Ghost Ships Founder

Gulf Coast Two by Mark A. Harrison

This is where we go II

Ghost ships founder
off the shores of Elysium
we came here to find
the answer to something
lost in the Aether
conceptions stumble,
presumptions fall apart,
like paper in the rain, belief
in the inevitable lost
like leaves in the gutter
no longer individual
but indistinct, irresolute
handholds slipping
the long fall into uncertainty
no longer buoyed by
memories of bliss
Is it fog or billowing smoke
that hides the enemy’s sails?
Is it fate, or blind chance
that becalms us here on
glass still waters?
Only the albatross & the moon know,
only the wheeling gulls and the absent wind
and they’ll never tell.

T.H.

Wrapping Paper Trees

A Triggering – Art by Mark A. Harrison

Another spring poem, from back in 2014. composed while walking homeward on a spring-soaked afternoon past low-rent apartment buildings.

Immersion

Improvised flower vases
and wrapping paper trees
roots like mountains
seen from the eyes
of circling eagles
at once emerging
and settling, growth
and decay, no more
contrary than rose
petals and thorns,
a discordant symmetry:
the cosmic wail
of distorted electric guitar
spelling out the names
of stars and forgotten
background radiation,
pain that verges on ecstasy,
a ringing of celestial strings
struck with the well-worn pick
of disillusioned immortals;

How a stranger’s
intangible yearning
can translate through
the ephemeral code
of electronic pulses
and magnetic fields,
a fixed point enacted
in the so-called past
becomes immediate
present, time and space
erased in an instant
transformed into a perfect
moment of rebirth,
a dagger in the mind
piercing to the core;
it leaves no trace
of bloody injury, only
a shedding of unnecessary skin,
a lowering of barriers
to permit this temporary
osmosis of the spirit

T.H.

On the Beauty of the Common Rock Dove

Photo by Mark A. Harrison

On the Beauty of the Common Rock Dove

Noble silhouette
against the pale blue sky
under the serene white crescent
of the four o’clock moon

(meanwhile, across town)

A freedom of starlings
congregates below
the peeling green windows
while reflections of flight
in warped bulging glass
give weight to the theory
of glass as a liquid
flowing at the speed
of war between
the sun’s fickle warmth
and the ever-hungry shade

T.H.

Short Story Sunday: Pete & Florence

Keeping it light this week, with a little story I wrote back in my university days.

Pete watched Florence climb up the wall and across the ceiling, sipping his chocolate, and thinking of spring. Spring was one of those things that most people knew existed, somewhere, but had never seen. Like the North Pole, or whales, or giant squid.

Florence never used to climb walls; it was something she’d just taken up recently, on account of a phrase she’d read in a book: “Bob was so stir crazy, trapped in that godforsaken bunker buried twelve stories deep, he was practically climbing the walls.”

So Florence decided to try this new pastime of practically climbing the dull aged stucco. The key, she said, was to think each move through methodically. Otherwise, it would be more of a chaotic scramble than a practical ascent.

Once she got going, she just couldn’t stop.

Read the Full Story…

Angels with Tommy Guns

Jax by Mark A. Harrison
Photo: Jax by Mark A. Harrison

Wrote this one after seeing a hilariously bad B movie that featured, as you might guess, angels with BFGs.

I dreamed I saw Gabriel
holding a Tommy gun
who knew he fought gangsters
in his spare time
his eyes changing colour in the
shifting light
he walks through the mist like
some dime-store cowboy, like
an anime demon hunter
black coat flapping in the breeze
breaking the rhythm with his
thrift store army boots
scars cover his body like
a maze of tattoos, his
story etched in blood and skin
and ink dark as sin
shedding light, leaking goodness
into darkest corners, from
countless ancient wounds, he’s
an avenger, and a saviour, and
a damn good shot, so you’d
best be on your game
he can see right through your soul
if he lays his hands upon you
you’ll never be the same, so you’d
better run, run and hide
‘cuz luck is something you ain’t got
when god is on the other side.

T.H.

Flash Fiction Friday: Nine Ambiguous Cats

Thought I’d mix things up a bit on Fridays and Sundays with the occasional flash fiction / short story to complement the daily poetry posts. This is a fun one from a while back, following a three-word prompt. I’m betting you can guess what one of the three words was!

Nine ambiguous cats looked out over the night from their perch on the low stone wall. Their yellow eyes stared down at the city lights spread out like a child’s Lite Brite, all the gaudy colours of the casinos and X-rated movie parlours mere innocent winking baubles at this distance. The cats’ tails swished in unison. They were silent for a long time, still shadows in deeper darkness. They waited until the full moon had cleared the horizon, and then they began to sing. While the families slept in their cozy suburban nests; while the shift workers grunted and swore over broken machinery in the sheet metal factory; while the night walkers prowled and preened, the cats sang. It was not the usual nails-on-blackboard skirling wail that wakes you up in the middle of the night. It was beautiful, perfect, nine-part harmony. The cats believed, you see, that they were singing the moon across the sky. And perhaps they were right. One never knows about these kind of things.

T.H.

Starfish Supernova

Asteroid Field by Mark A. Harrison
Image: Asteroid Field by Mark A. Harrison

Another one from the archives, for Day 2 of National Poetry Month. This one is clearly meant to be spoken out loud. Imagine a curly-haired beat poet on a cramped stage in some underground dive, with free-form bongos in the background.

Parting the waves for the starfish supernova
oriental carpet fish tickling my toes
Dancing the raves down through asteroid alley
girls holding hands drive the boys insane
You hold your ideals too close to your heart
suffocating them in your tight embrace
You feel too much, so you curl up inside
dwarf star material waiting to explode
You could be birthing galaxies, exhaling nebulae
dangling your feet over the lips of black holes
You could be skating the event horizon
look ma, no hands, no training wheels here
But instead you hunch over this dull white page
gripping the pen like it might try to run
try to make an escape Houdini would be proud of
leaving you only with a ghost of an echo
of a memory of a dream
No way to capture it, bottle it, seal it with wax
But what does it matter?
You weren’t going to share it with anyone anyway
Don’t Bogart those neurons, baby
I want my share, want to go down singing
to the county fair in the wide blue sky
Look out world, here I come
the invisible one with the bitten tongue
and a page full of squiggly black lines.

T.H.

The First Breath of Spring

Photo by Mark A. Harrison

Starting off the first day of National Poetry Month with one that didn’t make it into WTWBT, but feels right for the first day of April, when the snow has receded into only the darkest, coldest corners, the birds are singing non-stop, squirrels are running rampant, and green is sprouting everywhere. But at the same time, in the back of your mind, you know there’s still an ice storm or two on the way before the month is over.

[Original title: Fifteen degrees of February]

When the first breath of spring
catches you up, teases your
heart with false promises,
blushing green peeking from
fresh damp earth, emerging
islands amidst the fast
melting snow; when even
discarded skins of chocolate
bars and dollar store bags
seem to herald new beginnings:
life from destruction, devouring
the old bones, bleeding
ice from the river’s edge.

Even the birds are deceived,
filling the air with distracted chatter,
while free roaming dogs and
preschool children run madly through
the squelching mud, feeling the shift;
and yet, the cynical voice reminds
you that it’s far too soon, winter
won’t let us go that easily.

To hell, you say, with rationality,
and walk faster, as if by
sheer defiance you can escape
the warning howl of the cold
grey clouds, wind pushing you
back into the inevitable grip
of winter.

T.H.

It’s here! WtWBT Unboxing

Hey look, we made a thing! Didn’t want to jump the gun and share anything until we got the test print back and made sure everything stuck to the paper. The first box of books arrived today, 12 in total, all shrink wrapped and ready to bring to the ArtSpace Book + Zine Fest next Saturday (Feb. 29). We’ll be frantically printing up a bunch of new art cards over the next few days to bring along as well. Website updates are next in line, but it might be a week or two before we’ll have individual prints available through Mark’s new site, we’ll make an announcement once that’s all set up. In the meantime, enjoy the brief preview!

Looking a bit battered, hope everything inside is okay!
So far so good!
Front cover, sans shrink wrap.
Shiny!
Yep, definitely sticks to the page.
Back cover. Check it out, it’s got an ISBN and everything! Like an actual real book made by people who know what they’re doing, or something.

So there you have it. That thing we said we were hoping to do for the past… er… decade? century? Just goes to show – never give up on your dreams, folks. Now if I can just get the other two things out the door before the end of the year (yeah yeah, novel, harp CD, ahem, working on it), we’ll have a perfect trifecta. Onward and upward, to infinity and beyond! And all that jazz.

Winter Update

Another Look Out the Window, Original Art by Mark A. Harrison

Another Look Out the Window by Mark Harrison

The not-so-secret Poetry/Art Project is nearing completion! Should be going to print by the time we hit the official start of winter on Dec. 21st (although if Peterborough is any indication, winter is already well underway).  We’ll be updating the Project page soon, including a sneak peak of the cover. In the meantime, here are a few shots from one of M’s recent snowy photo walks.