Thursday, July 20, 2006

It's yer turn Elm

This piece was written for me by Clifford Duffy of Taking the Brim. It isn't often that there are poems written for me, and it is even rarer that they bring me to tears. I won't explain this piece, not a bit because that is the magic of Cliff's style - the freedom of it, free, like he is, of constraints and definitions, which is exactly why I love his poetry (and him) the way I do. I love it, I love that Cliff thought enough of me to write it, and to put so many of my private (or maybe not so private after all!) bits, my thoughts and experiences and beliefs, in it. To explain it would be to define it, delineate the lines of it - to tie it up and choke it. So read it, interpret it for yourself, however it describes itself to you. That is the joy of poetry - the way it lends itself to each reader's unique frame of reference.


It's yer turn Elm

Oh So it's yer birthday sun nights moon rises
shelves filled walls timber tremble like, like what?
(turn turning yer turning over)

a simple season of grief and renewal
upsurged around mouths which matter
and it's like this across the big city called Life
how it works and doesn't and does poetry matters
heart matters hearing matter touch matters
the breeze of its distance the city North America
(fortress or haunted castle)
big city populated by doubts, dears, shores, or harbours,
(allegories, symbols, histories, forgotten genealogies &
secret filiations)
babies gone to that other world
where we matter and don't
Eternity's pediment

& we matter or don't do and do in the doubt called Sky
or it hurts not connecting the sense of it
hanging some foot in the void
or absence not clicking
the hard of hearing the hard deaths,
the long ones and other ones, too
their hearts scraping the bottom
when the seven hussy seas ring your name Elm
their hearts baking across heaven
the continent's destiny
its heart rigging the gerry-backed ringing night and
knots of frills and dances or carry-overs
one life to another we're not sure what it means,
but it hearts, yes hearts, not hurts. hearing from one body to another
imagined lives and curses which kiss gathered by the tribes we see
and your recent grief untold and telling its terrible pill
pulled by the swallow of its bitter ending
yet other heavens reach a hand
coming from the earth upward
and in your body a song
sailor's sea trampling
overboard in the sunset of their love & each of us
hears the Ear which yells calling word to our flesh
flesh to our wound the undone baby in the dark &
others we don't know in this crazy planet of adjectives and doves
or take the incense burning burning cutting the edge of scent
or the heart's altar inching on the edge eternity & its Eye

How to find an honest poem in its going of coming and saying
its heart pelt the ruin of time the rigging of ships
our bodies sweep in the stone face of the mansion of a glance to earth
rare ward up and walking the daily dime of its truancy
we can't speak to its naming

Or fill its heart shatter of wordless star
of further dark
lighter dark
bright dark gleaming
heading heading always
the lion and panther
its heart seizing instant

(girding the hour of replay
parlaying the loves we know and speak,
those we don't speak
whispering the hulk of night's ship)

but begin again we do
beggars of nobility hipped up in the garnering sand of its tranquility
street heart of your vases theirs & mine too
huckstered by the soft spot eternity


And eternity matters as it rambles down the page long lines
staring back at our mortal selves body decaying
then, calling us
earthly creatures yearn for eternity's mile
angel head of a million quilts
the pierced peace we seek
a broken stage for our old tomatoes

where the gods've grown tired
the ones we've made & unmade
immaculate fairy tale of love

America America Canada Canada the women the men flowing
flooring back and forth
lakes the rivers buckling down the steam of engines
their passes No one undestands any of this
the wars "the wars" never end
the wicked men in the war rooms
war machine and the dead
the dying the thousands never named
the wounds I won't name
we'd be here all year,
naming whose wounds,
the hours of their staining, theirs ours
ours theirs hours of there
of fair and
share of hour of wound of ours
theirs is ours

But Elm you are a tree banking the river
words wooden watts worrying the tender teas of time
( a county plugged into the city's kora)
eternity's a long way from home
our steps live the everyday
lake at your lips
water tasting your breast
river swishing your hip
breaths at your thighs
the miracle wander of flesh in body
each hankied day we wake

cringe and cry the wandering seven seas
the body's pressed caked eternity and the thousand sighs

that end and begin
& end again

nuptials of bliss
on the beam of becomings
humdinger on the pistils of blossom

(thoughts after and ward)

She said

"And I believe that I'd like to be reincarnated as something with wings,
some beautiful flying thing...

does it work like that? I don't know."

I know I know
I know knowing knowing
its knowing

then I thought she is
she is
a flying thing
flung incarnated
in the present of its now

it goes going breathing dying breaking
rain snow plink plank of give breath


Thank you Cliff!


  1. This is absolutely gorgeous! Thank you both for sharing it.

  2. isn't it!? I'm pretty in love with it myself.