The Road In Is Not the Same Road Out

BOOK: The Road In Is Not the Same Road Out
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FOR MY FRIENDS

ODE

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.

THE CORNERS

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 gone—the 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.

RENTAL CAR

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” …

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.

FABLES OF THE RECONSTRUCTION

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.

A WESTERN

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.

Storefronts said,
defend yourself.

Under pavements, the timbers,

arms around one another, said

embrace your condition,
said,
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.

WHEN ASKED WHY HE'D BEEN TALKING TO HIMSELF, PYRRHO REPLIED HE WAS PRACTICING TO BE A NICE FELLOW

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

BOOK: The Road In Is Not the Same Road Out
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