The Living We Love, The Dead That We Mourn

 

Goya, man-war

For the living we love,

the dead that we mourn,

a question long-asked,

without answer remains;

why men kill for money,

in crimes they call wars,

arranged over dinner,

and the finest Chablis.

 

You hear what they say,

‘it’s what has to be’,

‘they’re evil you know’,

‘there’s no other way’,

chanted like prayers

on the video screens,

by those artful with lies,

it’s not what it seems,

who solemnly state,

‘it’s for justice, dear friends’

“for liberty, for freedom,

‘by god, for your life,’

so no answer comes,

so it’s little I know,

but behold, I see Justice

now rides a pale horse

and carries her banner,

bloodied,

upside turned down.

 

 

 

Painter’s-Box Sky

window-sunrise_19-99977

The painter’s-box sky presents its grand show,

free of a charge or a fee,

the rose-yellow light,

the splashes of white,

a brush of the blue in between,

are colours of dawn

emerging from dusk

as night slips slowly away

and comforting thoughts,

in the warmth of a bed,

to the old reality turn;

to lies on their lips,

their gods of the sun,

their crimes,

our blood in the sand,

as down in the street

comes that crowd without end,

rushing to be there on time.

 

A Glass of Rum

A-shot-of-rum-001

A glass of rum before me now,

as pure as juice of gold,

is all that’s left of younger dreams,

once dreamt in younger days,

of a world by love and labour ruled,

not banks, the cruel, the thieves,

and all their creeping underlings,

who with dismal shadows work,

as pale of skin, as pale as death,

for day they’re shamed to see,

a world where none could ever think to hate,

for then we’d hate ourselves,

by struggle freed from heavy chains

they from our blood long forged,

freed with righteous justice,

by all our righteous might,

all power by us seized, at last,

to end the endless night,

to end the endless sacrifice,

to gods with drunken smiles,

to make a life worth living,

to try to learn the way,

the way with nature, and ourselves,

but now this glass is all there is,

and nightmares fill my sleep,

a chaos swept by darkness,

dark clouds without a sky.

 

 

 

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 but 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.