- Michael Lista in The National Post
- Jim Johnstone in Arc Poetry Magazine
- Maude Lapierre in Canadian Literature
- Zachariah Wells in Vallum
An Invocation of Sorts Niceties dispensed, muse, give it to me straight, intravenous, undiluted, right into this arm I write with. Here or hereabouts (I’m never quite sure) a show of modesty is expected so I admit the gift is not commensurate to the task at hand: such a small wingspan, my fear of heights. So silver my drab tongue. But as for theme: leave it to me to come up with something that while not highfalutin, carries a whiff of the sublime. Finally, don’t just hang around after giving me my dose. Look: I’m really, really grateful. Now adios. _____________ A Note Hey Sugar! Remember me? read the note he found those many years later among the broken pencils, old glasses and keys as he cleared the apartment making ready to leave and though the acid of time had bleached the card the events recalled in pink arabesque seemed vaguely familiar but surely someone else had lived them for today, standing by the window, staring at his frozen yard, he doubted he’d ever been that tropical swain who, done with dancing, danced her out the door, then took her to the grove of palm trees in the dunes where, as the note recalled, “under the moon our bliss has been etched in silver” and just as he began to consider that perhaps –if this was not a movie– all this happened and yes indeed happened to him, he recalled this billet-doux he had filched years ago when Ramon turned his back to seal up the contraband box he would drive across the border dressed, this time, as a priest. _____________ The Island Little more, it appears when he lifts his eyes after dream-waves drop him ragged, rock-battered, salt-stung on the beach than the cartoon island with its single palm tree under which, exhausted, shipwrecked, a sailor lies. But a few days later walking on the lee side he finds a cave, a stream, a patch of berries, the gold of honey-combs treasured in the dark of a tree. A herd of goats finds him, follows him everywhere. Bearded apostles, they nibble at his hair, chew his laces and, one night while he sleeps, eat his one and only book leaving behind a torn page where gold-leafed, a wooden god stands in a melon patch and can protect nothing. The years flash by. By flicker of firelight he reads that half page at first distractedly then, sensing meaning moves below the surface, slowly blowing breath into each syllable. Now he braids his beard and walks bitter beneath a nimbus of white hair. When sirens awake him, he returns in mid-question: what is man, he is asking, if not that crop left untended under the blind eyes of the scarecrow god? _____________ The Exquisite Art Better to marry than to burn —St. Paul to the Corinthians— thus granting a wee advantage to the holy vows of matrimony and though this one will confess he had both married and burned, Cynthia comes to him today in the coolness of this ocean breeze as she was at the final decree when the flourish of signatures freed them from the fever that had made them masters of that most exquisite art: how else describe the deftness with which they went at each other through their humdrum hell, until combustion consumed its fuel leaving them perplexed, spent, then close though wary pals. _____________ The Bench The sea moves its blue shuttle coming to shore, then receding, then coming again and each time it recedes it hoards away more light as it weaves this winter evening when he decided to come down and take the show slowly in: the egrets, the buffle heads, the snowy plover, the pelicans and perhaps, because of the chill, no one is there to see him slump light-headed, light-hearted, wondering what ever would happen to that boy standing across the dark waters feeding out line to the small kite that stutters in the wind then rises as the sun finally sinks and the roads of the world grow dark. _____________ Blues Toot me something on your golden horn he said to the musician. I feel cold as my soul turns blue. Jerry-build me an intricate song full of those diminished sevenths and enough thrust to push me through bar by smoky bar, into oblivion. Extricate me from thorny feelings, put brain and heart to sleep. Bring out a flute and its Bolivian so sorrow can be trumped by sorrow. Afford me, at any price, some peace. Today I am bedeviled befogged by this predicament: will I find myself again tomorrow? _____________ A Prince’s Soliloquy Truth be told, I wish she would unkiss me, turn me back into the frog I was and happy being. Give me back nights I dared the moon, fat and round, to step down and skinny dip until dawn. My velvet britches? This silver crown? Nothing here even close to those moments when she dropped her cloak, tested the waters with her toes then slipped in and silvered my dark pond. _____________ No Love Lost Unable to string words tonight In any manner that might please he browses the mother lode (what others call the OED) by chance, Volume L through M, and is immediately convinced of the need to bring back (banned to dial. vulgar and arch.) the useful La! – exclamation formerly used to introduce or accompany a conventional phrase, address, or to call attention to an emphatic statement. As in: He’d a caressing way but la! You know it’s a manner natural to poets. Poets, when unable to write (a condition known as blocked) often drink, make bad companions and should they drink excessively, quickly reach labescency (tottering state or condition). They awake a loggerhead (a thick-headed or stupid person, a block-head) praying a stroke of magic or the next wee drink turn them from loggerhead to logodaedalus (cunning in words). At breakfast, still under the influence, they’re prone to logomachia (being contentious about words). And the contentious word holding poets enthralled through all these centuries is love, found on page four six three and refracted over several that follow. The etymology is a complicated web of meandaring tributaries: From OHG gilob: precious to its Aryan root, Latin’s lubet (libet) pleasing, lubido (libido) desire. Quickly, then, to the heart of the matter: Disposition or state of feeling with regard to a person which (arising from recognition of attractive qualities, instinct of natural relationship or sympathy) manifests itself in solicitude for the welfare of the object and usually delight for his approval. Theologians, a further entry explains, distinguish love of complacency (approval of qualities in the object) from love of benevolence (bestowed irrespective of the object’s character). Then, among the proverbs, the sudden insight that, mercurial as love itself, There’s no love lost between them meant first one thing, now its exact opposite: so close were we at one time that in our traffic there was no love lost between us but now, in the thick of lawsuits and at loggerheads (two block-heads making their lawyers rich) La! There’s no love lost between us.