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Stephen Morrissey

Three poems:

“I am aiming...”
Three Dream Visits From the Psyche
A Day in 1963

This piece is about 6 printed pages long.
It is copyright © Stephen Morrissey and Jacket magazine 2007.

“I am aiming...”

I am aiming for the hermetic statement
for the totally inaccessible wotnot

for stardust & gibberish
& a wind that blows up suddenly

& rubs its back against the side of the house
creating new music and new seasons

spring is a butterfly that passes
before our eyes & then is gone

a sound that is shaped like a mouth
& then two sounds which hold lengthy conversations

& finally a blizzard in which there is only one sound
which is a finger rubbing against a pane of glass

and outside of the window
we notice that the stars

have assumed new places in the cosmos
thereby creating in the morning newspapers

a thirteenth astrologic sign

we live at 4350 montclair avenue & it is
the 10 millionth house on this street

which stretches around the world
and then passes by the front door

& from the picture window we are watching all humanity
pass by in search of a job or a piece of meat

or a bit of bread to gnash between gums
either cadillacs or a silver arrow

or a horserace or a bullock cart & all of china
comes wearing a blue suit made of cotton

the buddha boethius a bronze replica of igor stravinsky
the pope and the entire olympic team representing

several outlying planets & beyond
pass & the 4 horsemen pass

until all humanity passes
with their collective bundles of worry & anxiety

a barking dog dostoyevsky’s desk executions
in bangladesh & the north prairies

of snow & wind & a season in heaven & a season in hell

Three Dream Visits From the Psyche


I dreamed of a girl driving
her old blue Volkswagen
through a deep pool,
water spraying up
on both sides of the Beetle.
When I complained
the car might stall
she threw the keys at my face.
I could feel them hit my glasses.
This was Psyche visiting me,
water the depth
of dream and memory:
the old car this body,
a vehicle carrying me
through the streets of life;
the key to open a lock,
a mystery to which I was blind,
even wearing glasses.


Then came a second dream:
a ten foot brown bear
standing on its hind legs
trying to escape a backyard
confinement, one leg almost
over the top of the chain link fence.
I walk faster, afraid of the bear
attacking me. Then from behind
a frightened kangaroo appears,
emaciated and mangy-looking.
It is hopping in long strides,
fleeing from abuse.
Suddenly the owner arrives
to return the animal to captivity.
I tell him the kangaroo needs a vet
to heal his wounds.
The owner speaks only Russian,
his behaviour is intimidating.
I enter another yard
where a horse is tied down,
held on the ground by ropes.
As I stand looking
at the horse’s still body
I notice a single, large eye
move warily and look at me,
the horse unable to struggle
legs bound by ropes and fear.


The third night I dreamed
of a wooden tower,
half of it sealed off
for fifty years.
The nuns who use the tower
never enter the sealed-off side
but know it exists.
I go inside it,
find a few old desks
and chairs, the paneled walls,
windows that allow you
an obscured view
of the nun’s quarters.
Later, I stand outside
looking at the wooden tower.
It is in a Scandinavian country,
where the landscape is austere.
The tower stands alone.
In the distance is where I live,
in a grey, wooden house
that has not been painted
for many years,
it seems to be typical
of the places where people live
in these parts.

A Day in 1963

When I was young
Mother married a wealthy man.
He had been to private schools,
belonged to the social class
of wealth, breeding, and accomplishment
grey flannel trousers, a blue blazer
with a school crest on the left breast pocket.
His intention was to send me
to a private school, like him.
So off I went one day for testing,
admittance based on my IQ
and ability to do math.
Was I, of Irish Catholic
and northern English descent,
fit to wear the school tie
of a Westmount private school?

I was not prepared for much that day,
fearful and disinterested,
sitting with other boys
of greater ambition,
trying to figure out impossible equations
in a dismal, half-empty classroom.
The rich of Westmount
looked down on all of us —
French and English-speaking alike —
they had money to prove their worth.
But I remember the French boy
at summer camp, just a few months
later, finding a photograph
of the Queen of England
in an old newspaper as we lit
a camp fire, stabbing the photo
with a hunting knife,
and I was bewildered
by his vehemence,
not understanding how the Queen
had much to do with Canada.
That was the year
the F.L.Q. placed bombs
in mail boxes, one exploding
near a Westmount school.
The old order
could not resist the new,
now only a shell is left
of old and new; and everywhere
people blame their defeat
on anybody but themselves.

Stephen Morrissey

Stephen Morrissey

Stephen Morrissey was born in Montreal. Morrissey is the author of seven books of poetry, including Mapping the Soul: New and Selected Poems (1998). A French translation of his The Mystic Beast (1997), was published as La bête mystique (2004). He co-authored, with Carolyn Joyce, The Aquarian Symbols (2000). He and Carolyn Zonailo co-founded Coracle Press, which publishes online chapbooks ( Stephen Morrissey is a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada, The League of Canadian Poets, PEN Canada, and the Quebec Writers’ Federation.

Acknowledgments: “I am aiming...”. From The Trees of Unknowing, (Véhicule Press, 1978). “Three Dream Visits From the Psyche”. From The Vehicule Poets Now. (The Muses’ Company, 2004).

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