- Ken Babstock in Books in Canada
- Bert Almon in Montreal Review of Books
- Ewan Whyte in The Globe and Mail
- Jacob Strautmann in Arts Editor
Two Wings She would drift into the kitchen trailing fragments of a hymn that spoke of God, a river, the pair of golden wings that would be hers on Judgement Day and were you to look at her then you might well decide your best bet for a meal would be to eat out: she was blind and appeared a little lost in her tile and linoleum kingdom. But she vaguely addressed the garlic, the onion, the tomato and between her hands rubbed a sprig of rosemary over olive oil. A fragrance then arose and you decided you had best sit down. And you did. Did you fall asleep? Did you dream? You awoke to the smart snap of sails: the billowing of a tablecloth. She returned and a generous bowl was placed in front of you. Then she crossed her arms and waited: her prayer done, your eating was its Amen. _____________ Mule Watch it gain substance as the sun burns brain fog away. Here is the brown field, here under the shade of the olive tree, the mule. More than gravity, gravitas holds this mule earthbound. Ages ago it said goodbye to illusions. Today it dreams of stones, sunshine, hay. A no-nonsense clopper with slow, socratic eyes too wise for foolishness too gentle for spurs, it insists this easy gait and a stubborn patience will take us far. We have barely begun and, reader, already you fidget in the saddle. But who is to blame? You were forewarned and have no right to ask this mule to be what it is not. This is no poem for you. Close the book, then, roll over and go to sleep. Fashion out of dreams why not a bicycle then peddle quickly all the way to hell. _____________ Paulito's Birds In dozens of plain cages each with its mirror and bell my great uncle raised birds but the steepled bamboo church with a nest in its hollow pulpit he, the fierce atheist, kept for the mating pair. At his whim, admonished not to speak, I followed, acolyte with a burlap bag from which he doled out ceremonious, almost sacramental, feed to the fluttering tribe. Half his thumb was gone: a loss he would ascribe --in a sequence meant to mirror my own small failings-- first, to sucking his thumb, next, to teasing the parrot and later, to being careless around the carpentry tools. Perhaps it was his demeanour --dry stick of a man-- or the way the door to the birds was locked and he alone held the key; perhaps it was that stump of a thumb grudgingly displayed when we sat at the table and the stubborn afternoon refused to move, that brings him back today as wizard, magus, bruxo, who, against ransom not received, holds locked in this spell of feathers and birdseed, the children of his kingdom. _____________ Quark Consider the quark: its existence is posited by scientists entranced by a nothing which is there: a particle that does not share the known properties of materiality; there but not there: a ghost entity. Cyril of Thessalonika argued this case: God withdrew and thus freed space for the expanding univese. Absence was his gift which makes his presence this oxymoron worthy of contemplation: the Zero at the core of all creation. _____________ Plateia Kyriakou Blessings upon the crone who every afternoon feeds the cats of Molivos for they are many and they are all hungry. Bowlegged and in black, whiskers on her own face, with a slow, laboured gait she crosses the square and where she sits, they congregate. A spoonful for each cat. (Is this food or sacrament?) And once she's done she bangs the empty tins like cymbals and the cats are gone. Levering herself against a knee she struggles to stand up then soothing a rheumatic hip, she keeps to the leafy shade, when it's her turn to leave the square. _____________ Supply=Demand Quarter to four on a Sunday as the snow began to fall, she entered the room and whispered I wish for once and for all, you'd tell me how much you love me and how long that love will last for doubt has crept into my heart and passion is fading fast. My love is a little machine that's always set to GO it runs off a battery of kisses but the battery is getting low. My love is a little machine but it's running cold today. Join me in bed and let me stroke all your doubts away. Oh not so fast my darling. I'm not easily assuaged; when I saw your wandering eye it drove me to such rage that I chewed seven boxes of pencils and painted my toe-nails black then mixed a toxic cocktail and prepared to bivouac outside the gates of Melancholy in the country of Despair in the house whose name is Grief and end my suffering there. If my wandering eye offends then I'll pluck it out in haste but I swear to you my darling your suspicions are misplaced. A steadier heart has no man who ever loved or wrote and if I seem distracted and at times appear remote it's the law of love and business it's as Adam Smith commands: I've restricted the supply in the face of low demand. _____________ Garden Primer Carrots, said my grandfather, are nails which keep the field from flying. Then sunflowers, said my grandmother, are daughters to the sun: they stare and follow their bright star father then shed these hard dark tears. _____________ Moscow Circus By now pronounced, these wings do not disturb me much except when a strong wind blows or strangers ask to touch. Still, there are advantages: I’m able on cold nights to wrap my girl in comfort while, she in turn, delights in the erotica of feathers. Old friends avoid us now put off by all the fuss. Engaged by the Moscow Circus, I stunned those atheists when under The Arc of Light, wings extended, I suddenly appeared between Dwarf and The Lady With a Beard.