(“Real Life” sample)

Al Purdy at the window
looks over the farm while
the peacock fans a white goose
and the evening sun flames
on the burnished leaves of the giant maple.
Then he turns to me and says:
“Real life — can you imagine it?”

Douglas Fir,
Garryana Oak,
miles and miles of them,
reaching down to blue ocean
where illuminated ferry boats
glow unearthly in a sea mist.

Can you imagine it?
Is it real?
What’s real?

You couldn’t,
you shouldn’t,
you wouldn’t.
You might get shot in Salvador.
A redback spider could bite your ass.
The parrot will say good morning.
An igneous rock hardens near the earth’s core.
The aliens are introduced to Elvis Presley.
Can you imagine that?
Yes, I think I could.
Elvis Presley always was an alien.

For that matter,
who could imagine
Al Purdy,
an ageing poet at the window,
and is he real?

Real life — a trick, a joke
a quest to find what shouldn’t exist at all —
the spirit?
The only part of the body which doesn’t
survive the atomic swirl of chemical
action and reaction?

Who could have imagined all of this?
Not God in a vacuum some place near
where the Vega galaxy originated?
It’s too hard to imagine
a vacuum with imagination,

and harder still to define
God as an explosion
with such creative flare.

The big bang invented finger painting?
The lord of the unreal universe
designed bad porno pictures?
30 foot long tapeworms?
What kind of God is that?
What kind of universe is this?
Who could have imagined it?

Or did it imagine itself?
And once imagination was invented,
quasars, the Doppler effect, and macrophagia
came along real easy.

Alright, so God had no idea
what It was doing when It put the match
to the ultimate gas stove — maybe singed Its eyelashes
back a bit,
and shortly after that the first elephant was born.

That’s correct,
out of nowhere
a deep and resonant voice announces
the creation of a magic universe:
“It’s party-time!”

Real life?
I have my doubts.
If this is real,
what is fantasy?

Give me yūgen,
give me duende,
the Holy Ghost
holy, holy, holy …
and the unholy as well.

Among the antique asanas and the polyps,
among the horses and the turnips,
among the yellow-jacket conspiracies,
all that has meaning is sex and murder,
and flesh or greens dangling from the mouth.
and perhaps a little nap in the afternoon
among the chlorophyllic cells reaching for light
like alcoholics of the sun needing a fix
near the leafless cacti and sad tropics
dreamed up
by a poèt maudit on a cloudy day.

A world where Au can be manufactured from Pb,
where{ y+1 OVER SQRT 73×46 } LONGDIV 3756- PI sin =(a)
where (a) has no meaning except what we give it
and who has figured out the meaning of meaning yet?

And who sings the cantos,
and who loves the Mandelbrot equation,
Godel’s proof, and the Gordian knot?

And who has no bones
and who loves her bones
and who is loved for her bones,
or at least the meat that surrounds them?
And who is the predator and who is the prey
when we promise ourselves the return
of the vacuum called annihilation?

Holy the spirit
and holy those who defy the spirit.
The run. The race. The tranquillity —
and the run again.

Pheidippides at Marathon, Emma Goldman,
Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America,”
the raven eating the eye of the lamb,
Jupiter’s moons, Yoruba witch doctors,
and that squashed cockroach on a Peruvian highway.

Here’s to the cymbidium and liebenstraum and bonsai,
also the coelopa vanduzeei — a fly I ate
accidentally when my mouth was open in the evening.

This has been one hell of a ride
so far.
I wonder what comes next.

O the delight in the autumn.
O the snow on John Lauder’s Walking Stick.
O the light
and O the dark
and O the laughter that lives between the extremes.
as we rise from our post-Jurassic beds and sing
the outlandish sun,

until our mouths fill with dirt
and the mind becomes unreal,

and that is also reality.