back toJacket2
   Jacket 34 — October 2007        link Jacket 34 Contents page        link Jacket Homepage

   Feature: Canada
   link Contents List

Ruth Taylor

Five poems:

Prelude (A Poet’s Work)
Closing Time
Love’s Beams
Secret Agents
With Numbness Wrapped Round Each Live Nerve

This piece is about 8 printed pages long.
It is copyright © Ruth Taylor and Jacket magazine 2007.

Prelude (A Poet’s Work)

What is the poet’s Work?
And why and oh why and oh why
To be in the world and sometimes of it
To be of the world and sometimes in it
To be out of it and sometimes with it
To spit out bitmapped stars, earth, sky
To deceive and to wax bucolic
With Magus, Mystic, Alcoholic,
In a labyrinth, with dread absinthe
And keep callow sanity at bay

To bay at new vintage moons
In sultry dew smooched gloam
And for the sake of it
Lounge dishabilled a-shamble
In briar and bramble
And on cool deep woods loam

To be spaced-out
In inner/outer space
Indifferent and laconic, gung-ho, sardonic,
Verbose, catatonic, meek, supersonic,
Grim, austere and euphonic,
Biological, prophetic, incoherent, moronic. . .
To offer a hot sweet sour and bitter tonic

To love the wrong person

To have too much occasionally
And too little most of the time

To record the pique and rasp
Of random rain
The goad of slick glissando
The miscellany of loose desires
The reproach of harvest coloured hair
The twist in a Liar’s stare
The Lie in the Exorcist’s prayer
The relief of a yawn’s ritardando

To blow people away
And to blow them off
To skate a lemniscate before hostile judges
Between extremes of knowing

To love the wrong person
And to wait too long

To never wait long enough
For rogues and rakes and wraiths and wretches
For freaks and fakes and fiends and fetches
To write down phone numbers
And lose them

To have one too many,
One too few
To compose eloquent curses
To distribute blessings and boons
To memorize lines from Looney-Tunes
To dream canned gods and goddesses
And give a damn

To be the victim of a headmail spam
To travel with a backpack full of rocks
To extract a coyote’s tooth
To grow thistles

To dance naked in sheet lightning
And crank up the heat
To be frightening
And love the wrong person

To sometimes be of it
To run red lights occasionally,
To trip while carrying something delicate
And to watch hockey distractedly
Not caring if anyone scores

To cruise the moon in moonless topless bars
To tap out bawdy tunes
On the hoods of police cars
To be apart from it
And a party to it all

To croon somber solos
To moan out laughter
To love the wrong person

To love loving the wrong person
Paradoxically, pathologically
To roll an oak wheel
Down a blind Babylonian alley
To jump through silver hoops
Held up by flatulent Shriners

To not always love
The same wrong person

To love a different wrong person
As often as is necessary
To leave and arrive on cue

To dally among the stars
Hang out in bars
And love everyone

To be in the stars
And of them

To write poems
That are misunderstood.

Closing Time

At last the last muse
Has shuffled out the door
And I struggle to heave a sigh
And to worm out of the sigh
One real tone, even a groan
From this zone of freedom
This season without
The subtle whining in the synapses
Of low grade brain infection.

Sure, the thunder still emanates
Up through the balls of my feet
And the hectic sky
In cyan chorus reiterates its odes.

Some sets of human eyes
Are beautiful with mortal shine
And the comet wine’s
Been bottled.

I no longer see the hands beyond the hands
Lips are merely flesh
And some shapes are sublime
And some are ugly with grime
And some are torn by time
And some speak in rhymes
And some are soft with secrets
And some are crooked with crimes

And oh the hunkering bodies
The awkward limbs
The dancer’s spine
The hymns to earth in the lover’s hair
The freshly showered morning bodies
The cowering bones of air

The wind in hollow bones that chime
The heavy footfalls of approaching grief
The scurrying steps of fleeing years
The stealthy sabotage of heartbreak
Love’s gumshoe/soft shoe,
Transcendental thief.

And from this edge
No brinkmanship
And from this brink
No dazzle
And from this harp
No old/new trill
No intoxication
No song

Spring thunder
Forbidden sleep
Green lightning

Love’s Beams


We are always/never strangers in the stars
And whether far or near in galactic miles
Let’s not rue the spontaneous smiles
That lit an evening’s sorrows and wiles
With the real thing
Breaking and borrowing a string
And a tentative smoky entente
Among badly tuned guitars

It’s terror to play the bewildering cards
That ace and deuce and trump do tend
Toward catastrophic harmonies
Of lover, soul-mate and friend.
So at least, at most, as Thrice Great Allies
And best first mates we’ll tack
Into brighter winds that wend
With sea-shanties o’er rip tides
Where undertows bend
Strong rigging and ropes
And ride out the trend
Of an insane age, foolish and fearless
And barmy as bards


Now in limited onshore leaves
We sometimes play at mixing potions,
Trading schemes and chords
And helping slim chances
Guard the hoards
In Energy’s smithy
By tempering swords
To blades of strong grass
And drinking gourds
And trill with wee hour cricket pipes
The thrills that chase Clear Light
Into dancing dawn’s first ray

So wisely winks the glacial ice
In July’s humid crystal.
We dream in sweats
And sweat in dreams
To know and remember
In a heartbeat’s expectant systole
The heavy lightness
Of the beams

Secret Agents

When you sip from hidden sleep
And read the dead star scrolls
When you chant the mantras of coalescence
And can synch out-of-body mutual volts
Into antigrav quintessence

When you hear the broad band
Waves and splashes
From a portable ring
Of faery stones, hell,
Then you can dig the metatones
And the funny frequency maps

Between rare power naps
Skulls full of solar wind
And gulping spring planets
We’ve already paid the price
In monsters of the slickest sort

So if the fix is in
Or the scam’s the groove
Don’t move, doctor the spin
Or stoop to retort
Just deep six the vision
In your guts and genes
And be
A True Free Lover
With no liens.

With Numbness Wrapped Round Each Live Nerve

With numbness wrapped round each live nerve
With necks and other bones broken
With limbs near gangrenous and madness
Like a clock face swarmed over with flies
With freaked-out animal terrors
And a cussing id that rents the night
With the round world like some spitball
Striking with ludicrous strikeouts,
With cheap-shot triple entendres etc

If, as a way to begin, an eerie inner voice
Would moan some moldy autumn music
Or rake the nerves into loose coalitions

If, as a way to buy some time,
Winking visions waylay the messenger
And overtake sweet wild rhyme
With strong preserving spice

If love were mulled not cloven
Or sharpened with mace
And a wanton wandering bard could take
A down-wind hint of far off victuals and provisions

Then would we never balk
The sacred choice to risk and risk again
Old stand-by habits for a new mistake
And taste in our first words a kiss and a fission?

Ruth Taylor

Ruth Taylor

Ruth Taylor (1961–2006) was born in Lachine, Quebec. She taught English literature at John Abbot College from 1986 to 2006. She is the author of The Drawing Board (1988), The Dragon Papers, a finalist for the A.M. Klein Prize (1994), and the posthumously published collection Comet Wine (2007).

Acknowledgments: Ruth Taylor’s poems appear with the permission of Endre Farkas.

Copyright Notice: Please respect the fact that all material in Jacket magazine is copyright © Jacket magazine and the individual authors and copyright owners 1997–2010; it is made available here without charge for personal use only, and it may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, or used for any other purpose.

The Internet address of this page is