Critical responses to This Won't Last Forever: "Morton's poems, whether erotic discoveries, satiric variations on a theme or cries of outrage, are accessible and interesting.... His experimental, playful approach to poetry is frank and refreshing." - Journal of Canadian Poetry. "A rich talent, working in contemporary modes ... scrupulous in language and attitude." - Canadian Literature.
Other books by Colin Morton:
This morning it was apple trees: clearing away crossed branches, making space for light to enter, fruit to grow. Now words: trimming the language for a new season's needs.
At 16 I was the shyest skier on the hill, carving snakes down the plunge my classmates leapt. Once they dared me up the expert slope, and when I slid home an hour after dark I packed the skis away. Later sold them. It has taken me half a life to stand at this height again. Now having so much less to lose (less time and still everything to find) I dip my toes and take the hill head on in a reckless dive. I'll take the snow as it flies and the blood, I'll take this rush of air this mountain sky and make it my lover.
moon rose through leaves composing a rune the name of the moon most soulful stone root of the nameless night's composure rosary moving leaf to leaf rose moon rose is to moon as wind moan to leaves leave them moon compose their movement through the nameless close of night moon rose alone but composed in the stone the whole night rose
the shadow of your sleeping body spins a web of dreams in the moonlight your sleeping body spins a web of dreams in the shadow of the moonlight in the web of dreams moonlight spins the shadow of your sleeping body the moonlight of dreams spins a web in the shadow of your sleeping body in the shadow of dreams your sleeping body spins a web of moonlight
You are my apple pie. I am your chocolate eclair. I drag these two lines out of sleep into morning coffee. Pearls in the nets crumbs and syrup on the glass plate. You are my apple pie. Sunrise reddens. Scavengers on the crusted snow take wing. Grumbling, the city's engine turns over. I search the mirror but it is ice. I am your chocolate eclair. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Fuses blow out all around me. Elevators stall for one giddy second while auxiliary circuits kick in. The moon reaches out of its well of stars and turns me on its axis of love.
7:48 The toaster is smoking, the bag lunches made, the boy is waiting at the window for the schoolbus. I go to the bedroom to tie my tie and see you lying there fresh from the shower, more naked in the winter sunrise than even on a candlelit Friday night beautiful as you were the first time we cut classes together and went to a friend's room ten years ago and more (more beautiful). 7:49 "There's the bus. By Mom, bye Dad!" We look at each other and smile knowing this will not last forever. The hair on your back The hair on your back, she said, makes me think I am in the lair of some wild animal, dangerous, strong-scented, quick. Such on me but do not bite, when you touch, draw in your claws. Take me like a beast, but gently, it is only the illusion I love. Bead of dew bead of dew on a leaf in the forest bead of sweat on the hairs of your belly slow parting of moist lips After all these years After all these years you pant as if the next few seconds may bring you through to the light. February sweats beneath our quilt. Far away jazz keeps the night awake with its dreams. Moonlight quenches and the taste of your thighs awakens thirst. You who find you who find yourself again and again on the bed with me find me
She knew how the sunlight ran its warm fingers between her smooth brown thighs, how her shadow swayed with her skirt when she walked in front of him. She felt him following and with a sidelong glance shook hair away from her face, aware how it fell, faint suggestion of joy, to the arch of her back. She knew his want and let it surround her. She let him choose the music, pull the blind unless he wanted it up so the sun could run pale fingers from lips to nipples to soft belly hairs. They both said love was brief and parted still believing it. But the years came unasked for, and still she walks that street watching her shadow flirt with the sun, wishing he would follow her again.
May be a weedy, tangled path But let's not turn back for that Better speak these words now Thank let them, unspoken Dam the flow of words The real pleasure We take in each other. So I'll go first It is sheer joy to be admired As you admire me What heaven it must be For you.
I have walked this bridge a time or two but never known its giddy height before nor felt the cool blue invitation of the edge ~ this rush of gust and wave, rap of heart and lungs against the ribs. I have passed by rail-standers before, intent on my destination, and pitied them their dreams of flight and forgetting a halfstep beyond the verge. Now I know you, I have seen both heights and depths, have stopped to look past my intent. I do not know if you are the river, the bridge, the space between or my partner in another world. I know you are not death, are not afraid of life, that any moment you may take a halfstep into my element. The far shore does not concern me, it is not mine; to return the way I came I cannot do. I have risked a poem, now I'll risk a rhyme; I am standing at the rail waiting for you.
How to turn how to turn away how to turn the coffeetable talk away from war from the imminent unravelling of history to this warm room its wallpaper peeling piano out of tune tea cooling with our talk cake on the plate logs on the fire cigarette ash all crumbling another fragile evening of friendship. Death? It's nothing. But the dying ... the eyes the hair the flesh the nerves the genes red tendons unravelling. Well, there's the weather, a friend says. How cold it has turned, shall we open the other bottle? Next morning I rinse cups and glasses empty the ashtrays and walk out in my warm winter coat to watch snow fall onto the stream turn cloudy and freeze listen to the gurgle and crack of waves under ice. The weather yes let's talk about the weather how all of this can melt.
You say another year of marriage is another cup of coffee in the morning ~ some kind of addiction safer to continue than to quit. Each one requiring a little more sugar, stops the pain in the head anyway. Your bitter smile through steam is the grimace of boredom on the fourteenth floor ~ really the thirteenth ~ boredom the safest expression you know, each day a strategy of postponement. Rising and descending in the elevator eyes forward clouded with sleeplessness, you keep escaping your dreams and finding them in wait around corners. You could just turn your back, you say, walk out on the badly played scene, but life is no technicolor movie with credits and no debits at the end. Evenings at home are only more memos you say, in a language of indirection you are afraid you have come to understand, and speak, swallowing your words with that dull insensitive frown you make with each gulp of sweetened coffee.
together apart topart agether aget toparther apart together The space between the space between us gapes into distance ~ you airborne, above the rain
Spring flood pushes mud up the riverbank and over, where last week I watched you jogging, your bare limbs white in the cold now brown water flows, no longer the familiar calm friend, the river leaps canyons of itself, threatens the footbridge, tears out new promontories in the sandy shore, tears them away, trees totter on the edge like divers having second thoughts, tender leaves trailing green hair in the water. I am thinking of you, can't help it, it's that poem I started last week, the one that went, Your river runs through me to an unfamiliar sea, it won't be written now, can't be, was going nowhere anyway, its fragile lines trail green grasses in your flood, which in time will recede, return to its familiar bed, leaving me with altered edges, old roots exposed, new growth stunted or delayed, and forever leaning like these trees toward you.
You were frightened, being young, at the thought of growing old; how the season of weddings would turn cold and be crowded out by funerals; how your pride would say with your breasts, then shrivel, turn grey and dry; how, widowed, you would wait for death or your thoughtless children to phone. It was then I promised to call you up on your eightieth birthday, and tell you how wonderful you had always been, and make love to you as I should have when we were young. You laughed, as I meant you to, and told me off, forgetting for awhile your anticipated troubles, to dwell, the way young people do, on the smells and incontinencies of age. Young girl, do you imagine even now it is only your body I want? That ten pounds or twenty more or less would alter my desire? Or those lines that (darling) already are sketching their fences around your eyes would ever deter my trespass there?
I want to make the night short for you. I want to take the knife of the long hours out of your hand and lift you from the wet pavement where you sit waiting for the dawn. Then I will praise you with the tip of my tongue, with my fingertips I will raise the glow of lunacy in your thighs. And when daybreak gleams through the window I will leave you only long enough to pull the blind and then turn back to the light.
Over summerripe garden -- two weeks and the ripening creepers have flooded every space with green. Tomato vines cling to rose canes and keep climbing, hide their luscious fruit between the thorns. Points scratch the window and my gloveless hands, I heap red wilted flowers on the grass then flood the blind roots with water splashing from a green translucent hose, prune back tomato leaves, stake up and uncover forgotten pansies smothered in overgrowth. Pansies whose purples and blues and violets have _not_ forgotten, whose yellows and pinks and burgundies are bright as they were on your collar that evening we walked.
"You can see how far I've gone not to speak of you." - Roo Borson There's the difference between us: how I, a man, have learned to study my desire, and when possible, to take, to be proud of my reason and discard it when it interferes, never to sublimate; while you, wanting as much have given your days to watchfulness, have waited, have woven a braid of care to hang your desire on, a pearl you wear round your neck and take off at night.
Before freeze-up the dams in the river are opened, dark mud and rocks exposed beneath the summer bank, rapids are treacherous again, and in the bay broad shoals of mud appear, spotted with gulls, black stumps jut out of the water, snagged with fish hooks and lost anchor lines. So when our season has turned I find jagged outcrops, barrens where I once saw only deepening shades of blue, hooks I did not foresee when I waded in beyond my depth. Now I think it was Narcissus who invented love, and falling in, found himself alien, among mermaids who knew neither how to laugh nor cry, who even when the river dried up did not anticipate their death.
Such a long and heady time I lived in then, in if, in abstract worlds without you, throwing words into echo's canyon, my head in the electric blue, a whole decade I road a high charged wire, all ecstasy and nausea, darting from sub- to super- to an image of maybe, glimpsed in starlight. Like some charged particle I was nothing or nowhere, something or somewhere never both, never here when most alive nor quite myself when I gave up into your darkness the glimmering half-life before sleep. That's why I still can't believe it when, famished, spent, I return to this cluttered, unsure, almost senseless now, that is all the sense that lasts, to test my feet on solid ground and find you are still here, still patient as time with a jet-lagged traveller, proving on the senses what's real can't be caught in the striving nor seen in the whirling radiance of hot words, but grows in darkness and mess, in odd loose days that, being in them, seem not to fit but, touching now, grow into seasons, ripen in secret to an unsuspected grace that one day awakens us here, together.
You cross half a continent behind the wheel where your father used to sit, you kids now in the back seat restless as kids, you ride ferries "for a breather" (for the seagulls, the arrival at Tobermory) drive down the ramp and half a day more then park in the barnyard just as we pull in at the end of our drive, kids jumping on each other like puppies, continuing a game we interrupted last year. We too leap the time in a minute, though we have come all this way to marry off our brother again, ten years later, our casual hugs and our puns say this is one of the ordinary times we shared most of. Bride and groom arrived last night and now are out on the back porch shucking corn for their weeding feast. We settle onto the steps as if we too grew up here, ten years of days flow in a calm wave to this day, tomorrow. "Marriage? in this age, what for?" "Because it's hard and we need the help of our friends." So the family like a yoghurt culture, grows, we sit down to dinner with new sisters and brothers, our children say I love you to a new grandma, our arms open wider than we knew they could. A day is a string of minutes that has n end, though, the new generation and the elders finally turn in, and only our years ago keep us awake beyond weariness. Candlelight plays back all the old albums on memory's stereo and, voices hushed, we sing the new lyrics aware of the sleeping bodies over our heads. "The suicide behind the wheel in the White House," you say. "The border clashes of love." We smile at ourselves in the mirror of each other and see for a moment at child's height, through a window, the casual deaths we live each day, like tomorrow, when we toast the future then drive our own ways again, out past the cornfields, onto the cloverleaves, eyes on the double solid line.
We shoot the canyon on three cylinders athirst for sea wind coast down the last hill and chug- aputchug to the steaming valley -- arena of mountains concrete and cornrows where no whisper of tide stirs the air ripe with soil's damp rot The freeway widens to fill the valley with broken lines and lunacy city exits flash by like futures too late to choose In the trance of the highway leaking grey oil the sky around us discovering colour we gallop three-legged after the sun windows wide open for a scent of the sea
Last trip I was on the fly, stopped off for three hours between ferries to spend it on the water with you testing the breeze off the seaward point where - a spray! - and a whale's back rolled toward the deep. I said, You look happy, and though my words were lost in the straining of the sail I didn't insist. (Neither of us needed reminding of the boy, confused and bent on destruction, who hitchhiked out of the prairie winter two years ago.) We put in to share a drink before the ferry arrived but the whole time your eyes scudded over the whitecaps beyond the beach, and I smiled to know you had found your element. Next day I flew home to this landlocked city and news of your death alone off the point where we saw the whale dive. They had you sent back in a box, but I wouldn't go to the chapel to see what they did to your eyes or hear what the old men would say who lowered you into the ground. That night I capped the bottle before it was empty to walk out through the moonless night, and saw ducks tracing vees on the still, cold river. Swimming south.
The dreams of modern lovers are set in shopping malls where they walk as if at the seashore listening to the sweet muzak of the tide rolling in and the young woman tries on shoes at competitive prices in a half dozen stores but the heels are all too high or blockish the toes too square or round and as the dream goes on she becomes rounder too not only her breasts but also her hips and especially her eyes they stroll hand in hand down the gourmet aisles in the supermart but come away with only one bruised yellow apple or mango or pomegranate wrapped in cellophane reduced to clear which she will eat later in the seclusion of her bed and both are vaguely dissatisfied as they wander out to the parking lot having forgotten which car they came in not only where they left it and the good neighbor collection box is just too appealing the thought of all the less fortunates makes their eyes mist over like the sea at dawn and the young woman can't resist crawling inside but the hatch doesn't open wide enough to let her man follow and standing outside totally engulfed in fog now he can hear nothing but the sound of the half-spoiled apple crunching softly between her teeth.
I put my cap in the cage and went out with the bird on my head So you don't salute anymore asked the captain No we don't salute anymore replied the bird I see don't mind me I thought you still saluted said the captain No apologies needed we all make mistakes said the bird.
I woke up this morning in the 1960s. Believe me, it came as a surprise. The sun was no brighter, the trees no more green, but I noticed the change in myself right away. I stared at the spines of unread books on my shelf and ached to devour them in a single feast. I believed there was truth and longed for it. Names on the map crooned a siren call. I knew something odd had happened when the news came on and I heard the voices of Pearson and Dief, Johnson and Bob Kennedy, and felt my heart quicken at the thought of politics. It was the morning after the night I first read Kafka's "Metamorphosis," but instead of waking up an insect I woke up in the 1960s. In the kitchen Andy is counting out morning-glory seeds to eat with a glass of milk. I have just written my first novel and begun to edit my first magazine. I'm writing poetry with rock'n'roll rhythms and imagining whatever flows is immortal. I'm reading Atwood and Yevtushenko both for the first time, and neither frightens me and I can't tell the difference. I'm growing a beard and yelling NO MORE WAR and planning to live in a co-op that always pulls through by pulling together and earns enough by rock'n'roll to support poetry and plays, and by love conquers weakness and jealousy and greed .... I woke up this morning in the 1960s. It's no picnic, I assure you. The '70s are still ahead of me and I may not survive them a second time.
When the last dishes are removed from spotted white linen we cradle our Courvoisier and sigh once again for the distant revolution. Suddenly from outside - an uncivil commotion! Our anarchist friends are invading the restaurant to liberate the chateaubriand. Drink up, there's no hurry. They'll have to stop to tip the doorman. We'll barricade ourselves in the wine cellar.
Use slow heat. Simmer till flaky while basting with desire. Sprinkle with the petals of flowers in season. When ready, serve immediately, it will not keep. If the savour is sweet, praise the dish, not the cook. If bitter, praise anyway, swallow without a grimace. Beware of the bones, which are slender, brittle and barbed like a fisherman's hook.
This isn't about The Autumn Of the Patriarch by Garcia Marquez. I haven't read it, only A few sentences before my wife Left it on the hood of the car When we drove off one day To catch the Victoria ferry. I just thought it would make a good title For a poem about that menace Sexism, in all its forms, armed With enough hate and enough love To make a fascist out of anyone. I am writing this on the back Of an International Sun Day poster. On it is a sun design Made by twelve people Holding hands in a ring. The twelve people are men. I hesitated before reading one sentence Of the Autumn of the Patriarch Because I'd heard they run on for chapters Like the patriarchy dying, and I knew I couldn't stop sliding in That long sickening descent With all the other patriarchs starting To have to live like mortals. But look, the sun is out, And the flowers that Fertilize themselves know It's spring.
Every time I think of moving I shiver check my watch look out the window (no I lost my watch last time i moved 21 times now in 9 years "in blizzard mud and desert heat by trailer truck and bike" etc. In 76 I ghost-wrote the paperback _Moving without divorce_ and today in the mailbox: my divorce notice re-directed from my last address my wife is just being sarcastic she knows my address she lives here (no I lost my wife last time I moved
To be or not to be: that is the quickstep; whether 'tis nobler in the minimum to suffer the slip-ups and arsenic of outrageous foundlings or to take armistice against a seam of trout and by opposing end them. To die; to sleep; no more; and by a sleuth to say we end the heartstrings and the thousand natural shops that flim-flam is helix to. 'Tis a contemporary devoutly to be wished. To die; to sleep; To sleep? Perchance to dream! Ay there's the rubric, for in that sleuth of debility what dressmakers may come when we have shuffled off this mortal colander must give us pawnshop. There's the restaurant that makes calculus of so long ligament. For who would bear the whir and scrabble of tinder, the optometrist's xerox, the proud mandible's conversation, the pansies of despised lower classes, the laxative's delight, the inspiration of officiousness, and the squabbles that patient mescaline of the upheaval takes, when he himself might his quintessence make with a bare boilermaker? Who would farmsteads bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary liftoff, but that the dressing of something after debility, the undiscovered couple from whose bowels no trawlers return, puzzles the wind, and makes us rather bear those illusions we have than fly to others that we know not of? Thus consequence makes co-workers of us all, and thus the native hullabaloo of respectability is sicklied o'er with the pale castings of thread, and enticements of great pity and monasticism with this regimen their curvatures turn awry, and lose the nap of acuity. ~ Soft you now! The fair Ophelia! Oarsman, in thy orphanage be all my sing-songs remembered.
one lump of rock two houses three ruined foundations four gravediggers one garden some flowers one beaver one dozen oysters one beetle one loaf of bread one hour of sunshine one volcano four horsemen one door with doormat one man waving his purple heart another beaver one sculptor with a welding torch one maple leaf two lovers on a large bed one canvasser one chair three Christmas turkeys one cabinet minister one carbuncle one wasp one kidney stone one racing form one hippie two nuns three grasshoppers two of the neighbour's apples one whalebone corset one Queen Anne chair one shilling (George the second) two shillings (George the third) three shillings (George the fourth) one illegible penny one ball of string two safety pins one elderly gentleman one winged victory one accountant one man of the world two surgeons three vegetarians one cannibal one colonial expedition both ends of a horse an ounce of prevention one tse tse fly one surf 'n' turf one Japanese garden one Macintosh apple one monocle one mountie one orphan one iron lung one day of glory one week of happiness one month of Diana one terrible year two minutes of silence one second's inattention and ... five or six beavers one little boy who goes to school crying one little boy who leaves school laughing one ant two arrowheads seventeen bison one judge on vacation sitting on the accused one landscape with a lot of green in it one cow one bull two loves of the century three grand pianos one veal cutlet one Waterloo sun one seltzer bottle one cheap rose one tom thumb one phony excuse one statue of liberty one rope ladder two sisters of mercy three dimensions twelve apostles a thousand and one nights thirty-two positions five cardinal points six corners of the world seven deadly sins a few hectares of snow two fingers of one hand ten drops with each meal thirty days in detention fifteen in solitary five minutes intermission and ... some more dam beavers
when you talk about the land you talk about me and my family you talk the land when you talk about me and about my family the land you talk about me about my family when you talk and when the land about me and my family about you talk you talk what part you destroy of the land you also destroy of me you also what part you destroy of the land destroy of me of me the land what part destroy of you you destroy also what part you destroy of me the land also of you destroy
His winter is early, no magic in it. He gets up but he does not go out in the morning, he has seen his last empty trap. The road leads to town, he doesn't walk it. The road calls him no good, still he won't walk it. He only laughs now when he's drinking. Say he falls in the river on his way home, that's funny. But who is laughing with him now? Only the wind.
Gun metal can get mighty cold on the South Saskatchewan in May. The eye may be sharp as ice but the mouth gets kind of dry and the boys can sure get a thirst on when they've been down in Batoche taking potshots at the voices. They're looking for trouble when they strut into Duck Lake tavern and they're ready for anything except what they see -- Li Po and Tu Fu getting drunker than skunks and chattering like a flow of crows, covering the tabletops with poems. Tu Fu's penwork is shot to hell since his finger got stuck in his tenth Canadian. Now sipping number eleven he slaps down lunatic words that make clumsiness soar. Li Po laughs and empties his beer while Tu Fu, giggling, pees his pants. Li Po, playing host with an elegant flourish, calls for another round and pours forth the song of a scholarly bird. It's the fifteenth of May and all over Saskatchewan the clover and the foxtails are blowing. But in the Duck Lake tavern the bullshit's flying like angel dust, and the boys from down around Batoche have all turned into poets. "You know that rock, eh? With Gabriel's name on it? I musta shot off boxes a shells at that sucker in my time, and you know, not one a them made a scratch?"
He: theft under e50 theft over e50 attempted theft b & e and theft under e50 b & e and theft over e50 attempted b & e theft of auto use of auto without permission (joyriding) She: common assault attempted common assault assaulting police officer assault causing bodily harm resisting arrest He: robbery attempted robbery robbery with violence attempted robbery with violence possession of stolen property She: attempted murder non-capital murder forgery and uttering manslaughter wounding with intent He: indecent exposure intercourse with female under 18 years intercourse with female under 16 years intercourse with female under 14 years attempted rape rape indecent act incest indecent assault on female indecent assault on male beastiality contributing to juvenile delinquency She: possession of stolen property destruction of property (wilful damage, vandalism) public mischief causing a disturbance
American father finds brutally murdered family Black women rescue syndicate murderer gangster's daughter dies in FBI revolution police agent tries to control home life riotous detectives search for stolen plans smalltown kidnappers discover mysterious passions beautiful singer holds up country bank career gangsters team up with smalltown sheriff ex-con pilot kills wealthy man's daughter Italian thieves kill enemy woman ruthless ex-Green Berets attack Italian waitress enemy police officers murder singer's family killer secretary uses strange target boss's daughter loves Nazi home mute gunman sets out to find outlaw detective secret agents fight American-controlled lovers soldier boy turns into old man crooked officer becomes romantic vigilante Black men suspect violent plot ship's crew takes over Indian country young captain tries to find wealthy widow
This poem has no shame. It has a punk bagpiper on the Saturday morning sidewalk who has set out a basket to collect quarters or dollar bills, it has one silver dollar (American) and one sand dollar (Atlantic), the Pacific and Arctic oceans fit neatly into its corners leaving room for the Great Lakes, a gravestone, a stamp album, a teddy bears' picnic and more, this poem is large enough to encompass the orbit of Jupiter without straining, it has black holes into which readers have been known to disappear and never return, this poem has a melodious doorbell and five spacious rooms, it has picture windows, broadloom and air-conditioning, but it has no shame, it has no soul. This poem has sole fried in butter with lemon and a sprig of parsley, it has phallic symbols, womb symbols, symbols of death and resurrection which never correspond because they don't affix proper postage, this poem has bold headlines behind which burn real bodies which don't symbolize anything, it has cities reduced to rubble and cities restored in plaster, it has cabinet ministers preserved in alcohol, but it has no shame. It has no shame because the stars are rusty, because the phallic symbols look like wombs and vice versa, because the dead think this is living and the living, postage paid, have never returned, because its readers have short attention spans and are already getting annoyed at this, because some have already given it up, and for the rest of us every second counts, although not one in a hundred knows CPR and heart disease is the number two killer, through no fault of its own yet irreversibly, this poem has no heart. This poem is not alone, although in nights so silent even the streets are mute and every light has gone out in the facing apartment tower it tells itself there is no other poem like it in the world, and it aches with an inarticulate loneliness because it knows that is not so, that every poem is like it but it can phone up none of them, not even long distance. It has no heart because if another poem did phone it up in the night it would curse and hang up, because it is empty, yet doesn't hold water, nor serve as a sieve by separating coarse from fine, because it is finest when it is coarsest and vice versa, because it sings the blues without being blue and celebrates without joy, and when it is blue does not sing at all, because it is wise without wisdom and foolish without folly, because it salts its words without savour, because it never speaks on the elevator, because it has walked in space but never in cowshit, because it has acted out its sex fantasies but not its death wish, because it prefers fantasy and so will be taken unawares by death, because it drives fast through the city late at night in search of other poems and ramming them, because it is a poem with dented fenders rusting out, a fatty poem carrying in it traces of pesticides food additives battery acids, a poem with nine cups of coffee two ashtrays and a heap of sweaty clothing, a poem with bagpipes, kilt of purple leather and a one-stringed electric hockey stick, but no soul. A soleless shoe of a poem written on folds and folds of print-out paper wadded to keep the rain out, a poem with only a horseshoe for good luck a poem that says it is prepared for the worst but imagines decay is mere bad luck and forgetting but an interval in memory (not vice versa), a poem that regardless has walked in space, that still has room for another bagpipe, for a chair wrapped in magnetic tape, for all the planet plus the entire metric system; into its black hole fall the half-moon of a fingernail, the moon itself which is full tonight, and all the moons of Jupiter; a poem with room for more still, because it is a horseshoe with its ends pointed up to catch the falling angels.
I. Congo Cruise Zaire Rwanda Burundi Agent Orange Chad Titan Niger Nigeria Backfire Biafra Hellfire Hornet Somalia Trident Tanzania Eagle Egypt Tomcat Togo Guinea Ethiopia Backfire Eritrea Exocet Botswana Napalm Mozambique Cruise Zimbabwe MX Zambia Badger Gambia B-52 Uganda Tomahawk Cruise Sudan Napalm Mali Minuteman Malawi Mig Guinea Bissau Howitzer Swaziland Trident Tunisia Poseidon Namibia Hellfire Zimbabwe Cruise II. Wandering, I reached an oasis -- date trees, their fruit rip and moist, shade from the sun, a spring running clear and cold. I ate, I drank, then lay down to sleep, a breeze in the branches, the cool song of birds in my ears. But sleep would not come, monsters and mockers crossed my eyes in cloud-shapes. They told me I slept already, all this was a dream. Sun glared in my eyes and woke me, throat parched, belly aching with hunger, and round me I saw only sand, and flies swarming over me as if I were dead. III. The rains did not fall They sent planes to the president The cattle grew thin They sent guns to the rebels The crops did not ripen They sent bombs for the airplanes The men had no work They sent bullets for the rifles The babies cried for food They sent nuclear reactors My husband went to war They sent tractors for the harvest My parents died in sorrow They sent lies to the newspapers My daughter's eyes darken They send cars to the capital My son's teeth fall out They send books to the libraries My womb is dry and empty They send x-rays to the hospitals My baby spits up death They send oysters to the president All the land is dying They send good will and peace-on-earth The president is murdered They send newsmen and camera crews IV. The colours I see are no colours but shadows of a light behind light and this darkness around me is earth in which creatures of air have buried dead joys. If I could see! If I could see you again as in my dream ... If I could touch the frost on the window and look (in? out? then would I see you and would you look back at me?