Spring

Even between the barren oaks you can smell it.
Even among the old oaks, the lifeless oaks covered in dust, in sawdust, exhaust –
even when you’re walking between barren oaks, you can smell it.

And on the busy streets –
the Monday morning streets, packed with cars all filled with drivers
clad in black and business cazh* –
filled with drivers driving Audis, or their Civics, or Ferraris,
city bitches, exhausting rich bitches dreading the week
and lacquered nails, listening to Damien Rice, TGIF is only 5 days away,
Bellinis with the colleagues after work, everyone sucks –
Even at the crowded streetlights packed with Civics filled with drivers
who don’t watch out for bikes –
you can smell it.

Even on the cobblestone streets –
the brick-laid streets that clatter your teeth and unhinge your feet
as your wheels rattle overtop –
On the cobblestone streets with the Subway on the side,
the Second Cup, the Starbucks and garbage cans –
the Subway Fresh Eats Foot Longs Five Dollaz
buy now buy buy BUY free gift with purchase
you can smell it.

And on the stairs up to your office –
the enormous flights, fluorescent lights, skin-tight jeans a poly-cotton blend,
the three enormous flights of stairs light-years removed from the elements,
the flights encased in minimum eight layers of cement
and stacks and shelves of books and Post-It notes and push pins and rubber cement,
entwined between all the Macbook Pros, the Macbook Airs, the iPads, wrapping around the Androids, the 32 GB Samsung Galaxies S7s (this poem will be irrelevant in 1 year), the self-serve book checkout stations in the library humming with neglect,
Even the stairwells are no relief from its intoxicating scent.
Even in the stairwells you can smell it.

*cazh – short for casual, as in business casual.

**photo from flickr.com thx to whoever took it ❤

Night Fire

Do you keep the city lights to protect yourself
from the stars? The fluorescent glitter and the neon
that blankets you, the street lamps buzz, headlights
flood crowded arteries. You could kneel in the alley
and trace all the sources of light and what
they’re for, you could draw diagrams and
take pictures, create labels. You could sit
in an office, plan ahead, other’s futures,
carve up concrete with the tap of a key,
demolish a block in a single conference call.

When I look at the stars, I crane
my neck back, listen to the rattle of my breath
through tendons and bones, cast my hands
towards the earth, lean into the unknown.
Backward, backward, my body dips as I fold into
the depths of the sky, shrinking
beneath milky galaxies, disappearing beneath
all the boundless, consuming constellations.

November

On the first, she handed me her notebook
and laptop. I sat down in the living room
while the waves continued to break on the rocks
outside and the creek swelled a little higher,
wrapped myself in layer upon layer of blanket,
and began to edit. A comma here, a deleted word there,
these two fragments stitched together.
 
Her life opened before me, page upon page
upon page. She offered it to me, her life,
to read and to work with. At times, she sat
with me, and coloured, and answered my questions
and added more stories, more detail.
She gave me her days, her existence, and I met healing
through the breath upon breath of her story
weeping and whirling its way across the years.

dances

today i saw a river
it coursed around
caving-in cliffs
it moved
with a convicting power
and the movement
was beautiful

we are a river
i am a drop

today i saw a river
i gazed at its turning banks
was pulled in by the
sound of the gurgling water
and wished
for one moment
that it would all be still
that i could hold all the world
just as it was
for eternity

how unwise of me
to wish that i could stay still
when the beauty is in the movement

Upon finding that all of this is a big cosmic joke and the ending is just a John Cleese God walking across the stage rounding up applause

**I can’t claim full originality for this one — I think it’s inspired by the 1981 film Time Bandits

So this is the afterlife:
You see him enter and he doesn’t
Even notice you in the crowd
As he struts his stuff and grins
At the politicians and paparazzi
Shaking his hands and telling him,
“A fine job, good sir, mighty fine.
You really had them all worried for a while!”

These Hands

I think it’s worth it to mention –
Before all your prejudgments settle in
And you cast me in plaster as a loose woman,
A slut, and shame me, a girl
Who just won’t get her morals together,
And then you bronze me, or
Tar me and then feather me,
And drag me through your streets,
Your sanctuary, your conversations with bae,
A pin-up girl, a poster-child for poor life decisions,
And deride me,

That I was in love, once, too.
Once twice, one hundred times, can we say? – people change,
And our love changes with them, doesn’t it?
I was in love, and he played with my fingers,
Whispered his love to me, kissed me
On the forehead, before and after,
And we stayed up laughing
Till dawn together, we held hands
And walked home from the pub in the rain together,
We danced in the kitchen to Beyoncé together,

And he was my first, but he was not
My last, because when he left, he didn’t look back,
And when he started over new,
Weeks later, before the feel of him
Had left my hands, I had to, too.
And my hands, my heart, went numb, and
All I’m doing is shaking them,
Trying to get feeling back into them.

But I don’t really know how, by myself.