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The Morning Devours

Barry Dempster
From:   The Salvation of Desire. Toronto : St. Thomas Press, 2000


The wind shrieks up and down the house
like a predatory bird,
feathery swirls of dust
everywhere, snakes hitting blunt heads
on bedroom walls, the sun leaping
through windows like a tiger.

Another meat-eater of a morning,
soaked-up city teeming with clotheslines
and coffee smog, an itch in every
sweltering corner. Careful of those
mail slots, their sweaty discontent.
The cracks and cleavage of it all
coming down on our heads.

Think of what we've made for ourselves:
somewhere to escape from, shoes lined up
in neat little rows like jungle airstrips.
The walls are trembling, rugs coughing,
cellar stairs tumbling into one another
until there's no place else to go.

Is any of this free will?
Thick skulls with their dinosaur attitudes.
We settle on making the best of it,
stride into the sun and are instantly
ripped into shadows. Another day,
the six-sided die of a risk.

We don't remember choosing
any of these extremes: the sight
of ourselves in the bathroom mirror,
pajama pants curling around ankles,
the parrot squawks of The Globe & Mail
with its daily dooms, the poem
that keeps misinterpreting.

On we go, all these wrists hailing cabs,
these hearts beating in a pile
like something the ants dragged home.
We are the everyday, stripped raw
with sun, blown up and down,
dust-snakes writhing in our lungs.

We choose, escaping on a daily
basis, with or without our feet,
shadows tattered and windy.
The morning devours our beliefs,
our cautions, splitting us into shrieks,
the sort of music you'd expect from bones.



Barry Dempster's works copyright © to the author.


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