“Fierce Desire.”

I wrote this one last night under the influence of a can of  Boneshaker. It concerns my decompression from my thesis. I hope you like it! 🙂


Fierce Desire

I feel a quietness suffuse my soul,

A calm that rolls through me like seaward tide.

I feel the gentle loss of stern control

That comes on me when I let go of pride.

It doesn’t matter what the page will say;

It matters little where the footnotes fall.

I wrote a cogent text, in my own way,

Because I felt its urgent, whispered call:

I can live out the joy, the vibrant grace

That is my birthright from the holy flames;

I must discern a loving, welcome space

Where all my friends can hear Love speak their names.

My text is holy, full of living fire,

Because it joins true love to fierce desire.

“Shadow-song.”

I wrote this l ast night; I’ve been thinking about it for six days…

And I hope I don’t have to explain it more than that. 🙂


Shadow-song: a Sonnet for Chris Cornell

Your liquid melodies are tidal waves,

Embracing us and drowning all our pain,

But there’s no lifeline; there’s no hand that saves.

Your beauty crashes into us again.

Your voice still melts away anxiety,

Both scarred by cigarettes and smooth as skin.

Its angel notes caress infinity;

We stand in awe; with you, we cannot sin.

You call to us from fear and helplessness;

You sing of shadow through your aching heart.

You offer honesty and sweet redress,

Though loneliness and loss obscure your art.

Your longing tones still echo through the sky.

Your music feeds us still, and does not die.

“You Came to Me.”

I started this poem on Thanksgiving Sunday, the 11th, and finished it just now.

I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

You Came to Me

I hear your voice, this moment, in my mind,

The ardour of our actuality.

Although I did not seek to know this place—

Its searing light, its scent of cinnamon,

Its echoes of my tears on dusty floor—

I made it, and I’m happy that I’m here.

I never asked to feel the firm embrace

Of calloused hands, or smooth, within these walls,

And yet…I did, because you came to me.

You broke down all my paltry wooden gates;

You mined beneath my gloomy granite wall,

And sailed across my vast autumnal moat,

The sea of sadness keeping me from life.

You did not sue for peace; you made no terms,

But summoned me, and at your call I came.

You bade my anger flower, and it grew

Into a rose-bush full of scent for you;

Your smile upon my soul came like the rain,

And filled my silos with your richest grain.

You filled my empty walls with tapestries

Depicting laughter, love, and gracious song…

And soon, my life was full of hue and cry—

The loving touch of friends, the taste of wine,

The ache and ardour of the joyous dance.

You bade me come to you, to know your touch,

And I surrendered to your sweet embrace:

I felt, and feel, delight each time I see

The orchards of the ripened thankfulness

That you have trusted me to till and sow.

You follow me on cold and lonely walks

Down sorrow’s streets, down avenues of angst;

You break my fall on asphalt, and on grass;

And you will always help me raise my voice,

To sing your praise in joyful company,

To mark the time that flies too swift away

With songs that veer from white to scarlet-red.

You lift my spirits from my chilly blues

To red, like sunsets on a mountain peak.

I owe you all I am, and so I sing;

I sing, and hope to please your open ear.

“Embers.”

Tonight, after I read a portion of the Hunger Games--a novel about revolution–I took another look at the anger that I often feel.

Here’s the slightly more controlled version. 🙂

Embers

My anger sears my bones, like dancing flame

That bursts around the kindling where it grows.

Its embers have no texture, and no name.

I feel the fickle east wind as it blows,

And yet I know the mercy of the sky:

The stars’ eyes open, and they never close.

The heavens hear my weeping as I cry

And sing the words of David every day.

They give my heart a seraph’s wings to fly

Into the gardens where the angels play,

Where there is never sorrow, never shame,

Where grace is still unfolding on its way.

My love returns to whence it, lisping, came;

My grief will turn to joy that none can tame.

“I cannot stay in sorrow…”

A friend ointed me to the live stream of Florence + the Machine’s set at Coachella 2015 from last month.

This is part of the result. 🙂

I cannot stay in sorrow…

I hear your voice, and see the flaming lights,

And I am not afraid. I cannot fear,

Because the ebbing fury of the sound

Arrests my skittish nerves, corrals them all,

And drives them to the dungeon where they’ll sleep.

The strobing lights can’t break the silences,

But wrestle to the front of consciousness.

They tell me that they’re here with strident shouts

That follow me from rainy Halifax

To Western mountains sending back the codes

Of long-forgotten echoes to the winds.

The floodlights will recall me to my life:

“I AM ALIVE! My legs still burn

With scarlet rough adrenaline, with rage,

With coolest azure joy each time I wake.

My smiles still bear the weight of childish fear,

And hide the effort of this mask of joy.

I live; I love. These statements are the same.”

I see your fiery dancing on the stage,

And hear the liquid strumming of the harp:

It calls me back to where it all began,

To life’s deep thorns where all my questions bleed,

To where my answers melt, like moulded steel,

In furnaces on gaseous foreign moons.

Glissando notes fall through the ebon sky

And handclaps follow me to kindest sleep.

I cannot take resentment through the dark,

Or let my sorrow dog my every move:

The doldrum days where leaden Sadness rules,

With iron sceptre writ with lily runes,

Are part of desert days. That time is past.

My sorrow will not leave me in a blink,

And yet I recognize its transience.

I cannot stay in sorrow, or I die.

And so I kiss the dancing firelight,

And breathe into the Colorado air

With those who dance to save their sweating souls.

I blend into the hazy air of spring,

With no regrets, with not a shred of fear.

The music brings me back my flaming joys—

The lust for life that sings with killer whales,

The meditative burst of happiness

That sees a rainbow on an off-white wall,

And plunges—full immersion—into song.

A Letter on Malfunctioning Debit Machines.

This is a letter I’ve just written to Karen Stintz, chair of the TTC. I thought it pertinent to share, and necessary to share without edition.

Attn: Councillor Karen Stintz,

Toronto Transit Commission Chair

Toronto City Hall

100 Queen Street West, Suite B32

Toronto, Ontario

M5H 2N2

                                                                                                Michael Walker

                                                                                                52 Salem Avenue, Unit #2

                                                                                                Toronto, Ontario

                                                                                                M6H 3C1

                                                                                                Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Dear Councillor Stintz,

I hope December is treating you well. So far, I’m not sure I can say so for myself.

Today at about 2:30 p.m., I went into Dufferin subway station to buy an Adult metropass, which is something I do at the beginning of every month. I took my turn, as usual, using the debit machine at the collector’s booth on the northbound platform. The (female) collector was just doing her job:  she looked on as I tried, and failed, to use my credit card in the debit machine. After I tried that for two or three minutes, she asked me to try my debit card. I did so, and unhappily, I experienced an identical lack of response from the machine.

I felt discouraged, so I left the line in order to prevent my inconveniencing others. Immediately, the guy who waved through the metropass users kindly let me into the system without payment. He advised me to try the next station; I was disappointed to find no collector at Ossington, and so I progressed to Christie. My back was beginning to hurt at that point, because I have cerebral palsy, and find walking on concrete painful and tiring. There was a male collector on duty; he and I tried for two or three minutes to get both of my cards to work, debit and credit, and again neither card could elicit a response from the debit machine at Christie.

Dumbfounded and starting to feel quite anxious, as I wanted to avoid being late for an engagement in Parkdale, I took the subway further east to Spadina station. At a grocery store close to the TTC, I obtained an Adult metropass. I made my way to Parkdale just in time for the commitment I’d made, after being jostled on the Dufferin bus. That’s a whole other story.

I tell you this story to point out two remarkably important, and laughably mundane, inconveniences in the transit system as it’s now run.

  1. As I’ve stated, at least two of the debit machines you and your committee have installed in these subway stations do not always work. I find that incredibly annoying, because I pride myself on knowing that my bank cards work 99% of the time. I also find it astonishing that your committee—or rather, those in charge of the technological aspects of the Toronto Transit Commission—do not take care to ensure both that all the automated parts of the system are accessible to all your patrons, and that all the computerized parts of the system are consistently in working order. Because of the malfunctioning debit machines, I lost about seventy-five minutes of precious time on a Sunday, the only day of the week that I would regularly devote to rest!
  2. I feel that there ought to have been a human fare-collector in the booth at Ossington, and there was not. I wonder: do you regularly allow your employees to leave their posts at 3 p.m., Ms. Stintz? I possess cerebral palsy, which—for simplicity’s sake—is a disability that causes me to use more energy to do simple things, like walking, than you do. That means that I do not, under any circumstances, want to walk on concrete for longer than a few minutes at a time! Because I didn’t find the aid I needed close to Dufferin, my “home base,” I lost even more precious time than I would otherwise have done.

I’m a doctoral student at the University of Toronto; I specialize in theology, with a particular focus on disability studies. The TTC, as it’s now run, provides me with much food for thought, and research material, that would horrify and anger many advocates for accessible urban transit. In light of incidents like these, I find the Toronto Transit Commission a terribly bad example of hospitality in terms of public transit. Your employees ought to feel ashamed, Ms. Stintz.

That said, I can think of no solution top these issues other than raising the fares for patrons of the TTC, which probably won’t work in everyone’s best interests. I’m more than happy to talk about these issues with you, or with a person of your choice. Whether or not you’re willing to take that step, I would really appreciate a thoughtful response to my letter.

I hope you have a peaceful December, Ms. Stintz, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

 

Michael Walker