Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Silent Storm

Where are we on this cold dark night, hands
wrapped around empty  cups waiting
for prophecies to arrive?
Where did the words go,
simple words, complicated words,
words that mean nothing,
words of magic and of scholarship?

There is only the silence of apartments
in the hour between death and sleep.

Where is the poet, wrestling with her thoughts,
her double life, her ghostly lovers
who tempt her with thoughts of sugar
and a storm? Should we not be on the lookout?
Shouldn’t we be in a watchtower, or scanning the footage
of surveillance cameras? Waiting at the edge of deserts
for prophets to appear?

I think, I say, I’m expecting someone
or something; or maybe I’m missing
the touch of something familiar,
like the note from a guitar
as it escapes from
my finger.

I’ve never known silence like this,
wrapped around me like walls of cotton.

Even a mirror is no comfort to me now.

The New Palace

From across the highway, you park your car and watch it burn.
They've broken through the gates and set the monster on fire.
So you leave your old life here beside the road
and walk toward the screaming and the sirens.
You can't help but feel melancholic.
Where are the tyrants?
Where are the tyrants?

You've seen the footage on CNN and BBC before
but nothing prepares you for the taste of flames, the FRU,
the rattling of batons against riot shields.
Or the empty rush surging through your head
as the crowds heave and the ground gives way.
You're holding your breath.
You're holding your breath.

You see an inch-high figure with a loud hailer
but water cannons sweep him clean.
You see kids of every colour, with faces wrapped and raised fists:
the smell of dank sweat as it rubs of on your skin and claims you
for its own, pushing you to the front of the pack.
And then you hear the explosions.
You run.
You run.

Up ahead a girl is being dragged off by her hair.
Another girl is being kicked. And another. And another.
You feel the fullness of your anger like the stone in your hand
and you give it wings, you give it life, you let it fly
from your fist by the full swing of your shoulder.
There.
There.

Darkness burns like an inkstain across the parchment of the skies.
The palace is ravaged and there's crimson in your eyes.
Is it time to go home yet or should you wait
for the last embers to die?
Someone touches you on your shoulder and asks:
Did we kill the king?
Did we kill the king?

The City Is Crying

(for Benjamin McKay, 1964-2010)

On any other day, we'd look up at the sky and think
"Oh... just another shower."
One would think, we should be used to this by now.
It happens almost everyday;
there's nothing to it--it's just water, the contents of
a nameless cloud, unraveling.

But not today. Today the city is crying. The city is weeping.
The streets are drenched with tears.
The white noise of the downpour can barely hide the silence.
A silence that makes everything feel
so sad and low and dim. One would think "How shameful--
the rain is trying to wash away his trace."

But not today. Today the city cries. The city weeps.
Today, in the city, somewhere
in the deep sadness that has welled up and tumbled
out of the vastness of the sky
like gigantic teardrops, someone's life is missing a familiar
face. Come, let me wipe away your tears.