This Won't Last Forever by Colin Morton

This Won't Last Forever
Colin Morton
First published by Longspoon Press, 1985, ISBN 0-919285-31-7

For permission to reprint contact the author at
Some of these poems previously appeared in: Anthology of Magazine Verse and Yearbook of American Poetry, Arc, Ariel, Camrose Review, Dancing Visions, Grain, Grey Matters, Quarry, The Scream, Wordfest 83, and the chapbook Printed Matter (Sidereal Press. "Quartier Libre" and "Inventory" are adapted from Paroles by Jacques Prevert.

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:


I. The River the Bridge, the Space Between

II. Quartier Libre

III. North/South

I. The River the Bridge, the Space Between

Pruning these poems

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

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

For Mary Lee

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

Eclair de la lune

                      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.


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.

Today we both phoned in sick

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).


     "There's the bus.
     By Mom, bye Dad!"

We look at each other and smile
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

 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

The persistence of memory

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.

The friendship of men and women

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.

I'll go first

It is sheer joy to be admired
As you admire me

What heaven it must be
For you.

Thoughts across a bridge

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.

The weather

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.

     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

to the gurgle and crack
of waves under ice.

The weather   yes
let's talk about the weather

how all of this
can melt.

Over coffee

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

     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

    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.

Forty-five years from now

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
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

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.

That's for thoughts

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
smothered in overgrowth.

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.

More lines for moonlight

        "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.

A turn of season

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.

Behind the wheel

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.

Last leg

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
     - 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
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 weekend the children are with their father

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      
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. 

Quartier Libre

Quartier Libre

I put my cap in the cage
and went out with the bird on my head

you don't salute anymore
       asked the captain

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.

Waking up in the 1960s

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

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.

Anarchists at dinner

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.

To poach a mermaid

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.

The autumn of the patriarch

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.

17 jewels/Timex

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 plus seven

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

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

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

Testimony of a James Bay Cree

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

A young man

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.

Li Po and Tu Fu at the Duck Lake Tavern

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?"

Action dialogue

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
     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
     indecent act
     indecent assault on female
     indecent assault on male

     contributing to juvenile delinquency

She: possession of stolen property
     destruction of property (wilful damage, vandalism)
     public mischief
     causing a disturbance

Apprenticeship of an assassin

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

Poem without shame

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
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
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

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
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
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.





             Zaire Rwanda Burundi
Agent Orange
        Backfire Biafra
Hellfire Hornet
      Tomcat Togo
        Eritrea Exocet

        Napalm Mozambique
Sudan Napalm Mali
                Guinea Bissau



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.


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


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
     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?


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