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a selection of Christopher Taylor’s poetry,
reading for Sasquatch, May 27, 2007:


A long way from Chang-an

 

On the hilltop this morning, looking out at the lake,

I am thinking of Tu Fu and the small solace, poetry.

The lake is half frozen, silver-white and rail blue.

The wind is cold.  The sun bright.  My fingertips numb.

 

Beside me, my daughter stamps her feet in the snow.

She wants to go home.  Now.  Lets go home.

Waves break the ice into fragments that clatter and chime.

The glare off the water hurts my eyes.  Lets go home.

 

It is a long way from here to Chang-an. 

Further still to the town that we used to call home.

Tu Fu, can you tell me, does anyone stay in one place anymore?

Does any one place keep its tether called home?

 

The wind blows her hair round the edge of her hat.

I take her hand as we turn to descend.  Let’s go home.

It=s a long way from here to Chang-an.  Ive never been.

Snow is cold.  The sun bright.  There is small solace, poetry.

 

 

Facing north

 

Lifting my head

I watch the bright moon

 

Li Po

 

In bed, if not asleep, the children leave my mind

like guests who slip away while some incident

is being resolved.  I wander to the kitchen,

open a beer, step outside

and slowly recognize the sun is down,

the air, hot and acidic.

 

Three hundred miles north

Li Po casts his line and waits.

He is wearing a red flannel shirt, a plaid jacket.

He has time. 

 

Against the grey-blue sky, a bat turns in a circuit

that breaks space at the edge.

It has passed three times my way,

each time closer than the last,

and as I sip my beer I think

I know how it feels.

 

The sun sets, the night opens

a whippoorwill starts nearby

far off, outside the door.

Li Po reels in his line and tries again.

 

The night is quiet, as quiet as it gets here.

The sound of traffic. The air, hot and acidic.

High overhead, a jet passes in a drone.

Standing in the dark, I am aware of the jet.

That is something.  When the jet disappears

my awareness is left unconnected in mid-air.

 

Three hundred miles north

a lamp goes on.

A form walks through the light

and, peering through the glass, looks outside.

 

The sun is down, the moon not risen,

the air, hot and acidic.

I stand on the porch, waiting for the bat

to sweep past one more time

as the weight of the evening filters down

to the colourless grass.

 

Li Po is gone.

Moths appear at the window.

The weak waves on the beach

indicate nothing.

 

 

The Art of Living

 

Creation takes place in broad spheres,

yet all life, whether great or small,

must be passed on creatively

to assure its continued existence.

 

Richard Wilhelm

Lectures on the I Ching

 

I

 

It is not as far to China as it is to Winisk.

You can walk to China - take the Trans-Canada to the coast,

turn right at the Alaska Highway, cross the Bering Strait

(at night, in midwinter, hop a floe if necessary)

proceed south until you hit Beijing.

Enroute, there are lots of books to read

written by Germans and others.

They may improve your life in China.

 

II

 

It is difficult to walk to Winisk.

The scrub forest of the Shield doesnt like tourists. 

The pine scratch, drop their limbs to the ground, block your way.

The marshes and bogs arent quite as fussy.

They dont mind if you stay a while.

Dead heat in summer, surrounded by flies. 

Dead cold in winter, air glistening with

frost from your lungs.

 

III

 

The difference between China and Winisk

is the difference between reading a book

and writing one.  Here on Turtle Island

you are writing a book without ink.

Stripping birch bark from the trees,

your sense of narrative line will die

long before you see the shores of Hudson Bay.

 

IV

 

Winisk lies near the mouth of the Winisk River

on the flat land that opens to the north and the Bay.

The water arrives from the south like a stranger

bringing a promise of news, but slips past

without saying a word.  The inscrutable Chinaman.

You can travel as far as you like

but you cant make him tell you where you are.

 

V

 

The art of living lies in learning to walk to Winisk

using what you know about China.  It takes faith.

You have lost your faith but thats ok.  Pick it up. 

It is lying at your feet where it has always been. 

You can try to leave it behind, but it hangs on

like your shadow, stretching out behind,

thin, elastic, inescapable.

 

VI

 

And yet, of all the ways of walking to China

the easiest is via Winisk.  The reason is simple.

There is one river, one path, one

art of living.  The oracle tells you one thing.

The land says it another way. 

Dont write it down.  Dont

read about it.  Walk.

above poems © Christopher Taylor

 

 


THIS IS THE MOMENT

© Carl Edgar Law
(performed for Sasquatch January 28, 2007)



This is the moment these

are her lips these

are her lips on mine this

sweet suction

this sweet fusion of moods we are

estuaries of thin fluids

breathing

chimeras out of snow mouthing

tears of anticipation

beginnings

preludes

to denouement this

is the moment lips

on my belly mine

on hers these

conversations of skin-hunger these

self-fulfilling prophecies

of cupidity





Nancy in the Shadow Light

By Carl Edgar Law © Dec 25 2005


Limerance

I see auras

glimpses of borealis

just outside the light, shadow movements she is

naked

just as I have always known
her nakedness

just as she is, naked

and this radiance
dazzles me

dazzles me, I

lost her

just outside Jerusalem the bus went away

into the 40 nights of the rocky place, she was
shriven

on return I had

lost the birthday ring so I
played for her

a coda

nights now are hard places
empty of the heart

nights now
without her
naked



SHADOWS IN THE DARK

By Carl Edgar Law © 2005

We're down for the night and we
set up the NDP, the night defensive 
position,
claymores out those
sweet little land mines their trip wires
that blow the balls off
infiltrators we
love that but

we wouldn't if we knew them well because

30 years on they
run our computer systems and are
the places where we dine
with young girls
spreading their white unsullied thighs we

back then are antsy we
don't know what it is what
it is that troubles us just
a free-floating anxiety
which diazepam
can't stay we

only keep tabbing each day because
our bodies are young
they reek
alcohol and drugs we
drive them hard we

see only the sky
promise of a next
sunrise
as worth living for

only one more day
one more sun and we wonder
did our great great
grand daddies yearn for that, flinging
maidens off brutal
escarpments?

did our grand-daddies
find entrails and offal
their son's bony fragments, lodged in their tunics
when they washed at the river
after Pickett's charge?


II

There is no future in our sweated grind our
walking to misery our
feckless trampings our
journey to nothing and
when we look in the mirror the
small field mirror that we have we
disappear there is
no face any more in that

magic box
we are

disappearing we have
nothing to write home about nothing
to tell our mothers, we
have dishonored them by losing
everything once taught, we have
dishonored them by disappearing, we have
left them numb with our large disappearance, we have
left them bereft of the child they spawned, we have
disappeared and on those long
staticky single sideband convos
have learned to lie, this is
what we have become-the
liars and the disappeared, we have
no illusions, we are
the liars and the disappeared there is
nothing left to give, nothing
in our sere hearts-not love nor
laughter, nor
the sweet cheek-to-cheek, we have

lost all that was ours in the long corn of the past when
summer beat us down to planchets when
down in the long corn we had our first coupling our
first loving with a freckle girl, our
first under the round sky joy, we

have none of that left and we have no country, we
have
no
country


III

That is the worst to have
no country, that
is the last thing
to have no country and no birth to have
sprung full-formed from the earth, to have

existed as wraiths only not
man things any more, we
stare into space in the late day we
yearn for death we
need the death of others to
confirm
our beating hearts, to know
that something beats here that
while disappeared the blood yet pulses . . .
pulses in some thing that we call "US" some
vague thing that we call us for
there is life of a kind . . . there
is not the total loss of being the total
loss of self there is
still a vague thing
crawling with vermin and disgust, there is
perhaps something that in later years will
resemble a man but
what a man be he with
no shred of ambition any road, no

need to couple, to spawn, to thrive to
play team sports in some shellac-smell gym, no
need
to return to that, we
just want to melt into the land, to
become vegetable matter, to
be devoid of shame and need we
need to
be nothing at all, nothing at all
really, to be
or not to be in fact,
nothing, this ennui

seems to flare up in us under the red sun of afternoon because
we have disappeared, we see
images of each other, lifeforms perhaps but
we're not sure, we are
not sure if we really are
lifeforms at all, we are
really not anything any more, not flesh nor spirit, we are
just 'ere things drifting
in an interspace, in
an interspace to which
we have not yet given name, we are
disappearing as generation upon generation has done
before us, riven
with the tearing gasp of brother killing, with the
tearing grasp of
tearing apart jigsaw puzzles,
examining their bleak organs as
alien arrivals on mother ships, looking
at the flayed entrails of killthings
with a clever eye, no
Gray's Anatomy needs sit
cosy on the shelf  beside my bed, because
I know, I
know
viscera from colloid from tissue,
wrenched from bone, I
know


IV

In a mist the first fell
of night
the night of the disappeared we
know

that we have to be OK for the city fathers
to come home
to be praised
to step off the train to a tumult
of white-thighed girls wearing large hats
beating drums, blowing fifes becoming
mildly moist because
we are the men they need, the
heroes they must couple with to raise
the next generation of flour-haired children to
revel
down in the long corn of summer afternoons to
giggle and laugh and wrestle in the sweet dust
of Indiana summer

 

 

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