Archives for category: poetry

shred dance 1

world in flames, world attacks,
tell me, why do children dance?
moment of doubt, fear of pain,
tell me, how does dance remain?
how to explain, but by naming names:
grands jeté, plié, the pirouette,
the dance hidden in shadow,
more than silhouette. the trace
of the body, written in moonlight,
a new language so easily understood,
the place of foot, en pointe, no need
to explain to a child the fascination
of figure and plane, instead I watch you
profound, your dance and what will always
remain, you move transported,
beauty concealed, revealed,
your revel in the creation of this
moment, your answer to my doubt,
is dance real?

image by Ward Maxwell


fall is not death but renewal
the soil yawns, and beneath its
colourful quilt, prepares to dream
of new things, new growth to come

fall is a mirror we can avoid or face
the chance to look at ourselves and see
the truth, or turn away, fearful of the shape
we will appear in, what deeds we will wear

fall is the time when the dreams of the land
reach deep into another place, far from the
soles of our feet, into both memory and future
to nurture what grows and what is to die

fall is the race we began so casually, but
now run in earnest, when time means
something, the time when you can fail
fall is the challenge you cannot ignore

Printeverything is a lie; what is a lie?
what can be excused; what must be forgotten?
when the blood is on your hands
the moment you say you’re innocent
do you blame, or just deny? proclaim
you’re just one of the misunderstood
raise an army to fall upon shame
conquer all that is love; what is love?

nothing is true; what is truth?
the stub of a toe; the stab of a broken heart?
when nothing could be further from the truth
do you stand behind it, walk all over it,
or just pretend it’s always been that way?
when you stand alone in a crowd
wearing your bomber’s vest
do you say, this is for love; what is love?

everyone has their opinion; there are no facts
erase each ugly moment, the loss of time will go
unnoticed; the heart is a contagion, release this feeling
as you clean the blood stains from your sheets
imprison the sympathetic, because they’ll
be the first to go; when you storm the temple
remember to sing your song as you carry your torch
does anyone really know what love is; what is love?

Poem and type illustration Ward Maxwell

you have to lose everything to gain it all
you got to tear it down—use a wrecking ball
kiss the dust, make new concrete
whatever you consume, you excrete
the terms are known, you are edible
whatever you buy will soon be landfill
your shopping cart illusion will never be full
pass your goods through the mesh, make them mush
that would be mesh plus you, sorry to explain it
that way, talking to you George W Bush

you have to fail to be complete, you have to fall
to land on your feet, you have to have secrets
to be indiscrete, there must be luxury when people
live in the street, you got ivory? an elephant
died. you got pain? you got pride. no complaint
you got no say, there’s a reason we’re living
dreams from yesterday. let me say it clearly
anything you want you will pay for dearly
you must lose it all to love your sincerity
don’t close your eyes if you want to see with clarity


is it because it is not fiery enough?
because it is not bleeding heart enough?
not enough gold comes through?
blue is blue

the oscillation of oxygen when sunlight charges it
the transcendent drift from shore to aquamarine
blue is blue
blue is blue

blue is the colour of your eyes
do not close your eyes when I kiss you
let me drown, let me breathe,
blue is blue
let this kiss
be blue

I am sitting at our dining room table, across from the cabinet
that holds our family treasures. The glass door and panels allow
me to see crystal goblets, Italian glass, ceramics, a silver mirror
set on its side to catch the light, cheap things barely treasure,
simple sentiments made real. Now, my reflection is overlaid
upon these objects, transparent in the glass face of the cabinet.
The room I’m in faces another, second room in the cabinet.
Within it a doorway leads to a living room and past that
a door that leads outside. There is a window in that door,
reflected in the glass of the cabinet door, and again within
the silver hand mirror. Each holds a miniature picture
of a window to that world, reversed behind me. The thought
of another world waiting to be seen through that window
fills me with inexplicable fear. I want a photograph to exhibit,
that captures this moment of apprehension, this only chance
to look through a window into another world. I want to be sure
everything in that world, waiting outside that door is pictured.
All of it, crammed within that little window, reflected in this glass
passing through my image, captured and displayed within this cabinet
of treasures, so I can’t tell where I end or another world begins.

these hands are made to reach out and feel
everything that weighs upon them, the light
of stars, the volume of the Sun, no metaphor
these hands raise, test, the elasticity of it all

these hands claw up mountains, cleave them
and make new valleys; if only we could bear
the weight of these hands and all they hold
we all own this responsibility, the shame

there is no way back, the path these hands walk
to the altar to lead the sacrifice, draw the blade
as if it were not really part of us, hold it aloft to the Sun
for blessing, then drive all that feeling to the heart

believing that is where it belongs, as if
these hands are now the hands of God

konkrete pome Maxwell, W.

words that are undersaid,
those that are given,
those that take too much
words that don’t want
to be said, to remain,
words not part of the scene

words that leap out of your head
drop onto the street
and are paved over
by silent machines plying asphalt,
identified with illegible script
that makes them appear official,
while clearly resembling nothing,
the idea of meaning
projected, not found, in them

words taken out of circulation
often lose their meaning
foolishly hide somewhere
to be safe for another day
when they might be forgotten
and return with new meaning
instead they become ghost words
all that connects their syllables to
the river of words washes away
they drift, pale shadows on white pages
hidden in plain view

words can be found in trees, the sky
no one knows what they are
nature writes but cannot read
there is no word for that

This is a short account (Pete and Tink lose interest if you’re not quick)
of Peter Pan visiting the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada in the year 1998.

Peter will appear in the guise of my son, Jarret,
who, at the time, was 5 years old, during a relentless March still deep
in snow, and uncertainty about Jarret’s brother Arlen, but one year old,
diagnosed with leukemia.

Which meant little to Jarret—he loved the hospital because in each ward there is a playroom,
which Jarret called, “the Toy Store”. There was every conceivable toy, book, video game waiting—and Jarret loved each one.
Each night Jarret and I would pack a meal to take to the hospital to eat with Mom and Arlen,
and as soon as we were done, Jarret would drag Arlen from his hospital room,
as happy as could be, as happy as a child should be, to go to “the Toy Store”.

There he would play with every child, any child, oblivious to the multi-branch forest
of tubing and IV pumps, moon faces marooned in wheel chairs and haze of medication —
he would get through to each, Peter Pan ready to lead the Lost Boys in imagination.
And they would find him,

join in his charmed circle that knew only love of toys and refined sense of adventure.
He would play, each child invited, and urged to fly, because the Toy Room was so
splendid it could not contain them;
Peter flying ever upward, urging them onward, to forests, lakes, and lagoons,
adventures against pirate ships, singing with mermaids, faster, higher, to the Island
where only children are citizens and all are admitted, none denied (that love to play).

His triumphant “cock a doodle doo” was the natural finale to another night in “the Toy Room”
the children wild and unwilling to go to their rooms;
parents content their children are still normal;
volunteers truly worked and happy they were here this time;
nurses, though less affected by pixie dust than most, a little light footed;
and the corridor lights shine, wheelchairs stand empty and wait,
while elevators go up and down, taxis parked whether night or day;

listen to Peter’s war cry as it echoes through the corridors, past surgery,
past infectious diseases, past coronary, past oncology, and psychology,
past burns, and urology, it irresistibly crows “OOO o oo o OOO!!”
to call each child to dream harder, to save Fantasy Island from the
dark storms and shoals that surround it, to know that no pirate can defeat,

that nothing can withstand, a true heart at play.

Soft Spring arrives this moment
when children plead to stay outside.
“It’s too early, the sun is still out!”
Soft sigh of parents to deny it is so.
The easy float, day goes on and on;
sweet sound when Spring arrives,
“who remembers so many things?”

photo treatment Ward Maxwell

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