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Coquihalla

June 12, 2015

I

I am as naked as the stones,
patched here and there with moss
and shadow, rough against the sun.
But for my skin, so soft and false,
I’d lay upon these rocks
and let my shame be stripped away.
Beneath the wind and staring sun,
in time’s remorseless gaze,
my nakedness might be embraced–
but for my sin, so soft and false,
the sun might be my pride,
the stones my equal company.
But human skin is soft to sin
and human skin is false–
my nakedness does not belong.
So clothe me, waters, close upon
my flesh; encase my form
in icy vestments, dress my sin
in fresh green skin that cannot stay
to taint its cloth with me.
Draw on your garments over me
and dress my every open pore
in rapids’ froth and cloth
of racing river green and white.
Conceal my shape from me but run
your tailor’s fingers through
my every fibre: know my flesh
so when, undressed upon the stones,
one day, you might release
my beauty to me in the roar
that never ceases. Clothe me now,
O knowing waters, dress
me so my beauty might be shown.

II

My friend the robin redbreast flies
with such fantastic ease
across the frothing torrent that
the journey seems mundane. And so,
perhaps, it is, on wings–
when avenues of air are clear
and wide and open to your sight–
but not, it seems, to me.
I do not see the curls of wind–
the smooth, wide tracks that wind makes or
the narrow streets of breeze.
I do not see the fluttering art
of playful air, no boulevards
of breath are open to
me. All I see is rapids’ foam
and rushing crystal green crossways
to me in vicious paths:
no bridge of air to carry me.
But I would cross this river, if
I only knew the way–
reveal to me your secrets, friend!
Explain the lightness of your bones
that lets you rise and flit
with such simplicity across
this fearsome river flow. My friend,
oh Robin, tell me what
I must release to fly as you
do. Must I shed my naked shame?
(Or must I drown to cross?)
I will not shed my cares to cross,
nor give my prideful intellect–
are these what hold me down?
Perhaps, perhaps I should just leap
into the air–into the froth,
perhaps, perhaps–and give
myself unto what stream that takes
my heavy flesh into its arms.
But Robin, fly ahead,
I may just need a moment’s rest.

III

I lift my eyes from frothing glass
to see the mountain’s eye,
relaxed, look over me and down
the river, sparing not a thought
towards the dancing tree
that shadows me, nor what it hides.
This river’s but a vein to her,
a hair’s-breadth course upon
her foot she crosses every day
when sunlight hides behind her back.
She casts her eye upon
its length of roaring foam and mocks
its noise with silence. What am I
to such an endless eye,
and what am I to wish to fly
across this hair’s-breadth vein of glass?;
to think I could be dressed
in cleansing cloth drawn from a thread–
as seen within the mountain’s eye–
a single thread to dress
a tiny naked body, huge
as God but small as nothing to
this mountain who can cause
the sun to sleep each passing night.
She would not blink were I to fall
into the torrent’s arms.
I would not draw her gaze if wings
grew robin-grey upon my back
to carry me on streams
of air–no crossing of this froth
would inverse through her distant eye.

These rocks on which I sit
are dust of ancient mountains’ skin,
and I am just a germ between
their crags, left here to fade
before a single stone is moved.

IV

I’m sitting useless by a fire.
The river’s roar is faint,
now, through the trees, and I am still,
and clothed in smoke and cloth and thought.
The wood is running low,
and . . . so am I. The forest breathes.

V

I am as tired as the stones,
but never quite as still,
and never quite at rest enough
to feel the flow of time dissolve
my edges. Tiredness
is soft on me, but weighs as much
as mountains–would that I could be
a stone! A flake of dust,
to fall asleep, to melt away,
stroked by the river’s lullaby:
to never feel the mountain’s eye
or need a garment but the sun,
a blanket warm and kind.
I am as tired as the stones,
but I am still awake.
I can still lift my gaze to watch
the robin in its easy flight.
I can still hear the song
of rapids’ froth–no whisper of
my beauty there, not yet, not while
I’m still upon these rocks.
I’m still upon these rocks, in shade,
in shame, in cloth of weariness
and dreams. Devour me, mouth
of mountains! Spit me out as stone
and tumble me along your vein
of foam and glass to rest,
at last, upon its bank where I
sit now as flesh and cloth and dreams.
I am as tired as
the stones, but stones need not awake.

VI

The rocks collect in company,
a thousand drops of rain
and mountain snowfall fellowship
in every inch of river glass,
but I am here alone.
Would thoughts like these infect my soul
if Laura sat beside me on
this stone beside the froth?
She’d see these rocks as steps and leap
in laughter over them, or as
a theatre of seats
to choose between, to sit upon
to watch the masterpiece of God
exult before her eyes.
She’d see this river as a bath
to splash in, ice and joy within
each crystal water drop.
She’d see the mountain as a hike,
a subject for a photograph,
a forest to explore.
She’d see my skin as softer than
the stones, my hands superior
to Robin Redbreast’s wings.
Her human eye is kinder than
the mountain’s distant gaze,
and greater: seeing more
and feeling much. The mountain sees
a vein where Laura sees a source
of joy: a fluid stroke
of painter’s brush, alive and deep.
I am alone upon the stones,
but not as lonely as
the mountain, not as lonely as
the rocks, and not as lonely as
the rushing waters, for
I have the company of all
these things additional to what
I hold within my heart:
a naked love, a godlike art.

VII

I am as naked as the sun,
clothed soft and grey today;
and, hidden, I can sleep away
from mountain gazes, river eyes,
and darkling thoughts of shame,
and, when I wake, the city lights
will clothe me as the rest. But when,
one day, returning here,
when hand of love in hand with love,
with skin beside my skin and eyes
beyond my eyes, I think
the sun, undressed, might see me smile.

What the seed has learned.

May 23, 2015

I always thought you’d be the sky,
but darling you’re the dirt,
and you embrace me as I lie,
a tiny little seed:
you nurture and inspire me.

I always thought you’d be the sky,
but darling you’re the dirt,
and even when I’m, by and by,
a weed or mighty tree,
my roots will drink your wisdom.

In Grant Park

May 18, 2015

Hot pavement bitten feet rest tingling
on cast off cedar branches while the
highway streams on ceaselessly beyond
the fence, in the sunlight. I sit in
the shade. There’s no life down here, between
the grey trunks and pounded pathways; not
even the sun wants to dance on these
colourless twigs and faded cedar
brushes. Only the ceaseless white noise
of the highway and the odd cotton
ball, aimless in its flight, lift senses
past the virgin graveyard of unturned
pine needle sand and pinecone corpses.
But when lifted, my senses recall
that the crowns of trees are emerald
because of this dessicated floor,
and beneath the loose spines and sticks there
lies a thousand silent highways of
thirsty roots feeding on yesterday’s
discarded branches. Suddenly the
graveyard ground seems sacrosanct. I tread
with lighter steps the barefoot path home.

You crow

May 5, 2015

The world speaks:

You crow.
You garbage-eating blackmuscle heart.
How the filth speckles your beak!
Look at your reflection in your shining vomit, you oily creature! Look at your home
or can’t you see the black mold through your nightfilmy eye—how grotesque you are!
You’d eat our puke, wouldn’t you, if you were hungry enough?

You crow.
You villainous plotter, planning planning.
Take your sinshadow elsewhere, twisted gargoyle! Don’t land your crooked claws on this pristine pavement! We take care of our own, so back! back! you cretinous creature! Don’t spread the lies of your past!
You gargled no mothersmilk, you egghatched reptile, no god coddles you, so back! back!

You crow.
You think yourself clever, don’t you, with your nutcrackering and busybodying,
but no intelligence comes out of your lipless daggermouth,
no sentience,
just emptiness.
You cry!
You crow!
You scream!
You witchcackle!
You occult darkspirit! Wiccan demon! Corpse defiler! Back! back!

You crow.

The poet speaks:

You crow.

You shining spirit, let not darkness in.
You wear it on your back, already inked,
let not it seep into your soul. But crow,
I know it lies already heavy there.
I know, my crow, the darkness sits inside
your being, crushing deathwish whispers through
your veins. You gorgeous wing! How light you look,
how delicate upon that outcast bed,
spread featherswide, so beautiful and young.
Don’t ope, oh carved obsidian beak, don’t speak:
I see the suffering around your shape,
the acid trash, the crumpled life, the blood,
the dead facade, the living one, but crow,
I know that you have precious human veins,
I know they map a labyrinth too vast
to fit within you; too exquisite, too
complex, to carry only wasted blood.
You crow, your blood is full of pain and loss,
is coloured by the refuse of the world
that you’ve absorbed, but crow, you know your blood
is history and future, diamond
and earth, and flows through all the flesh of life?
You crow, how beautiful and wonderful,
misunderstood and crucified.

You crow.

The crow speaks:

I am crow.
I am crow.
I am crow.
I am crow.

From my bed, 1:21 AM

April 30, 2015

I know that I will wake tomorrow, but
I feel as if I’ll die.
My lungs don’t seem to drink this nighttime air,
as heavy rib bones lie
upon them. All the muscles wrapped beneath
my skin are tired, and ache–
not ache, they throb–not throb, they’re just too tired
to lift my chest, to slake
the fading brain’s desire for breath. No deep
inhale, no shaking yawn,
can feed my ill desaturated blood.
(My poetry is gone).

Faint thoughts of love and melancholy pain
curl with me as I lie:
I know that I will wake tomorrow, but
I feel as if I’ll die.

worship

April 19, 2015

between our laps, our hands entwine:
our fingers dancing, playing some
implicit melody between
their tiny curlicues of print,
impressing softly on the keys
or brushing past in whisperings;
ephemeral embraces, soft
skin kisses; fingertips like wind,
like water, velvet, steam, or cloud;

a tiny track of fingernail
trails delicate along the warm
retreat between the fingers’ bend:
a clean, distinctive note above
but carried by the padded rest;
a smooth expression follows close,
a flower petal brush, a calm
smile sunbeam fingertip to trace
that minds’-eye scratch away, away;

our fingers dancing, intertwined,
while worlds move on outside.

Words that burn

April 11, 2015

Skrymir:

A poem I wrote for a Good Friday service this year. Formatting wouldn’t allow me to post it here, so follow the link in the reblogged text.

Originally posted on goodfridayblues:

PoetryWeb

Poetry is thoughts that breathe and words that burn – Thomas Gray

Each year we invite a poet to create an original piece of poetry for the Good Friday Blues services. They’re given one or two of our songs and the service’s annual theme to use as inspiration. These works are always deeply inspiring to me, often moving me to tears.

This year’s poem was written by Adriel Brandt and was not just inspiring, it was unnerving. It made us uncomfortable with its raw honesty. This poem embodies the Thomas Gray quote above. Would that more poets had the courage of this young poet; I hope to hear more from him in the future.

You can access this poem here.  Let it breathe and burn within you.

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