Interalienation

 

 

 

Interalienation of their hearts,

It seemed and was not,

Though both played resentful parts,

In proud unwillingness to share,

One place, one pillow, one paltry fare,

It was perfectionism, they confess,

To know the truth and ask for nothing less.

Their fierce-eyed guardians watched from overhead;

‘These two, alone, have learned to love,’ they said,

‘But neither can forget they are not worthy of each other yet.’

Autumn Memory

Cold, cold air creeps deep in my clothes,

The October sun’s gone,

November winds blow,

I stopped on the path to look at the trees,

The yellows, the golds,

The reds of the leaves,

And remembered one day a city in heat,

While drifting in dreams

Of that Bloor Street beat,

That Toronto sashay,

That lunch time retreat,

Past the cafes, the shops,

The laughter, the tears,

Past working men’s bars,

And their deep, secret fears,

Past the steamy, dark, alleys,

And mysterious pearls,

Past second-hand bookshops,

Where fantasy swirls,

Past the theatre’s stage,

The juke joints and flops,

Past bellying buildings,

Worn out with age,

Past the blues joints, the beer, the hall of tattoos,

Past the place where she kissed me,

One sweet day in May,

My Trina, My Trina,

How’d you do in LA?

I walked in a dream,

Past the whisky, the cabs,

The cops in their cars,

And cheap dental labs,

Past the lure of the whores,

The girls and the boys,

Staring like ghosts from bleak, dingy doors

No reason to hurry,

The heat made me limp,

I watched a young girl take dope from her pimp;

Stopped to kill time,

To look at some books,

Hoped for some Balzac, or Hugo,

Some Zola, some Wells,

But found nothing but bios of very fat cooks,

And dusty old lives of French artists’ belles,

Then appeared some relief,

Maybe the answer,

Miller’s grand riff,

The Tropic of Cancer,

So paid the five bucks,

The man cuts like a knife,

Then walked through the haze,

And walked through the noise,

Aching for something,

I couldn’t define,

Reflections,

Connections,

Crossing the line,

Or some instant high

Or something,

As simple,

As hearing her sigh,

An old man bowed low,

Copper burnt by the sun,

To most that walked by

He was just an old bum,

But he looked like a saint,

He had all the signs,

So we talked for awhile,

We touched, shared the vibes,

‘Til Time grabbed my arm,

So bade him good-bye,

I looked back just once,

He begged with some charm,

Just one of the many,

I wished him no harm,

As the thick, sticky air shimmied and danced,

Dry, shrivelled leaves hung from limp trees,

Dogs dozed in alleys,

Ignoring the fleas,

As husbands and wives walked desperately by,

Shivering in tension, the long suppressed lie,

The cold winds are come,

And now fades the light,

Like her very last kiss,

In the darkness of night.

 

 

She Looked In The Fireplace Mirror

 

great-expectations

She looked in the fireplace mirror,

Face lit with the heat of the fire,

That warmed the dead, and the living,

Who of their tears did tire.

 

Around her the few, and the lonely,

Sat quietly, undisturbed,

Yet each the other heard breathing,

Though none dared utter a word.

 

And the priest looked old, and saddening

For he could cast no magical spell-

As the flames of the fire flickered and flared-

He wondered if they were in hell.

 

A cat curled up in a corner,

Content with a memory or two,

Of the one they somehow mourned for,

To whom they had never been true,

 

Two slender, white scented, candles,

Sat graced by two flowers of light,

On top of an elegant casket,

Her bed her fare-welling night.

 

She looked in the fireplace mirror,

At the woman once she had been,

And remembered a longed for lover,

She once had seen, in a dream.

 

She looked in the fireplace mirror,

‘Til the priest hushly whispered, “Let’s pray,”

And the mourners took up their poses,

And thought of the new coming day.

Nagasaki Warning

 

 

 

 

The news came through the din of war,

That things were seen not seen before,

Nor told in tales, nor prophecies,

Nor legends known, our histories,

Of lights and shadows roaming wild,

The veil of death on every child,

 

The news came through of shaking earth,

Of flaming winds and thunderous might,

Of vapours born a bloody birth,

Of melting skin in dark of night,

 

The news came through of cities burned

By blast of flame, by flash of light

As women turned to shadows yearned

For evening songs, a morning bright,

 

The news came through, the last we heard,

Of madmen dancing on a tomb,

Who jeered at life with every word,

And bled the blood from every womb.

 

Then we turned towards the sky,

Towards the rushing, roaring sound,

And, for an instant, wondered why.

 

It Happened One Summer

 

 

 

It happened one summer long, long, ago.

I’ll tell you the tale before you must go,

A young man’s adventure, some claim it was mine,

That took place that summer, in the year ‘69.

 

We rumbled on through the Canadian Shield,

Past forest, past lakes, the occasional field,

Like a cinema show on twin lines of steel,

With music supplied by the rhythmic wheel,

As we sat on our heels or stood by the door,

The old with the young and all of us poor.

 

At the head of the train the red units strained,

To pull all the cars to which they were chained,

Boxcars and flatbeds, tankers, caboose,

“What was that there?” “Oh, that, that’s a moose,”

“Say, you from the city, boy, where’ve you been?”

“Hey, leave him alone. There’s things you ain’t seen.”

 

They all of them laughed, while some lit a smoke,

And one from the Sault offered all a short toke,

That got us all talking of life, or a love,

Or how was it that Mary got knocked-up by a dove?

And all sorts of questions you can’t ask in school,

‘Cause questions cause problems and idiots rule.

 

We slept in our jeans, our shirts and our arms,

Some dreamt of cities, some still of farms,

But all of us dreamt of Vancouver, B.C.

Where we were headed and all meant to be,

For the buzz on the street said things were cool there,

And even the fuzz would treat you real fair.

 

But few of us made it, and few of us cared,

The trip was the thing, not how we fared,

For wherever home was, was a place to avoid;

Better the rails than a wife real annoyed,

Or boredom, a bank, or a job you can’t find,

Hop a freight once, you’ll find your own kind.

 

Stars that like sequins seemed stitched to the sky,

Lit the star-mirrored lakes like rivers that die,

‘Til the morning’s new glow outshone them all,

And one boy said ‘morning’ in a down-easter’s drawl,

To which we each answered, this way and that,

Some back to snoring, some up for a chat.

 

And so the days passed, the train journeyed on,

From the Sault on to Wawa, past White River gone,

On round the lake of Chippewa fame,

The great Gitchigumi, Lightfoot sings of the same;

The wide-open skies directed our way,

“Til on the third day, we hit Thunder Bay.

 

Most of us hungry, food low in each pack,

We hoped for a shower and time in the sack,

But as the train slowed to crawl through the yards

We knew it was over, we’d played all our cards,

The tracks swarmed with bulls, with cops at their side,

So one jumped, then all, for freedom and pride.

 

Some made it, some nabbed, with ten days in jail,

Like Lennie the Loop, we couldn’t make bail,

So did our short stretch, one day at a time,

Kept ourselves laughing with tall tales of crime,

The guards were okay, at least those in the day,

The night was the problem, with those shadows in play.

 

They released us real early, and told us to go,

They didn’t care where, or even to know,

So we walked a few miles, trying the thumb,

But every one passed, why pick up a bum,

Yet onward we kept ‘til we spotted a train,

Stopped on some tracks all wet from new rain.

 

“She’s headed our way, we’ll make Winnipeg,

That’s what I reckon, come on, give it some leg”

So lowdown and fast we ran down the line,

Looking for one that seemed to us fine,

Threw our packs in through a wide open door,

Then jumped in ourselves and rolled on the straw.

 

We lay back, we laughed, we smelled the cold air,

And wondered if, maybe, this life could be fair,

For happy we were out riding the rails,

For trains on the prairie are ships without sails,

And this one would sail before the moon rose,

For we’d picked this one right, this one that we chose,

To carry us rambling through mountain and field,

Wandering sons of Canada’s Shield.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Snow On the Path

 

 

 

The snow on the path was in gentle decline,

And gentle drops fell, like dew from the vine,

As blue jays and starlings, and other such thieves,

Called out their names through branches and leaves,

Who fiercely intent on their feathery needs,

Eyed the damp ground for last summer’s seeds,

Picked out by sunbeams, dancing through reeds.

 

A tall man, an old man, on the dampened path stood,

Eyeglasses glinting, head turned to the wood,

To listen, and wonder, what language they spoke,

Or if, instead, dreamed, before they awoke,

And if, in their dreams, these times understood.

 

‘Where went you away? Did you travel so far,

As you followed  the light of this weary star?

Did you happen to fly over Reason’s sweet land?

Did you make it this year to fair Samarkand?’

 

But, before they could answer, a woman’s voice called,

‘Wait, for a moment, there’s one simple thing more,’

Waving her hand from the old cottage door,

‘Don’t forget, sweetie, that bottle of wine,’

He nodded, then smiled, in casual good-bye,

Waved a hand in salute,

Then turned back to the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Breathe

 

I breathe, yet who breathes no one cares or knows,

My dreams defy me like a dark cloud the sun;

I breathe the sharp wind that through me cold flows-

For numbed am I now by things man has done,

Like an opium eater, afraid of his past, his future, his woes:-

And yet I breathe, I hope-like battles won

 

In wars long forgotten by the average mind,

In faraway places and faraway times,

Where reason is dead and love hard to find,

Where the cruel and corrupted are paid for their crimes;

Even the kindest, they please me the best,

Are strangers to me and I to the rest.

 

I yearn for things, that none ever will see,

A world where death’s vigil no longer is kept,

There to enjoy the lost nature in me,

And reflect once more on the tears I have wept,

Unburdened, unchained, free there to lie,

The green valley below, there, the sparkling sky.