Friday, September 11, 2015

light & shadow sutra

zinnias for all their red gold violet spectrum
beside the gray sidewalk
       appear neither glad nor sad at midday—

at midnight aspens in a ditch past your windows rustle
leaves as if rain-struck but
       no raindrops fall—last Sunday the

beads of mist on the rosa rugosa alba’s
spent blossom & I thought
        teardrops but that was another day—

today Wednesday a pair of Canada geese
paddle in the shadow of
        Burnside Bridge as the sun’s

photons kindle glints across the river as
though the water ran metal—
        Monday evening the wind chimes

outside your door strike together in bamboo
five-tone song without words ex-
        cept the words you add—

the carp thrashing iridescent in a fisherman’s
net in noon sun without
        shadows except those in my mind—

gray heron posed in Sunday’s drizzle on a
beached log like a man in a
        morning park’s fog practicing tai chi:

weight back relaxed torque spiraling through his
sinews—you recumbent on a distant
        lawn in the dark observing the Milky Way

spread out overhead a spangled map of photons &
voids referring to history &
        dreams one can’t say out loud

here in afternoon a bridge abutment to thin air &
green metal water & blinding sun
        hunkers between two ash trees

Jack Hayes
© 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

sutra with sunflowers & you

sunflowers aspire on Beech St: yellow explosion of
kitchen clocks—petals marking ticks against
permanence, which this instant is sky blue sky &

white sun we can’t see past or into—black
brush stroke of service wires below—contrails aloft—

everything in this story connects: you (not “you”)
in this photo planting a bodhi tree in another
country under another of these zillion suns: no less blinding—

my kitchen sink filled up with unwashed bowls & cups—
& you in white t-shirt posed with that sapling—I need to

make over my life—behind my back the yellow
wall clock’s hands sweep imperceptible circles
until the afternoon crescent lost outside in white

light sets itself in motion toward sunset’s moonrise
& at last the big seed heads bow in late afternoon

Jack Hayes
© 2015

Monday, August 24, 2015



The traveller who crossed the Halles at the end of summer
Was walking on her tiptoes
And across the sky despair furled its big calla lilies such beauties
And in the handbag was my dream that bottle of salt
Solely breathed by God’s godmother
Torpors spread out like steam
At the Smoking Dog Café
Where Pro and Con had just entered
The young woman could be seen only poorly and in profile
Was I dealing with the ambassadress of saltpeter
Or the white curve against the black background which we call thought
The ball of the innocents was in full swing
The lanterns caught fire slowly in the chestnut trees
The lady who cast no shadow knelt down on the Pont au Change
In Rue Gît-le-Cœur the pealing was no longer the same
Night’s promises were kept at last
The carrier pigeons the emergency kisses
Joined with the beautiful unknown one’s breast
Thrusting under the crepe of perfect meanings
A farm prospered in the midst of Paris
And its windows looked out on the Milky Way
But no one was living in it on account of the guests
The guests that one knows are more devoted than ghosts
The ones like that woman seemed to be swimming
And into love there enters a little of their substance
She takes them in
I am not the plaything of any sensory power
And yet the cricket that sang in the ashen hair
One evening near the statue of Etienne Marcel
Shot me a knowing glance
André Breton it said may pass through

André Breton
Translation by Jack Hayes

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

butterfly sutra

the flock of cabbage whites rises up from the sweet pea,
grapevines, blackberries twisted through chain link along
Vancouver—if they’re really a flock of ghosts basking in
August heat they remember nothing not even your
face—just imagine!—intent as they are on the parking
strip Queen Anne’s Lace, as oblivious to the howl of the 44
bus, only noting the woman pushing a blue
stroller when trying to occupy the same space, which
they do not want—if one in their midst is dreaming
he’s Chuang Tzu dreaming himself a butterfly no
change takes place
                if one in their midst is Chuang Tzu
dreaming he is the butterfly they are occupying the same space

i think i want to occupy the same space as you for
moments in time on this August afternoon—& what says
desire like a queen size mattress taking the sun on a
brown lawn flanked by Japanese maples?—they remember
nothing not even your asymmetrical face & as always
you’re elsewhere—still I glimpse my reflection in this
plate glass window—beard streaked white as if this flock of
cabbage whites was about to rise up—as if
they’re really a flock of ghosts electrified by
desire & the parking strip’s purple clover
                    the same space
from the inside not reflected & all at once

if i could set aside desire in a box my grandfather carved with rose blossoms
if i could set aside desire in a box my father crafted with two veneer hearts on top
if i could set aside desire in a box of ashes

this ghost that ghost the ghost inscribed with your full name


Jack Hayes
© 2015

Monday, August 17, 2015

"On Death's Road"

On Death's Road
On Death's road,
My mother met a huge ice-floe;
She wanted to speak,
It was already too late,
A huge cotton ice-floe.
She looked at us my brother and me,
And then she cried.
We told her— truly absurd lie— that we understood completely.
Then she smiled this delightful smile a really young girl's,
It was truly her,
Such a pretty smile, almost mischievous;
Then she was snatched into the Opaque.

Henri Michaux
translation by Jack Hayes


Image links to its source on
1927 drawing by Henri Michaux

Monday, July 20, 2015

pastoral in negative space #5

a double sunflower gazing east on this scorching
morning takes note of nothing except sunlight's
spectra—for you, the red lean-to, tin roof weighted by
truck tires, sheep fence heaped & spilling from the front,
is inseparable from the surroundings: power lines, a
magpie preening on a stop sign on the lookout for death—
no anger no sorrow no despair in a landscape until
you take it in—sure, the rocky south face of the mesa—
basalt, morning glory, backhoe—glares sun-blistered—
but the meadowlark trilling at noon from a mullein in
yellow flower could make you stop an instant, thinking:
the brilliance of the cosmos within a feathered body—&
your vision evaporates on August’s desperate wind

Jack Hayes
© 2015

Sunday, July 19, 2015

pastoral in negative space #4

buzz of grasshoppers in mid afternoon:
it electrifies the tall grass—black faced hornet
darting around the pump house—vespula
vulgaris creeping under the soffits—across the
highway’s heat shimmer baby blue & white
bee boxes—landscape of insects dry pasture &
wire—mailbox at the fork in the gravel road
(more wasps)—another quarter mile, the pasture’s bales
cast shadows in a transitory henge—a gunmetal gray
horse trailer a rust orange tractor a heap of railroad
ties along the gravel drive—atavistic ridgeline
eastward consumed in last July’s wildfire—
skeletal pines halting black in your range of vision

Jack Hayes
© 2015