1. Cul-de-sac

It's another suburban cul-de-sac
and a grown man cycles home
on his boy's bike, a full case of beer
under one arm, and it's probably
Superbowl Sunday with all the cars
parked neatly in their drives and the
men inside homes shouting and
slapping backs with free hands
(the others dipping chips in sauce
or grasping an ice-cold can)
and it's the American way of life:
everything in its rightful place
with nothing territorial or in charge -
and the fear of being safe.

2. Damp Patch

He walks down the street,
a damp patch on the trouser legs of
each knee where he'd knelt in the borders
tending to voluptuous flowers,
and thinks of a time when
children played on new bikes and
sold Kool-Aid from fruit-box tables,
where mothers walked babies in
polished chrome prams,
and people laughed or hollered
friendly greetings as if tomorrow would
surely be the same, the sun shine,
grass stay green in a summer's heat
and porch doors close with graceful ease.

3. Fishing

Did someone further down the Missouri
snare my bamboo fishing pole,
maybe by accident, and later
when the river slowed and lowered,
sit down calmly at its side and dangle
a line into the cold steady flow,
hook a fish I could only dream about
when so scared I'd dropped the pole into rapids
from a railway bridge up near Niobrara?
It is always possible that someone
will find triumph in another's fears
and it could be this optimism that drives us on
even if we only discover it years later
when hankering after an idea of hope.


1. Low Tolerance

She said I had a low tolerance to pain
but my response is that I didn't tear
the cushions to pieces with my hands or
smash all of the windows with my hands
or go to the shed to get the pliers
and rip out that bastard of a tooth
with my own two bare hands
because I was in so much agony at one time
that I could have done all of these things
and more but I didn't because I simply
endured and even watched a kid's TV show
about how boys never seemed to cry.
Plus the pills never really kicked in and I know
what was going on with the pain in my eye.

2. Whales Singing

What if you go unannounced
to your neighbour's house
and enter through the back door
because you hear music from a bedroom,
and for no good reason become
suspicious -- imagine an affair
between her and a former lover --
yet when you get to that door
turning the handle slowly and silently,
what you actually hear is the
recorded sound of whales singing,
soothing her to sleep and you
to a surprised, part-guilty but
intensely perfect sense of peace?

3. Mosquito

When the mosquito went to bite,
the sweat on his chest was like a lake
so it dived and skimmed then
slipped away, taking perhaps
comfort in the small-minded
grace of such spontaneous things;
and he was in his own way relieved
with the chance promoted by heat
and perspiration, although clearly
unaware of being unassailed,
so that between this pair
there was a balancing of forces which
viewed by the relative nature of things
just about crystallises perfection.

       Mike Ferguson 2005