Stride Magazine -



improvise then       up and running       see
where it all leads to       taking in all
manner of detritus       sifting       discarding
selecting       but working through for all
it's worth       options and sluices open

beyond all       catching a
glimpse of       reasonable       blue-green
possibilities       doubt       nothing's
that certain       convictions
a farce       a form of words (clouds?)

hold on       just here for the ride
taken in       carried along
and if we're lucky getting
somewhere       leaving behind
such a mess       no time to fuss


places       stations
just passing through       always
on the move


miles to go       and then the storm
that caught us by surprise
how we sat it out
how the rain
blanked out the mountains
how while we were away
the landscape changed completely
cutting off our retreat
the waterlogged engine
forced us to change our plans
nothing for it but to take
what we could and head
for the high pass
leaving things behind
like clouds ripping softly among pines

where we set out from       like a vivid
dream forgotten on awakening       is the dream
less real than the awakening into
here and now       where we'll be
years from now

heaving heaps of dark       daring
to put a name to it
get beyond       distance unbridgeable
by any stretch of the imagination

surrounded by a language
I wasn't born to       I've mastered it
rather well       but always
there's the hint of an accent
a misplaced intonation
that betrays

mirrors       meetings
setting an edge
where we'd be       no-
body       just pure image
to be able to say this
is my hacceity
myself on the way

knowing I've dreamt       try to reenter
revisit stations I've passed through
finding them disjunctive like when I
try to say me       the picture's cranky
slightly misty       out of sync       as though
through thick glass       like dreaming       I was here
but I was someone else       the more
I try to see the more I recede
like looking through the shrinking end
of a telescope       try to reenter
the dream       it's gone       but I carry it
like a forgotten bus ticket at the bottom of my bag

which way now       mapping the terrain
as I go

and there       the meaning
that's eluded us       a risky leap
away       resplendent
teasing       fata morgana
that's it       light
glancing off the wing of a kingfisher


understanding the mechanics of say a smile
begins with the bones       bones are
the body's grammar       the rules
that hold it all together        more or less
unbendable       getting harder as we get older
and more brittle       an accidental fracture
or careless blow a fall like a split infinitive
resets and becomes the norm      between
the official version and what the doctor sees
is a certain flexibility       it's for those
always younger than us to see how far
bones will bend

                          but bones alone
will not move       cannot get themselves
to the top of the stairs       they need the body's
vocabulary nouns and verbs layers
of muscle tendons fat skin glands and organs
follicles hairs fingernails blood flowing
in a net of veins saliva sweat
the gap between the toes where dirt collects
thoughts made flesh       but when
wounds heal the scars can change
meanings entirely       and when
the language is forgotten it's just so much
meat on the slab

                            is there any part
that can't be touched and broken
the mind perhaps that sets it all in motion
the idioms that articulate the flesh to move the bones
cleave the brain and still it can't be seen       there are
more suble ways than straightforward violence like
mass circulation to impose
and reinforce a dialect       or bright lights
or locked and darkened rooms or simply
being alive in the twenty-first century       and so
getting back to what I was saying        I value
idiolect        that particular turn of phrase        the way
you turn your head just so
when you smile


the old maps won't do
water of the mind

our landscapes rip
and crumple
and where are we?

when we are most lost
we think
we know where we are

boundaries confound
we're hard put
to see where they should be

is the darkest place
in the middle
or right off the edge?

it's a matter of scale
the closer you get
the more exact the lie

from me to you
the shortest distance is
as the thought flies

Catherine Hales 2003