Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Art of Living


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The Art of Living


I have measured out my life in K-cups.
Please add snow shovelling, foreign wars, 
daddy longlegs, vowels to the list. Rain
fell yesterday like a ritual. My children
are scared of thunderstorms. A golden
retriever is missing says a flyer stapled
to a hydro pole. God is lost. Life feels
unscripted. I say rivers, fauna, skyscraper
expecting my hands, my mind to gift-wrap
it all into meaning. My language is tired
of looking for a common denominator.
Behind every word, the sound of a hinge
opening. Behind things entering my eyes,
a bridge to understanding. Press an ear
to my chest to hear a hive of confessions.
Honey is the essence of wild flowers. Blood
is the essence of life owed to a sun, a star
at the centre of our galaxy. I remember this
despite the supermarket Muzak. Despite
my failure to imitate blue skies. Small talk
exhausts me at parties. Radio telescopes
probe the universe for mysterious chatter
like these sentences full of flowers and
flood waters, love and work retirements,
quasars and champagne. The art of living
is seeing each other beyond addictions
and condos. I have waited my whole life
to say one true thing. To wear a halo of
knowing. Outside phenomena and inside
impulses collide. I am the sparks flying.

By Chris Banks

Thursday, June 27, 2019

No Soliciting



















No Soliciting

I can’t remember the combination lock
to civilization. I should climb more trees,
fly more kites to stay closer to my inner
child. My inner child eats all the cookies,
quietly points to a No Soliciting sign when
I come calling. In the ‘70s I wore flared
jeans, rode a banana seat blue bicycle.
It was easier to be astonished back then.
You were more aware of your heartbeat,
clouds catalyzing into fantastic shapes,
your inability to fly. The road looked
the same forwards as it did backwards.
Adulthood is carrying a bag of darkness
over a shoulder. Sometimes you stick
your hand in it pulling out a summer spent
lanscaping a golf course, a wedding photo,
a five week stint in rehab for a drinking
problem. My inner child circling around me
on his blue bicycle says, that stuff is trivial.
Why he can climb the highest tree without
falling! He is lord of forts and popiscles.
I tell him my knees feel the weather more
and more. That death is coming up the aisle
with her beverage cart and the plane will
eventually go down in flames. He smiles,
revving the little plastic motor sound
attached to his handlebars. He tries to do
a wheelie before disappearing forever
which reminds me I still cannot fly
no matter how much I wave my arms,
attached as I am to gravity’s anvil,
to the past’s dead weight, to the knowledge
every little thing won’t let go of me. 

By Chris Banks

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Award-Winning Speech





















Award-Winning Speech

Because after primary school no one
gets participation ribbons, cherry trees
drop petals like prizes across the yard.
I am famous for counting stars, catching
grasshoppers, anxiety. Give everyone
a medal for surviving heartache, divorce,
therapists. A gravestone is a trophy you win
after death. Truth deserves its own points
program. I’m saving up for sea monkeys,
X-ray vision, immortality. I won the contest
at my place of employment for blood
circulation, work despondancy, art
emergencies. Every year, I know less than
the year before, but still the rewards 
keep piling up like medical prescriptions,
credit card debt. The evidence dictates
each day is a prototype for Heaven or Hell.
Make your choice wisely. I accept this honour
on behalf of leaving nothing out: vitamins, 
lower back pain, river walks. My speech
will not make the headlines. The cherry trees
rain down coloured applause.

By Chris Banks



Liar, Liar



















Liar, Liar

I stopped praying as a child when it was clear
God was not going to give me super-powers.
I started praying as an adult when I was told
I would die a drunk unless I supplicated
to a higher power. Every day is so full of lies
I could stuff a bed mattress. A human body.
The world is warming up but we tell children
recycling is foolproof. Someone burns a pot-roast
but pretend it’s delicious anyways. The meat
is delicious. The lies are delicious. How easy
they roll off our tongues. How are you? I’m fine.
A lie. No one will lose their jobs. A lie.
You are not alone carrying a torch through
the labyrinth of your cerebullum. A lie.
At least someone gave you this thread and
a sword to slay monsters. Monsters are not real.
A lie. White lies are colourless. Translucent.
They float around us like pollen or E. coli.
We spread lies so as not to hurt each other
too much. The moral of The Emperor’s New Clothes
is truth hurts too much. Nakedness is silly
but as real as it gets. I am hungry. I am sad.
Someday my parents will die and I will suffer.
I swoon when you take off your chemise.
These are not lies. The red snapper on the menu
is a lie, but not my desires. Not my needs.
What lead me through this world, room by room,
looking for you, with my pants on fire.

By Chris Banks