Authors: Karen Solie
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FOR MY FRIENDS
Blue jay vocalizes a clash on the colour
wheel, tulip heads removed one by one
with a sand wedge. Something
in the frequency. Expectations are high.
There's a reason it's called the nervous
system. Someone in bed at 11 a.m.
impersonates an empty house. The sharpener's
dragged his cart from the shed. His bell
rings out from the twelfth century
to a neighbourhood traumatizing
food with dull knives. A hammer claws
to the edge of a reno and peers over. Inching
up its pole, a tentative flag. And the source?
Oh spring, my heart is in my mouth.
Where the question are you alright usually finds one very much
not alright. Cellphone at the bus stop, cellophane, wind,
Hasty Mart in its collar of pigeon spikes. With smokes
in front of the sports bar, careerists mid-shift lit at dusk
by the inner light of cheap bottles
of domestic. Like payphones, cords have been cut
that tied them to the world. Let me off in the primary
neighbourhood, I'll walk the traffic's bank,
its decorative plantings and contradictory signage, the current,
I can't brave it. Fortunes approach right-angled in their vehicles
of delivery, hearts beat quickly in anticipation
or dread inspired by the landmarks. How long have I resided
in these years of gentrification and not realized
they're goneâthe inconvenient, inadequate, or taken
for granted? The psychic welcomes no more walk-ins
in this life. Time is short. Though a timeless sublegal
entrepreneurial spirit flourishes over which laundromats preside
geologically, with deep sighs, belying
with the state of their drains their adjectives. No one
can be alone like they can. Pedestrians, obey your signals.
On the boulevard of a two-stage crossing he reads in her
an imminent change in direction. We were here once,
hand in hand at the intersection of the cardinal and ordinal,
blessed with purpose, and the Star of Poland still in business.
It's not a contract until the names are on it.
Though always there is one who signs off with less
than a whole heart. “Leading Today for Tomorrow,”
that's Mississauga's slogan. Or is it “leaving”Â â¦
eastbound, westbound, exodus via
the 400-series highways. Personal reasons
I will not get into. The 427 interchange
is a long note in space, flightpath of materials
the grace of which is a reason to live. Is not likewise
the possibility and mortal danger of shooting
its photograph from the roadbed? Is not digital
radio? Accelerate into the curve by the Ford plant,
its freshly birthed Fusions in the nursery lot
behind razorwire, their cradle the duplication
of goods and services. Oakville's motto is “Go Forward.”
And, indeed, where is everyone? They are shopping
in the Dixie Mall because their cars are there.
They're working in pharmaceutical company offices
because their cars are there. They're eating
at the golf club. They're lying in their beds. Burlington
is “The Home of Ribfest.” Upon the satellite campus
of the Lancaster Gentlemen's Club,
sodium haloes cast an abiding light
whose influence fades along the paved
and shouldered avenues locals call country roads.
We are all locals now. A thing is what it is called.
Country has become the countryside.
It gets so you don't want to talk about it,
though the air is thick with personal messaging.
A thought could walk on it as on stones to find you.
My good horse will bear me over the river
of that noise. As through a burning cloud
my good horse will carry me.
Nose down in their day of rest. Bobcat, excavator, trackhoe
on legislated hiatus from the business of holes and
fill, of avoiding gaslines and the inadvertent manufacture
of larger holes, budget overrun, a public relations nightmare.
No rest, though, for he who must negotiate such obstacles,
rolling his cart and its empties toward refund, refill,
toward reinforcing the gaps in his memory. Who will attend
to whether his solitude is taken up in pleasure
or despair? He is a hole in the landscape. He is a black bird
at night. The security cameras of Queen Street have suffered
violent ends, and record the pit of their disconnection.
Images supplied by recollection inspire little confidence.
Lab techs riding herd on experimental krill and bright exotics
like high B-flats in the middle C of the faux environment
were stumped by consecutive disappearances
of these regulated populations. No evidence,
no earthly remainder. Should a single being vanish into
what is not, so all things may vanish, as is written.
Commence to tremble. Then rig the lab cam. Witness
the octopus crawl out of his tank to feast, retreat before shift
the next day. They took him away. Why wouldn't you
recognize the divine in him? It's difficult to commit injustice
and elude detection, said Epicurus,
but to be confident of eluding detection is impossible.
He also said life is ruined by delay.
The animal dies when the soul withdraws. Dion Phaneuf
has been traded to the Maple Leafs. Neck deep in a Calgary
piano bar, the future of the franchise attempts “Piano Man,”
but can't get past the first verse. Soon, he might as well have
been born there. Sings it again and again, infernal recurrence
without beginning or end, as the Acme Portable Hole
reaffirms its nomination as the best thing never invented.
Crowd studded with cameraphones like a ham with cloves.
Now always we look upon ourselves. Beauty and terror
in equal measure. Intrigue of a boarded-up building.
We want to get in there and find out what's the matter with it.
Its origins are to this hour undetermined.
The free-floating found
its transformative agent. A third term
arose. It was a thing, it existed.
Not a friend, though in all other things
it did kindle a renewed existence.
Under pavements, the timbers,
arms around one another, said
embrace your condition,
we are lost.
Equipment is in a peculiar position.
It knows it belongs to the earth.
The machine, with its thousand parts,
is a thing, as is its smallest bearing.
A pail is a thing. So is
the water it carries. A painting
hangs like a hat on a nail.
Judgement, perception, death are things
in themselves; they're not nothing,
though they don't, as things, appear.
But what is the use of a feeling, however
certain, in defining that which itself
is only a feeling? No thing
can survive such boredom.
The situation prevails with its timeline.
A third term arose between us, it existed.
But a violence has been done
to its element it could not withstand.
It is not dead, unseen, or elsewhere.
Nothing real any longer corresponds to it.
Above the harbour a gull creates flight
as flight has created him. He arises
and results from his work.
He is the circle that violates logic.
That's where his soul is.
Carrying my ladder to the next jobsite, I may get you one way
turning to identify your voice, and the other
as I resume my path. It isn't personal,
merely aluminum and telescopic. The feet of my ladder
will be planted on the earth, its hands
in the branches of the stars.
History steadies it and will not be persuaded otherwise.
From its topmost I contemplate oilsands, acts of
war, abandoned dogs sobbing in confusion
and grief, the correlative of which is all the world's joy.
A fear follows, if experience holds,
one's inner badger stuck in one's inner drain.
But that's another life disowned, more surely absent now
than what has never come to pass: the great
accomplishments of my youth, say.
It only looks like I'm not working.
My atoms, like yours, like those of bamboo forests and Bakelite
are in constant motion, which should suffice for one day