City Rise!

City rise!
Draw towers from earth,
make roads and messageways
to find all those
who seek you;
dare them with greater heights,
to cast nets further
and draw the clouds nearer.
Light the night,
until you burn like a field of stars
in the crown of your doing.
Let noise burst forth
as song from a mighty water,
let voices sing and babble
in a million tongues bound
by you with brick and mortar.
Life stirs within you,
and the earth is forgotten.
You define season, time,
make epochs of transience,
give birth to the new and miraculous,
sing with the delight of your invention,
steam and exhale the dreams of millions
congregated in your streets,
your homes, your castles;
your never ceasing song cascades.
As the old falls, new rises;
each layer another melody,
unknown harmony, until now—
you reflect all that we desire,
all that we wish to be,
defeats, profits, triumphs, losses,
all find their home in you.

City Rise! Draw towers from dust,
lift us above ourselves
into your beating, gleaming heart!

city of crazy people

First, there was Alex
who had long scraggly grey beard
loaded, liberally encrusted with snot
which was readily added to, without
warning both nostrils blasting, full
tilt, the look in his eyes
the definition of insouciance.
Alex would sell postcards
thrust out by grey knit gloved finger grabs
of scenes of the Island ferries & Princes’ Gate
probably Summerside Gardens
while steadily blowing his nose
like a whale surfacing, spouting
picturesque views laced with eruptions of mucus.

Now, there’s—
he’s written it across his 6-pack belly
with felt pen and is under a restraining order
not to go near the CITY TV building and its irresistible live cameras.
He does 2,500 pushups a day.
He corners a young woman at a bus stop,
has her feel his biceps, she’s smiling, doing it to be polite,
leave me alone is what the smile is saying. asks for some money
deranged escaped Chippendale dancer
pants, red suspenders, red shoes, no shirt,
Christmas elf hat fire engine red.

Hands down favourite—the Swedish Social Democrat:
a statuesque woman wearing a Wagnerian Valkyrie wig
including Brunnhilde braid buns like Princess Leia/ Rapunzel/ Lady Godiva.
She would stand, majestic, on the River Street bridge, over the Don Valley Parkway
in a blue satin evening gown and a golden blue sash that read
“Swedish Social Democrat”—you had no idea whether she was ranting or
asking for money or being filmed—’cause you were racing beneath her in a car
going somewhere and this blue Swedish phantasm saluted you
like a perfect dictator, queen of england, pope-ess of socialism,
her citizen’s pulpit a bridge that stood astride the world.

And now there’s Clark—he’s out in the west end
running for Mayor—you can tell ’cause he paints in whitewash
or charcoal, or chalk, big lettered signs at prominent intersections which read
“Clark for Mayor”—when you see him — he wears colorful rags and sings and
dances, rattles a tin can at pedestrians who manage to walk by his
gyrations, pleading, biblical curses, beguilings, flummoxes,
testimonies, apostasies and apostolizations—the endless tirade lost
upon us—we who live in the city of madman, saints, fools, sinners,
and those who sell postcards while blowing their nose.

thief’s song: it’s Sunday

it is Sunday and there are a thousand voices singing,
in every key, in every known language,
the churches of Toronto resonate with the song of the faithful,
especially women, a 5:1 ratio of women to men,
what is it that women know that men don’t get?
that’s the question I ask myself
as I make note of their faces,
ready to write down their license plates,
follow them to their homes,
ready to come back next week, praise the Lord
that the mistress of the house is away
and there is plenty of time to look for jewellery
… and things. I have a collection of the items
I have stolen from the households of the faithful—
fetishes, forbidden books, satanic images,
cookbooks from the Ladies Auxiliary of Aynesbury,
and all the usual sexual devices, creams, jellies,
incriminating photos and once I felt it was my duty
to kidnap the family pet and transport it into witness protection—
once that dog learns to talk, those bastards are toast!
The faithful are no better than you or me,
and no more sure to practise the Lord’s way
than I follow all ten commandments.
Mind you, Jesus hung out with prostitutes—
so he must have known at least one thief—
wait a second—scratch that thought—
far as I remember
he had a memorable meeting with two thieves.

Weather Woman’s Lament for Love

I no longer trust necklaces,
strings of precious lies … .
What grips us and keeps us
by giving too much for what we want?

I give up pearls,
diamonds, gold and silver,
hippie beads and moroccan glass.
I cannot believe, another moment, another string of lies.

One bound to the other, a chain reaction – all dreams!
The chase of the hot by the cold and the union
in snow and rain and thunderclash and drama –
all lies and childish dreams with no place to go,
no heroine, no hero, no redemption, no point.

I will lose my sun/moon dogs, all my rings;
I have lost all values and cannot tell you what that is worth.
I am drowning in a unseasonable micro-burst of exclusion
and no longer want to even know how to swim.
I cannot tell you what the future will bring,
what tomorrow is going to be like,
you’ll have to listen to the news for that.

I cast away the heat of the sun.
I forgo the tumescence of a handsome cumulonimbus.
I resent the equinoxes and re-setting of clockses—
the cant of the world can go to Kant
and suffer the consequences – I’m not going to.
I decant, recant, dirty old paint can can’t,
that’s my descant and rapid descent
into utter depression along the lines
of a running low front, accompanied by
fog and heavy blues. I have imagined you,
sought you so plaintively, heart yearning—
and I have only fallen in love, once again,
with a fantasy.

mother’s song: Showtime

5:00 p.m. run the water. set the pot to the side until the water runs clear. turn on the element. the water is cold so it is time to fill the pot, water splashing over the side, pot settles on the stove and water steams off the wet underside like mice nails chittering across the linoleum, it is a dreadful thought, there are mouse traps under the sink, Daniel must put them out tonight.

the pot begins to rock back and forth with the water expanding within, trapped and just waiting to boil, it is a miracle every pot doesn’t explode, just spews its contents out onto dinner plates, and everyone thinks it is perfect, better than ever before because why do we work so hard? and no one notices? I have to stop asking questions as if they are sentences.

chop onions, cut up vegetables, the kids like theirs raw, Daniel likes his cooked, start the frying pan, just enough time to run down and put in a laundry, the phone is ringing, damn, ignore it, that’s what answering machines are for, “Hello, No I’m sorry it’s a bad moment, no, no, I don’t think we need carpet cleaning, it’s a bad time, call back later—when the lady of the house is home.” I am insane—I have broken down completely—I am pretending I am not here, I am pretending not to be me.

race downstairs, grab the load out of the washing machine, that’s what pre-sortings for, throw it in the dryer, set the timer, be sure to listen because it is broken now and dings merrily away until you come down and open the door—it is really annoying—once I forgot and I woke up in the middle of a dream because there was this bell dinging and dinging and it’s time to run back up stairs to throw the onions into the frying pan and get that meatloaf going. 45 minutes to showtime.