the thrill

from The Thrill.  2007.  Out of print.



fathers, they roamed
freely through garages and back yards
mowing lawns, fixing cars, sweating
bald heads shining in the sun
they conquered the great expanse up to the
garden gate
and the white-starched shirts on the clothesline waved
as if they were going somewhere special
somewhere far away
on the frontlines the mirror the paper the morning
news closely shaves off the edges of the real
world stiff upper lips drank coffee
made deals kissed ass,
raising insult, money, questions and kids
in little briefcases stacked with the most
important papers in the world, surely
with always and forever.

Later, dozing in
the fading glory
of a life spent
fighting for
the front porch
they tell of
adventures in xenophobia,
racism and bad taste
we cringe, thinking in twenty years time we wont be
folded neatly like suits and years of well-worn insistent
preventative measures, insurance policies, polish and a bit of grease
oiling the hinges of worn-out beliefs
with conversations running in circles
the epic battles through forgotten eras
the five o’clock traffic
how they met your mother
and bought you a video game for Christmas

I cannot help

Tears are expensive. Eden is for assholes. As
imperfect and unfortunate a replica
of my father’s ape-body, of my mother’s tiny
blue hands and eyes
I am the thing which haunts pappa
lying awake at night dreaming of men
with fingertips like stars –
I, raised high by ma’s certain sacrifices
expectations measured in light years
raised to want for nothing but
the human touch.
We are all growing up now.
mother leaves home
sister gets used to
pappa being alone.
Never the best pal for my dad,
never the destiny ma never had
I cannot help
I am a noxious thing of ice and light
with eyes and nails as sharp as the tar
that caressed my feet on hot afternoons
running with silver green fish in jars
and a dirty white little dog with ears as soft as green green grass
Who the hell were Adam and Eve, I could care less
for manhood marriage small talk
history was for heros
Eden is for assholes. As imperfect and unfortunate a replica
of my father’s ape-body, of my mother’s tiny blue hands and eyes
I cannot help:

It becomes beautiful to me,
my hairy hands and feet,
crawling the polluted and tarred pathways of this planet
Eyes staring straight into the sun.
And in all my time I have met
nobody like me
And in all my time I never could
wipe the smell of my father from my skin
or my mother’s forehead wrinkling me from deep within
I cannot help.
There are stories that seem to begin
Some stories seem to end
We will become rather tall
will break into spontaneous blossoms,
and fall loosely
into the hollows whittled for us
long ago by our parents’ call


We’ve cut down the great big frightening blooms
in my parents’ back yard
garden-variety shrubs shrug off
the tall walls order around the house
like jilted schoolmates clawn together
furniture that gagged up the garage for years
awkwardly angles to hold the room
sudden like my father’s hand round my neck:
the neighbours did this
the bougainvillea did that, he confesses,
entangled, hair-faced, the colour of winter
stiff legged stalking his hard-earned turf
in lieu of conversation
stooping to rip at weeds.
“Your mother has carried away all her ghosts.”
She leaves his power tools, cactus collection
orchids and low opinions –
she leaves him stripped by surprise.
bees and ants track the hour
she visited here without makeup
wearing the stomach lining of the house
in pink and orange, the summer’s exhausted gleam
in her own long overdue time.
In the yard
I run through their latin names, urtica dioica, artemisia
millefollum – seeking the large and lifelong dreams
seasonal shapes for the sound of those once homing in here
tall trees, now passing the blame with the pruning shears at breakfast
cities apart, cutting equal portions of poison blooms
in identical seedings stalking to feed me
back to the days before I was born