a golden cloud of the metaphysical

Sally: "My wrists are on fire!"

Sally: "My wrists are on fire!"

I call this batch of poems ‘metaphysical ‘ because that’s where my mind seems to want to go, lately – it prefers not to concern itself with the strictly material . Mining reality-perception for nuggets of insight. If I’m going to maintain a subjective perspective in my poetry, I can’t get away from ruminations on mortality; but if I am more and more aware of the limits of life, I am also growing more aware of its infinite charms. (And if that seems paradoxical – that’s poetry for you.)

‘Metaphysical’ might imply ‘God’ to some. While I certainly show symptoms of the classic Western Civilization God-lack hangover, my cosmologarage does not house a personal jesus roadster. After pillaging the Catholic pantheon, flirting with paganism and indulging in a most sincere period of goddess-worship, I find the impersonality of the scientific-objective universe to be most comforting. It calls to our imagination, can’t you hear it calling? It is endless mystery. It will haunt us as long as our species walks the Earth.

(I remember when I started sending poems around to various quarterlies, back in the late eighties, there was one that quite pointedly, in its submission guidelines, told prospective contributors not to send any poems that contained the words ‘soul’ or ‘God’ or suchlike. Happily for that editor, should he or she chance across my little blog entry here, these poems contain neither word, except for one example of the negative form ‘soulless’.)

‘Metaphysical’, in my mind, has more to do with the function of ideals in our lives, and how we express them to ourselves and each other. We’re in a very conflicted time … an infuriating shouting-match of a time … certainly we’re on the cusp of enormous change, change that none of us can really understand on an individual level.  And beyond the simple nuts-and-bolts issues of how these coming changes are going to be dealt with, on individual and collective levels, locally and globally … there’s also the question of how we’re going to arm our spirits to meet these changes.

Are we going to go off the deep end and call it Apocalypse? Take refuge in fatalism? I can understand the allure of Death Writ Large – this world is a fucking pain in the ass, after all, and who isn’t fed up? – but if we’re collectively considering ‘ending it all’, then the way is also open for radical, joyful change, an opening of the way, at last, to all the crazy hopeful ideas that have been waiting in the wings.

While the dying forms (big industry, big money, and – dare I say it? – big religion) have kept throwing the dice (“one more time, baby, I’m feelin’ lucky tonight!”) and kept the door barred against the rapidly changing face of the future, still, fingers of light shine through. These poems are about that.

“Something new”

Scott Walker’s strange arrangements
Solidarity as a spiritual movement
Trocchi’s way of writing a story

Sitting at the terrace of Le Social
With a transsexual friend
Discussing Palestinian politics

Yellow leaves fall so beautifully
And fill the blue October sky
Above us

As the young schoolgirls
At the next table thrill to see
“Something new”

– 11-12 Oct 08 –

I am shocked by the finitude of the human  – of the human sphere of experience, of the human depth of emotion, of the human breadth of knowledge

I am frightened by the finitude of the human quest for understanding and awareness, of how all fields of inquiry are relentlessly sifted and winnowed for nothing but another better means of turning humans into dogs

Turning human habitation into kennels, human interaction into contests, human psychology into a leash and a collar, human desire into dominance and submission, human aspirations into the hunting pack

A human is a universe of emotion, of comprehension, a human asks questions as the leaf orients itself to light, the human body is a gift that moves through space and time, we carry a golden cloud of the metaphysical and the conceptual everywhere we go, and we meet one another in this hazy field, as if it is real

– 16 Nov 08 –

Less and less to do with reality
Things like line-lengths, like
A human life-span, is that a
Line-length, is that
Beginning, middle and end, is that
First act, second act, third act
Is that plot thickening,
Climax, denouement?

Or that the day must dawn and
Then it must wane as we
Skate along on this one-way trip?

Wisdom is learning to accept
The humiliations of human existence.
Discovering one’s finitudes
The petty daily ebb of life
And knowing one’s ultimate fate.
It’s true, it makes me more compassionate
Compassion is the best condiment
For such a rich dish.

– 18 Dec 08 –


May this poem be
A cool hand pressed to a hot brow
Soothing a sore lower back
May it be
The gentle pressure of massaging fingers
On the tired soles of the feet

Is this too impersonal, this poem?
Let it be a companion
Let if find you in darkness
In isolation
Let it change the bereft gaze
To one that apprehends
Some dawn elements of
Hope and joy

Because I can’t give everything
But I can give a poem

Let it find a safe path
Through all the rubble of
The torn towns and countries
Let it deliver aid
To those in need

The hungry
The sick
The injured

Those who’ve seen
Too much

Let this poem
Find you.

– 27 Jan 09 –


I’ve had moments of deep feeling recently
At odd times –
Walking to the grocery store
Or to the radio station
Or walking to work

The wheels of the mind turning and then this feeling
An ache, a familiar, sweet ache –
It was like I was coming to life again


That pathetique film about
The singer and his young (too young)
Where he says something like
“She’s woken me up”

Or tonight
Fucking Micky Rourke
The wrestler

But they’re just films
They’re nothing but dust


It’s a kind of knowledge of the truth of the world
Knowing without the false optimism of youth,
But knowing deeply, beyond despair into a kind of hope –

After phone interview with Kimm,
lying curled up around it, blue
and pulsating, in the afternoon

The intensity of listening to
Patti Smith, being stoned, lying
In the darkened living room

Anguish but

Feeling it as if telegraphed some-
how from someone somewhere

Feeling it as if shared

– 29 Jan 09 – / – 1 Oct 09 –


I fear I’ve killed the world in some way.

It is more and more mirror-like.

I constantly find myself reflected in it.

Zen master, friends, random acquaintances and strangers become lost and soulless in my blank, all-consuming gaze.

This knowledge seems worthless, unless it is merely a warning shadow of some dire future event.

Is this ‘enlightenment’?

Too much light’s a bad thing, I’d have to say.

At least for me.

(But too little light’s bad too.

My skin certainly attests to that.)


After the Zen poetry reading, I avoid encounters and seek out the darkness on my way home. The back alleys. The darkest places.

In one such place a light automatically clicks on while I’m trying to pee, and I’m momentarily angered by its intrusive glare.

At last, behind MacTavish, I find it, inky velvet darkness.

Ah, the golden stream
In velvet darkness.

– 7 Mar 09 –

First and foremost
What I like about it
Is that it is

– 14 Mar 09 –

There isn’t much I can destroy now.
I put holes in everything
Every illusion, every lie
I shone a pitiless light
That cut through all the bullshit
Like a laser.

Now I stumble through the wreckage
Like an drunk in a ruined cinema
By some miracle the old movie
Is still being projected
On a torn, tattered screen
The scratchy soundtrack
Half drowned by the echoes
Of my own screams of rage.

I feel lost. What to do, what to say?
Praying that some exterior
Voice or motive force will
Guide me or at least comfort me.
All anyone does is grin and bear it
Or complain about feeling bad
As if a collapsing economy, a
Ruined environment
Were no more than insults
To our precious egos.

I don’t feel bad.
Mostly I feel stifled, stymied
Mostly I wish
It would all blow apart
Like an overheated engine
Just get it over with
The suspense is killing me.

– 2 Apr 09 –

Consciousness would be good
But like any addictive drug
The next hit always
Needs to be stronger

Consciousness as an addictive drug
Where does such a metaphor
Take us?

What is knowledge?
What is known?

We cross The Main in
Opposite directions
On Prince Arthur.
You are alone
And I am not.
You recognize me and
Have to call my name
For me to see
It is you.

“And it takes a worried man
To sing a worried song.”

I look in the mirror
And I don’t feel so good
about myself.
But I’m going to keep looking.
I’m going to keep on looking.

Because of your smile, that day.

– 16 Apr 09 –

And anything that was anything
Wasn’t a mere shadow of
Some other thing
It was itself and became
More and more itself
With each passing moment

As incandescent nonexistant
Faded, the star who never was
In the falling slanting light
The things that still thought
Themselves to be mere shadows
Reflections of real things
Became still, and small
And solid, and subtle,
And smooth as stone
And lone as stone and
Present, and


– 14 Jun 09 –


(poem found in 3 film titles)

Sid & Nancy
See The Sea
Suddenly …

– 6 Jul 09 –

I wonder tonight if we might be “cawzing a fjield” (in a sort of danish or german or dutch accent) “cawzing a fjield” a courage of lassie october picture window alberta landscape – ochres, browns, blue sky – feeling bereft, there

Her head, poised, balanced, she somehow holds herself together, bends head to head the stereo speaker drowns half of what is said, she’s onto me somehow but is either indifferent or unaware, other people in the bar and we all bleed together somehow

“cawzing a fjield” hope, hopefully “cawzing” as things continue to evolve, as things continue to involve, in this “fjield” delicate cross-hatching and twinges, twinges, clothes, why clothes, why hair, why hair cuts, why chairs

People in new orleans, people in pittsburgh, people in chicago, new york, people in toronto, vancouver, montreal, people in halifax, in winnipeg, there are all these people everywhere and I know them knew them all and all together they’re “cawzing a fjield”

Hold my hand, look at my skin, gaze into my eyes, accept without judgement, steadfast, not lonely, not angry, just looking just looking, some sleep is in order, how tired I am, the smell of bug powder, bug spray, my place is a mess, my life

– 18 Sep 09 –

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