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(Featured Readers’ Work)
of Christopher Taylor’s poetry,
reading for Sasquatch, May 27, 2007:
A long way from Chang-an
On the hilltop this morning, looking out at
I am thinking of Tu Fu and the small solace,
The lake is half frozen, silver-white and
The wind is cold. The sun bright. My fingertips numb.
Beside me, my daughter stamps her feet in the
She wants to go home. Now.
Let’s go home.
Waves break the ice into fragments that
clatter and chime.
The glare off the water hurts my eyes. Let’s go home.
It is a long way from here to Chang-an.
Further still to the town that we used to
Tu Fu, can you tell me, does anyone stay in
one place anymore?
Does any one place keep its tether called
The wind blows her hair round the edge of her
I take her hand as we turn to descend. Let’s go home.
It=s a long way from here to Chang-an. I’ve never been.
Snow is cold.
The sun bright. There is small
Lifting my head
I watch the bright moon
In bed, if not asleep, the
children leave my mind
like guests who slip away while
is being resolved. I wander to the kitchen,
open a beer, step outside
and slowly recognize the sun is
the air, hot and acidic.
Three hundred miles north
Li Po casts his line and
He is wearing a red flannel
shirt, a plaid jacket.
He has time.
Against the grey-blue sky, a bat
turns in a circuit
that breaks space at the edge.
It has passed three times my way,
each time closer than the last,
and as I sip my beer I think
I know how it feels.
The sun sets, the night opens
a whippoorwill starts nearby
far off, outside the door.
Li Po reels in his line and
The night is quiet, as quiet as
it gets here.
The sound of traffic. The air,
hot and acidic.
High overhead, a jet passes in a
Standing in the dark, I am aware
of the jet.
That is something. When the jet disappears
my awareness is left unconnected
Three hundred miles north
a lamp goes on.
A form walks through the light
and, peering through the glass,
The sun is down, the moon not
the air, hot and acidic.
I stand on the porch, waiting for
to sweep past one more time
as the weight of the evening
to the colourless grass.
Li Po is gone.
Moths appear at the window.
The weak waves on the beach
The Art of Living
Creation takes place in
yet all life, whether great
must be passed on creatively
to assure its continued
Lectures on the I Ching
It is not as far to China as it
is to Winisk.
You can walk to China - take the
Trans-Canada to the coast,
turn right at the Alaska Highway,
cross the Bering Strait
(at night, in midwinter, hop a
floe if necessary)
proceed south until you hit Beijing.
Enroute, there are lots of books
written by Germans and others.
They may improve your life in
It is difficult to walk to
The scrub forest of the Shield
The pine scratch, drop their limbs
to the ground, block your way.
The marshes and bogs aren’t quite as fussy.
They don’t mind if you stay a while.
Dead heat in summer, surrounded
Dead cold in winter, air
frost from your lungs.
The difference between China and
is the difference between reading
and writing one. Here on Turtle Island
you are writing a book without
Stripping birch bark from the
your sense of narrative line will
long before you see the shores of
Winisk lies near the mouth of the
on the flat land that opens to
the north and the Bay.
The water arrives from the south
like a stranger
bringing a promise of news, but
without saying a word. The inscrutable Chinaman.
You can travel as far as you like
but you can’t make him tell you where
art of living lies in learning to walk to Winisk
using what you know about
China. It takes faith.
You have lost your faith but that’s ok. Pick it up.
It is lying at your feet where it
has always been.
You can try to leave it behind,
but it hangs on
like your shadow, stretching out
thin, elastic, inescapable.
And yet, of all the ways of
walking to China
the easiest is via Winisk. The reason is simple.
There is one river, one path, one
art of living. The oracle tells you one thing.
The land says it another
write it down. Don’t
read about it. Walk.
above poems © Christopher Taylor
THIS IS THE
© Carl Edgar Law
(performed for Sasquatch January 28,
This is the moment these
are her lips these
are her lips on mine this
this sweet fusion of moods we are
estuaries of thin fluids
chimeras out of snow mouthing
tears of anticipation
to denouement this
is the moment lips
on my belly mine
on hers these
conversations of skin-hunger these
Nancy in the Shadow Light
By Carl Edgar Law © Dec 25 2005
I see auras
glimpses of borealis
just outside the light, shadow movements she is
just as I have always known
just as she is, naked
and this radiance
dazzles me, I
just outside Jerusalem the bus went away
into the 40 nights of the rocky place, she was
on return I had
lost the birthday ring so I
played for her
nights now are hard places
empty of the heart
SHADOWS IN THE DARK
By Carl Edgar Law © 2005
We're down for the night and we
set up the NDP, the night defensive
claymores out those
sweet little land mines their trip wires
that blow the balls off
love that but
we wouldn't if we knew them well because
30 years on they
run our computer systems and are
the places where we dine
with young girls
spreading their white unsullied thighs we
back then are antsy we
don't know what it is what
it is that troubles us just
a free-floating anxiety
can't stay we
only keep tabbing each day because
our bodies are young
alcohol and drugs we
drive them hard we
see only the sky
promise of a next
as worth living for
only one more day
one more sun and we wonder
did our great great
grand daddies yearn for that, flinging
maidens off brutal
did our grand-daddies
find entrails and offal
their son's bony fragments, lodged in their tunics
when they washed at the river
after Pickett's charge?
There is no future in our sweated grind our
walking to misery our
feckless trampings our
journey to nothing and
when we look in the mirror the
small field mirror that we have we
disappear there is
no face any more in that
disappearing we have
nothing to write home about nothing
to tell our mothers, we
have dishonored them by losing
everything once taught, we have
dishonored them by disappearing, we have
left them numb with our large disappearance, we have
left them bereft of the child they spawned, we have
disappeared and on those long
staticky single sideband convos
have learned to lie, this is
what we have become-the
liars and the disappeared, we have
no illusions, we are
the liars and the disappeared there is
nothing left to give, nothing
in our sere hearts-not love nor
the sweet cheek-to-cheek, we have
lost all that was ours in the long corn of the past when
summer beat us down to planchets when
down in the long corn we had our first coupling our
first loving with a freckle girl, our
first under the round sky joy, we
have none of that left and we have no country, we
That is the worst to have
no country, that
is the last thing
to have no country and no birth to have
sprung full-formed from the earth, to have
existed as wraiths only not
man things any more, we
stare into space in the late day we
yearn for death we
need the death of others to
our beating hearts, to know
that something beats here that
while disappeared the blood yet pulses . . .
pulses in some thing that we call "US" some
vague thing that we call us for
there is life of a kind . . . there
is not the total loss of being the total
loss of self there is
still a vague thing
crawling with vermin and disgust, there is
perhaps something that in later years will
resemble a man but
what a man be he with
no shred of ambition any road, no
need to couple, to spawn, to thrive to
play team sports in some shellac-smell gym, no
to return to that, we
just want to melt into the land, to
become vegetable matter, to
be devoid of shame and need we
be nothing at all, nothing at all
really, to be
or not to be in fact,
nothing, this ennui
seems to flare up in us under the red sun of afternoon because
we have disappeared, we see
images of each other, lifeforms perhaps but
we're not sure, we are
not sure if we really are
lifeforms at all, we are
really not anything any more, not flesh nor spirit, we are
just 'ere things drifting
in an interspace, in
an interspace to which
we have not yet given name, we are
disappearing as generation upon generation has done
before us, riven
with the tearing gasp of brother killing, with the
tearing grasp of
tearing apart jigsaw puzzles,
examining their bleak organs as
alien arrivals on mother ships, looking
at the flayed entrails of killthings
with a clever eye, no
Gray's Anatomy needs sit
cosy on the shelf beside my bed, because
I know, I
viscera from colloid from tissue,
wrenched from bone, I
In a mist the first fell
the night of the disappeared we
that we have to be OK for the city fathers
to come home
to be praised
to step off the train to a tumult
of white-thighed girls wearing large hats
beating drums, blowing fifes becoming
mildly moist because
we are the men they need, the
heroes they must couple with to raise
the next generation of flour-haired children to
down in the long corn of summer afternoons to
giggle and laugh and wrestle in the sweet dust
of Indiana summer