Vegetarian Stew

Midnight yawned
over the leftover pork chop
and snifter
of crystal grappa.

Chewing reminded him:
the thick of one thigh
had resembled a full meal

until she told him
she was a vegetarian —

He could never love
a woman
with no taste
for meat.

A Wedding – May 1994

Remember —

the room is an arm
of glass

and you are protected
at the light
of its elbow.

Inside
the flesh of its walls,
music beats,
a heart of memory.

Outside,
a snake of iron
steps over from
vision to experience.

This is a day
and night
of newness,

the water threads
of belief
linking us all
to you.

The Squirrels of Mont-Royal

Shouldn’t they be sleeping,
fat, full and warm
in the splintered armour
of a skeleton tree?
Such thin-boned feet
don’t seem right
for mountain snow.

They shiver in the granite cold,
imagining the luxuriant tails
that flair out blind
behind them
creeping forward
to cover rat bodies.

The snow
steals heat,
blanketing bodies
in its own liquid
then hardening
like a spider’s
cocoon.

In the motion
that might save them,
they stop suddenly,
stand straight and respectable
on scrawny hind-legs,
extend webbed bones
for whatever I can spare.

Maybe they should have planned
for the worst:
this winter of full-body ice
not even a flame could penetrate —
but how do you plan
for a winter such as this one?

A winter coming
just the same.

When You Find Him

When you find him,
remember

the nights you wondered,

the days you hoped and
were disappointed,

the evenings you argued with
the disbelieving.

When you find him,
watch the muscular flowers
take from the daylight,
the branches
bend low to your touch.

When you find him,
Breathe deeply,
As a victor breathes:

believing and unconcerned,
accepting the gentle tingle
of proven instinct,
satisfied impulse.

When he finds you,
Tell him I told you so.

[for Emma Shield, 1996]

You Told Me Silence

Do not speak unless you can improve on silence.
-Proverb

You told me silence
is confidence, not needing
the proof of noise.

Arrogant, my tongue
stiffened in the foreskin
of my cheek, only occasionally
emerging pink
and proud in posture
and accusation.

Father, I love you —
but you were wrong.

Without warning,
how could I recognize
this conscript of
cowardice?

The Third Time

“God gave Noah the rainbow sign: No more water, the fire next time!”
–Spiritual

All but the water now
threatens to burn.

The air, blanketed with
a screech, turns corrosive;
the land is reduced
from foundation
to dust.

With the coming flutter of
rested and strengthened
wings,
the giddiness of
vandals,
the ecstacy of
anticipated tabula rasa:

this time,
the third time,
is it a phoenix
or falcon
that announces the night?

L’Ennui

“Il rêve d’échafauds en fumerant son houka.”

–Baudelaire

The hangman’s stink is
Damp and heavy.
His splintered feet are rigid:
Dead and buried.

Climb upon his staircase knee.
Hear it creak arthritically.
His spine set straight
So the crowd can see

His smoking mouth now
Feeding at your chest,
As you dangle

Without action,
Without rest.

Pudding Time

“Best moment to attack one in pudding time. A punch in his dinner.”
~Ulysses.

Blistered as a hot tomato,
Angry as a pepper sprout.
A chided child withal, with
His sixties now run out.

Balding from all the promised
Self-abuse inherent in his privileged stead,
He grabbed at all that he could find, And tore some hanks from his first wife’s head.

Gorging on baconburgers and KFC,
Thinking “cleaner” with a dirty mind,
He turned that bleached head from
Lesser things, and offered him to lead the blind.

And all the blind did listen to him,
A blank svengali on a base crusade:
“Transform us from our current body,
And once again, please make us great.”

And now he sits upon his guilty throne,
Golfing while the nation works,
Unless some shall punch him in his dinner,
And save us from his world of jerks.