Scrap

This ancient scrap
just tinder for life’s roar
inside your head the freeway
guns patrol, no need to scour
the world for portents.
So much you find protects
indifferently, your own undoing
everything you loved.
Who would have thought
what’s left could have such drive,
to pace the house and disregard
each frantic missive,
the tyranny of what goes on
when you’re not there.
So caught off guard,
so intercepted
by this flagging imposter,
this figment, this
scrap.

Salvage

the wild man, the recluse, the rustic
edgeling, hermit, housebound, hidebound
when magic is so somewhere not here
when here is not a muddled blunder
like low clouds distant mountains
or the hole in the series where
the lock was, where I was, and all
the other places you never look
the heart a little animal
running and running on the flat when
the next thermonuclear highjack
makes everything an over thing
the loners’ club, how it happens
no place in our underfoot is not
towered down creatures before us
abandoned places, all their giving up
how we survive such vast undoing

Stella Ridley: The Chapter That Can Never Have a Number or a Name

In retrospect, I realize that something Mamaw Rennie said to me once–apropos of nothing, of course–was never far from my mind for all the long months I sat with Matu when she was sick and then when she was dying: “woe to the mother who dies before her children have reached the age of appreciation.”  Having obsessive and superstitious tendencies of thought, I often wished that Mamaw had not said it and I had not heard it, for it would often just plop onto the racetrack of my mind and zip round and round.  How can woe come to a dead person, I would wonder–were we not supposed by our religious teachers to enter into a state free of the sufferings of life?  Then I would wonder with the kind of delicious horror with which one wonders such things whether instead we entered a bad-joke afterlife when we died, an afterlife in which all the things we try so hard to evade or recover from in life would settle in permanently, an eternity of woe or loss or psychic injury, the kind of injury, say, that betrayal inflicts when it not only destroys whatever present happiness you have but also eats backwards eradicating a past which has become a lie anyway, but I digress. Continue reading