Owl Hours

What a gleeful chest of stolen images,
Waking life grants us its treasures
For wondrous taking, bestows a

Swaying form: an owl astride a wire, a
Turning, curious figure above the
Abandoning dark, the dust-weight of
Night ascending slowly through the hues

Like a child’s playful hand delighting
To run fingers over coloured pencil tin,
Feel each barrel’s braille-story sing
From heaviest blue to the lightest

Daylight where we feed on afterimages,
Years string together living dreams that
Dwindle to be reborn in our owl hours.

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22 Lines, Darkly

Like scratching a lottery ticket,
This one has a blackened coating
To be whittled away without
The guarantee of a prize.

Watch its flakes drift away,
Rubbing produces little
Besides graying threads of doubt,
More the smell of mystery,

Your need to uncover toying thoughts
That encore on days magnified
By other lives for stepping into
A stranger’s wallpapered mind,

Tour how they became where they are going.
Keep stripping it away to no avail
As you must colour the gaps, intuit and
Restore words glazed over,

Savaged darkly by their maker
When a half-shared confession
Or something less
Appeared like an open mouth

In that pause between relief and regret,
Something less than both, chose neither.

– 22 March 2015

Jazz Hands

A fusion of fingers, no,
thumbs bisect impossible angles
it took Keith Jarrett years
to master these moves that
warped his careful hands
into improvised new shapes
while her torturous contortions
beat a tune her toes mimic
in their leopard-print hi tops
and aquamarine nails coordinated
with her instrument’s plastic casing
played on, play on soundless notes
that belong to her brood, this brand
new wave who prefer to blare
every need, passion, thought and feeling
with these silent trumpet calls
we should call them “the glass section”
but it wouldn’t scratch the surface.

— 12/19 March 2015

On setting out

you may reach the water’s lip
where a thin bridge awaits
besides transparent morning
before you step aboard and
our ceiling becomes a feast
of unquiet stars

be sure to notice first
how smooth a bridge
as high as your
imagination will build
leads the way, cord taut
as you pace, pace, pace
between each wave whose mist
greets and fades, again, again

stopping for breath you awaken
at some point along the way
behold an infinite line of
high-wire acts in parallel
each following some unseen map
that will probably never
meet your own but you stare

in wonder at but a few:
winding letters unrolled as if
to make an equator of her spine,
a dessicated butterfly that
perched too long upon that arm,
the lunar wasteland erupting
across his groaning back

but the water dances at your feet
as these constellations turn
obscured by fog
your own reflection calls.
(11 March 2015)

Decomposing

Curiously, I will surely forget this
Steady march in months or years
Where no line forms
When no trace remains
(Only this mark its memorial
A smoother monument).

Funny: how we scar or don’t.
Stranger: landmarks, evidence of pain past
May bind and disappear
Still run unhealed below.

Some seal stories shut by
Ruthless avalanche stuffing full
The cave’s open maw
Denying light and inventing new
Mysteries for historians
Forever reconstructing from scratch.

Some we search for, vainly
To pair up with stories –
A hooked finger
A youthful misadventure –
Only to discover
No corresponding article exists.

Much more are those for which
No blood flowed
Wounds shaped in anger, fear, despair
Stains whose surface we wish
Could be dusted clean with time
We might restore an earlier draft
A self less written on
A decomposition.
(8 March 2015)