Archives for posts with tag: Who Can Resist A Guy Who Laughs Like That

the stealing of light flees south leaving behind
the unforeseen faces of children at play;
bring out the play—they are hardened by summer—
soft and sweet with corn and butter—lean and strong
with endless running. Fall is the time of prowess,
the time of singing, let them sing the time of undoing.

It is still early, the leaves are not cut with fire.
The man before me has something to teach me
he is afraid of death, the death of his wife, he is looking
where I fear to go. Nature remembers this. That is why I
talk to him. He reaches out. Fall is the time of bridges.

I speak to him. I try to comfort him without fear, to pray
for him without wondering if some god, any god, could exult
in these moments of weakness, wonder if we are just
the simple relation that makes cruder, eternal beings feel superior.

We need to make moments that will become memories of grace. I pray
he be given strength when it is called for, let him help her
surrender if she must, fight to remember that she still lives. The children
speed around us on tricycles. The wind whips leaves in pools only I

will remember as I write, this moment. As I write I look at the future.
The woods are on fire with the quick and the dying. Fall is the finish,
the start. A squirrel picking through the first ground cover before winter. The leaf falling
to protect the roots. I am the nut that waits patiently to feed, or sprout and flower
again. I am the frozen bird that no longer looks through its eye.

The children are shouting about their game.
The sky glows at the end of day. He still
cannot leave. He is waiting for the children
to dismiss him; it’s nothing to them. They
are intent on filling last moments with noise and laughter.

I have to tell them to say something, “Tell her you love her,
you hope she gets better, it may be your last chance to let her know,”
they can’t understand, they’re too excited about their game. The light is fading,
the game is ending, there is laughter, there is grief.


Like a horse ridden by the general
I pick my way through a life of terror,
desperate to be insensate, to put my foot
ahead of the other without triggering an explosion.
Again and again, goaded, tricked, lost
I plod ahead, deaf to the dead, bereft
of bravado. I look for my stable, step over
brass buttons on the waistcoat of corpses,
epaulettes in the mud, faces from my past.
I snuffle, it means nothing. I seek the break
between fire and fulmination that is the quick,
the green, to carry the general to safety.

Now I feed in pasture though I do not
know what it means, nor where I have been.

This is my wife and she is pregnant with our dead child.

The stories must wait; the stories have all been told.
The storyteller is empty now; there are no gifts
of first lines. God is a mask again.
Oh faceless one who giveth and taketh away,
your gaze so impenetrable … so empty,
and still my tears cannot fill you. I am blind
and do not want to see through this mask;
I stand on the shore and attempt to sing for my
child, outroar the sea, mouth full of sand.
Life’s a beach and the beach is in me.
Must be some kind of joke.

When I hug her I smell the death.
When I stroke her hair I feel the death.
It curls between us, little product of a little fun we once had
just a memory of a while ago and we know
she is still nurturing it, body like a phone
off the hook, ignoring the signals. It can get like that,
you carry on as if nothing is wrong,
you still read the newspaper, or break
into song, Gene Kelly did it all the time,
I’d dance right now but I’m dancing right now … .
It’s just a slow shuffle, a little thing we cooked up
between us, this is my partner, this is my wife.

We move into each other, we try to fit
it all together again, perfectly this time, it is
a delicate operation and it isn’t made any easier
by me bellowing, “Harder! It just gets harder!
It’s so fucking hard I can’t stand it!” and I’m too
excited, too teeth grittingly, white knuckled, tense
and full of shame and guilt all the same time as
light headed drifting dust mote suspended by a sun
beam of light in a wondrously empty cave.
My wife whispering, “I got you babe, I got you”
and I am buried in her, what womb? what death?
This is how we make out, how we continue in the face
of it. I am that man. I could run but if I did I’d lose
these roots, this sunshine, the sweet taste of cleansing
rain. I cannot cry to fill an emptiness, instead
I will hold this mask and comfort it, tell it stories,
sing to it as if the night closes about me instead.

the sky luminescent pearl, not lacre,
shifts from blue imbroglio to indigo to serene
hue; rain swirls as wind and cloud breathe great globes
of balloon splattering drops, each visibly bursting as if leaping
from the ground in answer to multiple echoes of countless
splat others at impact.

A thundercloud resplendent as an admiral’s ship
settling in harbour, blows in above us. Lightning
bursts within, impossibly back upon itself illuminating
hidden canyons, mountains of cloud musclin’ might;
a giant lantern on parade.

Jarret, resplendent, his stance wide, his
weight forward, his green white magenta
water pistol aimed at the skies, aloft against heaven
says, “Pyow, P-yow, P-yow.”

The night is crackling, popping, echoing with
pings, patters, pongs POWS and; EXPLOSIONS LOUD—
far away.

The apex of all that was British or colonial or so we are told
by cannon, mortar fire, flare, pop caps and tiddly-pangs—
we wait, anticipating the stench
of sulphur, cordite, potassium the past to waft away

People imitate thunder and do not realize it.
Jarret and I sprawl at the lintel of Granny’s door
watching swirls and sheets of rain sweep across the lawn,
our gunpowder safe and dry, stored for another night.
The wind blows backwash of spray upon us.

Jarret and I curl into each other. Lightning arcs
from cloud to cloud. “Listen”, “Quiet”, “Any moment now”
I distract him until suddenly CRACK
unexpected thunder sends him leaping against me.

“Listen to the sky go Pow Pow Pyow,” he whispers
The thunder passes, far off pops and rumbles
I wait for another flash as it blinds us

instant arc flash explodes

thunder clap beside us we JUMP
into each other, Jarret shouting “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy”
raises his pistol, “Shoot Daddy Shoot” he implores

I guide my thumb and forefinger to mimic his salute
“PYOW, PYOW, PYOW,” we bellow into the wind

that echoes rumbles in our stomachs, the earth

twirls beneath us, an incomprehensible halo.

(a love poem to my son)

Jarret is in a Miro
Because I say so.
If I had a camera with me
I could prove it.
There are lines, and squiggles
around him and he looks
like a little squiggle himself.
My thoughts frame
in coherence with Miro—
Jarret has fallen into a plane,
another mark amongst the twists—
there is a question whether this is a picture
of something or just a
collection of surreal shapes; it
looks like a face that might be
a place.
Jarret is standing past/above/beyond
the nose.
A pithy branch unravelling
is the colour of eyebrows
etched in sand. There is a red
croquet ball to the right appearing
at the same height as Jarret’s head
now just another eyeball
according to my eye.
I paint in a mouth because there
isn’t one there.
I don’t have a camera.
I take a picture and say,
“looks like a painting by Miro.”

I gaze at you. The glancing sun rays of spring
have muted the neon glow of your cheeks
and made your translucent flesh alabaster
and rose. I wish I had a camera.
You are lost in a field of vibrant green—
green shoots in the trees, green leaves like rain.
Only apple blossoms and clouds in the sky
paint a counterpoint to the riot of green.
And you.
Your eyes are grey, windy and distant, you have
slipped into reverie, lost to this world, this instant.
Your blond hair ripples a small start in the field
that is enormous and intimate. Everything frames you.
As surely as the skies turn, sun burns, you have
strayed into a painting by Renoir. If I could take a picture
I would show you some day when you question
bacchanales and pastorales, elegies, odes and sonnets,
I would show you how the light shone this day
from within you, illuminating the landscape/manuscript;
I make a picture and save it for you. It is by Renoir.



Lars Willum is a tall Dane
with warm brown eyes
in a large head. That isn’t poetic,
that’s the truth. He’s married
to our friend Douglas. That’s legal
in Denmark, which is why they’re there—
Canada wouldn’t let Lars marry Douglas
which pissed both me and Deb off
so we asked them to be Jarret’s godfathers.
Revenge is sweet when served a la Danoise.


Jarret Dean Maxwell is a three month old Canadian
whose cheeks are impossibly large.
He looks like Dizzy Gillespie in mid-blow.
Otherwise he is like a porcelain figure you would buy in Dresden,
or Copenhagen, a li’l bit of perfect Chinoiserie
which would not explain how or why he knows art
the way he does.


Edward Hopper, American—
what everyone should know, anyone
who has seen a reproduction of a Hopper painting,
is that they’re big. His paintings are about size.
The America we have inherited has ground to dust
the vision that birthed it. America eats itself
to be sure it gets its young. Hopper’s paintings
are about the size of imagination in the New World.
That’s why people mistake his paintings for images of loneliness and alienation.
Hopper’s people are looking into what is not there, and finding their place in its order.
His paintings rise above the ground to survey the new landscape
of factory roofs, giant barns, buildings that display as they swallow America
and give birth to the New World.

Not that we need a picture today
to read between the lines.


Robert Mapplethrope, American—
every red-blooded American boy’s greatest fear:
he’s here and he’s queer.
Whatta sport—politics, sex and religion—
it’s enough to drive a man to war.

The images of the imprisoned captive
who has set himself free within his restraints—
this art toys with death and resurrection.
Mapplethorpe sets time free, once with his camera,
twice as the heretic hunted past death
by Jesse Helms, the righteous, anyone (it seems)
with an Army Base in their riding,
their pocket, or their breech.


mischievous perfect angel of dada:
da living line runs the world;
da mekanist will set you free.


Lars and Jarret are riding the handicapped lift down to the Hoppers at the Louisiana
I am walking down the stairs beside them because Jarret is fussing and upsetting me.
Neither Jarret nor Lars were upset by the Mapplethorpes though I had trouble with
the finger in the urethra, the weights hanging from a penis in bondage, but I admit
the image of the artist with the whip crammed up his tortured ass a poetic
statement. You can’t really say if this is eternal art—there are so many artists here
who I think are the product of an insatiable American taste for fashion reproducing art;
though it could be the symbol for the regurgitation of appetite and the torture of aesthetics.

It is the Tinguely that impresses me; before I see the active statue, one of Tinguely’s useless machines,
the purest expression of Dada, the purest expression of the art of this century, I hear
children laughing, stamping the button that activates the momentous pointless sculpture.
Activated, it cranks. rotates, whirrs, smashes, gravitates, pauses and settles back into nascent repose.
It leads me to believe kids generally appreciate more than they receive in respect—
a real test of art is if it holds a child’s attention—every time Jarret sees a painting he likes
his legs stiffen—now there’s a quantifiable response, which is Mapplethorpe’s message, I guess,
though I think pictures of Jesse Helms drowning in piss, or with his blood spattered cock
bound into an acceptable tasteful gilded frame might charm me more—call me idiosyncratic,
it’s the exception that proves the rule—even if it isn’t an appropriate image for a bastard ….

As I said, Lars and Jarret are riding the wheelchair lift down to the Hoppers,
to see colour planes of machined new sight, rooftops of industry recorded
for the laughter of children born after they become common, then forgotten, antique and precious.
The roofs—children take a lot of reporting to and need a lot of things explained before they can laugh,
it’s a matter of thinking for yourself—everyone in Hopper’s paintings is alone and thinking
for themselves, which doesn’t mean a lot to kids. The buttons on the lift are easy
to find and read, in a universal symbolic language—up, down, tryk for ned,
tryk for og, the brass bar swings down ponderously, the simple frame of the platform descends,
Jarret strapped into a purple stroller, decorated with images of baby mickey mouse, this is
the best art I have seen—the museum has raced to this floor with the idea
of the Tinguely and placed it with my son in his stroller—or maybe Lars and his desire
to ride the disabled lift, an aesthetic that cannot be stopped, the kinesis reassembling
the future into raspberries blown into the faces of horses’ asses.


It is the baby, Jarret, trying to fall asleep
switching and rolling from position
to position, pinching and tweaking both
my flesh and his in a delirium of doubt,
belonging, difference. It eats.
He wrestles
with the sleep that is stealing into him,
he sees it and fears it, a serpent at night,
gleaming, as real as foreclosure,
as dreadful as death. He curses
and yowls in a language between
himself and waking, and I lie there
pretending to be asleep.
He hurls
at me, his covers, his bed, his fate; I keep
hoping he will just fall asleep.

When he does
it is a breaching of giant walls, castles fall
into the sea; he is a whale split with axes
beneath Arctic skies, the village rejoicing
they are saved from starvation.

I am drawn irresistibly with him—
photons of play drifting into gravity.
The small, weak force will always
subdue the strong and powerful urge
to procreate. My wife waits and falls


he who has the bowl
is in control


babies play
parents lose

What arrives on a shell
of new blown shit, piss,
pain and blood, is the
treasure men seek, in deep-buried
chests told in tales of pirates
ruthless and brave, ferocious,
on a sea that makes no allies.

The eye drowns in saltwater,
the breeching of the ocean terrifies—
a father is carried away by a tide
that consumes so completely
he cannot measure its depths.

That is why a father cannot resist
the sloppiest tear jerkin’ hollywood hurter,
because now he will believe any myth;
some things are eternal,
some stories are told,
again, and again.

All things pass but this:
all things must be destroyed,
endless dust be unbroken,
rivers come to an end,
deserts surround the sea;
a father cries because he sees these things
and knows the promise is made to be kept—
he must smile, and keep to himself the tears;
these are only stories he was told.

we went to the river
and separated the inseparable
carried a jug of water
to the potter’s wheel, and joined
it again with clay and fire.
we ate drank bathed and loved
in a single plane of meaning
tracing our names on the rivertop
hot and cold, light and bold
she draws upon my tongue.

each pot cast, each new glaze,
tells the story of her fingertips
finger taps in the night,
sending messages along my spine
I see her pots, clay turns into time
I learn and ask, “can this be mine?”

trace of water on a new lip, spinning
her foot taps a beat, fingers
draw a bead into a line, fire
scores a new colour onto clay,
she has stolen the light from day.

I whisper to the wind, “this is mine”
and know it will remember.
Clay into love, she puts me amongst the embers
I know these vessels will outlast time.

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