30 poems hath April

April 6, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

This is where my National Poetry Month 2016 poems come to repose after their digital day in the sun. I gave myself the challenge of writing a poem a day for the month of April. I know it's crazy and may drive poetry purists, who feel that a poem must take years to emerge fully formed from the brow of angst ridden anointed poets, crazy.

 

I agree that a poem like any art is work, is a combination of inspiration and perspiration but  nowhere in that combination does it state that there is a time factor. Ginsberg talked about the sanctity of the first draft, which probably meant lots of editing along the way out from poet to page. 

 

I have decided to give myself this challenge as a way of being mindful, being in a state of awareness of the world within and without. It's a way of being in this world, in the now with a constant fresh eye, ear and all the other senses, which include, common sense, gut instinct, hunch and others which I am not always totally, aware of. It is re-seeing routine as ritual, giving it back its initial purpose and that is to bring forth something special from a deed or thought.

 

So not every poem is perfect, but they are given a chance at life and perhaps will later grow into perfection or as close as they and I can get them to be. 

 

So here they repose and you can come and share time with them and when they become perfect, you can say, I knew them when.

 

 

 

************************************************

 

April 29

 

Vehicule of Poets* Sonnet

 

Art is what we make when we are human

Cellular our consciousness and imagination

Endlessly from the cave to the stars

Join the dust we were, are and will be as we make

Kennels for kings and queens who would command

Stevedores to spread tarps, shrouds and

Tomorrows over timeless momentary grace.

 

Love, only a pornography of the heart has a habit of being

that horny afternoon light in patras port hotel.

To get there you take all sorts of roads. Strolling familiar streets

I am sending you a valentine across this confederation.

Your flirtations have brought me to cut up my vegetables,

regard as sacred the disorder of my mind,

to die (my hair) and live again.

 

 

 

*The Vehicule Poets were a group of poets in Montreal who made poems and poetry interesting and real in the 70s & 80s.

 

 

************************************************

 

April 28

 

 

Spring

 

I woke.

I ate.

I brushed my teeth.

 

I started to write a haiku.

I called Lifeline for my mother.

I called 123 Cartridges for ink.

 

I met my daughter for coffee.

I worked on the haiku.

I went shopping for supper.

 

I took the metro.

I went to the Atwater library to take out some seeds.

I came home and took out some words.

 

I read and ate.

I took a nap.

I changed some of the lines in the haiku.

 

I took in the garbage cans and cleaned them.

I removed some syllables from the haiku.

I made supper.

 

I didn’t go to Tai Chi in NDG

I moved some words around.

I added some syllables to the haiku.

 

 

Spring

 

The other shoe dropped

the moment you were conceived.

You are in free fall.

 

 

 

************************************************

 

April 27

 

Age of Experience

 

I have too much of it, experience,

and very little wisdom to show for it.

 

I’ve been on roads more and less travelled

and gone right and wrong on both.

 

I’ve loved well and badly

and failed successfully.

 

I’ve thought and been thoughtless

and seen the trouble they can get you into.

 

I’ve spoken slowly and too quickly

and gotten nowhere fast.

 

I’ve been young and am now old

and aside from aches and pains I feel the same.

 

I’ve been on buckboards and airplanes

and gotten home on both.

 

I’ve learned a little and forgot a lot

and often, am at the corner of loss and lost.

 

I’ve seen the poem wander lonely as a crowd

and share the page with a fluffy cloud.

 

I’ve learned that duality is a false dichotomy

and told half-truths and full-blown lies.

 

I’ve asked who, what, when, where and why

and answered yes, no, maybe, don’t know at the same time.

 

I’ve seen death slow and close up

I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

 

 

************************************************

 

April 26

 

Less We Remember

 

The Great War memorial

of the unknown soldier

stands tall and green

in the park

where every year

fewer and fewer

veterans gather for

Remembrance Day.

 

That, I think, is a good thing.

 

I am thankful to those

and sorry for those

who gave their lives

in bloody battles

to defeat the forces

who profit from their deaths.

 

Of course

I am talking of those

who sold and sell

Glory to God, country

and ammo to both sides.

 

Those we must never forget.

 

 

 

************************************************

 

April 25

 

For Whom Do I Write Rag

 

I write for the silence that remains unbroken

I write for the lost words that are unspoken

 

I write for the suns that will go nova

I write for the earth that blue-green diva

 

I write for the water gone from the lake

I write for the potholes spring doth make

 

I write for the thirst that can’t be quenched

I write for Shakespeare too long dead

 

I write for the breasts that are not dun

I write for the sirens of Verdun

 

I write for shoes too small, too big

I write for you who don’t give a fig

 

I write for the garbage I create

I write for the love of what I hate

 

I write for my hair and lost affairs

I write for you who don’t have cares

 

I write for what I will not see

I write to remember me

 

 

************************************************

 

April 24

 

 

Thank you Sergei

 

I woke after Passover

wondering if I could write another

daily poem. Decided I couldn’t

yet, so went out to prepare

my postage stamp size garden.

 

Sergei is my neighbour

a greener in this country

speaks only three languages.

 

We meet at my box garden

that I share with people

which I call our communist garden.

 

Sergei has a capitalist plot

in the community garden by the river.

He is a good gardener

much better than me.

Last year he brought me a black radish

big enough to feed the Red Army.

 

Sergei speaks in volumes.

His stories are epic Russian novels,

his images as big as the heavens;

“star trips from his town”

is how he describes his daily trips

that radiate like spokes

 

to where Pushkin was born and then

the history of where Russia began

and then the fortress town that had chapels

but no churches with gold bright roofs

so as not to attract the enemy and then

back to Pushkin jumping in windows

to the delighted squeals of the young girls

and on to Pushkin’s seduction of a governor’s wife.

 

And his mother whom he visited this summer

and his love of family and country

and seeds and roots that go deep

as his country is wide.

 

Sergei loves the Irish

because they have suffered as much

and he can hear Mother Russia in their songs

and love of drink and suffering.

 

Sergei with rakes tied to his bicycle,

wearing his proletariat overalls

on his way to help his friend

wants to know

where do writers get their inspiration.

 

 

************************************************

 

April 23

 

Ode to an Ordinary Day

 

I’m a day ahead of myself.

I should have written something

insightful about Passover

 

But life emergencies got in the way

and today is so beautifully ordinary

that I can’t let it get away,

 

I woke without anxiety

I had time for quiet toast and coffee

I didn’t shower and shave.

 

I make soup, bake a pie, lie with

my lover, sit quietly and read

the adventures of Don Quixote.

 

I walk ten steps to the tap

turn it on and get cold, clean water.

I think about Attawapiskat.*

 

Shit.

Sometimes you want to punch life in the face

knock its teeth out one tooth at a time.

 

 

 

*for non-Canadians see

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fniah-spnia/promotion/public-publique/water-dwa-eau-aqep-eng.php

 

 

 

************************************************

 

 

 

April 22

 

Hotel Dieu Day Two

 

God’s Hotel is always overcrowded.

Even the hallways are packed;

bodies bent, curled, stretched

in pride-gone gowns.

 

A Princess Pony pink-haired

tongue-studded heart specialist

appears to calm and reassure you.

 

A hijab-modest nurse

takes your temperature,

pulse and blood.

 

A shiny bald-headed, tattooed, pure-laine orderly

guides your gurney through a labyrinth.

 

A Haitian technician slips you

into the futuristic machine

for a scan.

 

A quiet Belgian orderly

takes you back.

 

In this room

a Chinese, Portuguese and

Hungarian old lady share

the common culture and language

of hope and the body wearing out.

 

 

 

************************************************

 

April 21

 

 

Hotel Dieu

 

God’s Hotel is located

on the corner of St. Urbain and Pine.

It’s the oldest God’s Hotel in Montreal.

1645.

 

In God’s Hotel

the guests lie on gurneys

in curtained cubicles

from where a chorus of moans

groans, coughs and wails,

in a Babel of tongues,

rise to the ceiling.

 

In God’s Hotel

the maids of mercy wear scrubs,

smile while they prick veins,

measure pressure and hook you up

to IVs.

 

In God’s Hotel

the gods in training come

occasionally, usually late,

are more distant

ask  you a few questions

poke belly, listen to heart, lungs

stories and pleas

and order tests

and call for the specialist.

 

But most of the time

in God’s Hotel

most of the guests

spend their time waiting,

praying to check out.

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 20

 

 

Why I like Film Noir

 

It always happen at night

even when it doesn’t.

 

There are shadows everywhere

in every alley

in every doorway

under every lamppost.

 

There is smoking

manly, sexy cigarettes,

breath made visible, curling

in the most hardboiled

in the most seductive

manner.

 

There is always a man

in an upturned collar trench coat

and fedora.

There is always a femme fatale

wearing a veil or a hairdo

hiding her real intentions.

 

There is jazz, smoky saxophone

and brushes on drums, sometimes

a lounge piano.

 

There is always a gun, a murder

a mystery that’s tied to love and

double crossings.

 

And unlike real life,

it’s always black and white. 

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 19

 

Inventory

 

Porcelain flowers

in heavy gaudy crystal vase,

crinkly paper wrapped candy

in heavy crystal dish

on ironed lace doilies.

 

Gilt framed photographs

of my grandparents, parents,

me, my children through the ages

on every polished surface.

 

Needlepoints:

a parasoled maiden,

a pastoral scene,

flowers,

decorative plates of where

and where she hasn’t been,

a print of a praying rabbi,

a woman, palms facing face,

Sabbath-candle-lighting,

fill  every inch of wall space.

 

Carpets on carpets,

a cabinet full with silverware

polished regularly, never used,

a modern antique grandfather clock

that no longer tick-tocks,

glass crystal chandelier almost always lit

and a faux Louis XIV mirror

in fake termited, golden  frame.

 

My mother,

who has survived a colourless,

lifeless, barbed-wired, ash-gray Auschwitz

now in her  purple satin queen sized bed

watches endless reruns

and regally rules over all this,

her empire of life.

 

 

 

 

April 18

 

 

Still Life

 

Don’t give me paintings of bowls of fruit

Cezanne’s apples and oranges are not what I want

nor lush grapes and peaches

reposing on porcelain white plates. 

 

I don’t want my canvasses to be

rich table settings with freshly killed,

plucked pheasants and geese or

 golden goblets filled to the brim with dark wine.

 

Give me scenes of apple cores with teeth marks

orange peels spread all around,

bare grape vines and spat seeds on those plates.

 

Show me bones, carcasses glistening white,

empty goblets overturned, surrounded by purple stains

and people who planted, picked, raised, plucked

and poured this cornucopia;

sated, seated, with ruddy cheeks and breasts,

belts unbuckled, burps and farts at the ready.

 

Only then will I say

someone has painted a masterpiece.

 

 

April 17

 

Bucket List

 

The room is quiet

except for the buzz of electricity

and the buzz in my head.

The currents of dying messages

on and on.

 

I want to be quiet

have a moment of silence

but that only comes with death

and I don’t want that quiet yet.

 

So I settle for doing for some carpentry

trying to fulfil a life long ambition

of cutting a straight line.

I don’t know why I can’t.

 

The box I’m building is for the garden

the one I will fill with earth and seeds

and water and watch shoots shyly

peek out, grow, bear blooms and fruits

and when done, die without regret.

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 16

 

Underground

 

A beggar sits like Buddha

at the bottom of the escalator

I descend and give him

a quarter for the image.

 

His eyes open,

slits of casual curiosity

that give me a soft merci

before they close again.

 

Around the corner

a man plays the violin.

I drop a toonie in his cap

his sad-smile tune follows me.

 

I sit next to a woman

who hears voices.

She calice-de-tabarnaks me

all the way to my stop

 

A man sits atilt

snoring on the tiled floor.

His Tim Horton begging cup

is empty. I’m out of change.

 

No god here, no faith, no biggie

just the way of this underworld;

no-luck human beings alive and

warm in this man-made hole.

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 15

 

Mobile

 

From the droplets of conversations

floating in the café air

I construct a mobile à la Caldwell.

 

Sounds & shapes & accents

dangle from coat hangers,

fascinate, because they make no sense

but still achieve a precarious balance

that distracts me from the hurt

I cause.

 

For a moment my breathing is normal

my cough is quiet and the metaphor

I’m looking for walks by without a word.

 

I tried the park bench by

the bobbing, sparkling, sunning-in-

the spring-sun, glowing-water

but nothing came of it.

 

Silent joggers and cyclists

bring relief to neither you

nor me.

 

Saying sorry is not enough.

 

As an old friend with whom

I’m no longer friends

said in his broken

but perfectly clear English

 

“shit or get in the pot.”

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 14

 

 

How to Disperse Clouds

 

Sunshine blinds the raging heart

behind the wheel of a car in a jam.

 

The happy tune just makes it worse,

magnifies the pain of it all.

 

The joy and ease of others is a curse,

infects the struggle to keep on.

 

I see you swing your axe at what hurts

and see you hurt yourself.

 

I think there are no hugs, chocolate

or money that can help.

 

But I hope I’m wrong on all counts.

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 13

 

Morning Checklist Mantra

 

Each morning

returning from a different country

requires adjustments of

body, heart, mind, clocks.

 

Each morning 

landing in a different place

requires rereading of

body, heart, mind, maps.

 

Each morning

learning a different language

requires a student’s

body, heart, mind, tongue.

 

Each morning

dressing a different body

requires a change of

body, heart, mind, clothes.

 

Each morning

stepping into a different day

requires breaking in

body, heart, mind, shoes.

 

Each morning

diving into a different river

requires learning new

body, heart, mind, strokes.

 

Each morning

working for a different pay

requires some old

body, heart, mind, currency

 

Each morning

waking to a different you

requires a steadfast

body, heart, mind, imagination.

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 12

 

Arts & Crafts

 

The notes of the past come

through my computer, digitally

coded for my pleasure.

 

The fin de siècle pace of the piece:

ennui, cynicism, pessimism

ego mania, mysticism

emotionalism, irrationalism

vitalism filled the cafés, the poems

the chit chat, the philosophy,

the air which fills my ears.

 

They studied genius:

Mahler, Stravinsky, Wilde, Lautrec

Rimbaud, Mallarmé.

and imbecility.

 

It ended

with the beautiful Munch Scream.

 

I looked it up on Wikipedia.

 

Today, this gray day,

feels thin, watered down,

atonal, going down the drain.

 

No wonder they studied genius

and imbecility.

 

We worship only one.

 

Today

I built an Andre Bréton

antenna with coat hangers

for better reception.

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 11

 

Ode on a Photo

 

She is poem-proud papa-beautiful.

She is life-promise smiling.

She is in her wedding-wonder.

I am in that picture too.Proud-papa pose.

That’s not me,

that’s my father.

 

I am in another photograph

in which she is small enough to hold in the palm of my hand.

We are under a weeping willow.

I am shrinking in my suit.

She is fullness in hers.

This is her timeI can see it in her eyes;

 

in the way light falls on

the September leaves.

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 10

 

Sunday

 

It almost feels like work;

waking in the morning

with a churning in the gut

worrying about getting the thing done.

 

Thinking of calling in sick

going back under covers

forgetting about the day

letting someone else carry the load.

 

And besides it’s Sunday.

Shouldn’t it be a day of rest?

Even that creator took it off;

had a lazy breakfast and lounged in his PJs.

 

But there are dues to pay

nagging Muses’ to support

and promises and deadlines

that no one cares about, except me.

 

And of course, the devil makes work

for the idle head and hands and heart.

Thank you Satan.

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 9

 

Sabbath

 

Every Sabbath, my father used to go to shul

to pray and schmooze with his buddies.

 

Often the shushers would come around

and while praying in their mumbling way

put finger to lips to tell them to shush-up.

 

Doesn’t chit chatting with lantsman

count as talking to the lord?

After all, aren’t they made in his image?

 

I don’t know if he said that

if not, I’ll say it for him.

I know he thought it.

 

Not that he wasn’t a praying man.

He knew every one by heart.

He wanted to be a Rabbi but the war

and Mauthausen got in the way.

 

And after, it was hard to believe.

 

But his buddies, other greeners,

who sweated as hard during the week

lured him back with bribes of friendship

and delicious kiddish.

 

So he joined and became the chief Rabbi of stories

The Cantor of memories, the Torah of one-liners

And the target of shushers.

 

So he spent the Sabbath with his survivor friends,

kibitzed the lord about the world he invented.

He had his doubts, but even in his darkest moment

even in the middle of a joke, he never missed an Amen.

 

 

 

 

Shul                Yiddish for synagogue

Lantsman       someone from the same old country

Greeners        derogatory term for a recent immigrant used by immigrants from an earlier time

Kiddish           snacks served in the synagogue after Sabbath prayers

 

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 8

 

After Pound

In the station of the Metro

in Montreal in the morning

in the belly of the worm

on our way toward money

we sit, stand, stare into the whirring silence.

Some of us will push papers, some stroke keys

some will hammer and nail, some drill and dig

some will teach and some will die.

Some will stop for a moment

and experience a lightheaded rush

and a flash of people in the Metro

who come and go

not talking of Michelangelo

but still see them as beautiful

as a wet leaf on a bough.

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 7

 

Weather Report in Couplets

 

April snow falls shyly, steps lightly

sprinkles my footsteps, covers my tracks.

 

A text from the past, an OMG

a tweet from real space, a #moment.

 

I knew it was coming,

my oracle Frank foretold.

 

Like old an ex-lover

it calls, won’t let go.

 

I had put away my winter thoughts.

My bones creak under this light load.

 

But off I go to Tai Chi

and wave hands like clouds.

 

Slow everything down to an almost stillness

be like a snow flake in slow motion.

 

April snow waits for me outside

beautiful underneath the lamplight

 

but a pain in the ass of my spring showers,

splays me in my headlong rush toward May flowers.

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 6, 2016

 

This is about…

 

Food

that necessity which keeps us

alive and kicking, is what

we have gathered around

ever since…

 

My father often talked of hunger

as a close member of his family.

He took ecstatic, bone marrow sucking

pleasure from eating.

 

Tonight

children no longer children

between forkfuls, share recipes,

philosophy of work, reality

of dreams, paycheque

to paycheque stories

 

I munch on, tasting pine nuts, 

sumac, zataar, the miracles

of our imagination

and the greasy pleasure

of my carnivorial nature.

 

We dine on

the exquisitely prepared corpse

who has never been hungry.

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 5, 2016

 

After W. C. Williams & W. Wordsworth

 

This is just a brief note

To tell you that

The world is too much with me

The machinery I am wired to

The machinery I need to lead

My 21st century life

flashes lights, vital signs back to me

to let me know that I am alive.

 

PS.

And

The second hibiscus flower

Has bloomed

 

This is all the time

I have for this poem today.

I am sorry.

 

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 4, 2016

 

Hibiscus

 

I was watching,

before I came to write this down,

a hibiscus flower bloom.

 

I was watching nothing move,

which is not quite true

but almost,

o so boring, so beautiful.

 

A mug’s game, so intense;

watching it watch me,

waiting for me to blink.

 

O so Art Deco.

Pink-rose wine glass with

wrought green stem and base.

 

Flair phallic

and vaginal.

O so Georgia O’Keeffe.

 

An elegant plant with carriage

a grande dame in rich verdure

a slim but sinewy manly trunk

a history of great roots.

 

All this, of course,

is my imagination.

 

From its perspective

it’s about its survival.

 

From mine

o so soft hibiscus flower

about to bloom

for a moment in the sun

in that moment be full

fertile, hot and

through its brief beauty

contribute to its own survival.

 

And if in this Darwinian universe

it gives me immense pleasure

for a brief moment

to watch it do its thing,

nothing, so beautifully

who’s to say

that I, too,

do not contribute to its survival.

 

I bring it water

place it in the sun

and even have a word with it.

 

Of course

I blink and miss its blooming

its delicate pistil popping from its own birthday cake

with its Oscar Wilde red velvet morning jacket stigma

and saffron pollen sacs shouting surprise.

 

But not its bloom.

 

Twice,

in deed and in words,

I make it, and me,

eternal, for a moment.

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 3, 2016

 

Haiku Sunday

 

Morning has risen

Sun day spreads across my toast

Miracle again

 

Poets write poems

Bullets, bombs freeze in mid flight

I lie people die

 

Rain pebbles window

Neighbours in violent storm

Bad haiku coming

 

An afternoon nap

A world dying of fatigue

Old world awakens

 

In city doorway

Innuit man stares into

Inukshuk woman

 

Buying fountain pen

Bump into a dancer friend

Spring rites between us

 

Boxful of poems

Pure as imagination

A forest of tears

 

Birth day of a friend

Years tie ribbons around us

A gift of presence 


 

************************************************

 

 

April 2, 2016

 

Soccer

 

Soccer is a misnomer

It’s an American alias

An Americanisation of its immigrant name

 

Football, that’s more like it

Football it’s the real thing

Not the hand to hand handling of balls

 

In football

Once the foot meets ball

It’s leather on leather

 

Football is

The dance of the sports

The bend, the curve

The toe. The heel

Tap dancing Puskas

The leaping Kosics

The panther Grosics

My childhood heroes

As I imagine them

Then and now.

 

Like gods they ruled the perfect sphere

Like gravity the perfect sphere was drawn to them

 

Football, say it

it has a good sound

a heft and a kick to it

 

Toes become cleats

Claw the green field

The dangerous jaws

Of a game gone fierce

 

The body, the stallion

The bullet, the battering ram

The sword,

In a game gone fierce

 

 

 

Connected by the dots

What passes between them

Foot to ball to foot

In a game gone football

The game fenced in by rules

That give it sense, pleasure

And the desire to play on.

 

Not like life

Which has only two rules

You are born

And then you,

you guessed it,

Retire.

 

 

************************************************

 

 

April 1, 2016

 

April fools

you into believing that

everything

 

the churning

burning nightsweats

of what is

 

the days’

darkness that works

black magic

 

duende into

the deep songs

rising backwards

 

 

rising backwards

the deep songs

duende into

 

black magic

darkness that works

the days’

 

of what is

burning nightsweats

the churning

 

everything

you into believing that

April fools

 

 

the daffodils

the rain

my life

 

into blooming

falling

living

 

 

 

then fading

stopping

dying

 

dying

stopping

then fading

 

living

falling

into blooming

 

my life

the rain

the daffodils

 

fool Aprils

 

 

************************************************

 

 

 

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