Richest Man Blues

If we could have a dollar
For every time I lied
We’d have enough
To make a nest somewhere
Warm and soft
You’d drive a fast car
And I’d wear furs

If we could have a dollar
For every time I did 
You wrong
We’d be shitting dollars
And I’d buy you everything
You could want
Except my heart.

Oh don’t get me wrong, honey
I’d sell that, too
If there was something
Left to sell

How do we wilt…

How do we wilt?
Do we fold like flowers,
Resting our tired heads on
Our still chests
And every breath
Becomes an exhale
That wrinkles the little
Petals of our souls
Until they crumble at the touch?

Do we collapse like elephants,
Among Egyptian sand
And leave a cloud of dust
A whipping dance
Do we then shrink and shrivel in the heat
Until hot winds
Carry us, unknowingly, to foreign shores?

Or are we preserved in cold and bitter
Behind a glass case
For the onlookers to admire
The form that once contained
The blooming riches
Of a beating heart,
A blush, a sigh, a word that
Slipped off of now still and icy
Lips that shine in the white light
Inspire awe in passersby
And muse the stories
Guides tell simple-minded tourists
And school groups?

To Write Letters

I think I will write him a letter, I thought, sitting in someone’s office on the 9th floor of Leacock.  A house plant placed over the ventilator flutters the way I imagine women’s eyelashes can flutter. Beyond it, a view of Milton Gates. A line of students outside a barbeque in front of McConnel Engineering. Just behind the building, students jaywalk and cars move in sequences that make all the sense in the world, when seen from above. Everything down there is mechanical, its purpose is evident to me, and its place in the Universe is so clear, nothing could ever happen any other way. Even the intermitted sunshine is to order, lighting up the grey limestone of surrounding buildings just long enough to notice the flaws in the façade, short enough to accept them and move on.

I think I will write him a letter, I think, as I run my fingers along the vertebrae of books lining my supervisor’s shelves. More Precisely…Science…Philosophy of Logic…Worlds out of Nothing…Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. Rows and rows of undisturbed labors of forgotten authors, sitting on forgotten shelves, in a forgotten office where nothing ever changes. I take care the leave the furniture the way I find it, his chair turned ever so slightly towards the door, perfectly accommodating of the rising gesture of someone getting up to leave.

From this high above ground, I see the Champlain Bridge stretching over the water, leading off this island. My mother always said islands make people loony. I can believe that, now. I too, will be leaving the island, but that’s no matter. I do this to stretch my arms out wider and to run faster…to what end, you’d ask, to what end, I am hoping he’d ask…to no end. To my end.

The life of a nomad is difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t had their definition of home ripped out with the roots. Roots are important. They remind us that we are part of something greater than the petty things revolving around us. I have no roots, and each new seed I plant seems to come up only to wilt soon after. But that isn’t the worry. The worry comes as a feeling deep in your stomach, the feeling of a heavy stone being dropped into a pool of tar, making no splash, but instead, sinking to the bottom of something dark and thick. The worry of knowing when to stop. The worry of being able to stop in time, to have the courage to plant your feet on the ground, look life dead in the eye and say, I’m staying. To have the courage to stay before it is too late. Before life becomes a subway train taking you through stations but never stopping. And you catch glimpses of faces you love, or used to love, because now they are fading away, and you run along the length of the train, you are in the last car, but the station platform becomes smaller and smaller and eventually fades as the train carries you ceaselessly, forward.

And so you sit down and write letters, hoping, praying that you can find the words that will keep your memory in his mind, that when you cross paths again, there isn’t a coldness hiding behind the corners of his smile, that the warmth lingers still, the way the coals left of a fire keep their heat through the night and should you step carelessly into the fire pit, will burn you.