The Tower Journal

Bruce McRae

The Big Hug

The wind chewing on the hem of the earth.
That’s swimming in the sun’s embers.

When in fact the wind stands perfectly still
and it is we who are rushing toward it.

I consider the wind honey to the bee’s ayres.
I think of it as thin water or very soft glass.
Legend tells us the gods’ breaths are the wind,
that time moving is wind,
that it turns on numberless and invisible wheels.

See the moon hiding, the wind running cloud to cloud.
See the waves in the strait coming to greet it.
How they lie down, the wind wiping its feet.
How they throw themselves under its galloping horses.

The wind assumes all the sorrows of the world.
It’s sawing at hills and gnawing on houses.
It struggles with the planet’s burdens.
Sometimes you have to look it dead in the eye.
Sometimes I turn my head away.
I put my back to the wind.

Though I’m not sure I actually believe it exists,
that it’s not a rumour touted by the weatherman
or how we explain sand to a desert.

I think the wind is just a mob of ghosts rioting.
It’s the solar system when it sighs.
The wind is an angel
putting its hands all over your body.
The wind is God’s dreadful embrace.
It’s eternity coughing.

Mercy Dash

You were running down a road.
There were stars marring the bright air.
Ice in the pylons frazzled and cooed.

I can’t remember if you were the hunter
or the one being hunted, pursued
by a shudder of spooks and bloodless lunatics,
by a phalanx of personal demons.
I have no measure for the blithe syntax
or words you’d folded in two.

Just the road, like a cut to the arm.
Your private parade.
Single-minded stampede.
Your mercy dash into Madness.
That you were running hard,
the wheel of the Earth turning,
creaking, the round of your heel
tearing up the effluvial dust.
I recall the sun’s sword, an angel
snapping at your ankles,
the mob of time parting
on a path through a forest.

You ran. From the Torrid Zone
into Parts Unknown.
From the thistle’s lisp into dawn.
Out of midnight,
and straight toward a buttercup.
Your feet were fleshy spirals.
Each breath was a door in a furnace.

I followed, time passing quickly.
Soon we were older than the garden.
A light split darkness’s ribs.
The cosmos cracked,
the horizon spilt and split.
All Creation’s beasts returned to a cage.
Something breathed
fire over your back.

It was the age of reason.

Sometimes I’m Out

I look at the moon and see no-moon.
It’s a puddle of ivory.
A frosted window.
A rink suspended in the cold air.

I look at my hands,
seeing spiders and clamps.
I see claws of pure energy.
Exploding demon-hearts.
Maps of suspicion.

Sometimes I’m inside.
But sometimes I’m out,
passing through dreamy substratum,
rising over Bengal nights
and emerald-green fires.
Drowning in consciousness.
The mind-flower wilting.

No pills or potions, please . . .
The city in my head
is a living fire-storm.
It’s a field of purple roses.
A dangling proposition.
The people I meet
are vague constructions
of blood, bile and breaths.
Even the cat is a monster.

Only sleep is the cure.
Only when walking in that black vale
can the mind ever rest,
its frayed endings tying themselves.
Only then do the visions of beauty end.
Wading in the shallows of calm.

Of Aches and Aching

Pain sleeping at the bottom of a well.
Pain tormenting the bunnies,
pissing on the coals of remembrance.
A marriage of embers
to pain’s barbed kisses.
A searing motion at the back of the skull.
A question with no possible answer.

I’m in the half-dark of hurting,
nerve-endings on spider-legs,
pain a centipede with five venoms.
I live with a salted wound
the size of a pig’s heart.
I embrace the fiery iodine,
a shared vow proving life and that life ends.

A small death squats on my chest,
or I’m touched with stinging bells,
with pins biting and a dull sawing.
But why pain? Why not some other antidote
for the joys of living?

Rising, surfacing for air . . .
This is where the clouds go when we sleep,
before time was measured out in slabs.
This is what it’s like between the wars –
an emotionless Nirvana
with birdsong and flowers growing.

For just a moment, the poppies’ red balm
is rocking me into forever.

Copyright © 2016 Bruce McRae

Pushcart nominee Bruce McRae is a Canadian musician with over a thousand poems published internationally, including, Rattle and The North American Review. A new book has just been released, An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy, and his first book ia The So-Called Sonnets. Both are available on Amazon. To see and hear more poems go to ‘BruceMcRaePoetry’ on YouTube.

The Tower Journal
Winter  2016