Triple Point

As you draw closer to christmas, perhaps it’s good to post something that fits the time of year. Something depressing. The title is based on the notion of the triple point in physics, the first temperature at which water can exist in solid, liquid or gas.

 

there is a point
at which friends are neither
necessary, sufficient or useful;
let us call it the triple point
where one is woven in with the background,
stitched to the passage of time.

for example:
I still receive mail for Mr. Daniel Bertrand,
which I place to one side each day,
and which, each day,
the postman places back inside the box
with the gloomy regularity
of a pendulum
My ventures outside become anonymous;
I try not to recognize people or move suddenly
in case they recognize me;
inside, I dart and scurry in hallways lest I get trapped
by a neighbour or lost child.
I have become a rarely-sighted species,
hunting laundry by night and groceries on Wednesday afternoons
the laundry tiger

When one disappears like this
(I think of a chalky white pill dissolving
in a lukewarm glass of water)
it is a gradual process. First
the
edges
dissolve:
one stops talking to those people who require
effort, those friends who are tiresome in one sense
or another.
Next come those who are far away,
then the unreliable
the circle constricts like the shrinking pill,
the shirts you could wear
when younger
which no longer fit right
you are simply a dot in the centre of an
expanding circle of whiteness
that eventually will average you out

Auden said ‘Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone’
Instead, I remove the battery from my Ikea clock,
accidentally dropping it down the side of the bed in the process;
my telephone cannot be cut off, only cancelled.
Too late, I will receive a large bill for my trouble.
And woven into the fibres of the paper,
so small that even microscopes holding microscopes
could only begin to make out the edges of letters,
are tiny words that reach out and pull me
into a womb of white noise.

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test print

over the winter
a simulacrum of being
dwindles
to a point
harsh as sunlight
focused through a magnifying glass
blazing circle
leering corpse of the routine and subroutine
the social world boils
in rolling cloud waterdrops
constricts
to the frail centre of the echo
recedes
nerve endings shallow gasp at
touch withdrawn
clutch
the fine legato of movement
heat mistaken for warmth
threads separate and smoulder
silk burns
like cotton
cotton like cellophane
cellophane like unravelling protein
plate glass windows reduce to silicate strands
the sound of a footfall inverted
blurring condensation
triplet words sink and tap on the frozen ground

Not right in winter

something grows in winter

bites the fractured ice of long pools

on the corrugated rooves

comes to a stalactite point

in a chill room

orange streetlights shadow of a sodium flame

haze the ceiling

night’s promise, a hollow place filled with dreams of drowning

roll and stare up on waking

nothing but the white blankness

of a Montreal hillside

the slight warmth of an imprint in the sheets

rises

takes flight

Youareinvisible

People shuffle and hop like birds on these icy streets. Everyone is looking down. Their hoods force them to peer into the ground to avoid the freezing wind. The eyes are hard lines and the steps aperiodic. You are invisible here. They are caught in the kinetic frenzy of themselves. Their own feet, their own chill fingers, their own dark vibration. In a moment of unthinkable weakness, you lean against a nearby pedestrian for support. He steps away and you crash to the ground, cold and slick. The shop windows are steamed with the coiled breath of their interchangeable patrons, plugged into laptops like cars being jumpstarted. Winter forms tunnels around them, and they move along without noticing anything outside.
It’s not that this place is empty – in fact it’s packed tight with people. Bulging. Molecules colliding and rebounding off each other in human Brownian motion. Thoughtless molecules.

Day 14 – Promise

When we were very young

I made you a promise

Sketched out in the frail skeletons of leaves

In the dry autumn grass

You always said was green

As if looking at the colour

Ready to burst from within

At the first raindrop

And I promised to never leave you

In youth this seemed

A promise that could be kept

I didn’t know about the Brownian motion of people

As they collide and re-collide, break and shatter

Each other, shake pieces off until what is left

Is a smooth stone

Just like those we skimmed across the ice that same winter

And I suppose I never did leave you

As you were among those frailties of leaves

I only left something smoother,

Perhaps more perfect,

But different in the hand

As water is to earth

To that stone you once were

Editing poetry: The Occasional Child

I am pretty sure this is the only piece that is from before 2000 that I have considered putting here. I took it up and rewrote it in 2011. The ‘refrigerator buzz’ line I suppose comes from Radiohead’s Karma Police, although it really owes more to ‘Meeting People is Easy’

Sometimes
I regress
Back to my childhood
My bygone days
Crazy paving
Keep pace with the dreary pedestrian traffic
The refrigerator buzz chatter
Static
Background noise
To my dream of what was then.

The dream of summers
Precarious tilt and drip of ice creams in the garden
Barefoot running – chlorophyll prickle
Sweet smell of freshly mown grass
Water fights in the romantic’s pastoral arena
Noisy laughter inflates and drifts like a
Beach football
Never a cloud in the sky

Autumn,
The life cycle pivots around this point
Cascade of orange from the lonely French oak
We wrapped up warm, danced in the rain
Such pleasure in simple beauty

Winter,
We brace against it
Shiver as it probes the folds
Fur coats and wellies,
Crunch of fresh snow
We raced in so early
The neighbourhood held its frozen breath
it snowed every year back then
We would never catch colds
Crazy paving.

Then I drop back to reality
Some sullen pedestrian jostles me
The square paving slabs tilt and crash
Dripping grey concrete daubed across the city
Slums and cardboard houses
Rusting metal locked in
Frustrated traffic
iPhones and Blackberries trill their mating calls

Now barefoot the stones will hurt my feet
We must wrap ourselves up against the rain
The cold, the warm, the city
Scarves for the heart
Every year catch a cold
All the cracks in these square paving slabs
In summer we build nets to recapture those days
Knit together photographed memories
And silver braid
Worry and burn
Drive and yearn
Crazy paving
Our occasional childhood

Editing poetry: test print

I seem to write a lot about winter. Or perhaps the seasons in between are not extreme enough to capture my attention.

over the winter
a simulacrum of being
dwindles
to a point
harsh as sunlight
focused through a magnifying glass
blazing circle
leering corpse of the routine and subroutine
the social world boils
in rolling cloud waterdrops
constricts
to the frail centre of the echo
recedes
nerve endings shallow gasp at
touch withdrawn
clutch
the fine legato of movement
heat mistaken for warmth
threads separate and smoulder
silk burns
like cotton
cotton like cellophane
cellophane like unravelling protein
plate glass windows reduce to silicate strands
the sound of a footfall inverted
blurring condensation
triplet words sink and tap on the frozen ground

via Editing poetry: test print.