Sunday, August 24, 2014

Three Poems by Carl James Grindley


The Young Fisherman waits
For the Old King's forgiveness, a replacement
Abalone license, and some sort of half-
Arsed tax deferment.  Crown
Askew, the Old King feigns wisdom
And sternly orders the return
Of a previously misplaced
VHS tape of his coronation,
But the King is going
On five years late with it
And since Red Hot Video went out of business,
The tape does not get
Re-shelved, but is instead dumped
In the trash.  The Young Fisherman returns
Breathless and sweaty, entering
The chamber on his knees.
He freezes in supplication.

Folio verso folio verso--every
Time a new page appears, a litany
Of Slack-jawed nonsense words--half
Thought out bullshitcrap--attempts
To scribble itself down in poorly
Remembered Greek letters, only to edge
Its way from a ruined and quite
Imaginary landscape and into the real world.
The only way to stop it is through
Unexpected violence.

As you guessed, Lora, no one
Is ever impressed, and smoking
All the cigarettes I have ever
Smoked, everyone I have
Ever met just stands
Around my front porch, waiting
For the collective news that all of our other friends
Have died.  After the telegrams finally
Arrive--bags and bags of them--the only
Thing left behind is a mere
A dunce cap of ash to spread
On some pebbly shore.

One quick
Question:  if I put on
My girlfriend's panties, can we
Go and see an opera?
I haven't been to one in so long,
And to tell you the truth,
I miss the shit out of going
To operas.

The Old King's youngest daughter used to snort
Ground up Oxy and cry rape every fifteen
Minutes, but he got the dumb bitch into
Rehab and now she's in sober living
And works nights at Tim Horton's.

In the end, none of it matters:
In my version of the Greek
Alphabet, it is unclear whether
Theta follows or precedes eta.
It is flexible in a way Greek
Is not supposed to be.


No one on television is ever going to live
My life for me--and it is both
Disgusting and disappointing
That it took so long for me
To figure this out.

Notate bene, you people of the cold Pacific:
I have been repeatedly woken up
By all sorts of irritating
Noises:  rusting buses idle interminably
Outside my apartment in Little India;
Nearly ask and my laundry room
Window, a thin woman with brown, rotting
Teeth slurpily sucks cocks in the alleyway; George
Bowering angrily writes shitty poems
In rathole that passes for Kelowna;
My downstairs neighbors actually stay
Drunk for weeks on end.  The guy who got
Evicted rather than break
Up with his girlfriend, returns
Every other Friday to sell me
Illegally-caught sockeye
For five bucks a fish.  Virtually worthless
Knowledge continuously washes
Down on me like fire.  It no longer
As much as stings and I miss
That sting in much the same
Manner that I miss the cold
Ocean and all those dank
Mats of stinking cedar needles.

If Floyd showed up, by God,
I would wave away the flies
And buy a fish--the Crown
Be damned.


Sterile weapons, dead and yoked
To a horsey mist of regret:  this poem is a meat.
Missile, one you cannot possibly
Recall--recall, by the way, meaning
That a) you cannot take any of it
Back and b) in a few years, you will
Not remember any of it, even
If you wanted.

Life is a salad of doubt
And fate and as everyone grows old
And misshapen, a whole
Bunch of ruthlessly random
Maladies conspire
To crop the edges away
Until everyone is either content with
Everyone else or too miserable
And too drunk to care.

No amount of arugula is ever
Going to change
Anything.  Frisee avec lardoons is ultimately
Pointless with or
Without Southern Ontario chevre.

Ballcocks and razorblades and
Two young people screwing
Every single chance they get--
If there is more to life than that
You are going to have to work much
Much harder than I did and even if you
Do, you are never going to convince me
That I should care.

Carl James Grindley grew up on an island on Canada's pacific coast but now lives and works in the south Bronx.  His last book of poetry, Lora and The Dark Lady, was published in 2013 by Ravenna Press.

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