Poem – On the Ice (2000)

On the Ice

We stood on the lake
Frozen in January
The first year

Of the new millennium
Talking of computers
And the internet.

Just eight feet of water
Under our snow boots.
The dogs rolling, snow baths,

Pushing their snouts
On the ice
Pulling winter inside

Their bodies.
Maybe they thought
They could melt the cold

And bring summer sooner.

Poem – A Loan (2001)

A Loan

 

Alone is not like a loan,

    the passing of time

        & the accumulation

of interest & the repayment.

    What would I repay to you.

 

The lights in the park

    Were not quite enough

        to keep the darkness

from reaching inside my coat

    & it was not a warm

    darkness tonight like

the warm darkness of

    bed & making love.

 

It was not even

    the warm darkness of

        summer & the long

look out over the water

    of the bay. The hunting

        for the waves out

there, the stars not

    moving in the wind.

 

It was not the darkness

        when you close your eyes

                standing in the shower

letting the hot water

        steal your body

                starting with your neck

your shoulders

        & your back

                the smell of the soap

reminding you that

        you are not in Tahiti

                or the Caribbean

& how the cold

        will greet you when

                you step out into

the bathroom

        steamed mirror

                allowing you privacy

from your own eyes.

 

It was not the darkness

        of the movie theatre

                & the passage

of popcorn & the

        willing suspension of

                disbelief like a long

bridge hanging

        between today

                & tomorrow

collapsing only in

        a sudden      dream

                Where you walk

through a room & I

        cannot follow &

then the host of

other characters

come up to me.

 

Whose faces, so

detailed, talk to

me & I cannot

hear & I have no

idea who they are.

Their precise features.

Where are the

rooms & the

houses & the swimming

pools & rivers

the garden that

I walk up to

in my dreams.

They are so

real & I have

                                never seen them

before. & why

                do my mother

                                & father come

to my dreams

                every now &

                                then. She still

walking    not in

                her wheel chair.

                                he old but not

ill. They come to

                see me

                                but don’t say

much, the moment

                shorter than a

                                commercial from

the after life. Makes

                me wonder how

                                often I was in their

dreams when they

                were alive, another

                                thing we never

talked about.

                    I tell you all this

over a phone line

                                        as if I were talking

out loud

                    to myself

                                        to the dogs

                                        to the cats

                                        to the mirror

I have removed           my glasses

                    so I can hear

                                        you listen.

 

 

 

[William Gibson

March 6, 2001]

Poem – Site Visit

Site Visit

 

We drove up two vehicles,

three dogs, sunshine,

leaves, the old farm stone wall waiting.

 

And they ran and ran

You told me where you will put the house

Where each room is going to be

How the view will be in the morning

The entrance way

The kitchen

 

We walked down to the tight grouped pines

And the dogs came back

With burrs.

 

Driving home, my face

Remembered the softness of your sweater.

 

My fingers, the bark of the old tree

You had cleared all around.

That would watch over the house.

 

The soft, sweetness of your mouth.

 

Poem – Water and Rocks

Water and rocks

When I am the water

running, holding,

you are the rocks

 

When I am the rocks

you wear away my skin

a molecule at a time

 

it is the slow race

reaching a touch

trailing the limits of the hour

 

and every moment a star in a full sun sky.

 

You know me now

I hear you yet again

the repetition of knowledge

and the familiarity is

unquestionably a disguise

for the children’s pageant

somewhere our parents are watching us

fighting their arguments again

uneasy in the eddy of the past

in the same chemical state

of exhaustion and retreat

I remember the statement you made about tears.

Yesterday I saw you cry.

Yesterday when I was alone I cried.

It was a mixture of missing

the yell and grin of my father

the sometimes stone

hate silence of my mother

and her working

harder than humanly possible.

It is not a pretty picture

the racking gasping wailings

of an almost old man

where does the ache come from

the emptiness of a whole life

ignoring joy

chasing nothing more than

illuminated rejection on a plate.

I look out the window

see the tiny car full of clowns

squeal past

with the mother elephant and her baby

bringing up the end of the parade

and I laugh

 

Poem – In Line (2001)

In Line

I was in a milk store

buying something

standing in line

short line

when the movies ate my consciousness

as they like to do

& I was standing there

& not standing there

standing in the mess line

with Steve McQueen

playing Jake Holman

in The Sand Pebbles

& wondering how screwed up my brain is

& wondering what Jake Holman

in 19whatever would be thinking

of in his line in his day

without movies & television

But I had to go back

because the Stanley Cup Playoffs were on

& I wanted to catch the end

of the second period

& the third

because that was somehow important

The privacy of my electronically large bunk

filled with noise

not of my making.

Poem – Parking the Car (1995)

Parking the Car

 

In the darkness of the next driveway

The eyes of the cat stare at my headlights

Then the tabby striped elastic band

Explodes, blowing out the candles of my headlights

as I shut them off

and turn off the ignition key

and the cat crosses the street in the dark grey of midnight

 

The engine cools ticking

like a confused watch.

 

May 2, 1995

a very old poem – In the Company

In the Company

 

The letter slot did its thing

and over Darjeeling Tea I read your letter.

 

His name is Joe,

and your daughter is Maude.

 

And everything’s fine.

Your hadnwriting hasn’t changed.

 

He plays golf, tennis, 

was a swimmer on the team in school,

that’s high and post secondary too.

 

The shine of it all comes through

like the polished steel water, sun

drilling the brain through the eyes.

 

He’s an accountant.

 

I’ve been driving a cab this winter,

getting a few parts in good shows that don’t run.

Writing the fourth draft of my novel,

wearing sweaters in the room,

eating soup,

just fine.

 

(December 1979)

this is one of my early attempts at narrative poetry