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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Poetry Collection of Bruce McRae

Grass In My Hair

I was arguing
with the scarecrow.
His voice
was like a wall
of sand coming
closer and closer.
He had corn
on his breath
but no mouth
to speak of.
His mind
was a straw stalk
in the wind,
all the colours
of a golden
rainbow, there,
but not there,
even his pinstripes
And I was saying
to the scarecrow,
We end,
we begin.”
I was telling him
the true names
of all the dead.
I was asking
a stupid question:
Where’s the crow
inside my head?”
Which he thought
quite funny,
a perpetual grin
on his dried lips,
his eyes seeing
into the far distance,
a tear forming
in the new silence
that summer, and he
impeccably dressed.


The weather promises to change
from man to animal.
Today’s forecast is absence,
with a chance of longing.
In the east, flying horses
and a scattering of flowers.
From the west, incursions,
barbarous hordes, black ice.
The weather changes its mind,
abandons its principles,
is forced to choose between
darkness and light.
They’re predicting tons
of tons and long cold showers.
They say it might break,
but we’re in for hard spell.
Today’s weather is being
brought to you by sponsors
who’d rather you didn’t
put their names around.
Listener, the sea is rising
up out of its empty shell.
For all its talk of courage,
the wind is turning.


The quiet, being taken apart
for easy handling and shipping,
the movers tip-toeing, their breaths
measured, working swiftly, yet
cautious. The quiet being sent
away, moved to another part of
town, in sound-proofed boxes, in
padded crates, in rubber cartons
marked 'Handle With Care'. You
can almost hear it, the way its
weight shifts, the dust being
disturbed, the absurd lengths
that the movers go to not to say
a word, their dark eyes rolling.

This Word Has No Word For It

This word is unpronounceable.
Translated roughly,
it means a bluster of breath.
Spell it as you wish.
This is the first word in words.
It means love
in any language.
And rhymes with nothing.
This is a dirty word.
Nobody knows what it means.
Class, linguistics
is not an exact science.
The word for blood
actually tastes like blood,
a real jaw-breaker
better left unsaid.
And this word will get you killed.
You spit it at your enemies.
Repeat after me:
This is the word for silence.

Cracked Dawn

The day morning failed to arrive,
our chickens listless, the clocks confused,
daisies stunned into silence.
When night was two nights long
by two nights wide by two nights high.
The baker sleeping in.
Padre dreaming of another sun rising
in a mystical realm
of half-dreams and home-baked cookies.
Pa looking for a wooden match
to light ma’s fire.
Dawn, but one blacker than coffee,
yours truly wavering over the sink
while recalling yellow and red.
Remembering what it was like
to see into the far distance.
Light drawing on light.
Daybreak broken.


You mean the house inside the house.
You mean the mythmaker’s lodgings,
with its many doors and million windows.
Which is the sea under the mountains
or a thirteen billion year old light ray.
Which is everywhere, like ancient snow.
Oh, but why didn’t you say so?
You mean the house next door to the nothingness,
across the road from the flaming hospital,
by the exploding dancehall.
Where the carbon blobs happily dwell
and midnight barks like a dog.
Where the spectral sailors are knocking.
The house made of bones being broken.
The house of minds snapping.
The house where the World used to live,
until Tragedy stopped by for a while,
until Time spat out its toothpick.
I remember the blinds in the kitchen
coming down hard.
Like a fist on a table
or satellite crashing.
I remember there were walls in the cellar
and an angry lightbulb on all night.
With vast continents
hidden under its floorboards,
Mr. and Mrs. Chemical, long dead now,
rearranging the grassblades,
old toys still in the yard,
bejeweled in the glistening rain,
the roadway passing
filled with the children’s lost voices:
like a skip-rope-rhyme
in my feverish mind.

Into A Bar

A man walks into a bar.
In his head are visions of amber.
A nail is hammered into his hair.
His hat is in splinters.
A man walks into a bar
and the planets change courses.
Slush and slurry head for the exits.
Gravity tugs on his nethers
while he washes his footsteps in beer.
And like the moon, he tips heavily.
A man walks into a bar.
Which isn’t a bar; it’s a temple
to the goddess of work and worry.
His coins are negatively charged.
His heels are sinking.
Then the waitress climbs from her sleeve.
In her eyes is the great outdoors.
In her heart is an alpine avalanche.
The man stares into his beer,
ignoring her curves and entrances,
his thoughts the size of Australia,
his mouth in drought.
In the time that it takes
to open his hand, nothing happens.
Over and over again, nothing happens.
Somewhere, wind in a meadow,
but the man is riddled with blank,
addled by light’s perspectives.
You can hear his life fading in and out.
He’s slowly coming to his senses.

Death Cannot Be Proved

It’s midnight in the janitor’s closet.
February waits at the end of the hall.
Ghost-mice are performing a danse macabre.
Here, at the institution, everything closes.
We never mention the room inside this room,
the dust-defying gravity, the soul of the moon.
We don’t talk about the inevitable silences
or darkness pooling under a door.
We say little or nothing . . .
Established in the year Zed, the institution
is as dull as a morgue or a meeting.
The air scarcely shifts, the files unmoved.
Our business is zero.
Now it’s 4 a.m., and the roaches hold rule:
tiny tyrants throwing terrible tantrums.
Whom the ancients regarded as very old souls.
Whom the gods embraced in their ruin.

The County Fair

My father traveled to the far solitudes.
My father ate religion.
My father was a monkey riding thoroughbreds.
He’d come home years later.
He had a jezebel at every gas station.
He had a fist like a bus.
Often my mother’d leave out cookies and cream.
She’d bundle us under her apron.
She exhausted her plenitudes and riches.
Oh daddy, like an imaginary friend.
Like a candle puffed out at both ends.
Like Cro-Magnon man counting up to ten.
So then mum buried herself.
She took to the high wires and two fridges.
She petted the boarder.
Not much fun for we thirteen kids.
Not much cop with these ciphers and struggling.
And a hell of an example for the wee bairns.
I remember the Xmas tree on fire
and something thrown from a bridge.
I remember the act of forgetting.
That there were questions we could never put to him.
The Cadillac shimmer.
His long black coat and his wicked glare.
And poor ma, with her head out the window.
Poor ma, embroiled with the children,
and her spirit broken.

Chickadee Thinking

In the mind of the chickadee
is a ball of sparks,
a knot of entrails,
the planet’s littlest vacuum.
The chickadee’s mind whistles,
colour fusing to colour.
It smells like beetles’ fears.
It tastes of summer.
Actually, phantoms there
stroll between atoms of moonlight
and lordly Titans gambol
over the seemingly endless vistas.
There are great thoughts,
and these crackle like spruce tinder.
Like soda bubbles, but they weigh tons
and feel barbed to the touch.
Like wind over a hilltop.
Like lines intersecting wires.
Like smoking campfires of the Mongols,
as seen from a blood-red sky.

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