2 Poems: flux, wi & dem


fleuve st-laurent

i am the river. my ripples shift shaping glyphs. can you read me? the iroquois did – by the glint the sun shot over my liquid lips. poets whose words flood undammed from mad minds, whose thoughts slither through ink, listen to my syllabic splash. awash in memory, turbulent as industry, i thrust to sea. i will take you with me.

viewed from atop pont jacques cartier, my liquid sinews churn and twist. from pont champlain, i ripple indian red, flame-brown, rust-burned, corroded corrugated iron. from the vieux port at midnight, i flex forth and froth black as angélique‘s ashes.

from la ronde‘s ferris wheel peak, i am sapphire fire. wind-whipped, i am rush hour’s ire. i am the immigrant spirit that fights and never flags, flares and never expires. when fireworks explode, tropic flowers, their colors streak graffiti on my canvas.

for winos reclining on rock shores, i am broken glass gleaming turquoise, crimson, white, a billion shattered bottles, shattered rainbows, glimmering dream-shards. from habitat ‘67‘s million-dollar views i am silver, a torrent of coins flushed from the casino’s slot machines. from patriotes square in winter, my lawless recoil recalls la revolution tranquille.

i have carried hewn canoes, taut-skinned kayaks, steel cargo ships. iron anchors have broken my face and cracked my stone spine. i have never bent, never tired. i sped the fugitive slave. i floated the suicide. i flowed, impassive, over gangsters’ weighted body-bags.

indifferent as your pulse, i muscle past the isle. my face is change, is jazz, is guile. musicians heard me, then distilled my speech into stride, bop, boogie. dancers in st-henri whirled and laughed as moonlight slip-stepped along my fluid flesh.

i am the river. my lisp fuses english, french, iroquois, kreyol. your grammar is a quick dip, a watery wisp of the babel that cabals in my thrall to the sea.



wi & dem

tuesday night, montreal, sablo kafe, st. zotique corner st dominique. for the voyeurs.

inside: ice liquefies in amber rum

outside: a white-haired white
couple’s white breath
frosts the glass

a sheepskin mitten rubs it clear again. the prosaic couple stares into a room lit by soft pink streetlight, past six long-headed musicians. a tight-eyed white man’s soul glows through a brass baritone. a sepia latino’s loose curls bob as his fingers spider over bichromatic ivories. a long-locksed mahogany brother hovers under a dangling oaxalis, hovers over a snare.
white breath frosts the glass. the winter moon is a yellow pearl. a sheepskin mitten rubs a clear circle, and the couple peers deep into the mellow room, past the wide-hipped sister hugging the microphone, her parted pomegranate lips issuing hot breath that caresses the mic’s bulbous head. in the front row, eyes of various slants burn in the half-light. a gold-hued haitienne mutters as her hands flutter over conga skins.
the glass frosts. the man turns to his wife and demands: «mais c’est quoi ça?» words freeze in the air between them. she shrugs, answers: «je n’sais pas…une espèce de…soirée ethnique…» the frost fades, and they stare past copper cheeks, arrowhead noses, almond-shaped eyes set below sable foreheads, round-lipped, plum-tinted masks studying the musicians in their public reverie.


the glass fogs again. the sheepskin mit rubs and feels a vibration. the drummer’s smile appears, a glazed vision. drumstick held high (a pacifist’s nightsitck), he motions and mouths an urgent: «entrez, entrez!» the couple steps back. voyeurs discovered, their lips stiffen. photoflash frozen. tourists, they grin and wave as at natives.

outside: snow bewilders, snowbanks rise
mysteries haunt the mind, immigrants spook the alabaster horizon
taylor and bouchard wonder in the regions

inside: a crystal hiball glass
vibrates atop an amplifier
ice melts. rum’s amber
fire distills the future