Friday 5 May 2023

3 Poems by Bruce McRae

This Poem Is Banned

For saying what needed to be said
when nobody wanted to hear it said.
For telling stories out of school,
naming the names, pointing the fingers.
This poem has been banned because
powerful people were made to feel uncomfortable.
Banned for eschewing protocol.
Because someone important insisted.

While reading this poem
you might conclude it’s right
that you act and think for yourself.
Having this poem in your house
suggests you may be harbouring certain leanings
others would consider unacceptable.
You don’t want soldiers kicking in your door
over a silly poem. Do you?
You don’t need a veil of threats
or your mouth smashed in with a rifle butt.
Be reasonable . . .

This poem is absolutely forbidden,
like counterfeit currency or certain truths.
It might instigate a rebellion
or a national debate. There may be
peaceful protests, which could lead to
(very possibly) rioting.
Reading this poem is strictly prohibited,
every other word blacked out,
its author lying low and on the lam.
Shadowy figures from shadowy agencies
are standing over you, declaring,
“This poem is taboo.”
Little outlaw, this poem is contraband.
Of course I didn’t write it. But whoever wrote it,
I wrote it for you.

Man Talking

The man said he was falling.
He praised Meister Eckhart
and the Hindu mystics
and explained very patiently
how the imagination
was like a free-range chicken.
The blank page before him,
he said, was part of the infinite.
When he wrote the word ‘astronomy’
a galaxy would appear.
So too the manticore and minotaur
and metaphysical cricket.

As he spoke the man rubbed
up against a metaphor.
The ballets of death performed
on the back of his hand.
Metamorphosis set in.
Wonder stood at a threshold.
He said ‘death is love’,
dwelling upon the irrational,
the paradoxical, the oxymoronic.
In his voice the earth explained
itself at the cellular level.
He told us how he wrote
in silence, about silence,
and from silence.
That his religion was his art.
How all about our heads
swam a slender sadness.

for Steve A

Dream, tired people,
and build your fine houses.
Send death from your life.
Measure the rainfall.
Be safe as supper.

Another evening slips by,
gliding past on blue runners.
You return indoors,
having done good work
for another day.
Standing at the window,
you think of them,
the brutes and beasts
under a long shadow,
all the motherless dead,
their names taking wing
among fiery reds.

Moments foam and branch,
your mind sliding
between time’s ribbed pillars,
the ghost inside you pensive
and pining for winter.

This is how and when
a soul parts from flesh.
Going clod to cloud,
you’re little more than a breath
in a hospice —
where silence stalks
the infinite wards.

This is your home now.

We’re putting our arms around you


Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with poems published in hundreds of magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books include ‘The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press); ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy; (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pski’s Porch), Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).

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