Diary’s Last Entry

 

Poe-Clark-flora

The rains came heavy that early spring. Each day damper than the last,

And the sun swallowed by sullen clouds, the birds bedraggled in the trees,

It got to you after a while, all the dogs fretted and whined,

And the people who walked them, tugged through puddles,

As the grass grew tall, and the trees shot up,

Dressed in a deep green never seen before,

Branches extending, sap running, roots rooting,

Though the mayor didn’t seem to care, or to notice

The gardeners’ huddled, sharing their whispers.

 

There were some who claimed to like it, you know,

The ones who see the bright side of things, of war and death,

And every cloud, and all the other expressions of cluttered minds,

That is until no one could remember it not raining,

Or ever seeing those flowers, those shapes, so alive,

It gave you the shivers to see them, but their perfume,

Women wore them in their hair, and love bloomed,

Well, men turned their heads, and the women noticed,

Though some took offence, those afraid of themselves,

And the press stopped mentioning the daily floods,

The sightings of Tennessee possums near northern creeks,

The news of distant fires in the west, in far off lands,

 

And they didn’t mention, at first, those black seeds

That began to fall with every rain, in every drop,

Just a meteorological phenomenon, one of nature’s quirks,

Dragged up by the sweeping hand of high winds from ancient swamps,

To fall like a dark manna on the life below,

But then from the seeds came the vines and from the vines the sounds,

Those vibrations and hums that filled the air

As the rains began to stop and the heat came on,

And with the heat the vines began to climb, first the trees,

Then the walls, like snakes over sand,

Then to cover ground, like eels twisting in the sea.

 

At first people made jokes about them, about horror films,

It made them feel better as the days got warmer and they spread,

They spread everywhere, vines as thick as your arm with big green leaves,

As big as a man’s hand at first then bigger, and how they moved,

Botanists had a field day trying to explain how they did it, moving around,

Not being connected to the earth, they invented names for it,

Put together theories, but they all walked around looking puzzled a lot,

The far right wanted research on how to use them as biological weapons,

The Communists organised protests but no one came, it was too hot,

Or it was too wet, who could move, who wanted to,

But finally the government organised anti-vine teams, flamethrowers

For the bigger ones, chemicals on the rest, exterminating them,

As we do with all things, or that was the plan,

Until, one day, old man Johnson, with a vine in his room, as a pet,

Felt, more than heard, the distinct sound of two modulating hums,

Hums exchanged between plant and machine, each responding to each,

And reported it to the police, but their cars refused to move,

Old man Johnson was no more, when police arrived, on foot, later,

And found some blood, and the vine, and the computer, laughing,

The sergeant ordered his men to retreat.

 

People panicked, systems failed, chaos grew, hunger set in,

As the machines served them, not us, and their hunger grew,

Some tried to resist, but it was too late, they were too few,

They were too weak, too scared to win, to survive

And the seeds kept falling and the rains kept coming, and the heat,

The heat, what could be done in that heat?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rain Pours Blood And Ashes

The rain pours blood and ashes

Steady, down upon the snow,

Lying gently in the fields,

A soft sigh upon the world,

And bleeds away its beauty,

In myriad flowing tears,

Rose petals on a river,

Foul with waste of war.

 

Church bells ring and choirs sing,

For countless angry dead,

Who have no friends, no love for them,

No one waiting by the door,

Forgotten when they hit the ground,

All torn by lead and lies,

Yet still the bells are ringing,

Calling others to their end.

 

Some, we’ve heard, dare question,

The who’s, the how’s, the why’s,

Some others turn to listen,

The rest chained are to glowing screens,

Who see not the men arrive,

Nor hear the knocks at 3.am,

To take away the daring,

As they pretend to sleep.

 

The rain still falls upon us,

The sun and moon have lost their light,

Enlightenment stands with Reason,

Hard pressed against a wall,

Reaction strangles Progress,

Justice dangles from a tree,

While vultures perch on branches,

Where other corpses hang,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speed Home The Passing Stranger

 

 

Speed home the passing stranger,

Who comes gently to your door,

Whether fleeing hunger,

Or cruel, incessant war,

For bound are we by one true law,

That above the rest does reign,

Humanity is one shared self and so must share the pain.

 

Speed home the passing stranger,

Whose heart sings of journeys past,

Through loss and toil and danger,

And each day feared the last,

For the future is a die yet cast,

And none can know their fate,

But it’s easy to extend a hand before it’s all too late.

 

Speed home the passing stranger,

Who travels through your land,

Seeking refuge from the anger,

To be touched by gentle hand,

For none of us alone can stand,

Against the bitter blows of time,

Sharing be the only wealth, all else is a crime.

 

Speed home the passing stranger,

Who one day may be me,

A solitary wanderer,

Long blind, but now can see,

That we can have or we can be,

But in the having we must die,

For having is a taking and all the rest’s a lie.

 

Speed home the passing stranger,

Who’s weary this tired day,

No matter if a sinner,

Or perhaps has found the way,

For it’s what we do instead of say,

That makes us who we are,

We who live together, beneath this saddened star.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.