INTRODUCTION HEATHER FERGUSON Untitled CONTENTS A MOUSE IN A TOP HAT by HEATHER FERGUSON Fishing Edges Through Drowsy Eyes A Mouse in a Top Hat For Sale Overheard on OC Transpo Roots Behind the Scenes Narcissus Observed The Blossoming Spirit The Survivor's Gift War Games Notes for a Blue Sunday Meditations on a Wishbone Autumn Cat Classical Love Poem Bird of Paradise POST SCRIPTUM HEATHER FERGUSON Untitled
HEATHER FERGUSON Untitled ~~~~~~~~ So you want new eyes! Take a chunk of emerald sky (evening's depth compressed to a gem's hardness, a gem's cutting edge ...) and chisel unforgiving fact into light. - August 1985
A MOUSE IN A TOP HAT by HEATHER FERGUSON A Mouse in a Top Hat ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The following texts were first published in chapbook format in 1987 by the Rideau Review Press, in Ottawa, Canada, and are reprinted here with the gracious permission of publisher Stephen Brockwell. "Autumn Cat" also appeared in Sounds New, edited by Peter van Toorn and published by the Muses Co. in 1990.
Fishing ~~~~~~~ Not torn? Dusk closes over the slash, over the claw and over the crimson lure as the swollen horizon drains and darkens. Dark sky and darker lake, slow swells and shifting boundaries with a feather in between. A carp brushes the bait and a hand goes suddenly tense on a distant reel.
Edges ~~~~~ Cold coffee, set aside, old ... ... chipped rim ... Your sorrow eases into the jagged space its back against the knife edge between the turbid, brackish drug and blinding light. Her smile. The cup has printed interlocking rings across the window sill.
Through Drowsy Eyes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Through drowsy eyes, I see my bedroom door rimmed with light. Brilliant warmth is warping the wood, curling fingers round the frame like tongues of fire, like solar wind bending under the earth's pull. The corridor is forcing its way into my room, is turning my house inside out, is seeking entry. This is not fire that blasts the heart, no silent flash of summer lightening, but deft probing, I swear the rays are moving the door ... Or is it my hand, half knowing, half dreaming, reaching out for the edge?
A Mouse in a Top Hat ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A mouse in a top hat! is dancing: complex gyrations, little bows, nervous trotting steps along a picket fence between two window sills. The cats are most attentive tensed under soft fur, tails scything the grass watching the twirling, trembling mouse. Thinking, this time? What draws him back to totter between two worlds? Knows he the price? The jerky dancer knows not, thinks not, cares not, but lives for the scent of rhododendrons carelessly flowering along a garden fence.
For Sale ~~~~~~~~ Alone on the wharf, a fishmonger waits, waits and smiles as stray dogs nose through offal, as screaming gulls peck at garbage. He sniffs the air, and runs a practiced finger over glistening curves, plump, firm, glistening curves: see, what lovely flesh for sale! But sells no tragedies. These fish are gutted, quiet and still. No torn nets, no heavy seas, no oaths, no slipping feet. He smiles, and touches the sea secondhand.
Overheard on OC Transpo ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "I told her she can't have it, no way!" "Just kick her in the stomach, hard." "I can do it with a coat hanger." "She's fourteen" "My mother knows." Night bears down, chisel point in the earth. while ice cracks and water wells up anesthesia fans out in the widening starless gap; The sun floats like a deadman's face, for this is no eclipse. (Ah, for that airless caress, dark kiss unhurried swing through friction-free ether unequals made equal by distance: rare, but predictable.) Not so here; chisel point in the earth. Pavement breaks and shoves apart; people scatter like ants. Towers smoothly unroot and topple perfectly as if for the evening news. Turn it off! Lights! "I don't want to get married. When you're married, you're finished, man." "The boys and me, we understand each other . . . live like slobs, drink beer." "I don't want to get married, not for a long time."
Roots ~~~~~ This is a world of sweet dank hay and borrowing mice a twilight world shot through with memories. Spreading tunnels undermine the soft half-light sink like roots into musty air ... weakening the fear of wings. In and out. A barn owl carries a mouse into the searing light and the old barn wavers and fades.
Behind the Scenes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A re-run this, scratched and spotted; no comedy; these painted actors never knew the gift of speech - they gesture through the jerky, fading light slipping back and forth through unimaginable loves, as through doors, as through the mouths of strange beasts. The scenery a skilful blend of wobbly memory and hazy dream warped by hate, and warped still more by love. No comfortable abode, no place at the inn, no rest, not even in the stable.
Narcissus Observed ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Your face is etched in my mirror our features do not coincide.
The Blossoming Spirit ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dawn. A spider's web has captured the rising sun in its sparkling strands. . . . Rolling to the shore, a wave breaks, and green water turns to pure white surf. . . . A leaf is torn free. Not to die; see how it rides the wild autumn wind. . . . I build a castle out of sand, then watched the tide carry it away. . . . A splinter of ice glows in the sun like a prism ... noon in the far north. . . . At long last, the sea. That night I lit a campfire with my only map. . . . Light splashes from leaf to leaf, bathing the dreamer under the maple. . . . Fragrant, rain-drenched boughs ... drops are rippling the still heart of a garden pond. . . . Between the budding and the leaf, a tranquil space where time holds its breath.
The Survivor's Gift ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Charred stumps and silence. ... But ah, what a rich harvest of brilliant flowers! . . . Layers of nacre form Around a grain. Thus it is: beauty out of pain. . . . A sweet sacrifice: as if from wounds, sap flows from the plundered maple. . . . Such large, sweet apples! The tree that we had grafted bore the finest fruit. . . . Look, a wisp of silk! A milkweek pod opens, splits, and opens to the wind. . . . Under the chisel, the shattered stone releases its living fire. . . . A harsh winter passed, Cold beyond silence, and yet ... the apple seeds quicked. . . . In the warm spring sun, an icicle turns to flame then plunges earthward.
War Games ~~~~~~~~~ A strange war, this; there are no guns. Just your piercing eyes drilling their shrill vibration into my skull. Cities crumble behind the impassive blue; fingers tally off the fallen states. Gevena goes before you end your cigarette. The tip glows red and burns to ash Before you stub it out.
Notes for a Blue Sunday ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It's easier under the influence of notes, luminous notes, bittersweet ripplets, the finest narcotic pushing me gently toward the darkroom door. My heart shall have its chemical bath, yes, to bring out the images throbbing raw and redly in the darkroom light. I will not look. We dance like fencers using naked blades feint, thrust and parry, rapiers slashing the negatives; twisting coils entrap us. Multiple celluloid monsters, we foil our own attacks, trip up our own steps; each time we score a hit, we bleed. Back to cold clear light and savage indolence, I edit: snip, snip, snip, then sudden ripping. But the hole will not blur, the body waves its arms, shrieks silently; I see my fingers through the gaping tear.
Meditations on a Wishbone ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Insatiate white rush of twin arcs shooting forth like keening crescendo of winds whistling down the jet stream and yet buttress-strong and rooted both in the same pain. Irreducible as stone cleaving doubt as shining swords to ride the sky in triumph. ... How then this sudden deadstop in mid-flight? (Like a bridge obscured by fog just short of the other bank.)
Autumn Cat ~~~~~~~~~~ A cat slides across open lawn, belly low shorn of shadow, glancing sideways, naked under enemy fire. The dizzying space yawns and rolls; distant shrubs loom like banks of fog snipers, perhaps ... No fish here and certainly no mice - none daring the antisceptic frost-white stage: a ruler rules but briefly in this tiny realm. This chessboard with space dissected into quarters, into eighths, into hundredths hundredths stretching into quarters ... The cat clears one mark, slowing clears another, ... yet another ... freezes Ah death, you have such clean hands!
Classical Love Poem ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This is a day when flowers hurt me when birds fall to earth transfixed with song when the moon ploughs serenely backwards through the sky. Your unwritten letter rests in my hands like a Chinese scroll unfathomable brushstrokes, yet beautiful... the sweetest rose has fewer secrets than this.
Bird of Paradise ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ - for Jorge Etcheverry No prison so sumptuous; this canopy replete with stained glass orchids filtering out the dust and dew and light amid the olgives petals exhaling the perfume of exile. The prisoner splashes calligraphy across the sky - broad lattice?work of leaf, arabesque of vine - and tolerates the orchids which twine around his ankles seeking alien earth. fit company for treetop apes, he bellows street songs, scratches, sweats, and yawns; weaves a nest each night and ponders slowly ... to become a bird ... One day unscrews his head! - watching as the world revolves around - then tucks it squarely under his arm like a brooding hen til the damp feathers break free in an iridescent surge towards the light.
HEATHER FERGUSON Untitled ~~~~~~~~ A circle is perfect, they say so I bent time into a ring. Simple, simple! Uninvited, almost unwanted you walked through the charmed wall and snapped the bond like a curious child. I watch the years go snaking away down into the Garden of Eden. - June 1985
Welcome to Newsgroup alt.centipede. Established just for writers, poets, artists, and anyone who is creative. A place for anyone to participate in, to share their poems, and learn from all. A place to share *your* dreams, and philosophies. Even a chance to be published in a magazine. The original Centipede Network was created on May 16, 1993. Created because there were no other networks dedicated to such an audience, and with the help of Klaus Gerken, Centipede soon started to grow, and become active on many world-wide Bulletin Board Systems. We consider Centipede to be a Public Network; however, its a specialized network, dealing with any type of creative thinking. Therefore, that makes us something quite exotic, since most nets are very general and have various topics, not of interest to a writer--which is where Centipede steps in! No more fuss. A writer can now access, without phasing out any more conferences, since the whole net pertains to the writer's interests. This means that Centipede has all the active topics that any creative user seeks. And if we don't, then one shall be created. Feel free to drop by and take a look at newsgroup alt.centipede
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