I USED TO BELIEVE

I used to believe.

I used to believe when I looked something in the eye I believed it,

I believed it was so. I trusted other things, people.

I was young and needed to believe in the other.

Now that I am old I don’t need to believe anything, not even myself.

Everything has its worth, even lies, and nobody knows what the truth of anything is anyway, so lies are the only things we may go by.

Choose your truth, but never believe it.

I know there are things that choose us, but in the end they disappear.

Nothing survives.

This may or may not be true.

I AM BLACK

I eat on black plates

I eat black food on black plates

I drink black tea in black cups

The sun shines black on me, too.

 

Black sucks in light,

meaning it contains light.

I am the Real Light, it says,

the hard shapes you see in day

disappear at night,

I own them.

 

Black is the color of sleep.

We rest in black

if black so desires,

or

black wields a whip

to keep us out,

starve us from our dreams.

 

While other colors strike poses,

play party games,

black remains serene

like an unruffled butler.

Distinguished

Absolute

A master of circumstance,

black rules quietly.

 

Black is jazz,

a burning saxophone on

the summer pavement,

slow drinks,

sex, easy and long.

 

Black is the dislocated,

sirens blaring to upset

delicate ears,

Police bullets spray,

the city is turned into

a trauma unit.

 

No,

don’t mess with black,

because black has been here

even longer than truth.

She is the Great Mother,

Africa,

the earth

that can swallow you.

 

So,

rise now,

and raise your glass to black,

in Coca Cola or in Russians.

And, remember,

everything goes with black,

it’s a well known custom.

 

SAYING GOODBYE

I wait for the summons.

When it arrives I comply

and enter the chapel.

I sit like a king removed

listening to the thin silence

draw me back into the

mysteries, and wonder

what artwork to expect fashioned

this day by the devil’s mouth,

what shapes will the body of

the snake take, whether pointed

or curved like punctuation, or rather

coiled almost seamlessly into an O.

I don’t know.

Death’s needs hold sway,

its odors must speak sweet

and fill up the air as in a stable

or a house of ill-repute.

My back arches like The Thinker,

elbows grinding into tops of thighs.

The light is weak.

Then I jut vertical to open

to give the babies passage

and kick back.

They rush to oblige, creating

a symphony, besides, dropping

plop plop into the drink.

I think, that is enough.

But no, wait, I was wrong,

another comes along to

join the song.

And yet another follows.

Oh, my! I sigh, I must’ve had too

much for dinner.

One day, I vow, I will be thinner.

At least, I’m lighter.

And now the party’s over.

Time to tidy up.

That’s less fun but has to be done.

Scroll down.

The white pages, the tugs and pinches,

the moustache all coated.

Fingers probe, scoop up the soil,

acknowledge it’s the wet season.

How much to stem the flood? This

is becoming drudgery! Pad after pad.

But look how bright we’re getting!

Maybe another roll will do it.

Finally, yes, here it is: unblemished. Pristine.

Not a hint of muck. Good as new.

I stand. Roll up. Buckle tight. Proudly,

focusing down, I lean on the handle,

and with sadness, wave my goodbyes.

LATE SUMMER

The feeling of drowning in morning light, cloud power and the dreamy skull, the promise of the blues gone forever. In the blonde blondness of the day, the caramel coated summer passing in a slow motion mirror, the trees cheerful as they sink into a yawn. It is a famous present, whispering seasonal traffic, the angle of a sun-splashed brick wall. A cityscape delirium. I exit my closet, blink orange, and I’m there, Sunday Morning by Lou Reed, and I don’t know what to bring to this last gasp of summer. It is a little like being invited to a beheading. How long will it take, will there be neck tightness, bleeding colours? I don’t know. Nobody knows when it comes to transitions, nobody’s an expert. And I don’t want to know. I prefer my windowpanes vague. I hope we can cut to the chase with a sharp blade, avoiding the tangled up telephones, the exhausting positions, the gum ache. I might be doing something wrong. I wish it were not so.

UNTITLED

Everything went dark

The screen eclipsed

I felt for your hand

I couldn’t resist

 

Your mouth restrains me

Your tone is harsh

I withstand your judgement

I stand apart

 

These years don’t matter

When you strike that pose

The distance we travel

Leaves us alone

 

Solitude in the afternoon

The sky wakes up

I wish I could be there

In a slim neat cup

 

I’m going toward something

The wind at my back

I’ll get somewhere one day

Beyond the pins and the rack

 

If this means something

If this makes some sense

You‘re in the middle

Of this whole bloody mess

I’VE HAD ENOUGH

I’ve had enough

I’ve had enough of this road

And the stone in my shoe

I’ve had enough of me

And not enough of you

 

I’ve had enough

Of the air that I breathe

It’s painful to swallow

Painful to grieve

 

I’ve had enough

Don’t tell me no

I don’t know where to turn to

Don’t know where to go

 

I’ve had too little

Of glory and faith

Faith in something

I could never erase

 

I’ve had just enough

Time to prepare

Give me a signal

And I’ll try to get there

HOPE

I hope Alain is happy with his cat

And didn’t go out and buy a rat

I hope he’s happier still

That he’s not buried on a hill

 

I hope Eddie is okay

Not in some disastrous play

With his wife and his son

Held down under somebody’s gun

 

I hope my folks are doing good

Wherever they may be I’ve understood

Whatever transpired I can’t deny

Made me I and I will not lie

 

I hope Barbara is on her way

To becoming every day

The artist she is supposed to be

And creates herself and remembers me

 

I hope everyone in this world

Who suffers with what has unfurled

Gains relief and conquers pain

And comes back to live again

ENIGMA (for J-M)

If it’s too good to be true

is it true,

a young man, nearly

a boy, really,

who astounds in

twenty-first century space

with jewels as words that are

louder than blame

and as magnificent

as First Love?

 

Who is he,

who writes in a third language

he met on a beach as a child?

 

He is doubtless connected

to those who spoke

before him

in the flowers of language,

messages of possibility,

all the while surrounded

in a world

swallowed by toxins.

 

If Art is a lie that tells the truth,

then he is a great liar,

a magician who spins wheels

before fortunate spectators.

 

Regardless,

Beauty is proffered by the arthritic

hand.

A HOLE IN ME

There is a hole in me that can’t be filled

I try to stay alert to everything in there

I stuff myself with pleasure

I disengage from pain

I stand in the rain 

                                                                                              

The hole I realize is an illusion

I realize this with a deep breath

That a fine hand is guiding me

Somewhere

I don’t care where

Only that it is away from

A hole that can’t be filled

UNBREAKABLE

You’re unbreakable, little girl.

I see it in your eyes

as you tell your story

of the ordeal endured

of a hell almost

incomprehensible,

Satanic ritual abuse.

Blood, murder, humiliation

foisted on you by your grandmother

no less, Nana and her ilk

for their god, Lucifer.

We call a lot of things suffering,

but this is beyond the pale

even in this day of the extraordinary.

The human will cannot be broken.

You’re unbreakable, little girl.

I’m glad to see this in your eyes.

UNTITLED

C’mon baby
Take me where I need to go
C’mon baby
Take me down real slow
 
Had so much trouble in this town
It never leave me alone
Had so much of nothing
Nothing never lets me go
 
It’s getting cold out there
Need to find a place to land
I’m broken and used up
Gotta find a silky hand
 
I got no future
Got no past to tell
Get close to me baby
Let me drink from your well
 
We could make it together
Live in the same old tree
Could be birds of a feather
Sure wish you’d agree

I CAN’T GET UP

I’m stuck
I’m stuck I can’t get up
I’m stuck I’m in between
I can’t formulate a theory
I won’t take a stand
I’m stuck like a balloon in a tree
And no one is coming to get me
Motion escapes me
My angels forsake me
I am just about ready
And I don’t know what for
It has come to this and this takes
The cake
I’ve been educated I once held a job
They told me I was alive
I really believed it
I had a past
I wanted things
I could tell the difference between things
I could see colors
I had plans
I believed I could perfect myself
I was curious about everything
God the nature of the universe
My place in the picture
Now I’m stuck
In rage in savagery
In ignorance and solitude
The world is so solid
Freedom is so far away

UNTITLED

He sings like a demon on fire

He moves like a wildcat in heat

When he stands still he can even make the women weep

So give reign to your pain and your anger

Get up and throw off your blues

Get a monkey to befriend you

You’re right to say you’ve paid your dues

I don’t remember the man I used to be

Now I’m tired but I’m nearly free

I never look in the mirror

I don’t even want to see

Something coming up around the corner

Get a jump on me

Yes I can feel it in my ears

All I can say is I don’t want it to be

Something more than a tragedy

To all my friends in a tree

Singing your songs for me

You give me heart you bring me ecstasy

I TRY

I try so hard

I try so hard

I try so hard to love you

 

I try so hard to live with you

I try so hard to know you

 

I do not know you

I cannot rule you

 

Fact

 

I am blue not gray

I am just made that way

I will just fade that way

 

Now

 

The lamp’s down low

How low will it go

 

Into the dark

Our natural space

Our silly place

 

I try so hard

To win the race

To end the race

 

I try so hard

To find my place

I WANT TO BE

I want to be inspired

But inspiration hides under a pile of soiled clothes.

I want to be in demand

But I’m not the man I used to be.

I want to be completely me

But I don’t know where I permanently stand on anything.

I want to do what I’ve forgotten to do

But I can’t remember what that is.

I want to be on a tropical twist with A.

But she has her obligations.

I want to get back all the wasted time

But it’s time I stopped trying to do that.

I want to be free

But from what and for what?

I want to be able to love unconditionally

Everyone everything even myself.

I want to want something,

I mean really want like I’m on fire for it.

 

Despite these wishes, I’m a reasonably happy person,

Which I don’t ascribe to all the drinks and dope.

A WORD WITH GOD

I wake up in the morning
To nothing much at all
I let it all go thru me
I don’t have much recall
 
The never changing noises
The total disrespect
For any real advancement
And all the same neglect
 
Like black men sitting in prison
Many innocent of crime
The others that did it
Obliged to make a dime
 
I wish I could make things happen
I wish I had the balls
To overthrow the status quo
Escape privilege once and for all
 
I want off this merry-go-round
With all the drugs and lies
From the evening pundits
In their shirts and their ties
 
But I’m just a good Jewish boy
Did everything I was told
By books and parents
Who really were quite old
 
I’ll deal with defeat in heaven
If everything goes well
I’ll be right up in front
Sounding a big brass bell
 
I’ll kiss all the angels
Give them each a rose
Convince them to relocate
Buy them some street clothes
 
If there is a God sitting there
I won’t say a word
I won’t betray my bitterness
About which I am not cured
 
I imagine He’ll just nod and wink
And drink up His usual praise
Coming thru the Intercom
From churches in a haze
 
What do they expect from me He”ll ask
What do they think I can do
About all their pain and unhappiness
Their problems not a few
 
I’m just a dude with a good job
I got it long ago
I was elected President
In a world I do not know
 
I’ve been to hell and back
I’ll tell Him steady and straight
It was quite a ride for sure
It makes me want to hate
 
And now you’re in heaven you think
With the man Himself
I guess you want an autograph
To place on your shelf
 
No I don’t think so I’ll retort
I never thought You great
For being so full of yourself
In everything You state
 
You made humans the way we are
That really wasn’t smart
We’re just a bunch of insane beasts
From the end and from the start
 
I think you made a mistake He’ll say
You came to the wrong place
You need to go next door I think
The Devil’s in that space
 
Blame blame is all You know
I’ll tell Him with a sneer
It’s always the other guy
It’s always the one You fear
 
Fear in what You bank on
Fear is what You need
To keep Your fans writing cheques
While they continue to bleed
 
Your fans don’t even know who they are
They only know their names
You need to make them need You
To referee their games
 
Why don’t You tell them the truth of it
Tell them they can be strong
That they don’t have to get on their knees
To live well and get along
 
Then what would I do up here He’d say
I would be all alone
No more droning prayers to hear
No more messages on my phone
 
The fact of the matter is
I’m not getting any younger
Don’t have the energy anymore
To satisfy anyone’s hunger
 
Still people want to dream I guess
Of an afterlife one day
They cannot handle the alternative
That they must just decay
 
Should I destroy the illusions
That keep some men afloat
In a world they cannot tolerate
In a world without hope
 
To these very words
I wouldn’t know what to say
Illusions may be all we have
To keep the world at bay

FATAL ATTRACTION

The wide blanket that covers it all,

I have a heart for you.

The dream has always been

to ride the skin that is your game,

The sad markings thrown away.

In any climate I make a vow:

I will not change my quest for you,

Your lullabies that bring on sleep.

I leave my gift at your doorstep.

I have no more appetite for loss.

This pales before your promises,

The great defeat of unhappiness

That trails along a cool white sheet

With whispers down an avenue.

Between your pear-like breasts

I lay my head

I lay aside my childish scorn

In you I will be torn

Outside of time and flesh,

An exquisite Nothingness.

You are always there

In the glare and in the dream.

From your constant womb of white

The perfect crown of a perfect life

You beckon to watery steps

With an air of indifference,

Or down into the arms of earth

Where we relinquish our flimsy truths

Of the noises that were us

The stances and the spasms spent

on happenstance.

You open your legs to this.

It is your fragrance that overcomes

my weariness.

In the dream I have seen

Your lipstick is reminiscent:

The smile.

I am afraid.

Outside of myself I watch myself

In my drugged state

Tethered to another life,

A weaker life,

I shudder.

You fade, removed page by page.

Over oceans of time,

You disappear.

I am clear

And alone.

It is another day:

I watch the sun rise.

HOW IT HAPPENED

We sit in opposition
Like cars gearing up for a
Game of chicken.
The wind blusters in your
Eyes, your piano voice comes
In crystals. I feel the years
Between us that have
Fallen off, revealing a hard
Skeleton  of love in place.
But
How  we try each
Other for fault! Your vanity,
my hands cut off at
The wrist. I have no
Stomach to pick through
These remains again or retrace
Plot points on the map
To here. I see it as a
Happy accident that
We have survived
Together at all,
Certainly not any of my
Doing.  Was it the god
Of inertia who intervened,
limited horizons pressing
Against motion?
Were we not brave enough,
and if so,
Has it not taken us down
A step?
Or
Was it something else entirely,
A flame of recognition
That held a mutual gaze
And burned everything else
Away?

==========

SIGNATURE

You wait
And if it doesn’t come you wait some more,
It is something like fishing
Except you don’t do it in the sun.
It is not exactly pleasant
And it is not exactly unpleasant either
And
Why you do it
is difficult to answer.
It has something to do with compulsion
Your having to know that you can,
On that day
come up with something
That will definitely surprise you.
So you court the gods gravely and fervently
Because you know that it is not really
You at all who is going to do the work.
It is rather a chorus of Voices somewhere
Inside your nervous system
that will come to visit you,
Bringing with them words as gifts to you,
Which they offer in muffled tones or
In fits and starts, or in lengthier
Instalments that you take down
At your keyboard you hope in the right
Order.
You want to receive the message correctly
not mishear it,
And you have to learn to trust that what they tell you
Is in fact the truth because you have no way of verifying
It.
Of course there will be at some point an overseer who
tinkers and censors
And deletes
A sort of Father Figure editor
Who must get the package wrapped correctly.
But that is the easy part really because the gift is already
There,
in whole
or in part.

Later, you and others will determine whether it was
A cheap gift or an expensive one.
You will provide your signature,
The Voices will be relegated to obscurity.

But
You know in your heart that you are probably
an imposter,
At best, an interceptor,
And the Voices will not be there to either
Confirm or deny it.

================

JIAN and US

Jian Ghomeshi

He looks like a sweet little immigrant,

a Pakistani boy wading through dirty water.

He smiles a lot on walls and soothes

with his ingratiating manner.

He is said to be charming to breathless women

he meets at natural food counters and less than charming to his underlings.

Known as a pop culture icon, a go-getter, or almost something.

while inside he is:

all emptiness and fury.

He must have hated his mother a lot.

Did she turn the wrong screw?

We can always trace things back to her.

Blaming the woman is the name of the game we love.

Women as punching bags is always a hoot.

She could not be one hundred percent available, perhaps.

She is, after all, the Remote One, the Castratrix.

And this is never agreeable.

Thus she must be remade, beaten into another shape.

Everyone knows that,

Everyone sees that,

Everyone always has.

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