Sunday 13 October 2013

Sunday Poem

Refuse recyclable paper yard bags. Refuse gloves.
Collect yard trimmings the way you know how—
I’ll do likewise. My friend, don’t hurt your head.
Afternoons, slide down the avenue. At every intersection,
karate kick crosswalk buttons. Show up mornings
a very macho character, a little threatening. Show up
fawning, a little flirtatious. Talking religion, bitches.
Going on about your lady—in the mirror, lipsticked.

Gang boy in Colombia. Gang man. You left that life.
Yes, they found you in Miami. They killed your wife,
your two kids, they threw you off a balcony. Now lay
down your head. With strands of yourself off in the trees,
running quiet and clear in the quick creek water.
With your arms wrapped around surgical scars.
With your collection of scars. Miami to Vancouver? I think
I walked. Lay down your English. Por favor! Scowl
and explain to me in Spanish that you don’t speak
Spanish anymore. Or Portuguese. Or the Quebec French
that jumps out of you. Explain to me that North Vancouver
has the most beautiful cemetery you’ve ever slept in.
No landlords, no need to pull a knife. With the different
parts of your brain in the right places, explain it.

With your jumble of words, lay down your head.
With your jumble of words. With your single joint
per day and the pain gone out of your skull. Let
the sections of your head click into a proper machined fit.  
Yes, killed so many times, scattered in so many places,
you can’t say—say a loud Fuck you! in the direction
of your every past boss. Say it at your every Refugee Board
hearing, at your every income assistance interview.
Consult the cemetery’s visiting bear, coyote and deer.
Consult the community of the dead flowing in unison
beneath your head. Then make your many decisions
and rule the parts of your head. My friend, my co-worker,
here’s a coffee, a set of garden tools and plastic yard bag.
Come do your expert work. Whistle all day the songs
that came to you in the night through the cold clean dirt.
From Birds, Metals, Stones & Rain (2013) by Russell Thornton

(Illustration by Rik Reimert)

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