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so let us now return
to the present
and the future

Introduction.


These poems, this imaginary ‘return’ to another ‘place’, span time zones, but also occur within cities in the same times zones: Montreal, Toronto and Cambridge, Miami and Paris. They speak of thoughts of solitude amidst the collapse of a great, singular love story, one that was broken, shattered more than once, sometimes half rebuilt, sometimes left to die. It’s about flickering lights, never-ending nights, about the density of alone-ness, the weightlessness of words uttered to oneself. But also about this mingling: the past that remains present to carry us into the future.


I. MIAMI


i.

 

it’s 4 o’clock in the morning

in an attempt to rationalize his awaken-ness, he thinks

he finds himself staring into the not-so-darkness,

 

he wonders: the western-ward travel speed required, theoretically, for this moon

to hang

in permanence

  

and so this is his travel diary.

 

ii.

 

the stillness of time

            a valve-like, fluid concept

 

they lost an hour. with distance it seems like a gain.

 

iii.

 

he wakes up for an instant only

and so Icarus ceases to be Icarus.

 

iv.

 

times               and dates and destinations                   flickering

at regular intervals

announcing places, circumstances

 

and he stands at the edge,

where one day meets another –

 

            is it really a new day until people have woken up?

 

and elsewhere altogether –

whole roads lined with palm trees

camouflaged into a blue starless sky,

eventually arising from the pinks and purples and reds,

in all their fucking Floridian grandeur:


II. TORONTO


i.

 

the bird sits stupid on the ledge

the cat looking at him steadily,

yet

they elect not to disrupt the stillness of the universe.

 

ii.

 

that stupid bird shat on his head at dawn,

right as he awakened,

in between his coffee and his life.

 

iii.

 

he likes how the sun flares,

            thin veil over everything

colours blending, graceful and muddled

 

the bay of windows, drape-less on purpose,

 

it also rises, uneven on your eyes

 

iv.

 

mi(l)d-open

 

lazy cat in the afternoon sun

days of sleeping belly-up

but moving gaze,

 

as if knowing his fragility, that she still occupies his every thought,

 

v.

 

the couch is not meant to be slept on: it is too small and uncomfortable. but that is where he goes for he knows he should not hold you too tight, out of pain.

 

before he may have insisted; now he stands back often.

 


III. PARIS


i.

 

a sea between.

the turbulence of fluids,

tides within

 

unbearable distances

timezones warped incomprehensibly around each of

your times for living seem incongruous

 

or it could be that when he writes,

you sometimes neglect to reply.

 

ii.

 

It keeps slipping, timelessly

aligned misfortunes, miscalculated

 

iii.

 

flickering lights

for often ninety, sometimes one hundred and twenty minutes

 

he stands but not still he can never stand still

 

browsing though websites and papers, comparing times and locales

 

he goes through the good theatres in reverse alphabetic order online:

Varsity, TIFF, Royal, Cumberland, Carlton, Bloor, AMC at Dundas

 

this is where he spends the time he should be spending making

 

while she is away

 

iv.

 

can one thing begin if another is yet to cease,

mismatches and mishaps, admissions, confessions

roll about like dawn,

saran-wrapped onto a dissolving landscape of memory debris

 

v.

 

some afternoons

     like washed-away edgeless pebbles –

 

how long until they erode, vanish completely?

 

vi.

 

the grandeur of the universe

powers of ten, rubik-ed into each other, infinitely - 

 

         they rearrange their lives

 

how many hours of distance does it take

to invent two solitudes

                                   irrelevant without its twin.

 

the fear of a unit ceasing to exist in relation to the other

                         she becomes singular

                                                            culpability-, responsibility- free

 

and what we think of as our real life

is suspended, held up by dreams at gun point 

 

vii.

 

and little odds and ends, scraps and pieces,

 

tiny haikus full of accurate words

torn up into cryptic one-word poems.

 

how much can you even break up a haiku?

 

viii.

 

bits and pieces of people

and what's left of them once they've become adults,

there's only those stories perhaps -

 

so let us now return to the present and the future.

 

ix.

 

can you feel time

                slipping under you

in cold gusts of wind,

clear-cut, delineatedly human

 

can you feel time shifts

    within blood streams,

isolate a moment, a place,

    as it happens -

    we've gone back and Now comes before Then

 

x.

 

traveling against time

 

tell me, do people fall in love here, now?

of course, no doubt.

you should fall in love again 

 

xi.

 

is there any truth,

or only half-imagined, outlined sketches, all worded out, of worlds beyond reach,

of sentiments buried inside, unspeakable?

 

perhaps his world, like yours, is proving to have stretched itself too thin,

 

there is only so much we can say.

the we add periods. Capitalize.

we invent characters to carry the weight of our solitude.

 

xii.

 

they say things about this city,

they've invented cinema in that way, the painful love stories, the flâneurs,

seeking time, meaning

 

they've perfected pain,

calling it anguish

 

and buildings here are so graceful and classical,

in equilibrium with their broken-ness

 

why are cigarettes romantic in that heavily poetic way?


IV. SHANGHAI


i.

 

it's six o'clock

and I see you sitting there at the desk,

unsure what you were doing,

beautiful, wearing my clothes which don't fit you the least bit,

but now, past the deep night heading into morning, you look like perfection.

I ask you to join me for a moment. I think I owe you an apology -

 

and before I am done talking, you slip in bed with me, effortlessly,

you slip in bed and we fall in each other's arms,

and our fingers lock in,

heart beats, or hearts stops, felt on our palms, flat against each other.

 

there seems to be a fundamental, peaceful kind of truth about it all.

 

for an hour we hold each other,

sometimes you have your back to me -

and I wrap my body around yours, so much more graceful, so much softer - sometimes we face each other;

you refuse to look me in the eye,

but I want to look at you, and that you allow -

you refuse to let our lips even brush against each other,

but that image, that feeling, exists in my mind,

and in reality I kiss everywhere else as I stroke your hair, as you gently caress my ear with your index

 

hits snooze.

 

a few hours later (only one or two in fact), after I've showered,

once we're ready to part ways and bury what happened,

I still seek your gaze,

as we hop in the cab, us in the back, him in the front,

we hold hands, but only as a half-secret,

I feel your flank against my flank and we are, practically, in each other's arms

 

and you hop off, on your way to work, on my way back home, somewhere fifteen hours away,

and we wave goodbye in the way lovers do, but more quietly,

somehow I wish I knew what it means, but I would want to forget right away -

a moment of disappearance of the soul

 

remember how I made you promise that when I come back,

you will give me a full day,

twenty-four hours

so that we could expand on this fragmented hour, if only to assess the future

 

and immediately I want it to be two days, and a week.

 

ii.

 

and a week after, two even,

the memory of you, still.