Poems written in Vancouver before I married Pat
I tried to light the emptiness
a dozen billion years;
I’m tired of burning now.
My incandescence dies.
Out of the changes in my heart
neutrinos rise and swarm,
preparing to carry away
my will to be warm.
folding down upon myself
like a detonated building
more inward than imagination.
I am the id of the universe,
the cosmic drain
sucking in suns and dust.
I am the singularity
that must and yet cannot exist.
Under the great gulp
umbrella, my event horizon,
none are seen again.
Photons like panicked bugs
on a four-dimensional balloon
rush to escape with their entropy.
every direction in my field
(1974 or so)
the ur-point explodes
shattering vacuum into spaces.
Suns plummet incessantly away,
spacetime swirls into temporary planets,
is hurled into entropy.
carbon cools and catches atoms,
forges chains and rings in chaos —
then the double helix forms,
a local departure from the Laws;
fingers grow to write these words
(1974 or so)
if on the odd occasion something stoops
to sweep aside your granite benchmark
boil your sleeping shadow’s guts
and leave you with a burnt medallion
if this thing blinks
out of a shot-through animal eye
or if it wakes from tickled loins
or in the judgement of your ape
or in the nightmare of your child
whether it touch you like a tongue
or taste you like a knife
even if you understand
27 November 1976
I trip on the shadow of some black Other
in the corner of my eye.
It is not unfriendly, it wished only to remind
to write what I have seen.
I saw in the same twilight
minutes ago, swallows
skimming the surface of a reedy pond.
They convinced me not to look directly
of mountains and clouds, lest they appear apart.
I was a bit dazzled
with the full moon.
And a fat dog ran in the mud
panting and barking
chasing the swallows hopelessly
across the interface that belongs to them.
How like me, I thought,
and the swallow flew in the face of the moon
and in my face
at the same time
and the dog cheered.
The call caught them
all across the Aleutians.
In the middle of scooping krill
they heard the sound of a wordless shiver
tickling skein and milt.
They eased to South.
They ate hard across the huge current
slashing herring ritualistically
in a dance of secret steps.
As each found far out
a tiny scent of home
the chemistry began in earnest
subtle at first
tasting of sweet death.
Then it was urgent, urgent
eating their flesh with the need to leap
to find the source, to change
into the mystery.
Spending what they had been
they came to the place
ready to slough their shredded husks
to feed the nursery.
shuddering off dying confinements
they came free together
thin smoke on the embers
round and newly sparked.
in the spaces between the stones
they dream of the next return.
01 February 1976, revised 14 July 1976
in the reel’s screech
you rush from your green shadow
into this rare air —
splash me to shock.
You came here shrewd and wild
home to this river
not to eat hooks
yet now we meet.
Dance with the spirit of Poseidon
against the persuasion of split cane —
soon, lovely alien, you will visit
my world of rocks and dry oxygen.
Now the connection is complete.
Gather your courage to meet my touch
but I disappoint your death,
watch your brief disbelief,
as your bullet body darts to the depths,
5905 Yew Street, Vancouver, 1975
Between the watercress and the dream,
Salmo trutta, you and I
leap for a moment from this stream,
cracking the factual shell of my eye.
Out of the blink-held glitter of your gills
you lift my vision to the deeper flow
of another, wilder spring that spills
echoing through the cosmos from the rock below.
There in the currents of your art,
rinse the insensitive skin from me,
wash the worms from beneath my bark
and lead me to your liberty.
22 September 1975