I broke off the dangling shrub and inserted it above my ear.
Bent in at the belly I sweated, to fit to try to fit.
The dangling shrub was bruised
It moved a little move and Lady Song-of-Jamestown
said in my hear: Why is broken.
leapt a leafy thwart
into my thinking vessel the aluminum canoe
and in my here said Lady Song-of-Jamestown:
“Why its smelters long ago felled at The-Task-Is-
Incomplete, a falling
artist felling them name of
who wears crown of shells partly concealing
a turban of layered light.”
I stared straight ahead, paddling
My canoe walls hung with barkcloth a giant dentalium
and four figureheads in lignified paste (We watching).
The ivory one, called Tapping-Out-of-Time.
And the dark muscular one, Below-the-Galleon-Decks.
And the remembered one named, Palm-Thatch-Floor.
And the little one called, Fruit-of-the-Distant-Weep
(mothered black, from sleeping).
Lady Song-of-Jamestown mending her fishnets
pulled the water-hook from my hand.
Babstock is the live wire in the gene pool: stirring things up, rocking boats, disjoining easier conjunctions, jolting the culture’s DNA. From sea-and-skyscapes literally lettered, from the suspect core of our ‘décors? (‘lost heart’ informs that fashion’s stock and trade), he winds past mere mundanities to find the world again, with words for his divining wands. ‘Money’s the more virtual virtual,’ Babstock writes. ‘I don’t talk this way in Real Life.’ Cable-stitched by shopping channels, across northernmost America and more, desire is wired: With HGTV’s IV, or the PC’s ICU, we feed our merchandizing minds. ‘We bought this stuff,’ he says. Disclosure’s what he’s after, as wary of the cosy center as of the so-called cutting-edge. But get a load of those poetic closures: master craft in ‘Wikileaks and sea smoke’ weaving worlds of words together. Man of letters, he remarks the X’s on workmen’s safety vests; the V’s descending out of Gander, headed for the kind of down discounted in an Army-Navy store. A shapely mind will note the uppers, too; they’re cut with aspirin and talc. This guy is one ferocious logophile. A signature device, the ‘disconnected current gauge,’ trips all the switches: current cut off into currency – but also presents. It was ‘a gift,’ writes Babstock, with ‘its needle stilled between / ‘Reverse clips’ and ‘Start charge.’ Consult it / and it shivers on a hash mark.’ Thus, in a flash, the disused item (mere décor) becomes occasion for a gift: the wordsmith talent, not the dollar sign, with other hashes hinted, other hushes marked. The old and new worlds hackable in just one comprehensive stun, this shock of shiver to be had. Methodist Hatchet lets us have it. Thus do local gifts turn into global ones.
Good morning sun of my land
how good it feels to be alive today
so much light
so much light around me
Good morning empty exercise yard
you have become familiar to me
I cross you with a lively step
and you suit me like an elegant shoe
Good morning ponderous and philosophical oxpecker
perched up there
on the wall that hides the world from me
poking at your ribcage
with distracted little movements
Good morning sparse grass in the alley
quivering in opalescent flurries
at the wind’s teasing touch
Good morning great lone palm
erect on your cross-grained trunk
blooming at your peak
like a glorious tulip
Good morning sun of my land
tide of presence abolishing exile
So much light
so much light around me
I have a thousand reasons to live
to vanquish day-to-day death
the joy of loving you
and walking in step with hope
‘Where is Abraham buried?’ you ask. Well, in the Kabbalah, God has a terrible time getting Abraham to agree to die. In the Zohar, where Abraham is initiate and David calls God by the name ‘Midnight,’ the splendour is woven in the energies of the Hebrew alphabet, a creation in language that is never still. Now, looking at the three religions of Abraham – Hebrew, Christian, and Muslim – I would say that Abraham, though very much changed since 1700 BCE, is not dead. There’s only so much that a post-Catholic, polytheist exodic can say just now.
The wet earth. I did not imagine
your death would reconcile me with
language, did not imagine soil
clinging to the page, black type
like birds on a stone sky. That your soul – yes,
I use that word – beautiful,
could saturate the bitterness from even
that fate, not of love
but its opposite, all concealed
in a reversal of longing.
Over the lot a sodium aura
above the new cars sprays
of denser many-colored brightnesses
are rising and falling in a time lapse
of a luminous and ghostly
garden forever flourishing
up out of its own decay.
The cars, meanwhile, modest as angels
or like angelic
hoplites, are arrayed
in rows, obedient to orders
they bear no trace of,
their bodies taintless, at attention,
serving the sheen they bear,
the glittering they are,
the sourceless dazzle
that the showcase window
that the showroom floor
when it isn’t there –
like patent leather, even the black wheels shine.
Here is the intense
amnesia of the just now
at last no longer longing
in a flowering of lights
one by one, haphazardly
the dented, the rusted-through,
metallic Eves and Adams
hurry past, as if ashamed,
their dull beams averted,
low in the historical dark they disappear into.
Ruth Smith, Executive Director
The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry
363 Parkridge Crescent
Oakville, Ontario L6M 1A8