Monday Jun 24

LeeJohnB. John B. Lee is the author of over sixty published books.  His most recent titles include: Dressed in Dead Uncles (Black Moss Press, 2010); Sweet Cuba: The Building of a Poetic Tradition: 1608-1958, a bilingual anthology of Cuban Poetry in Spanish with English translations by John B. Lee and Dr. Manuel de Jesus Velazquez Leon, (Hidden Brook Press, 2010); Tough Times: when the money doesn't love us, an anthology of essays edited by John B. Lee, (Black Moss Press, 2010); and In the Muddy Shoes of Morning, (Hidden Brook Press, 2010).  A recipient of over seventy prestigious international awards for his work, he was appointed Poet Laureate of the City of Brantford in perpetuity in 2005 and Poet Laureate of Norfolk County 2010-2014.  He lives in the lake town of Port Dover on the South Coast of Lake Erie in southwestern Ontario where he works full time as an author.

I have carried home for curiosity
a fallen leaf large enough for parchment
its breadth like the hand span
of an old farmer
fanning his palm at rest upon a table
his fingers open wide as a flag
I am reminded by stem & vein
of the mummified flesh
sunken over the visible breastbone
of an anciently breathless Egyptian child
and by the petiole at the stem’s end
how the dead break at the joint
in their graves
if I follow the line of the mid rib
from that empty stick to the apex
and take in the entire lamina
at a glance
I am brought to recall
what comes of late summer
from the first green weathers of spring
to the wind in slants of rain
that fall through smoke
this unfixed and let-drift thing
like a much-used
country house window blind
cracks the light
in the crude tanning of November
and in acid-blotched brown
becomes the beauty of sorrow
this precious artifact of loss
impregnate with the fragrance
of spice-shop doors left open to the air
and we enter
the slow regions of winter
as wool factors and chandlers
iron mongers and mercers and chasers
all time’s fools
like the etched wet intaglio of a damp-leaf lost
Here, Not Here …Yet
the way the light appears
and disappears from the lake by the lighthouse
I wonder what the fish might see
as luminous intelligences
of the moon’s hallucinations
and the silk-green dreaming
of mad heaven
they in their easily startled schools
flow and smoke and drift
coining away as brilliant shoals
of hook hunger
and wish wells
what we feel wading
as nip and flicker
at knee and thigh
in the wave-bellied water
with that deep intimacy of being made
and unmade by God’s first and final caress
with the sweet itch
where the heart meets His hand
like an apple
dropped alone in soft cloth
while the mind says “later—lovely—
later” once and then once again
once, what a discovered
undiscovering I am—creatured
by this dark delight
this bone-walled being
walking into the fear
the way the Potawatami woman
my uncle told me of
one day left the farm
and simply vanished
into the blue fathoms of Erie
or the way he says
he lost his faith in the war
watching an empty coffin
fall from the ship rail
into the stone-weighted sorrow
of an ever-receiving slate-black sea
what is time’s beauty
to the tide
is sometimes time’s horror
to us
and in the mystery and in the misery
this is the same hour
the fierce occurrence of self-particular
dying imagined by life
and what the dead surrender
has its mechanism
in the ongoing of others
so, the gulls rise before me
and land behind
in loud white jubilant reconfigurations
they give my passing
this brief attention
in their seemingly dull-witted celebration
they are dumb throngs
crying to my soul—hey—you—you are here,
hey—you, you are also
not here, and also not here, yet …
though you come, and you also
go away