Black Sunset, Blurred Time                                                          

 

Pall sky

sun sets, unseen

but I know time

more or less

as crows take flight

eliminating day

 

Across darkening backdrops in grey

I cluster and count

two hundred

five hundred

one thousand

until numbers thin, but not end

they never seem to end

 

I follow their flight, across

city skyline, broad dark swathes

en route to rookery homes

nestled suburban pockets

of towering cottonwoods

 

Corvids bisecting time

as they do, bending space continua

in fluid winking bands

ushering Stygian chaperones

 

One time I was there

a tar coloured night

blacktop parking lot

just before twelve, I believed

 

Headlights swept around to illuminate

endless gleaming eyes, infinite

feathery quilt, ebony as sky, that night

undulating as it breathed

 

Clawed feet in thousands, shuffling

a chain gang, shifting through space

between days, where IÕm left

in the midst of utter black, enfolding

two hesitant beams, wherever

whenever I am, alive

with incomprehensible dread

clinging to an instant of jet

somewhere

Hitchcock, Poe exchange a look

as Hawking just sat there, grinning his sideways smile

 

 

Lewis Chessmen                                                                              

 

Removed from the crowd

in a spotlight

with chessmen

 

granted visitation rights

in stagnant museum air

hospital hush

 

footfalls fade away

down vaulted marble corridor

dissipating echo of leather

 

peering into lit glass, intrigued, bemused

bent deep at the knee, I become giant

beholding Lilliputian companions

 

glass walls, of course

dampen whatÕs being said –

planning, their subsequent play

 

any day now knight seems to say to bishop and pawn

weÕll take cover behind a castle

escape when lights are out

 

bishop stifles a yawn, summons the will

to offer a placating smile, IÕve waited this long

he muses, whatÕs a thousand years more?

 

given their odyssey:

cetacean to hunter, craftsman

trader and merchant, crossing Celtic Sea

 

to Hebridean outlier

en route to LiffeyÕs Dark Pool

planted like ivory seeds

 

until harvested

plucked like potatoes

plated and served in the capital

 

six dozen pairs of minuscule eyes, wide with wonder

being here, is it that you made it out alive?

or the fact you imitate pheasants, now stuffed under glass?

 

king and queen deadpan, above it  

despite being in the midst, daises

raised ever so slightly, in separate squares

 

I can nearly touch carved toothy tusk

through glass, trace each tiny notch

the polish of centuries

 

scouring scrub of seasalt

spindrift, sweat

and concentration

 

knightÕs now commanding another pawn

that wonÕt move, bishopÕs smile warms

imperceptibly, knight exudes a silent harrumph

 

no longer outsized, IÕm

with them, amongst them

pondering our next move

 

when I sense the return of soft leather

to stamp out this spotlight caesura

and haul me from this odyssey

 

 

Double Scoop Blueberry                                                                

 

            Baden Powell Trail: Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay, August 2016

 

Four days of lonely mountain

ridges, summits, cutting

through evergreen hollows

surrounded in Emily Carr

 

dirt and rock and mud

at times no trail at all

judge and jury hung

over my shoulder

questioning being here

 

woodpecker knock (Come in!)

amber icicle, resin scent

pine nuts spit in soil

muffled breeze, twig fingers

thoughtful scratch, I wonder

 

sagging boardwalk snakes

through checkerboard lakes

and marsh, the only path

this pockmarked patch

heaped with blueberry bear shit

choice to make

unwavering judge and jury

carry me on

 

snap of branches to my right

moves behind me, grows

to cracking boughs

I call

 

no reply

 

knowing, the bear and I, alone

close in, draw near

another choice, itÕs clear, I sing

a wavering song, continue on

 

at Horseshoe Bay contend

with unmarked cliffs

long lost, I scramble-slide, from

granite to cedar, hemlock safety

eventually emerge, yelp victory

 

next day I read the bear

knocked down another man

mauled him for a while

stood upright – a mugger

with blueberry breath

then dropped and lumbered off

 

my bear? I canÕt be sure

donÕt know, donÕt care

 

the mauled man is okay

 

most days

 

© Bill Arnott

 

Bio:  Vancouver author, poet, songwriter Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of Dromomania and Gone Viking. Sales generate donations to numerous charities. His poetry, articles and reviews are published in Canada, the US, UK, Europe and Asia. BillÕs series Left Coast Poetry Beat is published by the League of Canadian Poets and the Federation of BC Writers.