wind-jostled from its chimney perch down
the furnace pipe and out, there it lies, unpoetic
brown on the carpet amidst dog hair and toys,
awaiting only the cerement and ceremony
of rubber gloves and a thin plastic bag.
our house seemed solid enough: four brick walls
and a roof that keeps the rain out, mostly.
the ants though had warned of other seepings,
unanticipated leakings of swift life and sudden
death. we set ant traps in obscure corners of
the nursery, where sleep my best pieces of poetry,
laid gently in their cribs and covered lightly
in the summer heat. the house seemed solid enough
when we bought it: four brick walls
and a roof that keeps the rain out, mostly
our adorable, impossible child is always playing
hide and seek: to be and not to be is his condition.
to be wherever we are: at the rugged sea coasts
of our dreams, scraping his knees on rocks slick
with salt spray; puckish in some out-of-the-way
café lit with moonbeams and yearnings; his hand
in ours as we wander the streets of big cities
we sucked you from a wild rose’s opening lips,
fairy liquor; there we will bury you, still spirit
and leave the wet petals to fall on the muddy
earth, untended cenotaph for a ghost unborn.
ours is the tearing and terror,
when we braid the god’s garland
together writhing, wreathed,
they burn, they burn
your lips and fingertips
o god they burn
my skin with passion’s heat
peel me, bite, crush and eat
me until nothing remains
o my god
as we were driving, the clear night sky acquired
the distended body of a space serpent who had
swallowed all horizons. the windshield wipers
on her husband’s old K-car couldn’t handle the rain
and we pulled off highway eight into the vacant
parking lot of a small provincial park. flecks of light
from the headlamps danced on the runnels overflowing
their asphalt banks, as if to proclaim the return
of a desert plain to its ocean-faring glory. who can blame
two bit-part Stratford actors in the evening’s performance
of Hamlet—I the first player, she the player queen—
if we saw Carthage rising once again and found ourselves
in the back seat oblivious to the ping and the thud
of the heavens’ applause or disapprobation? caviare
to the general, she might have murmured as she
slid her fingers down my pants to raise
a pressing question: were we good, really or truly good?
if we were to vow now always to be true, would it be
real? or any less real for being as false as
the navy pulled on the shores outside or the horse
my hands helped haul through a breached city wall?
any less true for being as unreal as that excellent,
well digested play in which we had the starring roles
in another life? her hand curled around the question:
“does this feel good?” really truly good.
Mathew Martin teaches English literature at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. He has published poetry in Sentinel Poetry (Online), Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Contemporary Verse 2.
April 6th, 2010
Griffin Poetry prize shortlist announced
April 1st, 2010
Gaspereau Press Wins Five Alcuin Design Awards