Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Lady of the Lake














Lady of the Lake

Last summer, I sat by 
a lake in the Muskokas
at a friend’s cottage.
The Lady of the Lake
handed me a sword
for safe-keeping. 
pawned it for six
sadness-free months.
I stare at the sword
in the store’s windows
imagining me leading
an army to victory
against oppressors.
I ride a white horse
named Samson across
a field of dead soldiers.
The sword costs six
months of sadness
which I cannot afford
but already strangers
in the streets stop to 
pledge their allegiance 
to me. “I’m a tyrant,”
I caution. “We know,”
they say. “But at least
you're our tyrant."

By Chris Banks

Monday, May 22, 2017

Emergency Broadcast System












Emergency Broadcast System


The emergency is happening. Hide the Monets
and bottles of Lafite. Please exit the building
in an orderly fashion. We interrupt scheduled
programming to say public safety has been
breached. The emergency sits in our blind spot
so no changing lanes. Order the coq au vin
and crème brulee for it will be your last meal.
The conservatory is on fire. Please remain calm.
Authorities have been notified. They refuse
to go down with the ship. Write a letter to an old
university flame. Take a hatchet to your insecurities.
Start an argument with the night. This message
will repeat every sixty seconds. Think of it
as a ritual.  Make a circle in the middle of a room
linking arms, face outwards, with children
on the inside. The emergency goes unchallenged.
There will be no discounts. Stop torturing
yourself by appearing normal. Empty cash
registers and cages full of labratory animals.
Listen for foghorns. The emergency refuses
to be categorized as a natural disaster, a financial
meltdown, or spiritual bankruptcy. Put on a kimono.
Worry your forehead with fingertips. Tell yourself
you were not an accomplice to the current crisis.
I have a confession to make. This is not a recording.
The broadcast is inside you. What is your favourite
song? It will play next. The emergency is over 
the moment you understand spiders on ceilings
have nothing to do with Doomsday. Take a few
deep breaths. Your survival depends on it.


-->
By Chris Banks

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Voodoo Doll















Voodoo Doll


The cannibals are out of work. A ruffian tries to 
mug a poem. He comes away with sealed records
unveiling his shadow’s secret files. Don’t go poking
the bear, the rest of us tell him, if you can’t handle
a few symbolic gestures. Pandemonium is a sleep
cathedral. A den of nightmares. Every time I see
a nun, I feel a slap against my palms. A phantom
strap that never cuts, only stings. Oh Sister Claire,
shaking an eight year old boy so hard you would
swear he was a marionette, where are you now?
This is a terrible children’s book. Get ready for
a fireworks display. Isn’t that better? Watch out
for debris. Self-talk is worse than a voodoo doll. 
Exit off the warpath. My biographers want me to
hack the zeitgeist. A geiger counter keeps clicking,
although there are only law firms for miles around.
My hazmat suit is invisible. I begin to worry people
will recognize me as patient zero. Take me to some
underground lab run by faceless operatives who will
conduct experiments on me. You’re not that special,
say the cannibals, who loll in the summer heat, stuffed
with questions which are my particular super-power
but even they sadly, slowly, grow more civilized.

By Chris Banks
-->

Sunday, April 23, 2017

History













History



Imagine years with serial numbers
ground off in the hands of ancestors.
An assassin kills an arch-duke.
A pyramid is built in honour of
a mediocre ruler. A double-agent
walks twenty miles through enemy
territory to warn of an impending
attack. Brown shirts goose-step
through city streets and no one
is laughing anymore. History
takes it all in calmly. Interviews
witnesses. Reconstructs a scene
from a few clay pots and ruined
adobe walls. A stone altar and
a pit full of skulls. History says
don’t eat the pickled herrings,
or go boating during a storm
off the Gulf of Spezia. Sometimes
history cannot solve the crime. This
results in a hung jury. The script
is Minoan but untranslatable.
A sea captain returns to an island
but all members of the colony
have disappeared. A marriage
sails into a port of call but no one
is on board and the captain’s log
is missing. History fails to make
sense of what happened. How did it
capsize? The past without a curfew.
No wonder history is panning for gold.
A few shiny grains is all we ever get.

By Chris Banks
-->

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Crusade












Crusade


No one wants the good china. Meet me
at the safe house. Pry up a few floorboards
and you are sure to find an old beer bottle.
Who wants my head on a platter? Pencil in
time for friends and enemies. The billet-doux
was lost in the move. Life is not packed in 
styrofoam. I’ll take a riot over the ho-hum.
Devastation over racquetball. I will sign
your petition if you will sign mine. Change
should not require forms. My resentments
come in triplicate. Joys in hot pink neon.
Do you want the egg-salad or the gospel?
Own up to your hurts. My style is foreign
so the heart suffers. Obligations possess me
until I feel like an old rolled-up tube of glue.
How did I get stuck in this meat locker?
At least, I have Dante and Beyoncé to keep
me company. Careers are scams. I am waiting
for the next great crusade. Let it be sharing
our inner lives. Tapestries of secrets. The
past de-classified, and still parts omitted.
Who needs to be a prisoner of blue skies?
Ante up on hope, and I will double-down
on happiness. Fly your banners. I give you
my assurance of a promised march over lands
full of pay-day loans, corporate retreats. Let me
put my armour on. This takes several years.

By Chris Banks 
--> -->

Friday, April 14, 2017

Simulator













Simulator


Beauty rewrites its own code. The authentic
is another souvenir most people throw away.
I have lived over seventeen thousand days
waiting for this latest round of beta-tests
to be over. I want the gold edition. Here
let me hug you. Maybe push the hair out
of your face. Let’s hold hands even only
for an instant. There is no better model
of human connection. I desperately want
the real, but there is a subscription charge
if you want to message. The evening rain
has stopped. There is another possibility
I am lying to you. Swipe right anyways.
Every time you breath out words, they
die at the moment of their hearing. Says
who? We need a back-up plan. I remember
something, and a little Xerox copy of me
appears mowing a lawn, meets up with friends,
takes back a neighbourhood street from
a rival group of kids. Some people believe
we are living in a computer simulation.
No wonder it feels like I am going nowhere
half the time. Are we only digital puppets?
Evolution and my own heart-burn says no.
If yes, the turkey vultures circling the edges
of the suburbs are a nice effect. Already
I feel less lonely and isolated knowing
we are part of the same program. Let’s
share secrets, fall in love, blow big shining
bubbles in the artificial sunshine before
some God sitting at a desk propped up
by a couple of milk cartons, a wizened face
searching a screen, hits alt-shift-delete.

-->

By Chris Banks