woven into the skein of human history.
Ruffled chintz on the table at the Paper Museum.
liquid soliloquies in a tedious play
Waves: The language of tap water.
The slapping of innumerable screen doors.
Fragments of a great confession.
dark shapeless objects drifting with the tide
Waves: Clonic convulsions of lunchboxes wobbling on bicycle handlebars.
Comatic refractions of stock-still herons fishing in turquoise, tropical lagoons.
Jerking arcs of broken wipers and spidered windshields in head-on collisions.
(we hate to rush you, but the horse trough is waiting)
Whitecaps slamming in out of the ragbag of the dark, breaking high over the bow.
Waves threading galley portholes, sliding past louvres and Cadillac fins.
Draping over gunwales in dirndls and white knee-socks in the edgeland mist.
pigeons and seagulls feinting for scraps in the gutters
Waves: Each horse in turn lying prone in the shallows, panting and trembling,
its eyes rolling in the dusk, until the same weightless hand and unraised voice gathers it surging upward, splashing and thrashing on the bank.
unruly clumps of seaborne cells that sense and signal and act
Algal-mulmed, sleep-raddled eyes expressing expressionlessness,
peaceful and unfathomable and unbearable, past booms and masts and strung tackle of derricks, I’m running between the raindrops to you.
a dumb blankness, full of meaning, martyr to a motion not my own
There are more boats than I believed existed,
a maritime race of which I also had no cognizance,
many solitary figures out on heaths, and roads, and lying under haystacks.
the creaky steps of old deaf Mrs. Gimber in her bedroom upstairs
14) waves: the march of a retreating world
Waves: Sexual congress in the missionary posture.
A crowd moving without murmurs or coughing down corridors
straight and functional as warehouse aisles.
banging so often the green doors with boneless fists in dreams
Thus star to dead leaf speaks, thus cliff to sea.
For slow and slow that ship will go,
when the mariner’s trace is abated.
gracchus again on the horizon
A little turn at evening to the seashore seawards
then back drop sleep wake in the silence eyes that dare stay open
live old dream on crabs kelp solipsism index of immortality.
make me young, make me young, make me young
One would think the deep to be hoary.
Yet the tins rattled like castanets
and under me convulsed the mud.
wrecks pass without the sound of bells
The sea lifts, also, reliquary hands.
From black embankments, moveless soundings hailed.
Not the sad edge of surf but the sound of no shore.
in their jars the snail-nosed babies moon and glow
The sea whisper’d me.
The awakening blue and yellow of singing phosphorescence.
The bay estuaries fleck the hard sky limits.
still one shore beyond desire
15) but you are, blanche. you are in that chair!
Waves matching in inverse ratio the accumulating days.
A cat with an arched neck grooming its shoulder with a pink tongue.
A proliferation of laughing Buddhas.
globes of fire turn in mirrors, circled by rings of light
A pigtailed girl with pail and shorts digs in the sand with plastic shovel.
The slant of her back, head bent, studying pebbles heated by the sun.
Flat, round faces of seals in pyjama-sized shirts bagged for Goodwill.
their bare coffee-coloured feet motionless on the bare floor
Waves: Proof that a straight line is not the shortest distance between two points.
Impressions left by bathers in canvas deck chairs.
Watchers crouching in the undergrowth.
eyes from forty firkins disentangling the trawler nets of being
Shadows thrashing in all directions, vectors dancing in a luminous nimbus.
Piles of fur coats teetering on beds, secret caches of Student Nurse comics
rolling over the bridal veil of Bovary in a black tide when they raise her head.
sister help to trim the sails
Wave: An empty medicine bottle idiotically beating time on a shelf.
The sea moves her arms and legs with strings hitched to all the other arms and legs,
interlaced strands of time, gravity and all the rusted shipwrecks found by flashlights.
arms and legs of cute little ants queuing to get at someone’s pretty pills
16) what a waste of time
Waves: Space and time, space versus time, time-twisted space,
space as time, time as space, space pinched off from time.
The darkness cloying with summoning fragrance.
parades across the bridge with kinsmen and shriners and defecating palominos
Waves: Petunias through latticed balusters, threnodies of the nightingales.
Eremites examining themselves in concave shaving mirrors.
The station man with the whistle around his neck moving along the platform.
the night is bitter. the stars have lost their glitter
Bugs whirl and blunder about the streetlights.
Cemetery swans churn webbed feet into infinite depths.
Cuchulain lunges into the lashing, battles the ungovernable sea.
the moon sibilant with fans
Waves: Created and annihilated, created and annihilated.
Snoring and wheezing at many rhythms in a self-renewing chorus.
Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of heaven,
that time may cease and midnight never come
17) finn, again!
The sea smells of damp cotton, axillary tufts, and nenuphars, like the mad Ophelia.
Tears off a bathing cap and with a shake of her head liberates a torrent of hair.
Whish! A gull. Gulls. Far calls. Coming, far! End here. Us then.
no embrace opens but the stinging sea
Waves: Insignificant strokings by unremembered cold hands.
Strangers eating breakfast through a window.
An apartment above a dirty bookstore on Euclid Avenue.
there is nothing here that I am needed for
Waves: Shadows in surges of black geometry.
The oars crippled by reflection, the sunflecks rippling as strobes.
Tumbling the foliage, trussing the row from swerve of shore to bend of bay.
i have heard too much; i have been told too much
Waves moving, immobile, erect, her hands folded motionless on her lap.
Surplices flowing over cassocks. And perfumes. Never was I more alive.
The reticule with all the keys to the last gyzym of consciousness.
(smiles yellowly at the three whores) when will I hear the joke?
18) we’re all water in this vast, vast ocean
Waves: Every action containing within it its own repetition.
Every affirmation its own repudiation.
Bells on porches to call in the field workers.
the ocean arches its back and each layer bristles, hegelian
Waves: An ankle chain of gold lost in a strenuous tryst.
A girl crouching to palm a grasshopper.
The Amazing Kreskin and the Man they Call Reveen
always knowing what I'm thinking
All Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea.
To the deep pockets of indeterminacy at the rim of the carol-singing sea.
To the lens-distorted and irisless old men’s eyes of the sea
hand-carved into mermaid faces
Waves: the sparse gleam of a marble headstone
in a sombre cedar grove
hard beset upon the shadowy coast.
a former mr. smith in a hotel register in a nothing prairie town
19) i have had my vision
Waves: A drinking fountain in the park by a row of benches.
A bedridden old man correcting gallery proofs.
Cheap perfume hanging odourless in the Six Mile Pub.
our sound will be the sizzling night, stridulations of crickets
Waves: Winter birds busy at the feeders the girls had put up.
Pastels and creams and the pale blue of their veins.
Tensed fingers bunched on pencil stubs.
flagstones slippery with mist, veins of onyx ashtrays
Waves scarved and coat-wrapped, sighing and sneezing.
Impasto, dark inertia, the ghosts of their fathers.
Invisible ink on the walls of the minds of the maenads.
laying down her brush in extreme fatigue
The sunlight falling across her face like the tines of a golden rake. Soft little nocturnal waves hushing on the shingle.
Late waterfowl crying over the lake.
the hanged man is upside down
Waves: Like the Fool, no agreed assignment in the deck.
Rough planks crudely laid, pendulumed, stone-anchored, knurled, filigreed elegantly over the backs of brown trout flicking by in the stream.
inside the culvert, red graffiti on the damp arch
20) “but what about so-and-so?" is still asked on occasion
Waves: Irreconcilable habits of thought
arrive into a wormholing of echoing galaxies,
each bearing trunks in separate carriages on the Orient Express.
a few are still interested in them
Waves: A woman waving from a tangelo-coloured oriel window
Her brown iridescent bare arms almost touching his face
in the gouts and glooms of the woodland.
her sad apostolic hands
Waves: Convergence of obsessions and nightmares on a moving labyrinth.
Beads and hems of passing prayer shawls.
Flat mummies of pressed anemones, drinking my liquor from an old fruit jar.
the minister’s daughter falling for a green snake in a dark paradise
Waves: Dazzling splotches where the sun finds them.
Let their holiness ripple into interference patterns
till they clog the single point, the lantern light of the mind.
the shadow gathers you in its sweep
The cove is the cavity into which the ocean’s hand fits.
A gnarled slow hand long shaped to the harsh and lugubrious lava.
If it don’t fit, you must acquit.
drape it with a sheet and show home movies
Waves: The shadows hunching in angles against the tunnel walls,
over the rail fence where the hedge stops and the hatted heads begin.
Strands of blanket scrubbed almost cotton-white by foam.
so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past