Above this shale-and-shell-beach Atlantis,
Clouds knife like sharks.
Halifax, Nova Scotia , imports ‘down South'-
‘Up North'-Back East.
The Sargasso of a harbour
Floats benzene and feces to mock divinity.
(Halifax parades the same fecal stench
As prissy Monte Carlo.)
Beyond this miasma, April snow stalls,
Stale in the Atlantic.
Halifax, this ship-corralled harbour,
Enacts a North Atlantic Cape Town-
Wooden architecture rickety and leaky,
A port of squalls
And squalid race riots: white
Against black and back again.
Or it's a cloudy caricature of Venice,
Or Edinburgh, but watered-down, dissolute....
Here fog looks as dense as slate and twice as dark.
Here water feels as solid as turquoise or lead.
In fog, the streets smell like chocolate.
Brine and cocoa mix.
With night, the harbour brews coffee-
Or a bouillabaisse of chalk and gravy.
In rain, Halifax reeks of wet dog
Or empty tomato-soup cans.
Cuban fishers (all spies) say the city's Leningrad plus Havana.
Fog anchors the warehouses, the docks, the water.
Gulls bark, crows mewl:
Sparrows zigzag avidly.
Pigeons shit all over the statues-
So Halifax, lumpen Halifax,
Light that spiffs up a cemetery.
Sailors-those ocean aficionados,
Roller-coast Halifax streets
As if still riding waves.
Their dysfunctional faces get diced up
In busted-glass scuffles,
And these jokers leech enough blood
To flood at least one Coke bottle each.
Here there's no getting free
So many-too many-sailors
Prepared for professional drowning,
Put to death, time and again,
When they put to sea,
As when those heroic Maritimers were deleted,
Liquidated, under Stygian waves,
Under a sky of bombs-
Doom hovering like smoke-
Where they sank,
Immersed in immensity-
An ocean of body parts and crud,
Or a flotilla in holocaust-
Their vessels disintegrating into
Innumerable, floating planks-
Gloomy demolitions rendered
In vanishing ink,
As colourless and as cast-off
As a million homogenized, African bones.
(Human history unfolds with Satan's guffaws.
It's a journal of buffoons striking each other.)
In this Halifax of facts-
Hard facts-and Hell:
Mist smokes up the night.
Sewers gurgle with rain.
Saxophones shriek blues,
The ooze and swell of jazz.
White-knuckle cocksuckers and brass-knuckle pimps
Slink about as gaudy as preachers.
So easy to mistake this grubby burgh
For Marseilles, that fount of garbage and rats.
On Gerrish Street, a man blasts his wife
With a shotgun, and dissatisfied with the result,
Axes her corpse, hacking away happily
While her roused children look on, screaming.
This April, in Point Pleasant Park, a boy was nailed
To a pine in an underpants-down, Satanist ritual,
Then gored to death with an ice-pick-
As if he were Trotsky revisiting Halifax,
All nostalgic for his June 1917 jailing,
But prophesying his 1940 Mexican nixing.
Dawn radiates up as CJCH bruits Cat Stevens' hymn:
Waves and gulls and light skitter as if scat sung.
The North Atlantic buffets
Eastern Canada entirely.
A steady wind burnishes the cold.
It bristles, preening.
The sun's suspended brilliance,
Its explosive shine,
Appears now as damp blossoms,
Pink and agape....
At Point Pleasant Park, at Black Rock Beach, the waves
Always return, turn, to the shore, like columned soldiers.
And the sun wearies early:
Too much darkness to light up.
July 04, 2008
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