Sunday, August 21, 2016

Imaginary Pictures

















Imaginary Pictures


I wandered lonely in the Cloud
looking for any traces of the life
I had once known. A real place
with a swing set in a field, sandlot
ball games, fist-fights, forests
full of hidden forts. Train-tracks
made flattened pennies. Clouds
synced only rain. Time circled
on wrists. Mothers called to children
from porches after ripening dusk 
settled on freshly mown lawns.
No daffodils, but neighborhood
gardens abounded. Clothelines
connected back-yards. The years
pegged out like laundry. It is possible
to return, at times, to follow again
the hockey-card clicking of a bike’s
spokes down the brain’s back alleys,
but it means withdrawing a little
from the digital onslaught we face—
the tabloid headlines, exclusive
offers, hate speech, click-bait, online
dating, free porn—that dissolves
the soul over years, and fills the heart
with a moribund indifference. How
many likes will this poem get? The
Cloud begins to ask the question
when in the distance, cap-guns ring out
announcing war is starting to rage.




By Chris Banks

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Playback











Playback


I've been thinking too much again
about the kid down in the basement
up past his bedtime recording songs
off the radio on a cassette recorder.
Memory is a mixtape. Hit playback.
We write our life stories like song
lyrics on album sleeves. Lift a rock
to find a sword and sandals hidden
beneath it. Tie a thread to a doorway
so you may find your way out again.
Myths are self-help guides. Music is
magical thinking. No wonder teens
drown themselves in songs. Parents
hover over them like glass-bottomed
boats. When I was thirteen, songs
came from distant galaxies. Melody
the message. I wound and rewound
tapes trying desperately to preserve 
how they made me feel. Kids today
step into a stream. Stay submerged.
Is it possible life was more real then
than now? I made you this mixtape.
It is a grainy home recording of 80’s
electronica, dead pets, 90’s grunge,
tattered notebooks, Aughts’ singer-
songwriter introspections, weddings,
a few smuggled demos of the current
decade’s deep cuts, divorces, except
that boy who is still in the basement, 
waiting for the one song to come on
the radio, one that will save his life,
cannot hear it, even though listening
in the dark is all he ever seems to do.



By Chris Banks

Monday, August 15, 2016

How It Works















How it Works




The city looks bombed out. Huge holes
hidden behind wooden barriers. Craters
excavated. Traffic snarled for months.
Orange-clad work crews fit rebar, pour
cement. A concrete burrow emerges.
A parking garage. Glass condominiums
arise where a brick building once stood.
Construction is ongoing. People pass
beneath cranes expecting a piano to fall
on their heads. Meanwhile new detective
shows appear on television. New apps
occupy the children. All coffee shops
advertise free wireless, but the patrons
sitting at tables, not speaking, appear
full of tiny invisible wires. Sometimes
a person raises his head, looks outside
to the ply-wood barriers staple-gunned
with band flyers, play bills. He complains
about gentrification. The way it used
to be. There are interventions occuring
away in the suburbs, where fentanyl
has taken hold of a son or a daughter,
and yet downtown, a woman wearing
yoga pants is reading a poem on a patio
about Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man. There
a young couple is laughing, a first date,
talking about the fabulous sandwiches
at a local bakery, an online kick-starter,
a bike-sharing program, when suddenly
it strikes you: the cranes, the barriers,
the pits each rush hour crawls around,
this city is being rebuilt for them, not
you, which is when you hear it, a siren
speeding towards the scene of a crime.

By Chris Banks

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Replicas














Replicas


A man in Kentucky builds a model of Noah’s Ark
for $100 million dollars. Designer handbags, shoes,
perfumes may be purchased in underground malls
for a tenth of the price. Max Ernst or Wolfgang
Beltracchi? The art world keeps burning catalogues.
Nietzche statuettes, mustachioed, wearing a crown
of thorns, or a Justin Bieber poster, chest spritzed,
glowing with self-adulation. Ancient Thera is gaining
popularity with cruise ships. Civil war battles are
a form of entertainment. Lap dancers wear nudity
like a sexual costume. Authenticity requires time
most people would rather spend at Walmart. A map
is not the places within it. A picture of a sunset is not
the same as the world turning dark. The past is damaged
with each memory. I try to concern myself with big
thoughts, climate change, dark matter, mimetics, but
it is the other ones, eat, sleep, reproduce, which are
the human story repeating itself to itself. A lullaby
echoing back to an invisible source. Natural flavour
trumps nature every time. I want to caress the real,
and hold it tight. Life is an allegory of the blood.
If you want to live, you have to be more than
a cheap imitation or a brand. I read a lot of novels
and go to sleep alone. I avoid wax museums.
I remember MacEwen saying poets are magicians
without quick wrists. I hear despair in that statement
for the first time. I drag my ruined self from year
to year, worry I am an imposter. Someone builds
a giant transforming robot in a junk-yard. A garish
copy of Versailles. They appear happy.

By Chris Banks