Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tuesday poem #230 : John Barton : ENTRY FROM A BOOK OF HOURS

You return uninvited. The rain won’t stop knocking
   oak limbs can’t let the wind go. Without reason
I open the door. You step through the cold standing

   between us, sit across at my table, glare rubbed
Raw by our elbows, shallows catching your face
   its decoration monks might have hung in the dark

Of their cells, lit candles before, perhaps flamed
   incense, a sharpness scribed in your cheekbones
Smudged with beard, the shaved tones mixed

   from what was kept to hand, red lead, white
Chalk, your eyes remote orbs of lapis quarried
   in Afghanistan, glancing up from the spread

Leaves of any folio I could have browsed
   in facsimile at some Dublin bookshop an ocean
From where weeks ago we would laze more

   nakedly, our unhallowed silences a new world
Love cleared away. Until then we lived in
   our own time, were social constructs, self

Made men. Even now we contrive to talk
   using brand names, market dips, semiotics
To close in on shores our outlooks had overrun

   what we left behind unsettled, lovers hungry
And dispossessed, steadfastness humbled
   all we have felt for each other more aligned

With faith than contingency, us both claiming
   to embody what early on we failed to
Avow, your calm face since met everywhere

   arrested in the repose of living and dead
Illuminating the stained glass of nearby
   churches, descendants incarnated above

Pints of local bitter, downcast behind
   ersatz maquillage of the house drag queen.
Too long must devotion inhabit me.

   I should have never let you in.

John Barton has published eleven books and six chapbooks of poetry, including West of Darkness: Emily Carr, a Self-Portrait (third bilingual edition, BushcekBooks, 2006), Hypothesis (Anansi, 2001), Hymn (Brick, 2009), For the Boy with the Eyes of the Virgin: Selected Poems (Nightwood, 2012), Balletomane: The Program Notes of Lincoln Kirstein (JackPine, 2012), Polari (Goose Lane, 2014), and Reframing Paul Cadmus (above/ground, 2016). Co-editor of Seminal:The Anthology of Canada’s Gay-Male Poets (Arsenal Pulp, 2007), he is editing The Essential Douglas LePan for Porcupine’s Quill. Born in Edmonton and raised in Calgary, he lives in Victoria, where he edits The Malahat Review.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

No comments: