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The Flowers Of The Street People

White trash with their faces punched in like catcher's mitts
mooning the flowers of the street people as they drive by
like a float in a pageant of ignorance having a good time
at everyone else's expense. Pygmy heroes of their own irrelevance.

Annie, the bag-lady, puts the avalanche of her head down
and spits like salt as if she just survived Sodom and Gomorrah
as she passes by, sullen and resigned to the blackflies
that have swarmed her like the shadows of commas for years.
You just have to take one look at her face to know
she's the dried rose of a gnostic gospel that went flakey
long before women were forbidden from invigilating
their own spirits. Given the protocols of the bleakness,
even the city can serve as a shrine of sorts. Man bulls
in lunar labyrinths, and the Princess of Spiders,
unweaving her thread in a moment of desire
waiting to have her webs elevated among the stars
in cosmic reprisal for the betrayal of her abandonment to love.

And there's Peter, the architect turned shipwreck,
on a chain gang in a quarry, he's cracked so many rocks
to extract the gold rush out of his sixty dollars worth of meteorites
and flush it through his veins like a motherlode
back into the ore of his panspermic flesh. He begs
money on the corner on behalf of his dealer
all day long, a begging bowl that still has to pay
for his drugs in paradise. One day, if he keeps complaining,
because the last thing to go when you're mad,
is your understanding of money, the dealer's
going to smile like a snake and pat him on the back
and say, yes, Peter, you're right, you should be in on the take,
and give him a rock the size of Gibraltar
that will see his mummy being wheeled into
the sarcophagus of an ambulance by the morning
of the next replicated day. Which is maybe what he wants.

And who killed the hysterical rose lady who
for twenty years flogged a little beauty in the bars
to anyone who wanted to make a romantic move
on the flippant female sitting next to them
spending her disability cheque trying to forget
all the shabby dawns that have come on to her like boyfriends
and how she liked to throw them off the bridge to Hull
like the artworks of terrified ex-cons trying to make a getaway.
This actually happened to a friend of mine
in the squalid back room of a degenerate relationship
after he'd been raped repeatedly by a Christian reformatory.
But he can paint in any corner of six possible restaurants
in the Ottawa Market as if he had the eyes of a peacock
in the full bloom of a mating ritual with the waitresses.

And Kathy's in the doorway again at the bottom of the fire escape
trying to flog the ruined waterlily of her youthful face
as if this were the red light district of Amsterdam
though it's nothing as lavish as that, to the first john
who wants to use her body like a telephone booth.
I give her money for nothing when I have it and tell her
to spend it on whatever she wants,
so there's no guilt in the gift to add to her sorrows
and she thinks I'm a funny, wise man,
and though I'm happy I can make her laugh about something
it only enhances my tragic sense of compassion
to feel how brutal the truth can be when I don't say a word
to dissuade her from believing I'm wise, and she's still pretty.

And those three skull fractures there
are trying to put a price tag on my Boulet cowboy boots
to denude an old man of his footware in a side alley
after the restaurants have closed down their kitchens,
but there's still more leather in my heart than mushroom
and they might end up wishing they hadn't dropped out
of anger management, after they taste the explosive rage
of my munitions factory in a supernova of fireflies
waking the dragons sleeping in an abandoned coal mine
trying to forge their eyes into diamonds, and their claws
into a titanium alloy of crescent moons folded like sabres
they can wield like a blacksmith hammers an anvil
as an objective correlative of all that's wrong in the world.

Reductio ad absurdum. The philosophical savagery
of a furious muse biting at her wounds like razorwire
in an internment camp for racial profiles, Queen Bee
shows the prostitots and street pups how she uses her needles
to crochet her body like a tea cosy for a Saturnian moon
speedballing heroin and crack with a touch of acetone,
kerosene, and veinous hydrochloride for a purple sunset.
Seminars in vicecraft at the left-handed nightschool
where she teaches starmaps to a class full of armpits
who want to know where to hit up next. Too cool
to be groovy, too chill not to be an ice age,
the temperature plunges like a syringe in permafrost.

Most living through the human mess that's left
of the mythically inflated lives they used to live
with ineffectual clarity about what's given them up for dead.
Sleeping with schizophrenic terrorists at the Good Shepherd
who see murder as a form of assisted suicide
and waking up in the morning to a knife-fight
between a mattress and a man who's been
sleeping with it all night like a woman
he gave everything up for to expiate the horror
of living his eternally recurrent worst nightmare out
like a leper colony of the inchoate body parts of Barbie Dolls.
Had a desperately unloved Barbadian chartered accountant friend once
who had his throat cut in the morning
by two recently released ex-cons in a rooming house
for cooking his fish too loud while they were sleeping.
And that on the heels of landing his first job interview
in the last five futile months, hoping he could
lure his wife and kids back to any standard of living
that didn't distemper the contagion of his exile.

And the drunks are connoisseurs of shoe-polish
and cheap colognes, shaking like aspens on a street corner
hoping not to foul themselves again in a squad car
before they can regurgitate themselves in the drunk tank.
And all the runaways have run out of faces to flee to
except for the motherly ladybugs who take them
under their spotted wings, and pander them to friends
like cultivated perverts in distinguished places
that know all the G-spots of the ingenuous government
they've been molesting on the sly for years.

And it's fruitless to condemn, judge, blame
or punitively litigate the collateral damage of life
because you're too delicately squeamish to watch
how the cow is killed, bawling, that you're about
to sit down and eat with your well-kempt family
and your weedless ethics, o so neat, like a close-cropped lawn.
And if it's rough and crude. Armageddon isn't a Sunday school.
And survival's a boxer that gives and takes dirty shots.
And the only moral imperative life lives by is: Live.
And it's been a while since I've seen anybody
walking in someone else's moccasins to empathize
why the grace of God went with this one like a greased mirror
that that one had to hitch hike on a turn pike.

And one other thing. I've seen shipwrecks
wedged so long on the bottom into their starmud,
the moon among the corals has covered
their skeletons with flesh as if there were terracotta armies
for the most defenceless of us too, and unlike
the pigeons on the statues of the prime ministers
four blocks away, so stoically posed in their noble solitude
attached like figureheads to the foremast of a flag pole,
life thrives vividly all around them like a painter
with a Jamaican sense of colour. And there are luminosities
so brief and brilliant you'd think you were watching
fireflies dropp acid with the stars, acts of surrealistic living
where people who have nothing but their mere presence left
cherish giving even that up as well as if compassion
among the desperate, were the last sign of self-respect
that such cornucopias of life can be engendered by shipwrecks.

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