In the Car

Words between us are like birds
that have not returned.
We drive by the ice ponds
on the undeveloped land.
You take a left at the lights.
They circle, they cannot land.

The wind is just

The wind is just

A metaphor for the soul,
the way light is,
or a metaphor for emptiness,
the way rain is – except
in a field at the end of winter,
preparing a way
for the sun.

ph

Saskatchewan

I stand outside your house, thinking
we could take a walk tonight.
The only signs of winter are your broken
concrete steps. And the cracks on my lips.
Instead, we go back inside; the living room.
Still, you look at the glassy outside,
and stare through the window versions
of you and I. We’re not who we are; you’re
elsewhere; you won’t hear what I’m about to ask:
Do you remember our trip last year
through Saskatchewan, that train, you said,
long as the prairie night?
It’s somewhere in your dark mind, too, isn’t it?
So quietly it’s travelling, yes?
Let’s wait here, then. If I don’t, and turn away,
I’m afraid I’d turn into something else:
a blur of breath on glass; and on it
a bird black as a comma
in a plain’s low sky.

ph, 17/1/17

Summertime

Nothing is unusual about this.
But it’s not normal.

For example,
Winter is a picture of summer.

I can still feel
The wind from the north, though.

I first met you when the sun stuck to everything.
And distance was measured

By light, that after traveling 97 million miles,
Showed your face.

Still, you shivered at night.
You were so thin, then.

I’ve felt the sunlight here and there today.
But, I can’t say what I feel.

I try to remember the birds that summer
That somehow made it back.

-Ph 23/2/17 Kitchener, ON, CA

Canvasbacks

You do not seem to have your voice, only words,
pinaceae, azimuth, canvasback, azure,
and pictures you cannot truthfully describe,
(though not precisely pictures because
these colours are different) — the way, afterwards,
she reposes atop the length of your back
(while you cheek the pillow clouded
in her hair’s oils) in the attitude
of a compasses’ two lines meeting
to point north, or as if you were were those
roughly hewn tables of blunt Obsidian you see
along the Anishinaabe lakes
northwest of Pikangikum territory in late August
when the westerlies gather up the muscled stratocumulus rain
and soothes the blisters of lakes, heavyset,
blue-like as slate, and rubs down to reveal them.
I could say this is love, though love, in this regard,
can only to be a watermark left on the skin
of this stone, sacrificed by pliocene cruelty,
not like a scar or a bruise or ache (not even that),
but like the arrow of paint drying on the point of a black brush,
it is always never what it becomes, an eyelash
that tightly grimaces at the sting of turpentine or,
if you prefer, the evaporating balm of words,
like the bittersweet scent of juniper.

-ph 21/2/17

Coffee Shop

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Winter on Fall

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Hooves

Birds collapse into whips, burst into galaxies.
Everywhere is somewhere else; trees
that stitched together fields admit
they are legs of the wind’s mane
and hooves of planted storms.
A horse takes off, welts of snow on its back.
I ride for a while, holding on to what is left of me.

– ph 13/2/17

Snow Horse

horse1

Hope

I saw all of this before.
I arrived here.
The unwashed river,
Opening with my finger,
Seasoned with bike chains, worms,
My mother’s eyes.
Fleshy molds.
Ditches of greying water,
Almost lovely, that
The body must,
It must.
Be the outline of the soul,
Anchor, calloused by
Loosen. stumble, and grab,
Holy river,
Filthy with constant hope.

9/2/17 – New Hamburg, ON