The Rusty Toque | Issue 11 | Poetry | November 30, 2016
A carpet of autumn plumage
dark brown incandescence
dappled with purple, amber and magenta, pools
over the kitchen floor, crawls
up the front of the old
black cast iron stove
dives into a top element
slithers in open stoking orifice.
A flow of auburn feathers
rise and divide into two thick necks
head first into dark interior.
Plath and Sexton
without the gas
The pheasants didn’t stand a chance
beauty trumped by meaty utility
flightless wings plucked, down
becoming stuffing for our warmth.
We are cold.
We are hungry.
We always have been.
Inspired by the mixed media installation by Kate MccGWire.
It’s not just the sickness
you deal with
where’s the doctor?
how much longer?
next of kin
We’re the ones who come wheeling in
with our red wagons loaded
with high anxiety.
It’s us with our doggie bags of fear
with our tsunamis of frustration
with our sudden thundering anger
with our lightning strikes of blame
with our flash flood of tears, it’s us
who wear you down.
And yes, some of you buckle
leaving us baffled, mumbling
you should get another job
you should go somewhere else
somewhere where you get to
work alone or with plastic buckets
or concrete or sheet metal
you should go anywhere other
than a hospital, with your bitter
llife-owes-me ennui, oozing
all over my loved one
like an ice-cream cake
left in the sun.
To those nurturing nurses
the wide-eyed, kind ones
who are there when called
and take care of it
who watch over our sleep
take care of us
and hold our bad human weather like a sponge.
to those ones
I say think you
from all of us.
They’ve invented a bath matt made of moss
that lives off post-shower water drops.
They’re planting an orchard of free food in Seattle
A jungle of tomatoes and carrots and apples.
They’ve built bus benches into swings in Montreal
that play music to the rhythm of your rise and fall.
And in Milan, they’re erecting an apartment building
covered with shrubs and vines and trees
a high-rise complex of vertical foliage
with the same ecological impact
as ten thousand square meters of forest.
These are not miracles
they are simply good ideas.
obvious in hindsight.
Why didn’t we think of it?
I’ll tell you why –
Because we’ve been trained into passivity
led to believe we were powerless
we became victims of learned helplessness
swallowed the illusion
in an ostrich-paloosa
of head in the sand
(cause it’s too sad to look
and I can’t do anything anyway)
We agreed –
clicking away our freedom on a regular basis
perhaps posting inconsequential statements on Facebook
in half-hearted attempts at post 9.11 autonomy
but really, who are we fooling?
How many terms and conditions, how much fine print
have I drown in while swimming the internet?
At one point, I admit – I just gave up
waved the white flag, and said
For God’s sakes iTunes just give me
the Black Eyed Peas’ latest release.
I’ll sign anything.
Maybe it’s a simple matter of alchemy
that’s turned our apathy in to ingenuity.
All I know is that suddenly
we have begun to arise from our slumbering
the word possibility teasing our lips like raspberry.
We are beginning
to turn our backs on you can’t
and this is the way it is.
We’re opening up.
like the awkward
adolescents of humanity
that we are.
Our shaky hands on the door
we are starting to push
to believe in our own strength
giggling like school girls
each time we find it
They’ve invented a bath matt made of moss!
They’ve built bus benches into swings in Montreal.
They’re planting an orchard of free food in Seattle.
In Milan, they’re erecting a vertical jungle.
And while government wars rage on
everyday people around the world
are surrendering hatred and venom
the lure of a peaceful heart
too seductive to ignore.
These are not miracles
they are simply good ideas.
They’re simple, obvious in hindsight
why didn’t we think of it?
Because it wasn’t time yet
we needed to stand –
stupid and hopeless in darkness
and be humbled
when we finally began
to see the – halleluiah!
Thank you Louis – yes
you were right.
The world is a big blue wonder
where anything is possible
as we begin to grow into our power
as we begin to grow up
all of us
all around the world
all at once.
And we have only just begun.
What a Wonderful World" lyrics by Bob Thiele (as "George Douglas") and George David Weiss, as performed by Louis Armstrong.
Poet, novelist, educator, essayist and spoken word artist, Andrea Thompson has published and performed her work across North America and overseas for the past two decades. In 1995, she was featured in the documentary, Slamnation, as a member of the country’s first National Slam team. In 2005, Thompson’s CD One was nominated for a Canadian Urban Music Award, and in 2009 she was awarded Poet of Honour by the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. In 2008, Thompson toured her one-woman show, Mating Rituals of the Urban Cougar across the country, and in 2011, was host of the nationally broadcast television series, Heart of a Poet. Thompson’s writing has been featured in a variety of journals and anthologies, and she is the author of the collection, Eating the Seed (Ekstasis Editions, 2000), the co-editor of the anthology Other Tongues: Mixed Race Women Speak Out (Inanna Publications, 2005) and author of the novel, Over Our Heads (Inanna, 2014). Thompson currently teaches Spoken Word through the Ontario College of Art and Design University’s continuing studies department and Workman Arts in Toronto. Website: www.andreathompson.ca