Mint & Gold Poets
COLD LANDS AND NIETZSCHE
Somewhere between December and February
Ice enters your heart in those cold lands
And never goes away again. Iron in the soul.
You feel the sinking of despair deep in the gut
That which the Globe reports on its crime page
And hungry homeless men muttering on pavements
Graffiti on the walls of subway stations
And funeral parlours not far from cemeteries.
The chill that will not let a grown plump woman
Forgive her mother just recently dead
After a ritual mourning when the will
Is read out and siblings are torn apart:
You know it in your bones. Evil is in you.
Who would want to live there and who to die
Who could wait for the ephemeral Spring?
Who should move to the South yet not escape it?
The child psychiatrist divorcing at eighty
The dog abandoned and the one home sold.
So stark the truth you long for sunny tropics
Lush with emotion and flora and fauna
Where people weep buckets in movie halls.
It’s quite enough to turn you a believer.
So much for Nietzsche.
Death is a white-winged bird
Perched on a silver wire
At the black point
Where the circuit becomes green.
Purple rivers bear witness
To orange passions raided by rage,
As moon-deep tears echo the heat
Of a yellow orb’s own red end.
Even gold gods of bold myths
Rust into brown forever;
As from thought’s grey clouds
Pearls merge with blue oblivion…
And in a tragic tribute of violets
To a florescent Australian son,
Death was just another maroon ball
That cut through colourless daylight…
And finding a spot of life therein,
It Closed an Innings much too soon;
And moved a harried sport, enough
To show a heart beyond its hearth.
Thence, many-hued pens have rendered
The indigo silence of caps on bats,
Across many, many cricketing lands:
“O spirit of Stumps! O soul of Sixty-Three!”
Poet's Note: This poem was written some years ago to mourn the death of the Australian cricketer Phil Hughes, who died on 27 November 2014 after being hit on his head by a cricket ball. He was not out on sixty-three in a Sheffield Shield Game when the fatal incident occurred. Hence the title of the poem.
Twenty to a dollar
I dream of nickels
back when they
weighed down a boy’s pocket
like manhole covers
when they emboldened him
to strut into the general store
to consider his purchase
wax lips candy cigarettes atomic fireballs
like a dock worker on payday
down at the dance hall
I saw a nickel on the sidewalk today
too dirty for one freshly lost
I passed it by
twenty to a dollar
and then what do you have
a handful of nickels
not worth a busker’s spit
he knows nickels
today are only worth the carrying
when he needs to prop up
a wobbly table leg
Me, I keep one around to flip
when I have to make a choice
like air and medicine
we all diminish in time
from a child’s hand to old fingers
fumbling for coins which will drop,
roll down the sidewalk