Category: 1974-1979

Poems written in Vancouver before I married Pat


Black Hole

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.
They fly.
I                 im
folding down upon myself
like a detonated building
more inward than imagination.

I am the id of the universe,
black hole,
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.
They forget:
every direction in my field
is back
black hole.


(1974 or so)

Big Bang

In                                         nothingness
the ur-point explodes
mattering violently
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
and vanish.


(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

Swallow Dog

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
at reflections
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.


Summer 1976


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


Quicksilver flash,
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,
then shout
as your bullet body darts to the depths,


5905 Yew Street, Vancouver, 1975

The Rise

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