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Jacket 18 — August 2002   |   # 18  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |

George Murray

Two poems

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The Weathervane

The weather has suddenly become inarticulate,
unable to confess its own crimes
much less finger those who abused it.

It is time to parent the monsters of this world,
time to police the rabbits and hamsters – it is time
to execute the innocents in ingenious machines.

Does no one else feel it? The pressure?
The unease? There have been predictions
of a whole lot of an unspecified something

for quite some time – occurrences so far down
one man’s philosophical ladder
they invariably rest at the top of another’s!

The continents are as moody as a life-raft lost
deep at sea – the passengers as hopeless
and desolate as well.

In extreme situations a man might deduct strips
of himself from existence in order to take
advantage of the shade offered by prison bars.

During the good weather a bee gets caught between
the panes of a window – everyone in the room
is safe from its sting, but still uncomfortable.

Perhaps they can’t help coming to the conclusion
that, as it looks for a way out of a trap that
was never set and can’t be seen,

things are going undone, purposes unfulfilled.
If life keep getting better, then it will always
be the best – or so logic dictates – but nothing

is so memorable it cannot be forgotten.
In the worst weather, while God ignored
Noah’s polite “when” and poured down the flood

as though it were hot tea over the back
of a hand, the weathervanes of the world
were repeatedly rusted still and torn free

by rains and gale-force winds – shaking a negative,
a panicked indecision of direction – the shape
at one moment a crowing rooster, or pointing dog,

or human palm, at the next a pile of dust blowing
away beneath a lightning rod – the house
suddenly quiet and unable to foretell weather

in anything but the most immediate fashion.

The Skeleton

He came across the exposed skeleton in what might
once have been a wooded glen, hillside,

or gravel quarry – lying on the surface of what could
once have been rich soil or salt – long since

become indistinguishable, turned to dust
and drifted off – the burial pose, its fallen posture,

an accident of circumstance – the knees bent aside,
arms laid out beside the ribs – the bones,

untouched by human hands since being pushed out
of the dirt, still organized in a suggestion

of the species, but just out of reach
of one another, the cartilage eaten up, blown away,

or scorched out – making the pattern seem
constructed, artistic, set out as though

only recently forgotten – disassembled
by a master builder, tagged for recognition

and eventual renovation – a dismantled engine
cleaned and oiled but left in a moment

of distraction – perhaps a noise outside, an explosion,
maybe a fire racing up the hillside,

through the woods – the mechanic, or technician,
or engineer, wiping his hands, stripping out of himself,

stepping down from the workbench and moving outside
to take a last look at what once wasn’t a desert.

Photo of George Murray

George Murray’ s latest book of poems, The Cottage Builder’s Letter (McClelland & Stewart, 2001), was just released in the US. He has been published in many magazines and journals, including, Alphabet City, Descant, Exile, The Iowa Review, The Mid-American Review, Nerve, The Painted Bride Quarterly, Pequod, Rampike, and Slope. He lives in New York City and is a contributing poetry editor at Maisonneuve. These poems are from a manuscript tentatively titled ‘The Hunter’ and scheduled for publication with McClelland & Stewart in spring 2003.

Jacket 18 — August 2002  Contents page
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