YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

April 2006

VOL XIV Issue 4, Number 156

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken

Production Editor: Heather Ferguson;

European Editor: Moshe Benarroch;

Contributing Editors: Michael Collings; Jack R. Wesdorp; Oswald LeWinter

Previous Associate Editors: Igal Koshevoy; Pedro Sena

ISSN 1480-6401



   Jessika Tong   
      My little doll


   Kelly Clarke
      To My Sestina   
      Little Sounds  
      On Following Paw Prints at China Beach
      Still Form
      For M.
      The Lie
   Michael Meagher
      mid March
      Yellow-haired girl
      The clear mind is a path
      The Florist's
      Dulled by a depression
      Observations: Spring
      Old man
      Love sequence
   Lee Passarella
      From The Book of the Dead
      Beasts in Their Jungles
      The Truth about Myths
      Sight-Reading Schumann's "The Prophet Bird"
   Lindsay Foran.
      Canadian Geese
      Memory: Uncle's Funeral
      Memory: Fishing
   Robert Dassanowsky
      To Martin Sharp 30+ Years On
                 (The Summer of Love Redux)
      A Morir
      Tantric Middle Class
      Under The Sign Of Trakl
      Before The Battle Again
      Not A Soul, Nothing
      Vienna Is A Woman
      Kubrick Descending A Staircase
   Robert Klein Engler

Post Scriptum

   Kelly Clarke
      To Be With The Ones You Love


Jessika Tong   

My little doll

         (Inspired from Baba Yaga)
I woke just in time to see the third night riding past
With my daughter. Ten years old and she is off to marry her father,
To annoint his hands with her cherub hips.
Her and that knight hauled the day with them
Like a tapestry. I watched the trees tack veils to their necks. One by one
Rolling eyes from their pits. Snuffing out my candles
With their breathing. I was left with my young face, an apple peeler.
First I took off my breasts, my hands, and then my heart.
I ground them like bought ingredients
With my pestle and sent them off, off to the palace
Where my daughter would be turning sixteen. I baked them in a cake
Then I wrapped that cake in bone and hung it 
Over the staunched shoulders of my grand children
And rushed them to her bed side, camouflaged as ginger cats.
My daughter will gobble it down, her father
Will adore her and her new classroom of familiars.
Oh, my little doll, my little doll
Eat and drink your mother, wear me in your stomach like
An earring. I will swim, infinitely as a gold fish
Through your legs, your neck and eat out your womb
That is knitting its first child.
You see my mother died as well, and I summoned
The dragon flies to us and they gave me you
All new and wet. My little doll. I fed you so you
Would speak. I pinned these skulls to the gate,
And I impaled chicken feet to the house so you would not leave
Me. I even gave you my bed and took to the stove.
I brushed away the snow so winter could not exist, I let knights
Decide the seasons and put the sun in a shoe box so you would stay
Fair and weave me curtains fit for a Lord.

Kelly Clarke

To My Sestina   
For two years we tried for you.
Maybe my little bastards refused to swim,
(no matter how much we egged them on).
Or maybe she had a caustic womb
that fried my little swimmers - Zap!
Maybe they never had a chance.
Your Great-gramma Ming said we had bad luck,
Made us drink some brackish tea, which I,  
Clumsy Canadian, always managed to spill - Oops.
At every ovulation, 'You' floated
at the headboard, 'You' hung over our heads.
Maybe we should have prayed for help from above,
but who knows if He controls what happens below?
I think it's just a "shot in the dark".
That one always brought a smile to your mom's lips.
I figured it could only help to make her 
smile. Right? "Swim bastards, swim!"
But 24 times she threw the stick in the trash - Dammit.
And friends, stupid friends: "Do it upside-down - Boom,
you're pregnant. Guaranteed."  And my jerk-off
brother: "Andy's boys can't do the front-crawl!"
Of course, his boys are a sure thing.
Three kids - Win, Place, and Show. Us?
Two dogs with sad eyes.
My mother said it was all in my head.
"Too much pressure and stress. Just relax. Ohhhhm."
I was too weak to tell all of them
to stuff it. Instead I conjured you up.
Bedtime hair and dawn skin, blue eyes, against the odds.
I manufactured memories: first steps; first day at the beach.
Darling 'You', squealing at the surf
as it sucks the sand from under our feet.
But your Mom never conjured – she said it was unlucky.
She came to me once with a sigh
in her voice: "Do you think we should just give up?"
"You know we can't, not us."
And now, every room is drowned in your wailing,
screaming, red-faced, feed me, pick me up,
change me, insistence that I ante up and be your Dad.

Little Sounds ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Petra, arched and inky; slinky-toy cat, stretched out long, across my Saturday night, pours off the sofa-back like sweet Muscat, puddles in my lap, like it's her birthright; perfect companion for Three's Company reruns, past demons and social famine. She sings little sounds that drip like honey, and I stir them into my wine for one. My hand slips from her head to her tail-tip, and she’s patchouli oil under my palm. She spills herself out, demands my worship, serenades me through another sit-com, then slips away to her hiding place and washes me off her paws, tail, and face.
Bound ~~~~~ Raging Bull with a walker refuses to let me take his picture in front of the graffiti wall where he waits... and I'm glad he said no, glad I'm not a photographer, character harvester, people collector I'd have framed him. I'd have matted him. I'd have hung him on my wall - black and white and hung by a hook.. No, I much prefer to write him up, And bind him in a book.
On Following Paw Prints at China Beach ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Alone on a paw printed B.C. beach at dawn. Where to run to when a cougar stalks you? Those rocks, that tree, the waves? No, there is no- where you are faster, more graceful than a cat. Is this the place? Is this the place where you are faster, more graceful than a cat? Those rocks, that tree, the waves? No, there is no- where to run to when a cougar stalks you, alone on a paw printed B.C. beach at dawn.
Hero ~~~~ Yellow aspen leaves swirl, and gather at Nameless' feet. He flies on the river of gold, sword high.
Swim ~~~~ If there's no shore to swim to even the most accomplished swimmer will drown.
Still Form ~~~~~~~~~~ My boy's laughter flits up the walkway on winged beats and winds through still-form wind-chimes as I write.
For M. ~~~~~ I Your form makes my mind wind and swing like a tire swing fling under aspen. II Your form makes me want and wait for washout days in wound up sheets. III Your form makes my mouth want and water for a meal of mixed metaphors and open out doors.
The Lie ~~~~~~~ I looked at him yesterday as he was driving me through the city. All those years - 21 years - I've been telling people he saved me. I told them - This man is my saviour. I gave him credit for who I've become. Then it struck me, right there, on the corner of Bank and Catherine, light flashing green, a car alarm going ballistic in some underground parking lot, the child's voice filling the back seat to capacity, and the city sun shining on my husband's face, It was all a lie; I'd saved myself.
Michael Meagher mid March ~~~~~~~~~ mid March from a concrete bench- goths, punks, young daughters with mothers, a woman whose sneeze reminds me of my sister, an old black man bundled up with a knapsack slipping from his shoulders who wears an expression of wisdom, a man whose headphones dangle from his ears, a young black man toothpick-thin with concaved chest yellow worker's boots Nike shirt jeans far too large, one woman carrying a bouquet of pussy willows, another with a brown-clad baby strapped to her chest, rich French girls, a cigarette-smoker wearing a brown scarf who walks with a purple-leather jacket-wearing old man, the little sparrows pecking at seeds in an ice-covered garden, the sad trees growing through chain-linked fences, the girl wearing black metal-studded skirt pink and black socks birthmark on her thigh, lampposts, trace amounts of melting snow along sidewalk cracks, torn advertisements, far-off Celtic music, a Spanish man who sings beautifully, a beggar who wears bright-green pants, several men eating ham and bacon subs...- I here and now make a pact for now and forever, with Ottawa and with China, with the moon and sky and with the animals, with the grass blades and their infinite possibilities- let us make a pact, here and now, with beauty and with the unity of it all
Yellow-haired girl ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ it was evening time nearly seven, closing time the line held several people but I couldn't take my eyes, yet trying to be subtle, off a yellow-haired girl at the side of the counter wearing a pink scarf wrapped gently around the neck and a black felt coat un- buttoned torn at the elbow she tucked few envelopes into her coat one into the international mail slot I wonder if her lover left her for a winter of travel like a sudden wind gust she, all covered up, took to the outdoors it was a warm January ten below once again, not even once I'd see her the clock struck seven I was third from the register not a minute ago I, heedless although half-aware, noticed him, black leather gloves briefcase in hand pants tucked neatly into socks galoshes white with salt, cut the line, wearing an air of business "I think, a..." "Sorry, sir, you looked to be browsing through the chocolates I really am in great hurry," he said, approaching the counter I fall in love, I thought, as the woman took out the CLOSURE sign, each day, over and over again love, nor his rhetoric kept me closed within myself but, rather fear, the fear that one day, I just might have to involve myself in this world
The clear mind is a path ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The clear mind is a path; this path is one lucid thought. Others gather, if forced, around, untouching, this path. Although loitering of will, they are irrelevant, indescribably non-existent. It is like walking focused through a crowd, each insignificant individual clearing the way as you, unnoticing, make your way along your route
The Florist's ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The florist's is of a different world than the one outside- the discouraged sighs and heaving chests from the crowds; its panhandlers and its car horns: it's not the shop's pungency or its warmth that makes it different: its temperature could stand at 15 degrees, and its tables could be holding stone flowers. A sheet of glass held by mortar- this is what makes these two worlds distinct
Dulled by a depression ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ dulled by a depression and numerous hangovers for sixty days. now I'm reborn, and with my senses, too. Dragging feet, pink lights on Wilde's, faces sunken and swollen, laughter and jazz music on the corner—they all startle me, like I've been deaf to these sounds and blind to these sights for so long, so that I twitch nearly. i'm reborn, and it feels good: from the grey, like phoenix, I've risen with body whole.
Observations: Spring ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ early March old dry leaf rests on bus shelter floor. crushing it to light brown powder with foot, yet its veins remain intact * 20 minutes ago, a man angrily cursed through the streets the whole city went silent— I wonder, where is this man now and what, at this moment, takes up his time * for two hours from a concrete block I’ve watched people for those repeating faces, what has elapsed between visits by my eyes?
Old man ~~~~~~~ You are so much wiser than me, it's odd to call you a friend; and I love my father. We usually talk sitting down. It’s odd when we continue our talks on our feet, you looking up at me from six inches below. * You, oh wise man, stand nearly a head shorter than I. Let us talk: I will sit and you can stand: I feel more comfortable this way
Love sequence ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Before the last time I left her I made sure to take a good look at her fingernails and lift her shirt as I hugged her, touching her lower back, feeling the electricity of our flesh one last time * The world's words don’t matter, our families and our struggles don't matter, the walls and the ceiling, the cars outside and the bombed villages, these things begin to die when locked in our embrace, in the solitude of your room, our pure and absolute love matters. * The minus thirty wind is biting, but don't think for a second that I wouldn't take my naked hands from my pocket to hold your hand in the icy cold * Don't pretend, by drowning yourself in another man, in your science work, by denying me, by denying us- don't pretend we're not meant to be * I'm reading a novel. Frankincense and myrrh it reads. An old lover comes up -one who's love I still pine for-: when we shuffled through the old ruins of Pompeii, stopping, giddy with love, to search through barrels of perfumes and herbs. i don't at all recall the smell * on the public transpo a smell it takes me back to my lover it must be the young girls that stand in front of me their perfume... but, from my right, it comes in waves- a man chews gum beside me
Lee Passarella From The Book of the Dead ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The coroner's world is well lighted as underworlds go but as monochrome as a catafalque, a winding sheet- some appurtenance of the dead. Gurneys, tables, sinks, lockers, scales: everything chrome steel, endless steel. He is the great god Anubis of the place, judge of the dead. He has no use for the ankh, the key to human life. It is the key to nothing that he needs to know. But like Anubis, he weighs the heart. His Desk Reference says, The human heart weighs between 250 and 400 grams and is the size of a clenched fist.... ...he weighs the homeboy's heart and the apoplectic merchant's heart and the pimp's heart; he weighs the jaundiced bag lady's heart. He weighs the raped and beaten and cut-up housewife's heart: 318 grams, it says. This heart is true.
Beasts in Their Jungles ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The pines groaned all last night, staggered by an unseen weight fretting old, parched joints. Fur of our Shih Tzu as I walk her frames her wise face in a gust-blown ruff. She jumps at the skirr of ghostleaves on macadam, bobs her head-hangdog, listening for the thrash of limbs as the beast that stalks us shoulders aside the undergrowth. I come away pitying her animal terror: I see myself as I slink in, at cold first light, hunched at the entryway to waking, salving last night's ancient wounds.
The Truth about Myths ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Shih tzus make excellent mothers, the handbook says, and she is one, down to tongue-disposing of the very waste that's dribbled from their nubby little spouts. Five pups, all males. And when their pre-dawn scratch and clamber wake us, she jumps up into the plastic wading pool that is their home- within-our-home to stop the racket of their paws and mouths. Night or day, they cry out to her in the voices of some other species-weird ontogeny. "The whales!" my wife says, half asleep; then, whales and their songs it may well be. But litter of piglets, pack of rats, flock of shorebirds, even, comes to mind. Finally, their racket becomes our dear dog's pain objectified: battering ram, siege cannon to the ear, the heart. On milk alone, they grow from an once or two to a couple pounds, their jaws the powerful siphons that fuel their always-neediness. They ring her dry as an orange squeezed down to the pulp, until her belly sags from her like she's been flayed, the dugs gray, limp and pendulous as garden slugs hung from leaves. The rasp of her spine is intricately there, underneath the straitened skin. I think of that myth about the pelican, how it's presumed to feed its young on the meat of its own breast- a noble little lie she tells me has more than a crumb of truth. More of truth than I have in me when, absently, I pat her head, toss her the ritual bone Good dog.
Incorruption ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Untroubled by fate as a sleeping infant, the Heavenly Spirits breathe.... -Friedrich Hoelderlin The dead do not want us dead.... -Jane Hirshfield This photo of skeletal remains on the Wilderness Battlefield, May of 1864, could be a friendly monitory, a Jolly Roger hoisted as a caution to the landlocked and the deadlocked, to the foot soldier who is the blood and sinew of any war: the crossed long bones, the interrogatory skull complete with mock furrow to its brow (though incomplete as to the grinning mandible). It might, in small, be the vision of a bombed-out city from our own century. Here, the vacant eyeholes of houses stare back at us, the broken arches of busy bridges no longer busy, and bridging nowhere. Over there, the flying buttress of the pelvic bone buttresses its nothing, the cathedral a ruin, the master builder in comfortable retirement somewhere where the dead leaves don't pile up on the lawn, winter after winter.
Psalm ~~~~~ 1. The sky is writing letters to itself, bleak missives torn from an endless pad. They whirl, in black eddies and vortices, around a door framed in light that offers sole escape from this house of cozy self-recrimination the storm has built. From newel to eaves, and eaves to cornice, vortices that catch dead scraps of leaves in a slow, gray dance: cloud on purling cloud. A fugue and double fugue of cloud. Then the door opens, unfurls like a white rose, calyx and petal. 2. The Lord made for my lord a footstool of his enemies. Of which, O God, I am the most recalcitrant, the most stiff-necked. Lord, I am the grubbiest of Thy many footstools. But above me, a wild sky leaves its tattered past behind, strewed like old newsprint. 3. God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Telegraph, Holy Wireless: an ceaseless dialogue-stars, clouds, sand harangue each other back and forth across black chasms. Forgive me, Father.... ...against...thee only...have I sinned.... ...and it shall be forgiven.... Go, and sin....No more. The stars eddy, swallowed in a whirlwind. Yet from this black sky, not snow-the manna of God's irony. Instead, petals falling: frail white shells small as a grain of sand. As a nascent hope.
Sight-Reading Schumann's "The Prophet Bird" ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Against a sky as slatey as the topside of a pool table, the robin sits her crooked mast of yaupon holly like an Ishmael contemplating the infinite ocean of the self. Her beak set toward the gale known as March, she rides her nest as if she'd fight you for each millimeter's weave of pinestraw, leafscrap, looking out to the horizon of her own small soul, to that avian equal of the thousand-eyed Krishna. Or the white- hot Christ transmogrified, flying the image of Elijah like an ensign in the blue over Palestine. She devours her avian edition of the Gita, the Bible, the Koran. Tells her rosary over and over and over-each fat blue bead.
Lindsay Foran Canadian Geese ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ With the first frost I fly, they fly away. Migrate to Florida and when they left I felt I could no longer stay. In your chair you wait patiently staring out the window, bird seed straining through fingers. I laugh and talk - you don't notice. "The geese are home", you comment. "They'll need me to feed them again". The nurse has left, knows my schedule. I have landed to retell your life, show you old pictures, share our old memories and hope that one day you will think of me as you remember their return. It was always the birds that led me back to you.
Memory: Uncle's Funeral ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Uncle died, you were only thirty-eight, I was thirteen, never seen a dead body before. The funeral parlour reeked of stale flowers and freshly vacuumed carpets - thinking they can suck away the scent of death the stain of tears, the heavy footprints of the living. Mom and I sat at the back, casket closing, you standing alone, mumbling the prayers you forgot you remembered. That was the first time I saw you cry, bottom lip, quivering, tears flowing down your cheeks gliding over lips and dropping off your chin onto the carpet. Now you only cry for the geese, desperate when they leave, anxious when they have been gone too long, thinking they have lost their way home.
Memory: Fishing ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ We went fishing every summer in the river, at the bottom of the road. You would hook the bait – I never could – refused to watch as the hook pierced its wriggling, rubber skin. We mostly caught sun fish, their scales sharp and unappetizing. I always pleaded to set them free – "It's just a stupid fish, enough of them already". But when you thought I wasn't looking, you carefully released the hook, placing the fish in the river watching as it swam to freedom. I never told you, you never spoke of it. There were never any fish for supper.
Robert Dassanowsky Palimpsest ~~~~~~~~~~ Enlightenment ruins of classicism Venus of the rags goddess of reason a chant in memoriam a fetal position a tree of constancy a color smeared by effigies the eternal fixated cunningly dashed over and over enlightenment ruins the abdication of ecstasy
To Martin Sharp 30+ Years On (The Summer of Love Redux) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Scrape my skin with women Loosen my tongue with meth Stuff my nose with virus Coat my eyes with imploding virtuality Fill my ears with crap Stick my legs in Levis, once again I'll tell you nothing about Iraq
A Morir ~~~~~~~ Cartesians along for the ride find little to do sitting in the wildflower meadows thinking of flesh Often it flows with letters not sentences often in falls in wheezes of consciousness Find me a thief find me a thief to s(t)eal that door incoming fraternities
Tantric Middle Class ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Overloading majesty glibly he conquers effigies things fall off the sky cleaving, and cleaving still slam the quick-cams find a shot of purpose as a ludic gesture He scratches his arm mindlessly, his wife ignores him in her book the images that fall fool no one in an armchair Nothing is red but blood outside stare and look back the membranes have permeated it augurs a different kind of darkness
Under The Sign Of Trakl ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg 1. Finding home is never the battle. 2. A sign points the way and commemorates. 3. The gardens rip at history. 4. A child sets an altar of pebbles and petals at the well tended grass verge. 5. She claps her hands once moves on, looks back at her motherland. 6. What religion is this? 7. Finding it again is.
Before The Battle Again ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ For Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) Moving the statue of a riderless horse to expand the street to let the traffic flow Kissing the dead stealing souls with poetry Ten millions are your father creating ready made salvation The news report relates the wisdom of small nuclear bombs less an offense to large targets In the swoon of a dance We prepare to brush the ashes Into the grout of path stones To raise them again for small victories Brocade shreds, libraries burn Even smaller, even smaller Like bursts in an artery like the ash, like the shriveled of forgotten trenches like the atom.
Not A Soul, Nothing ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ She presses her face against her partner then onto the frosted window I’m going to see if I can see a tree she tells him I flew a plane this small before we were hit by lightning She hums, shifts presses against his jacket then the window Its so important to find the little things He pulls her and presses his lips on her cheek. she glares into the cabin outside, the desert Has veins that are dry the plane banks her face pressed against the double glass Eyes searching for driveways.
Euro ~~~~ Bits of wood pressed to a great thinness unite, promise elevate and bridge Treaties break and mend paper burns, more trees fall, scribblings end lives books fail and rot Bits of wood into wrappers, paper rolls, boxings, parchment seals fate, heals wounds Under glass, ink fading long lines form to see it in trade, less can starve more can own the centuries Trees are felled, trash collected dyes examined, imaginary gold weighed, millions embraced bridges carefully etched With new tint, continent unites the wounds heal, bridges drawn, money is sent for survival of distant tribes for separation, for detachment.
Vienna Is A Woman ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ She has rings that are her streets and a Gürtel endings in A and soft madonnas cloaking stone Embracing the polyglots the hordes who come and violate and foster After tens or a hundred years they die off but the children are always hers They stay or scatter father, return, die She is never mentioned along with the grids and the towers with the capitals of man London, Paris, Rome, Berlin She sits roundly, womb emptied, not forgotten, sutured, covered with lace Her city skirts tugged on now by orphans, she often aches from the missing at her breast.
Kubrick Descending A Staircase ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This is a trivial poem elevated to great sagacity All that you read here will be undercut by your hunger by your lust by defecation The flaw's the art as these marks stare coldly into your iris The wisdom of the ages, a flourish the apocalypse is rock, paper, scissors And nothing moves slowly
Robert Klein Engler CROSSROADS AT GRANT PARK ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The trees fan bare branches against the cold air of this late, March morning. Some say they are dead, others say they just sleep their old, arboreal sleep, and wait, the way saints wait, to later have their gowns of green unfold. Such mysteries appear to the solitary soul. Sunlight pulls up the tulips and hyacinths, or do they push like sores from down below? The flesh on my bones is as soft as yours, yet my motives were bent to father zero. I see you ahead, holding hands with the shade of love, counting coins of grief to measure what candle to burn. Like you, I held a comrade who's gone to earth. We worked hard, too, but nothing much remains of what we made. Some say our rest is just eternal night where dusty fingers scratch the lids of dust. Others marvel how the cold air turns bright, ready to be broken again. It is as easy today to carry emptiness as it is to carry light.
WHEN YOU HAVE A NEW HOUSE, PEOPLE SHOULD VISIT ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ There is a hint of spring in the January air. The long arrest of winter has its way to go, but today it relents--sunlight is everywhere. The hour is warm, even if it reflects off snow. She left the old house for a new one, but still lives alone. It was difficult to leave behind articles of faith. Next, she must let go her dry skin, the stiff demand of love and then the shadow of her scattered bones. Snow and dust are one beneath time's mill. Yet, in the radiant twilight that her days allow, she can forget the fields of ice below the moon, and imagines living long with him again and how it will be all right to plant flowers, soon.
BEDTIME STORY ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mother and father are calling me. Beyond the sky, across the sea, mother and father are calling me. It's not to supper that they call, it's not for cake or playing ball, nor dancing in a mirrored hall. "Away, away," their voices say, There is no time to pout or stay. "Just follow us, we know the way." Their echoes call from out the deep, to warn there's nothing more to keep and soon we join them in their sleep. For all that blooms in time will go where worries melt like April snow. Don't be a stubborn child, let go.
THE RAMPART CAVALCADES ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Knobs of colored lights and chrome, Pendant baskets spilling over with flowers, A wall of TVs, recombinant images: None of it works. I still think about him. Why did I come to a bar crowded with men Who offer their ice to pillars of salt? Smoke another cigarette. That click, scratch, flame from a Zippo Is a complete ritual. Damn, Wednesday I go for my blood test. Have another drink. Right now, I am not above stealing what I want. Today, all the way up the brick wall, Hands of ivy begged alms from the sun. On this green screen I saw his face. Our defeated desire is begging like ivy. How else will freedom happen except The days of the world bring it about? Across the city marriage plans are made. Ropes are let out. Knots tied. Ribbons cut. I am willing to take from him the way Another took from me. What will we do? I hear the glass music of blessings break. Where's mine? The nomads move on. Searchlights play metronome on the sky. The stars are washed away by a bright haze From the city. For some reason, God gave The boy at the table next to me a crippled body. Still, it is good they found each other - The world lives another day. A new generation is knocking on the gate. I look up from my coffee, and see them, Full of life, their hair strung with light. They give their bodies to one another Carelessly. So, why am I still sitting here? Because I was paralyzed by a kiss. Now is the rush hour of the gods. Buddha chants to bass guitars. Boys whiten their hair, they want to look old. Lead us by our rings to oblivion, they pray. So, the cry goes out, rave, rave, Rave against the dying of the night. Techno-trash children lounge in doorways And stare up at me like prisoners for sacrifice. I am on my way to meet him, wondering If the right words will fall in my lap. They tell me a new community is being born. Look, neither their clothes nor their ideas fit. The ghost of Heidegger rides with the ad On the side of the bus: be once, be always, Just be. Madison Avenue's plea for Authenticity. Clever, by saying it you Deny it. Church bells clamor - think of The man who digs a grave for his child. In a dream we are swept up from the street By soldiers and forced to wear striped suits. An old woman behind a curtain hands me A coat. I refuse it, and hide my papers. We are separated. I find him. We go underground. He is atop me. His key unlocks my mouth. From a gray, malodorous drop to a dusty box, That is the course of man's life under the sun. Yet I am still here arguing with my body, Arguing with my age - love tastes good, But the memory of love gone is wormwood. Doctor, how many specimens need you collect? One did not believe and was trampled at the gate. Another was excluded for muttering names Over wounds, yet I write his name, And say it in the street, hoping he hears To offer me the light of his face and hands. Say it slowly, add the letters, the sum is, yes. Time's brass pendulum cuts off ark after ark of air. In this world some fruit falls before it is ripe. Pages drop in the river of confusion that flows Past my door. Where is the current going? They say, in the world to come, this assembles To a city with jeweled walls and gardens. Silver trains transcribe the bridge, Black and white reflections write ripples On the river, flags stretch and then relax. Light flows down the long canyon Of streets from a window in the clouds. His voice calls open what sleeps in me. Day after day I read the wrinkled mail. So many desperate scribes pecking away Like chickens at the scattered corn of words. A continent of blank pages waits for a rain Of letters to end the drought, to write on them: This is the name of what you love. Yet is not today about being tender And sewing up wounds with the glory of hands, Is it not about trusting one another in the dark, Is it not nights and days, is it not offering Our clotted words, is it not the light Of a companion shining in the darkness? Stones only know the weight that keeps Them down. For them, love and wisdom Are the same silence. Joy is not to move, And death itself is a kind of motion. Do we wound stones when we lift them up? Wound some men and words pour out. What cannot change in me is made like stone. My love is my weight. I have been warned. It is like warning a pillar. Read these Inscriptions. They rest on the bedrock Of childhood: father, mother, book. Here is slate, here is chalk, here! Born nervous into a morning of clouds, I listen for the gallop of far-off horses. Could I take a part from the men I love And put them together to make the puzzle Of desire complete? What is missing? Father, his kiss is such tenderness. He dislodged something loose in me, and now It is falling, falling the way a stone falls To the floor of a white canyon, falling The way a dancer who leaps falls. We wait and listen, the feather pauses, and when it hits, silence explodes. They wandered in the desert for forty years. There were no gems or gold to bring home, Only dust from the well of words. Take it. Make a tent. Make an alabaster dome. Make a cushion in your heart, pillow my fall. This is all the wealth I have to share. On the eve of the ninth of Ab, these are Forbidden: the joy of study, scented oils, And the pleasures of love - so it is written. Carry my desire out of the city in a coffin. In a room filled with light from high windows A man touches our prayers to a piano. Before the poet there is the dream hunter. The sky is everywhere and for the taking. I watch him sleep. His pulse follows the dream. The black hood of the falcon is removed. There is a flutter of wings like breath. He rips raw vowels from the bone of love. Across the harbor white boats point to the wind. A black lace of rigging scratches the sky And deltas downward to a forest of masts. Is it not likely the dead will rise? If you look at letters long enough, shapes Appear: sails, chariots, who knows what? Such is the pardon my letters buy. Do not be afraid, I write as if poems were A proposal, when they are simply sign After sign, rose after rose, an apostrophe In place of pain. Maybe it works! Draw the shade. Light the lamp. Write.
THE VANISHING THEATER OF REGARDS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ She asks me if I still love him. "Yes, I do," I say, "but it's different now, he doesn't Live here anymore--since we were in school, He's moved to fortune and forgetfulness." All our particulars have bled away and just A shell remains--it is as if an auditorium Were imagined evaporating, metal gone to rust, The gilded hall, full orchestra, silk screens, Breastplates and battlements, hum by hum Diminish; violins, trumpets, tambourines, All fade away, there is a dampening of drums. The curtain turns to threads, and melodies dim. All that remains is a song without words, The bright, magnetic music of a seraphim-- As radiant as the high, cold light April leaves, Luminous behind these almost greening trees.


Kelly Clarke

To Be With The Ones You Love
The long hallway longer-when-you're-seven hallway leads 
to sounds of past tense parents and friends and guitars 
strumming humming half tunes into the night time is the right 
time to send me to bed time stories still sound in my head 
becoming lyrics for the first song I ever wrote a note to 
Daddy asking him to come home from B.C. to be with me 
and here he is folks the best guitar player ever never a no-
show like George Jones was his favourite and he's my 
favourite too even when he doesn’t show even when he 
does show and tell me to go to bed like a good little girl.


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  YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts - Copyright (c) 1993 - 2006 by 
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