contextual

This year, I’m writing poetry for every word tasting in November. I’m calling it Povember. Today, a glosa, which is a form that bases itself on a quote from an existing poem. I’m basing this one on a snippet from “Language Is a Virus,” by Laurie Anderson.

Paradise
is exactly like
where you are right now
only much, much better.
—“Language Is a Virus,” Laurie Anderson


My sense of existence is contextual, aspectual;
days and places caress me like cattails,
like cat-o’-nine tails or like tails of nine cats.
I wander the valleys of downtown Toronto,
concrete canyons, gardens of Eden,
never parading the same terra twice
so the serpent of torpor can never tempt me,
pre-empt me, teach me to put down roots
and be a tree knowing nasty from nice.
Paradise.

My hours are caffeine-dreams of words,
of birds rapping glass and rap music and rapping
espresso portafilters, and tongues chattering, and keyboards,
each coffee-shop’s tables an unmoving train
changing passengers: friends, computers, and lovers,
embarking by foot, by streetcar, by bike,
and I breathe convened steam from the day’s passing lungs,
swim fingertip dendrons through the turbid murmur,
unknowing what each speaker, each sound trough and spike,
is exactly like.

It’s a geyser’s pool, hot and cold eels of currents,
and a moment can scald cool peace into pain.
Nothing repeats. I can’t divine what’s in store.
Yet these stores are divine, for they fill my desire:
people to ignore, no friends or competitors,
no one’s your oxen, you’re no one’s plough;
you’re one white whale in all these oceans
and no madman with harpoon, cursing your birth,
can pierce flat whiteness to ram his prow
where you are right now.

And when I’ve been there ten thousand words
and the worlds revolve with the lighting of the lamps,
my office of the hours is completed with vespers.
I am bound for the route, not rootbound, uprooted,
roots rent, an ent, a walking tree of nerves.
But I am a free man in paradise, alive without fetter:
my rent is measured in coffee cups
and words with baristas, known faces, companions,
place-holders, co-workers in all but the letter,
only much, much better.

By the way, I’ve reviewed some of my favourite coffee offices.

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