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Title: Point Spread Poems
Author: Brown, Paul Cameron
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  POINT SPREAD POEMS By

  PAUL CAMERON BROWN



  TABLE OF CONTENTS

   9  WINDFALL
  11 TURNCOAT
  13 GANGLAND
  15 NIGHT FISHING AT ANTIBES
  17 SABBAT
  19 SHIVAREE
  21 POINT SPREAD
  24 (THE TORONTO STAR, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30,1985)
  25 READING THE TIDES: PETROGLYPH PARK
  27 FABULIST
  28 ACE OF SPADES
  29 WILD CARD
  30 1920'S FLICKER
  31 CANDLELIGHT IN BLACK
  32 HIGHGATE
  34 CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
  35 PICPUS
  37 ILLUMINAIRE
  38 CARNIVAL AND LENT
  40 TERMINAL LIVING
  45 MIDPOINT
  46 TWINKLING OF AN EYE
  47 SERENADE
  49 HIDDEN AGENDA
  50 ADVENTURER
  51 SLIPPER
  52 HELLULAND
  53 TRINKETS
  54 A THIEF'S NOTEBOOK
  55 WARHORSE
  57 TEETER-TOTTER
  58 CHEMIN DE FER
  60 WITHIN REACH
  62 COUNTESS
  63 COUNTESS II
  64 PALEFACE
  65 CUD
  67 CURRENCY
  68 REFRESHER COURSE
  69 GHOST TALES
  70 WANDERLUST
  73 PASTICHE
  76 BOCA
  84 WORK IN PROGRESS
  88 HARDCASES



  "In the five and dime
  store where I first fell
  in love with unreality."

  Lawrence Ferrenghetti



  WINDFALL

  Photos along a soft-centred wall
  like assorted chocolates
  with prized centres,
  tiny miniatures--
  full portraits
  the young army major, for one,
  in battle fatigues come full family regalia.

  Mounting the staircase
  (tearing back the chocolate paper)
  shroud hand on the railing,
  pressuring the cherry liquid
  into oozing burst of memory,
  the nectarine orange of a summer's day.
  Swing & garden loom into view,
  the mind plays thoughtscapes,
  a tag ensemble, along the wall.

  Old colours (or lack of them) abound--
  the antiquated dress & hairdos
  of grandparents that speak lavishly,
  into taste buds, across the fallen years.
  Ivy & ivory fan, kitten on a rocker,
  cradled baby that amounts to me,
  the sun coming home to roost on this plaintiff, pleading
  wall.

  Passage of thought
  into this chocolate box--
  the lid off stern memory
  prying forth a directory of
  mouth-watering choice,
  or so the advertisers' claim.

  Yet do we ever thought
  over what we taut (in our heads)
  we are? My dad in Kenya (a time and age
  from this perspective like the peanut brittle)
  or grandfather, about eight, from the dreamy,
  dark cream & nougat reaches of layered black space
  that speaks the aeons ago--
  his manner and distance a smoky haze
  from the twilight "special occasion"
  Black Magic chocolate box.



  TURNCOAT

  Sitting in the spendthrift dark
  lilting pennies away,
  deciphering fate ... .
  The bed, a warm reach past
  the pillow
  like personal mortality in the
  incest breath of life.

  Warm stuff of dreams--
  the calender with its days mesh &
  march like soldiers
  dearly departed
  (cindered and bludgeoned)
  or the old sea-faring chest
  where all men are sailors
  past light's corner.

  Sturdy trudgeons,
  clock bursts thru the room
  mindful of time and aching,
  decaying things.

  Hallow's Eve in movements of the curtains--
  a remembered Rembrandt,
  self-portrait of the old man
  standing alone in a clammy room,
  idling the seconds, with drab
  browns and grays;
  that sea-faring chest, again, speaking
  of depleted journeys.

  Mystic and occult moods,
  worlds caught in a single glance
  off the wall paper standing abreast
  the lamp
  and the mirror, back from
  the pace of a single thought.



  GANGLAND

  A sailor, "tatoo you,"
  the cigarette Players
  with tape-deck playing
  a jaundiced "Yellow Bird",
  Cerveza, Dos Equiis, the
  two horses, in red flame,
  across the label.

  Trolling in a deep sea-trench
  (spinners and chubb),
  the dark night
  a religious procession,
  acolyte stars in hymnal to the wind.

  Across the channel
  a Party Boat
  --the words almost demand capitals
  with actions so diminutive--
  creased laughter "to go" cross the waves
  flicker of lights, siren call
  then a lemon shark strikes the bait
  on anchor reel, Horse-Eyed Jack
  perhaps borrowing the name
  from the Outback--
  think pantomime, enter Wahoo
  and the aesthetic of fear
  crazed fish jack-knifing the boat.

  Someone produces a cheese tray,
  warm wine
  the small shark caught in a
  role reversal lies bludgeoned
  under the seat, even there
  a halo glow surrounds the eye and
  cobalt snout, but it is the grin
  that takes the edge off antics
  of the Party Boat
  some bedraggled hundred yards away
  this Death's Head cocktail,
  "What's your poison" leer
  teeth like naked light bulbs
  against tenement stairs
  protean hoodlum a millenia away.



  NIGHT FISHING AT ANTIBES

  A beach back of bric à brac,
  wine goblet of sky ... .
  the horizon beginning
  somewhere between Nod &
  nigh unto forever with
  only the sigh of a Casuarina pine
  or sea-grape to force a smile.

  It was entering into twilight
  --our minds were sailing ships,
  mere vagaries upon the waves,
  mine more a clippership
  on the Frisco to China run.

  Soirèe intimée,
  apèrtif, digestif?
  A bottle of rum
  with Eleuthera for a name
  --the prettiest coves
  have steadfast winds
  dark about portside.

  Silvery light of stars,
  the stars like black hansom cabs
  with livried footmen before
  shark-toothed clouds,
  a shark-faced moon,
  the sight of a shark breaking water,
  lemon-white its gullet with the
  Big Dipper stuck in a shark tooth.

  Diamondhead or Copperback?
  Carpetbaggers ... the moon's silver tea-set
  giving birth to wonderment
  flooding in affection
  a Raouel Dufy lithograph,
  some decrepit Neapolitan fisherman
  zoning his epic life
  to human proportions.



  SABBAT

  Picturesque Tituba, steeped in Obeah,
  in a hairball swoon
  leads a harangue about witches with
  some of Salem's more delicate
  women, obedient children.

  In verdant outcrops of the imagination
  fuelled by a beldame's winter fire
  amid sparks that prance with devils
  thru tempest gloom
  covens are conjured
  so they implicate other pretties
  with raven hair,
  arm curled, in desperation,
  about the moon.

  With supernatural hands extended
  the sea is a wretch's bitter vinegar
  pounding the little, eggshell homes
  where, at twilight, a dozen village Elders
  with bell and taper,
  candlelight and prayer
  bind parchment oaths
  to envisage clandestine pacts, sabbats,
  obscene sojourns.

  Peculiar cat--
  straw hat,
  thatch and loft
  a drop of blood sputtering
  then drawn over piddling flame,
  the well-intentioned righteous
  demask the pain-fed frightened.

  Gibbet, arm's length of braided rope--
  gang-plank, gallow stairs that smirk
  off into Eternity
  --a lucky few strangled,
  the adamant burned,
  fickle apostates swum
  on a ducking stool.

  Ice-fire hearths--
  bonfire sheaths ravishing the strong
  carnival veil
  along pebble-strewn trail.



  SHIVAREE

  These kettle bells.
  Is it the axe-murderer,
  with green garbage bag
  in the shadows?

  No. Green trees so thick
  their tops are folded hands
  or knotted knuckles
  to make perilous shrubbery
  by the garden wall.

  Yet this is a state of mind
  and shards of multi-coloured
  glass dot the top of stones.
  Interesting. Should a sociopath put
  out his shingle, come calling,
  a much under-estimated, rude uttering
  would take place.

  Still bees are active in the night air,
  not swarms, but a hum. Pleasant odours waft
  thru stiller air. There is no charged electricity
  to things, no tautness or leathery tightness to
  individual seconds. Still and stricken still.

  Yet "what ifs" come slithering
  as if serpents along
  a pasture floor.

  The diabolical. Rich desire to impregnate with evil,
  To embarcation upon conquests.
  To embolden and make one's mark,
  however ridiculous to the sane and balanced mind.
  Horrible. The dirty laundry of just one
  over-flowering and too abundant mind gone wrong.

  One single blossom out of place and "killer".
  Off-kilter. Out of whack. The
  pickle short of a jar syndrome.

  Then there's the hoots and shrill cat-calls
  withered by horse laughs. Guffaws with tattoos and
  rifle-butts.
  Laid back "good ole boys" type of humour going wrong
  soured by too many visits and skunky beers from the
  Orchid Lounge.

  Rinky-dink, honky-tonk. Dotting the landscape with worn,
  thin cars, trouser legs piled up, the "f" and "s" words.

  Charivari. A timely entry. A buzz set to sound, a faint
  blinking button with no sound. Suckers in the creek
  breaking water to catch flies, churning mud bottom
  by their too turbulent tails; a bird hitting the window
  only its night. The echo of moths lost to the stars
  with each jarring knock.



  POINT SPREAD

  The skull in the box is that of Cornelius A. Burleigh, the first man to be
  hanged in London, Ontario, August 19, 1830. The public hanging attracted
  an audience of over 3,000 when the village of London numbered only a
  few hundred. Because the rope broke, he was hanged twice! The top of
  the skull was taken on a world tour by Dr. O.S. Fowler, a phrenologist.
  This part of the skull was presented to the Harris family.
  (Eldon House brochure)

  Off memory
  & a dare,
  the grave man
  coming to a bitter end.
  Burleigh, top of his
  skull reminiscent of a laundry cup
  (or toothpaste cap) separated from
  its yellowing, rightful owner.
  No jaws of life here--
  rather vengeance beyond death,
  shellac & varnish twist shoved
  to the withering bone.

  Phrenology,
  sinister "fin de siecle" fingering
  of the intellect's character
  through guru-dimensions of the head,
  (pseudo-savant/skulduggery clairvoyant).

  Thimble-full thinker, sleight of hand
  smoke'n mirror trophy hunters
  boisterous crowd in a
  "hanging mood". Coins
  flip on the outcome
  while town drunks reel;

  The village idiot getting
  into the "swing" of things. Point spread
  across the yawn
  of death ...
  brittle behaviour,
  the sharp edge of beetles
  clicking in the dark.

  And I thought
  of institutionalized evil
  & rabid passion for revenge
  pursued beyond the final resting place--
  most private skeletal remains
  held up as curios. Medieval burning of a heretic's bones,
  manure pile for those decried damned;
  the cross-roads
  drive your cart over the
  bones of the dead,
  the remembered suicide's end.

  Not so strange
  given human nature,
  Lord Byron's silver drinking cup
  runaway Ethiopian slave
  (twisted paean to romance)
  or Hand of Glory,
  corpse-fresh from the gibbet &
  famed forges of France.
  Hair strands as in under
  a magnifying glass, then
  shards of clothing/clods of earth
  covering a shovel.

  The autopsy-necromancy
  Nazi intrigue,
  playing polo with your
  opponent's skull
  --Carl Sagan's Broca's Brain
  red-bearded decapitation
  floating in a cloud of formaldehyde;
  sale of skeletons/white slavery
  filthy lucre all in one utilitarian
  lust for cadavers ... .

  Robber-birds pinioning their prey ...
  Mania to collect
  mania to re-collect,
  shadow-boxing logic
  rattle his bones
  he's only a pauper
  whom nobody owns.



  (THE TORONTO STAR, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 1985)

  Bare bones future
  Medical schools may be facing a bare bones future,
  thanks to a shortage of skeletons. According to an article
  in The Medical Post, most anatomy skeletons come from
  India and the Indian government has placed a ban on the
  export of human skulls and skeletons. At Queen's University,
  500 students share 300 skeletons, four or five of
  which have to be replaced every year although the head of
  the anatomy department says the students take good care of them.
  Anatomists say it would be extremely hard to duplicate the surface
  details with plastic skeletons but the option may have to be considered.



  READING THE TIDES: PETROGLYPH PARK

  " ... A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun
  itself out in his brain ... a promise
  that the rock of the world was founded
  securely on a faery's wing."
  THE GREAT GATSBY

  Perceiving the universe
  as an orchid stem,
  wild hibiscus
  crane & heron breaking water
  --voyage of elliptical, pea-shaped
  canoe down dancing images of
  the underworld.

  This temperature charged,
  climate-controlled glass
  geode designed to war on
  moss and stone munching
  aphid lichens seems everybit as
  fanciful as any animal totem.

  Grim crevice in the rock
  (animistic female orifice)
  fertility turtle swollen with
  eggs carrying Earth thru
  gorged labours of darting
  salamander & the spaceman snake.

  And coming to that rushing sound,
  (subterranean, evocative stream)
  or so Algonkians, pensive & puzzled,
  paused for a thought encased in
  deep, riverine bowels.

  Glass slipper, blue guitar
  --Silent Lake with something
  of wild dimensions in Warsas Caves
  (Cyclopean boulders), Serpent Mounds,
  this runic enchantment with
  glyphs & a cabalistic moon of May.



  FABULIST

  Riel veritably in a cockpit--
  Gabriel Dumont with his buffalo robe
  peeking from behind
  a blind at Duck Lake
  all ingredients intact,
  a gallow's walk inevitable
  given a series of probable givens.

  Given Riel is an illusionist
  figuring 3 days back from the grave
  --that an early prototype of the Gatling gun
  is in effect, that a Ghost Dance
  cannot stop bullets.
  Superior numbers & discipline'
  mandate the West will cringe
  to the Queen's Red Coats;
  what's more, the iron horse
  icon "talking leaves" & the
  superficiality of running
  a plow over the land's back
  all take their calculated toll.

  By some obscure, parboiled magic
  Riel is transformed to a living
  room of today:
  heir apparent to the French Canadian
  empire (nightmare) or yuppie visionary
  illuminaire?
  In the Dominion soup kitchen,
  the rest of the country acts
  as a beggar clutching another pot.



  ACE OF SPADES

  Parable as metaphor--
  profile in hard glint of light,
  buckskin garb
  merging from shadow &
  buckboards--
  sandwiching of memory
  being elbowed
  thru a Deadwood City
  saloon door.

  Noneother.
  Dead Man's Hand.
  Cards strewn,
  last tumbler ...
  chamber on empty.
  Yancy Derringer modelling the
  latest revolver of his namesake,
  in pit & the palm
  bullet in the back
  for Wild Bill, just for a keepsake.

  Treasure-trove for the funeral parlour:
  "they done him up well". Peccadillo as provocation.



  WILD CARD

  Clayton brothers at the corral,
  its Earp City today
  tumbleweed junction for numerous lives,
  not to mention lies
  swift-draw artists
  encased in a memory of stone
  boots up ...
  with all the forlorn grace of
  being pushed in front
  of a train.



  1920's FLICKER

  John Dillinger and Baby-Faced Nelson
  in a dream together
  --one shooting holes thru
  theories of his untimely death,
  the other frying in an old-time
  (e) Electric Chair
  with balloons waving, bonbons
  going off, the crowd in a joyous,
  boisterous mood.

  The marquee reads:
  "Public Enemy Number One
  laid to rest in a
  shallow grave as
  gravelly as the heart
  that beat in his stoney chest."

  An adjacent sign noted,
  crime does pay the undertaker
  but other, good-hearted folks
  need look no further than
  the Dempsey-Tunney fight
  to see which has the
  bigger box office draw.



  CANDLELIGHT IN BLACK

  The ghosts are marmalade
  thin as rinds across toast
  or the Weeping Willow, whose
  green beard leans,
  crane-like, into a child's
  backyard.

  A Morning Cloak butterfly,
  maroon wet with the paint
  of morning, cat paws
  thin filament leaves
  astride a larder
  of memories.

  Dalliance with the past,
  smoke grey these architects
  of memory
  the privet hedge,
  lone pine tree,
  jet black caterpillar
  poised about a green
  carrot top trigger
  laced in emperor's gold
  like fathoms of the sea
  held ... in quiet repose.



  HIGHGATE

  Angel Inn,
  come off a sign
  blown sideways
  in the sugar and ices
  night.

  Old St. Joseph's
  Cathedral, bottom
  of the hill, here
  Andrew Marvell
  of "coy mistress"
  fame sports a plaque
  remembering "time's
  winged chariot" and
  farther (further!) up
  a quaint pub gives accolades
  (Kudos, too) to the fact, 1666
  nefariously was the plague year
  in London--Parliament Hill,
  a brief arm stretch away,
  posited strangled chickens
  and other assorted heirlooms
  in vain attempt for poesy
  to thwart poxy.

  A stone's throw
  off in Hampstead Heath
  guns (Big Berthas) could
  be heard from the Somme,
  German derigibles dropped
  incendiaries, the wounded entrained
  at Charing Cross and a rascallion

  (John Keats by name) drained
  a draught at Jack Straw's
  Castle near the Spaniards
  while Turpin's hanged corpse
  was soon to resemble good
  English oaker casks
  at the Flask.



  CAPE OF GOOD HOPE

  Poltergeist activity
  --the sun winding like a staircase
  onto the pavement,
  rickety afternoon
  shooting back thru
  shawls of the city.

  Tippy-toe. Curtains
  ajar, a face at the cross-roads looking,
  looking for all the world as
  pavement stones,
  greasy & black, a thin
  oiled compliment to
  Mrs. Blight registered
  at Old Inn Road.



  PICPUS

  The day I went to LaFayette's grave, the
  concierge became
  our tour guide amid an old
  ruin of tombstones including bedraggled
  de Tocqueville's crypt (and he, heir
  apparant of America, too).

  There, too, the odd City of St. Louis tribute
  Fayettevilles
  after yet another "Saint" Louis, despoiler
  of the Jews--both sitting, squat and apparant,
  in summer dust, so shingle-flat,
  mindful of Place De La Nation, more
  blood-letting blocks away (so the aristocracy
  might be healed).
  A chapel nun then reached in loud
  silence for our Lord, her black
  habit / upraised hands forming a
  brilliant crucifix against sky and altar.

  Some francs exchanged hands
  (Monsieur le keeper, after all,
  obliged us by opening
  a private cemetery, après heures),
  the graves looked so wretched--
  death stylized in military formation,
  row on row,
  every private carrying a field marshall's
  baton only this time of mortality's making,
  crestfallen, no Agile Lapin/Moulin Rouge here,
  in the joyless, little garden
  (not a bird sang),
  our old Frenchman narrating/marching
  on in The Old Guard, Grand Armée
  fashion
  a little Napoleonic
  his cemetery, his brandy
  like his suspender buttons
  lost to recent antiquity.

  Place des Vosges, Place des Vendomes.
  A dish of plaice at the palais
  and a royal hippodrome.



  ILLUMINAIRE

  Elfin & gold bug,
  genie in the
  twilight of a cave.

  Virgin On The Rocks
  --Da Vinci's painting--
  aura light seeping toward
  sun-lit crack of day,
  the Master's Mona Lisa
  in the Louvre
  raptured,
  luminescence amid aging pigment
  steeping about rapt multitude.

  Betwixt pit & pendulum,
  another canvas--
  Da Vinci in a beatific pose
  (warm light of the room),
  gentle finger pointing upward,
  a puzzled crowd
  with nowhere to see.



  CARNIVAL AND LENT

  Jungle, the cave
  human reservoir & cistern ... .
  quagmire and bog, but no alpine meadow,
  fairest glance of goodness in
  soiled wildflower under winter snows.

  Pebbles into a cesspool,
  our sometime passions alive
  in the outback where honey-fuelled
  ants soothe enemy bones.

  My blood, tempest-whipped,
  ardour drawn to the surface
  fathom marks the depths
  sees a spectacle on the roads
  queues/Carnival & Lent,
  unbridled raw and raging.
  Jesus would have nails.

  Poison darts,
  liana and mangrove sounds
  with footsteps in the distance
  the blow-gun or bolo knife
  attache case / cellular phone ...
  "I'll kick your teeth down
  your throat, professionally
  speaking." Nine to five fecal
  beings perform the toilet-bowl flush.

  Tsetse fly with design--
  sapient, sand paper rough
  along the edge, dry rot to the core.

  Plague rats cluster in a feeding
  frenzy sampling tidbits.
  Swirl of the bull fight,
  colour and scope, only
  its a supermarket, freeway.

  Wide angle, wild angel,
  Umbrage of the uppercut.
  Tough-mindedness, singleness
  of purpose, the glacial speed of
  fairness along the sorted, sordid
  circles of Spitsbergen.

  Our species' jailbait reason
  firing up the flashlight in the dark
  for a circumspect peek in the woods sleeping.
  Tell me your adventures in living.

  Another hour spent
  strangling a reindeer
  on the taiga, boreally-speaking.



  TERMINAL LIVING

  "Everybody in the world is frightened of getting cut."
  Charles Manson

  I
  The image complete
  --collapsing corpses, rag dolls
  with skulls shot away ...
  ruby-red blood spurting
  slipstick/eyeshadow/mascara
  all so reptilian replete.

  II
  The long fingers of the pianist
  playing rifle fire to a
  captive audience,
  stiletto tones;
  the trance effect,
  precedes a cobra's strike,
  summer without smoke.

  III
  A glass of absinthe
  --the Degas painting,
  Marc Lepine measuring out his vial,
  measuring the worth of a single
  woman and finding her long on the call,
  cartridge shells exploding
  filaments of smoke
  (long and blue) like a
  woman's fingers up
  from his death gun.

  IV
  Existential longing--
  vision far ago, a
  lost world of virile primates
  where a man's worth
  transcended his tie-clip
  (suspenders ready, binoculars steady),
  letting the stiff upper lip quiver.
  Then his face the colour of rainwater,
  shoe leather in that same rain.

  V
  "I am not a wallet," but he was
  someone's son.

  VI
  Mystery (wretched Marc, so unfathomable
  inside your debâcle, mélée that
  the French so forlornly cloak,
  enfant perdu).

  VII
  Marc, you are not confined to "why",
  rather representative of a long line
  of predecessors dead certain
  they are nobley right. Gender knows
  no restraint. Male crazies? I see the cloaks
  and shawls of spectres breaking
  saloon bottles with an axe cursing
  demon rum, hear "red alert"
  at maternity wards after the shootings
  --boy babies, at risk, from estrogen cranks.

  VIII
  Strange, women speak of it,
  Lepine died for it--his ersatz,
  clouded vision, no milktoast he, yet
  so much egg on the face this dirty
  thing "Justice".
  Naughty boy taking one too many
  reprimands from Father, think
  of Madonna's spankie.

  IX
  All the same, Saddam Hussein,
  Pedro the Cruel (Butcher of Baghdad,
  Montreal or writhing throes of
  medieval pillage).
  Getting one's own lid pried off--
  the shaking indignation of Il Duce,
  Der Fuehrer, the sanctimonious
  hard-shell pose of Henry, Anne Bolyn
  in the cell block for being
  a witch (the reputed third breast
  was a dead give away).

  X
  Little ripple, then blip on
  a sonar screen trailing off
  terminal living. Frame of reference
  like a gyroscope breading free.

  XI
  History is a motherlode of fanatics
  by virtue of association.
  Wrong-minded'?
  Why not, I never met anyone
  who was wrong.
  No joy in loveland, everybody
  revelling in certain certitude this
  balkanization of the sexes, Holy Crusade,
  Jihad of the gender.

  XII
  Save us from people who are right,
  the "firm but fair" rabid feminists,
  rapid virilism crescendo intellects
  with egos to stop a train.
  Humility of purpose is decidedly
  inferior to quiet perseverance
  in the truth.

  XIII
  Inner light taken outside is
  fiery and blinding.
  Quietism. Pietism.
  Everything is a calling or,
  in the religious sense, vocation.
  What is not a longing'? Craving?
  Itch before the scratch?

  XIV
  The last, inner spike of saintly sanity
  snapping to "calling", that siren
  song persuasion Lorelei made
  vision.
  So watch their faces--lips set,
  eyes aglow giving us all "an offer
  we cannot refuse".
  Silver or lead, red hot poker
  up the innards in the name of
  Self-Determination.
  Columbian drug-lord, hat off
  cleaning her glasses after
  The Hit.

  There is no substitute for victory.
  Conviction has its price.
  Its a funny, old world if only
  Maggie Thatcher knew.



  MIDPOINT

  The thin, feathery blue
  egg-shell curtains gently tossing,
  the tin smile
  of the roof armada
  its metal armour flashing
  to inch their shingle way
  into escalade-escadrille formation
  and leathery sky.



  TWINKLING OF AN EYE

  On twin tails of a comet
  penguin men polka dot
  the night------
  waddle white suits
  past pale the white Empress Night,
  flickering graveyard stars
  ---a pitcher of inky black
  upended in a choir and manger

  II.
  Lowing of the clouds
  lowering overhead like bombardiers
  rifling the Firmament,
  black braying back.

  III.
  Millpond, satin and creamy,
  then buttercup crush of waves



  SERENADE

  A green flotilla,
  verdant armada
  stone hand encased
  in an arm of ocean
  off blue-grotto bay.

  Something avuncular where land
  meets sea
  --underdog, whipped cur,
  adult "son" posturing to the elder,
  pontificating man.

  Melaque after dark
  or was it Aguascalientes'?
  Monterrey at sunset
  prior to "the" pop festival
  or Morelia, on eve
  of feasts to that native patriot'?

  Vera Cruz, 1915, at the height of
  American occupation
  with Pershing tailing the hirsute Pancho
  Villa in Sinaloa
  outdated rock & gunboat diplomacy
  --no longer exotic fare
  plate of frivoles,
  fried banana
  Mahi-Mahi.

  On the palette,
  dreams are fickle,
  subject to "drunk
  and disorderly resisting
  arrest," outmoded and
  fuzzy with age.

  Policeman of the Olmec intellect,
  you dance late on feather boas
  this Mariachis of the soul
  with glittering purse and yellow,
  travelling nectar Tequila.



  HIDDEN AGENDA

  Mariachis, almost a Spanish temperament within those stars,
  --a screen peppered to black,
  pebbles as pinholes bright in the night air.

  Winged bats, moist velvet foot-pads
  that spring from ink spots onto an El Greco canvas
  where Garcia Lorca's green, Andalusian hills
  find the wind a gypsy bandit
  sage, red flower of the cacti,
  ballad to rakish cloud.

  A ship shamelessly at sea--
  the scorpion cloth of open wounds,
  dark implants, sturdy oak
  constellations, English yew
  spouts tremulous shafts
  across weather-burnt sky.

  A dock in a prison of rose-petal harbour.
  Piers along deep, inner space.
  Our planet, rockface. Sheer plummet.
  Accordion of white light.

  Up green ache of mountain
  the muffled sound
  Goya's Colossus,
  the head of the giant
  voyaging thru
  embroidery and stellar, black space;
  tombstone lock on a pulsating world.



  ADVENTURER

  How desert islands
  in a cartoonist's imagination
  invariably are flat,
  palm-studded
  peopled by a solitary, abject
  yet humorous man.

  In real time, no delight;
  such islets
  are razor hot,
  rock sharp
  treeless, barren
  slabs ... examples
  of art shirking, but
  not shrinking life.

  Three days growth of beard,
  bottle with note on the incoming tide
  comic survivor swimming up
  (tramp steamer in the distance),
  shirts waved in unison
  predictable disappointment et al,
  glum hands to face
  then the inevitable credulity
  splitting retort
  amid plaything for the crabs.



  SLIPPER

  When I was very young
  onto school,
  a slick of water curled
  under a behemoth, silver poplar tree ...
  there, white underbacks
  of leaves waved in showy pride the
  dead underbellies of bass ...
  as tall boys,
  big with rakish, probing, anthracite eyes,
  stooped in the creek
  their red, exposed flesh
  colour of school brick.



  HELLULAND

  We built bottlecaps off
  ship's sides
  (soft, cedar bough),
  Viking masts
  shining thru imagined
  Norse seas.

  Sporting logs,
  (sweet, cedar-wood shavings)
  piercing beer hats/silver foil,
  grey wraps & burlap,
  Atlantic capes,
  our twin peaks soared.

  New Found Land
  (a child's faery shrimp logistics
  aide-de-camp simplistics)
  marvelled tale
  of warm, butter moon
  with outpourings around
  penknife's blade.

  To tame Sutton Hoo,
  (I am very close to myself tonight)
  bronze copper, cruising wintery water,
  Anse aux Meadows,
  occasional dirt shack
  skraelings,
  jagged blade & arrow
  backward into time
  for Helluland,
  yet marooned in the Land
  God gave Cain.



  TRINKETS

  My mind a buzz saw,
  wood chips in decapitated thought
  soil chilblained hands

  II
  Cleansing wood,
  the keen smell of sawdust
  --good, raw earth drenching
  the nostril, clean odour
  of nature like my brain,
  a broomstick sweeping
  the coffee pot speaking ...
  bubbles massed in steam
  inchoate in their pensive rivulets.



  A THIEF'S NOTEBOOK

  Baggage. Banal brigands,
  turn-coats, stiletto to dirk
  appraise warm flesh
  upraised over a pie-shaped sky,
  bread crust moon.

  On oyster rock,
  with grinning, red hibiscus,
  jute and henequin
  smother the lavender caress of stars.



  WARHORSE

  Taken as metaphor ...
  Ophelia's funeral oration,
  derogatory snout
  of the Morning Glory
  breathing pollened fire
  overladen steps of the church.

  II
  Limestone rock
  caulking in grey
  limpid cracks ...
  doublet and hose
  then gold doubloons
  down sunlit honey
  where a smear of red lichen
  onto brown-yellow moss
  colonizes rock.

  III
  Poor Ophelia, dicing
  for a sedentary-free Hamlet,
  duty-free of fissures + frost.

  IV
  Elusiveness,
  water rushing over stone
  torrent of words
  (Ophelia receiving these),
  red hand of the berry
  swollen shut,
  prisoner in the dock
  bird of quarry, pit
  & gunny sack.

  V
  Night plummets to quarry,
  sky to earth in brazen glory.
  Magic of the palm
  spans an upturned hand ...
  "To each his own
  nothing's known."



  TEETER-TOTTER

  He was Popeye the Sailor Man
  --at least in Picture book and poem
  the mind falling from a drooping ledge,
  thrust of twilight though working
  up to the bargaining edge of words ...

  Then, synchronicity and cuteness
  aside, the all too old
  pretending became the
  gaping edge of Popeye's
  spinach can, a soul lost
  not to Sweet Pea or Olive
  Oil, but barnacle and
  rip-tides of a brain
  slipping its moorings free.



  CHEMIN DE FER

  Had I been
  a gambling man,
  eschewing the "shoe"
  of chemin de fer ...
  perpetually perched upon that throne
   ... effete kingdom of the dice.

  II
  I am that gambling man ...
  taking free access to many
  a natural habitat, lure
  of the open road,
  contents under a bottle cap,
  the riverine delicacies
  of female flesh. Svelte, like
  the croupier's green vision of cloth,
  tingley-trigger smooth yet addictive
  to the touch.

  III
  Or the pleasures of Ovaltine
  (not necessarily the brand name)
   ... by the handful or cup ...
  upon a summer's day,
  the mind blur of expensive art.

  IV
  Blackjack. Three card stud.
  The poker-faced look of
  many opponents peeling cards
  from the bottom of the deck,
  some ear-marked for success
  with time-honoured stratagems
  (& doctored hands) that leave me
  reeling (or is it nursing) patent-made regrets.

  V
  Something primeval about wanting
  to trade up your fortune at the
  expense of the House. Ambuscades.
  Indecision.

  VI
  Games of chance
  the apt metaphor
  of our daily roulettes.



  WITHIN REACH

  There are two images,
  a moon within reach
  yet trapped under snow--
  an old woman's threadbare shawl
  with peasants furiously working brooms
  scraping ice shavings
  into howls and husks of frenzy.

  Ii
  Then the same pond,
  this time summer
  with fishing nets,
  and briefer shawls
  pirating light's wanton swoon,
  a spyglass hour moon
  all bathed in yellow
  colour of kerosene
  --a rich creamy butter--
  goldilocks let out on weekends
  her spun, golden tresses
  lowered onto the water
  like so many little boats
  nimbly hopping aboard.

  lii
  A kerchief folded on a fence
  a man wearing an overcoat living there
  in white satin swooning
  to the pianist's expert touch
  down magic chambers
  soothing, soothing there
  to fold and tear
  the pileated moonlit edge
  of her skin.



  COUNTESS

  The pig's head omelette--
  something akin to a tatoo
  buried squarely on the upper
  torso of the man
  wielding an axe,
  chopping wood.
  Shoulders drooped,
  the bizarre rendition
  had a female
  counterpart
  --a snake, fitted like a
  fish-net stocking,
  coating the upper leg of
  the dancer writhing to music,
  so soporific,
  near the copper shield
  of the table,
  ever-molten ash,
  air-borne with the foetid smear
  & puff of cigarette smoke.



  COUNTESS II

  Imagining the smoke burnt
  imprint of a tatoo
  with tapers flickering,
  the bejewelled gaze a dragon's snout
  must bring
  or the serpent coil, crimson flame
  curl of dashing cobra,
  its very fangs drawing
  lifeblood from the fleshy
  perch in smooth, red scorching.

  On the pectorals of a sailor.
  Perhaps whiplash of the granite waves,
  grim trucker with a "Mother"
  grasping chains
  that see burly sandbags in place--
  hirsute biker, cords of
  hair lashing his tattooed lady
  the lavender caress of scar
  with implant that
  of the chopper itself,
  her fleshy buttocks
  careening off the road.



  PALEFACE

  Old Sawbones, pale as a sheet,
  white sand, whispering edge of the sea.

  II
  The mind tarries not one place long,
  (longitudinal wanderings off a map).
  Is shiftless, both a shirker (and army deserter)
  devours like larvae,
  a bullet ledge for leaves.

  III
  I saw in a rusty tankard
  a gallon drum
  (ghostly galleon at that),
  a tin can floating for
  all the world shores
  of its alkaline prison,
  pirating salinity with anchoring sounds,
  brackish bench-pressed sound of waves
  wedged between far-off distant gulls
  and mezzanine,
  dimly-lit funeral parlour
  of the sun.



  CUD

  There were a series
  of three animals
  --wise men I propose--
  interchangeably looking
  (throwing off their guises'
  as non-sentient brutes),
  scrounging the grass
  (eyes foddering me)
  chewing on looks,
  cud-like,
  -one a black
  goat shorn of
  his devil look
  and a burro,
  mood entranced, in
  armour of mangey velvet.

  II
  Swinging bells,
  making me believe
  the twilight caper
  that morning lay
  more in reindeer's
  breath than any
  solidarity with
  oat or hoove.

  III
  A strange lot,
  they'd ramrod their
  gaze with blare
  of lightning,
  peering into some
  primordial instinct
  one normally tucks
  onto a sleeve or
  cranny when thunder strikes.

  IV
  Pelting rain,
  the white mare,
  streaked more like
  a camel with her
  own dung and manure,
  (shadings differ)
  the sun a tingling dew
  refreshing cantaloupes;
  the sparkle of their walk
  investigating me
  in solid cacophony of faith.

  V
  A form of worship, to be exact,
  the Christ-child
  in a manger
  we four in shared trance
  a growing sluggishness
  to their fear building
  by prospect of food
  and inter-species bond.



  CURRENCY

  One of the cows was Belladonna,
  another Nightshade
  still a third, Witch's Butter--
  the farmer in question responded with
  an eel in tow that resembled a hoe
  & a Raggedy-Ann calf
  with an elixir for a tail
  & a spendthrift tongue
  spreading its way
  thru the emptied grass.



  REFRESHER COURSE

  And he told them "the universe is a ripe apple in heavenly
  consummation with Newtonian physics".
  Comparisons grew rife with planets in the cosmos measured
  against all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the world.

  Sobering stuff, this astronomical speculation. Each sun a
  star fathering an impressive roster, its "family" in the earthy
  scheme of things.

  So one kid spat on his shoe and asked if a gob,
  hypothetically speaking of course, could be likened to a
  solitary ocean.



  GHOST TALES

  With leaves twitching
  the autumn air
  and the burnt almond
  breath of landscape
  heaving relief,
  the afternoon heavy-footedly
  walks across
  evening's threshold.

  II
  A garment is held high
  as adrenalin in the marble
  glow of wintery air.
  Mud puddles reflect the faery shrimp
  of clouds while cone-shaped
  coniferous trees perch on lawns like
  starlings.

  III
  High above to skating and
  sugar-icing rinks in misty hues,
  a ginger-bread man
  manoeuvres past the ghost tails of a dead
  luna moth.



  WANDERLUST

  Who administers to my needs?

  Is it the dandelion, so ant-encrusted, that
  yellow pollen dangles from a shiny abdomen
  suggestive of some actor's
  smeared and garish make-up?

  Or the cicada's song,
  difficult to describe,
  laundering thick summer heat?

  Perhaps, then, the Red Admiral butterfly
  especially active at the close of day and drawn
  to wooden lawn-furniture or the exposed human limb?

  If none of these
  breathes vigour or tonic
  through my nostrils,
  what of tubs of fresh water?

  Take pea-pods for crude, rudimentary boats
  and children as make-shift sailors,
  then they both shall spy the secrets of seas.
  Bold harbours will be their cues,
  astrolabes their hatchets in which
  to chart many a perilous adventure.

  A volume of Tom Swift and his Motorboat
  tames the haggard breast,
  soothes the savage beast.

  A trip to the fruit-cellar
  beaded with moisture
  and clammy with imaginary threat,
  chastens the cobweb from the
  dusty ledge and sees a privet-hedge
  hawk-moth trapped against the
  window-pane (a dark spot pressed much like
  a pirate's patch against both time & space).

  If meandering and nearing journey's end,
  think twice. Better red than dead. Brooding
  MacIntosh apples stain a slippery floor but
  the door to the orchard is always ajar.

  By night, an "I And The Village" Chagall painting
  draws a lad (and landscape) to stare and stare.
  Thickets of wild-grape, strawberry tendrils,
  two hares boxing in the meadow, a Winterspoon
  or Whip-Poor-Will towering above groves of walnut, lilac.
  Night air is fragrant (and lush) through a peep-hole
  and gate-way to the stars.

  Barns with ricks contain pitchforks
  like a mis-shapen mask protruding ever
  so faintly sinister in silhouette through
  a visionary sky.

  Remnants of ferret skin, lie interrupted,
  upon entering the chicken-coop.

  The soldier drinks, his tea and egg-cup abandoned.

  I don't have to go anywhere.
  Dark and moody, there is an
  arsenal of thought with stout
  marshal batons in my knapsack.

  The power to be led (and lead)
  stiff memory in rum kegs and wine casks.
  The brooding entrance
  to another world,
  if not in the palm of my hand,
  then very nearly
  a shout and stone's throw away.



  PASTICHE

  These shell-queens, too,
  are blithely catpaws,
  shorn & musky acorns with
  indexed fingers erect
  at manicured attention.

  II
   ... Showboats with green faces far as swallows fly,
  a lilac in oasis ... scarlet bream
   ... blue ointment where the ocean is
  periwinkle patches,
  a robin's egg clarity pressed
  between blue-nosed tavern wall
  & bottles clinking.

  III
  See plush cords,
  the suede interior
  svelte & slinky
  an upholstery simonized
  with natural springs where
  bubbles encounter founts
  in apertures, the rich measure
  of open ground or mezzanine curtain
  slit along a riverine walk
  & jungle clearing.

  IV
  Twilight. Golden tulip. Golden olive,
  "Fool's Gold", a lithesome snake-girl
  gyrates her dragon-flared, limb-length
  tattoo with red-eye dots itching in
  emerald waiting; footpaths overhanging
  serpentine curves or laser beam
  dancer legs, paddle white, under angel
  tint of stage-light.

  V
  The cut off jeans
  compete with campfire glow ...
  slipping a musket-width, nostril breadth
  around turbans, bonnets, bubbles. Murex.

  VI
   ... Elegant white ibises and egrets
  stand like sentinels; herons flying in
  their wide wings braking and their long
  legs dragging ... and the snaky-necked
  anhingas flapping and sailing into
  spread their big wings
  to dry in the sun.

  Sa nom m'etruit

  Her NAME escapes me
  Nomen fuit



  Just the faintest hint of spring

  UU

  MM



  MOTHER of PEARL
  with ODALISQUE.



  BOCA

  "Nature abhors a vacuum", theorists of both philosophy and
  politics assure us.

  What's more, the phenomena is not confined to mere
  physical science given the nature of human opportunism.
  Glance a map of central Europe for further insights. One
  side always replaced the other when a "common," enemy
  expired.

  Boca might well have studied such eventualities.

  Boca was a writer. More accurately, a "touch-dancer" with
  the written phrase, deftly painting the catchy one-liner with
  effortless ease and grace. Boca knew his craft, be it the
  arena of story, poem, drama, (it didn't matter the genre).
  Unfortunately, his oeuvre remained fixed and static. Boca
  never progressed beyond titles.

  "A right, jolly good thing, too", said Boca in his own
  defense.

  The short burst counted most, whether in thought, sport or
  field of battle. The utterance of a single breath. That was
  it! It all lay in the aside, the pun, a retort, the récit. If this
  were all to the story, there would be no doubt whatsoever;
  Boca excelled.

  "In the briefest expression, perhaps", said the critics. But,
  as they were quick to point out, it didn't lead "anywhere".

  "Where is the larger, more important fruit? His finished
  verbal passion?", intoned one.

  Still, this chance fortune led to the inspiration (and success)
  of unusually vivid titles.

  But ... titles? Just "titles", said others nervously? Yes,
  proclaimed Boca. Titles. Not epithets, or rejoinders,
  cat-calls even repartee.

  Not even wit in the normal understanding of the term. Just
  mere titles. Bushel-baskets of them. Worried looks crept
  onto the onlookers' faces.

  Encyclopaedic came the flowering. Ad factories should
  have tapped such a larder. Any creative department could
  have done worse than with Boca's dripping imagery and gift
  for the keynote phrase.

  "There is majesty here", said one, "and more than a little
  Blake. I am reminded of the great symbolists."

  "One has to be practical", cautioned still another. "What's
  here is hardly epigrammatic or even purely an aphorism in
  any truer sense of the word."

  "I'm simply perplexed", said the man finally to his
  colleague and both left without further ado or thought to
  Boca's work.

  Indeed Boca loved his words, tinkering with the very
  essence of language.

  "A great beginning", cheered a rare voice. "Let's hope one
  without premature end."

  Boca continued to conceive titles by the hundreds. He
  didn't merely dream up a few, in snatches, he proliferated
  them in vaster and vaster quantities. It was if a salmon left
  to spawn could endanger a sea shelf or river bed under the
  sheer quantity of her seed.

  "A one-man explosion at the typewriter", chortled an
  onlooker, happening to see the quantity of Boca's largesse.
  That was before he stopped to inquire of the nature of
  Boca's work. Then perturbed, this same man hurried away
  to the utter indifference of Boca who kept a steady
  pounding in spite of the interruption.

  On they came. More and more titles. By the hundreds--
  for scripts, larger dramas, treatises, epistles, monologues.
  All. And all without a scarce concern for their ultimate use.

  Are we to believe each one came to naught as the sceptics
  predicted? After all, in this practical world who has use for
  dreamers? We already know Boca was stymied at the title
  level. Nothing ever graced his newborn creation beyond
  that first utterance. It was like sending a baby into the
  world without proper bedding or clothes.

  One nastier commentator even alluded to Boca's work as
  the equivalent of premature ejaculation. All buildup with
  no satisfaction. "The promise", he chuckled, "without the
  delivery".

  And that is what came to pass.

  Each of Boca's titles, true to prediction, came to "naught"
  or, rather, nothing much. Blank. A zero. With each "title"
  one ran aground on the larger abyss of its central problem.

  That being, as Boca had been warned by his legion of
  critics, "one of size".

  What good are titles without textual description, chapters,
  scenes, the "overview?" said one literary agent gruffly.

  Boca, taking a respite from his typewriter, had had the
  temerity to approach one such man in the comfort of his
  office with reams of suggestions.

  Indeed.

  People shook their heads at Boca always scribbling
  furiously. Always working but apparently accomplishing
  precious next to nothing. "Something" was evidently being
  done in the strictest sense of the word, but what? What?

  "Could his ... well, problem be explained?" one vocal
  opponent of Boca urged.

  "What the hell is he up to?"

  Strangely enough, for the seemingly longest time this did
  not deter Boca. He was his own universe. His feet were
  on solid ground. The air about him teemed with ideas. He
  was too busy fishing for the "mot juste", he explained in
  a moment of clarification.

  "One man in the right is a majority", proclaimed Boca,
  remembering a snippet of John Stuart Mill.

  Too busy was Boca replanning the structure of the
  Colosseum so it might better accommodate his label, his
  notion, his re-christened version of the ideal verbal escort
  to accompany that ancient edifice.

  And write Boca did. Titles fell increasingly from his pen.

  "The Barking Tree."

  "The Leaking River."

  These were but two. Boca thought he would improve on
  Tolkein's efforts, at least in the direction of title. After all,
  to send a work into the reader's lap without proper
  introduction was like trying to get acquainted without the
  proper introduction.

  Maybe Boca had a point.

  "Assembly without Hope" and "Nirvana without End"
  touched on his mystical stage. He dropped this and
  proceeded into the area of historiography. And afterwards,
  dry epistemology would see him concentrate his efforts.
  These forums were indeed worthy of his attention. Too
  long had they been neglected. All were in need of good,
  metaphoric dusting by title.

  At last word, Boca was inching toward Kant's, "Critique of
  Pure Reason".

  "That one, in particular, has a poor ring", he was heard to
  say.

  On they came. Precise. Hard-hitting, or so he thought.
  They made the mind's eye swell with the promise of more
  and more. Indeed, that "eye" could get bloodshot reading
  all of Boca's interception.

  But the "more" in the sense of the follow-up, the "delivery"
  or accompaniment of pages never came.

  Nowhere was there to be found the Hemingway to follow
  the "Moveable Feast".

  Or "The Edible Woman".

  Even the promise of thrillers for a scary submarine epic like
  "Three Eggs on my Plate" never materialized.

  Nothing. Just titles. More, then more and increasingly
  more of them. Annoyingly so. Scraps of paper decorating
  a table without an intended victim ever coming close.

  It was as if so many salesgirls had left price tags off
  matching merchandise. That's all that remained. Just the
  stickers forlornly, white and detached, staring up from their
  adhesiveness.

  More than just a little tacky.

  A woman given to comparison confronted Boca.

  "Imagine a zoo where the curators had all the animal
  names, but they were not paired with their owners. That's
  your stuff. Everything in a weird isolation."

  Boca could not be Borca and not even Carl Sagan could
  rescue him. No large bottles floating in formaldehyde with
  the decapitated heads from Belle Epoque sailors were
  possible here.

  Boca was more obscure than Gaspirilla Island. More so.

  And a final verdict, if there is need for one, can be seen in
  Boca's last will and testimony.

  He let it be known of his intention to chisel the "ultimate"
  one-liner. One to grace his own tombstone. On this he set
  to work with a last burst of frenzy.

  "To mirror my tragic-comic fate", as he would have said.

  Perhaps Boca is still at work, either on the snappy final
  wording ("the right elasticity") or in the mechanics of the
  engraving itself.

  Only a stone-cutter could estimate the probable expenditure
  in time for the latter.

  Novelists in dire need of fresh insights should enlist Boca.
  He's definitely available, if difficult to reach.

  Boca might have rescued many a masterpiece from the
  dustbin, if not the Box Office, had his specialty been
  known.

  I look at Boca and hear fire bells. His plight remains the
  very stuff of tragedy. By epic standards, how many Bocas
  are there worthy of a balladeer and myth maker? Credible
  Boca may be, but understandable?

  Boca, the metaphoric equivalent of a Sisyphus chained to
  his rock of obsession.

  "This horrible rock", (or pebble depending on your
  viewpoint), wailed Boca.

  "I've become my own obstacle, my work is the
  personification of my own limitation."

  Worse, imprisoned in an inescapable logic and the narrow
  confines of a blink of talent.



  WORK IN PROGRESS

  Two Chinese fellows approached me in a London suburb.
  They were eager for talk.

  "Karl Marx's tomb," they implored, "directions to the tomb,
  please." They were pronouncing "tomb" as if it rhymed with home.

  Suited up in their Mao jackets and identically dressed
  without hint to rank or station, they struck me as strangely
  odd even on the thoroughfares of a metropolitan city. I had
  noticed they wore no green armband common to other
  Communist dignitaries.

  The smaller of the two became insistent.

  I nodded and smiled at the mention of Marx's name for it
  was Highgate and, yes, he was interred in the rambling
  cemetery near by. Yes, I had visited the grave but was no
  means clear it was a grave they had come all this way to
  visit.

  They were shy but puzzled at my redirection of their query.
  I pointed out there was no "home" as they were
  pronouncing it, but, only a "grave".

  It was then that their enunciation and the silent murder of
  the letter "T" came back to me. Like the Cockney unable
  to say "h" in elocution class, their confusion was furthered
  by knowing only one word for "final resting place." My
  own use of grave was causing them grave concern.

  They were looking curiously at one another. I doubt if they
  had ever heard North American accented English. I might
  have been their first authentic "American," short of a
  simulated war games exercise. Certainly, though all cities
  are polyglots, I had never seen two so authentically attired
  citizens of "The People's Republic."

  It was an amusing moment, life with the sang-froid
  of the unspoken.

  I gave them their dues. They had their directions. They
  pranced off smartly and melted into the morning traffic.

  And I thought of trying to explain that Marx, at least
  in unofficial circles here, is not considered with their same
  deference.

  "I'm sorry if this jars with what you've been told, Wu."

  "And no, this is not counter-revolutionary lies. The truth is,
  Mr. Han, Marx was  ...  a chiseler. He died owing nearly
  every wage earner in The Village."

  Talk of irony and final verdicts. How one who numbers
  among the age's savants could so brazenly ignore such hard
  economic fact seemed incredible to me. Skulduggery aside,
  such a thing, even if only partially true, would be scant
  tribute to the fabled man. I thought of the British
  Museum's collection of his writings, then remembered it
  mentioned nothing of this fact. Glowing tributes, of course,
  but no unofficial flack.

  And I thought of the possibility of a third world war being,
  in part, based on this development. Marx's embitterment,
  that is his inability to pay even the most modest debt
  through his writing. And should there ever come another
  global catastrophe, I imagined how Marx would extend his
  wrath.

  At the doctrine of dialectic materialism's doorstep. Between
  the incompatibility of work and her governing classes.
  Exportable revolution. The decadent bourgeoisie struggling
  to maintain their stranglehold on comfort. The Gospel
  completely according to Karl.

  That would be without considering the question of Marx's
  alleged incest with his daughter. But, then, most everything
  in the Marx story is "alleged." The alleged politics of
  confrontation. The alleged incompatibility of those who toil
  with their rulers. The alleged inertia of labourers even to
  the degree of their exploitation. And, yes, the alleged
  superiority of any one system over another.

  Of course reference would be made to the irony of Marx
  being buried and remaining interred throughout the years in
  one of the most class conscious nations on earth.

  Where every accent and syllable decrees one's station in
  life.

  Where every utterance labels the speaker according to rank
  and social standing by rigid calling.

  I thought of myself discussing such things with the
  perturbed, yet unmovable ideologues of the People's
  Democratic Republic of China.

  Did they know Marx's friend and colleague, Engels, kept a
  mistress? Did they care that Marx disapproved?

  Imagine using the word "grave" in the same breath as
  "grave offence" to discuss incest. Glib moralizing, the
  trumpet of the bourgeoisie! I seem to remember Lenin's
  disdainful "no omelettes with first cracking the eggs."

  Perhaps all communication is claptrap.

  All these fellows wanted were directions.

  Their minds were made up.

  They were attending a secular church, walking in
  the footsteps of an earthbound saint. No amount of revisionist
  thinking could deflect, in their eyes, Marxian achievement.
  And you had to give Marx certain dues. That before people
  are capable of aspiring to work, they must first be fed. And
  all contacts, within life, must inevitably come through and
  be restricted by, how one has chosen to make that daily
  bread. Or, in Marx's words, how one is prevented from
  advancing by artificial class barriers. Precisely.

  Poles apart. Worlds away.

  The two Chinese chaps and I were living proof of that.

  I wondered if they would have been interested in seeing the
  Dicken's plaque nearby. The novelist, too, had stayed only
  a street away. Little Dorritt would have been pleased even
  if the jury is still out on which thinker alerted the world
  most to the evils of uncontrolled profit.

  I for one, care little for the revolutionary proletariat or
  repudiated communist dogma but I do like to eat. Marx
  made his point.



  HARDCASES

  I dreamed my toenails
  were ivory
  and elephants came to trade for tusks
  ... Then went conveniently off to die
  ("shed this mortal coil") in a
  cutter-shed stacked high
  like firewood.

  II
  I dreamed Landover, Maryland
  was the site near the
  Pentagon. People got wind of
  the scheme and grew intrigued.
  Twigs shattered in the moonlight
  as curious onlookers tried
  to peek-a-boo into the shed.

  III
  Raisins were left out
  to dry as
  token offerings.

  IV
  Mafioso members and other hardcases
  wanted to elbow in
  but stiff military types
  eminently incorruptible, said
  "no dice" made, naturally,
  of ivory turned a
  deadly nightshade of
  twilight toenail blue.

  V
  Umber became my colour
  (and trademark) along with the mandatory ebony.

  VI
  Out-of-work seasonal elves,
  dwarfs and the occasional
  circus midget shoe-horned in.

  VII
  Nothing remained of the earlier raisins as
  a variety of greedy misfits
  pocketed the tributes.

  VIII
  The North Pole beckoned,
  heightened consciousness and
  sensitivity groups against
  demeaning and negative stereotypes
  routed the Barnum and Baileys'
  dwarfs and midgets.

  IX
  A pile of cinders and
  grey-glow embers
  paused to remain
  after boycotting
  exposed the great
  toe-nail giveaway sham.

  X
  Reportedly, the Devil has a toe-nail
  chair in Hell.
  This common, medieval belief
  lingers into macumba, voodoo and
  loa-spirit trees.

  XI
  Who wants,
  after all,
  discarded body parts
  brought to such an ignoble
  end? The intriguing thing
  is in the witchery, smoke 'n mirrors
  world of Obeah, toenails are
  prized much like the greying
  Information Age values
  organ transplants for an
  aging population.

  XII
  Medieval really.
  Nothing the body profuses
  is really evil,
  only our intent.

  XIII
  Should a fly symbolizing
  havoc, despair and filth
  fall into Holy Water,
  the detested fly not
  does pollute the sacred vessel.

  XIV
  Modern fitness buffs full-circle
  with gleaming sweat-stained temples
  "glistening" with, what else,
  moisture.



  COMMENTS
   ... Unrestrained, imaginative writing.
  Brown's magic is the vibrating universe,
  his sympathy is his ability to receive these
  vibrations. Sympathetic Magic captures
  the movement of life in its intervals--
  his poems resemble stopped action photographs from a film.
  THE TORONTO STAR



   ... The poetry is fine ...  rewarding reading ...
  Almost every poem in Sympathetic Magic boasts
  an admirable image or two. Brown can write,
  without a doubt.
  POETRY CANADA POESIE



   ... Wry humour.
  The poet revels in image and can use it well.
  Paul Cameron Brown is capable of interesting,
  even arresting work.
  CANADIAN BOOK REVIEW ANNUAL 1985



  Le voyage exotique devient parfois fantistique ...
  Se plonger dans les pages de "Sympathetic Magic",
  c'est partir pour un autre monde où Paul Cameron Brown
  envoute par les mots et les images.
  DIPLOMATIC OBSERVER

  Third eye
  ISBN 0-919581-80-3

  The End





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