Neruda Century

At the water’s edge, in the evening twilight
when the world is spacious and quiet
my blood is an ocean
finding its shore

Far away, on an old phonograph
a haunting melody begins
a Chilean love-song, plaintiff and beautiful

And all along the wide avenues
festive street lamps are lit
as the sea deepens its blue
the foam a brilliant white

The sound of voices grows,
not urgent, but ambling and joyful
And from everywhere the masses gather
filling the public square

Retracing your footsteps
in the streets where you walked,
Infinitesimal being, drunk with
a new geography of self…
We arrive clutching little snippets of verse
in a wide and warm embrace

The poet of the perpetual cup
is one hundred years today
There is dancing and feasting in celebration
there are smiles, greetings, and intimate conversations
round tables and white tablecloths,
wine and song

And we the multitudes of
too many names have lost our shoes

slipped them off, like we slipped time
We are dust or sand
rain under rain,
and the pounding waves
dispense sea spray and starry echoes

July 6, 2005.

FIRE and Rediscovering Fire

(The first poem, FIRE, is by Maraiba’s friend Susan. Maraiba’s “collaboration,” Rediscovering Fire, follows.)


Fire enjoys reaching up. And its reach means forever.
Yellow implies awakening, blue, distance. At the
edges of everything is fire.

Fire is the riot of one being. With our red mouths
we have been eating something black. If I say we,
you infer love. Fire can remember nothing.

Fire unhitches, unstitches once and for all. Fire melts
And roars the manifold less able in two and two and
two again: sunders the embraces that kept things

Fire is rife with the living. We are none of us
strangers here. Proselyte, uproarious, it glad hands
any and all; would the world hold to its bosom, if
given. Is this and that thoroughly lit at last, as in
exhaustive biography.

Fire is so of this moment and loves the doing. Ashes
to ashes, sees no other respite. Wishes the merry-
make’d never end.

Fire “catches,” quickens which was still. Whatever
is contains its particular fire. Our willing letters
kindle us quick. Ostentation goes up in smoke.

Fire takes things into the past. Houri, can lead back-
wards out of time. (Husband in a brittle bed: snuff!
sparito). Ash is quelled bulk; riddance.

Fire opens the air around it not at all as a knife
opens. A large log burns to nothing while we sleep
by its side: in certain places sorrow is thus cleansed.

Copyright Susan Yarrow (Clark) 1989.
From Believing in the World: a reference work.

Rediscovering Fire

Five boys circle and camp
extend long chiselled branches towards the centre
over tall flames of splendid colours
This ritual form of cooking will nourish them
in ways they’ve only just discovered
As far away, on a beach, a couple sits
twirling their wine in clear glasses
fire illuminating a ruby red host
warming long, loving glances at each other
And somewhere in a forest monastery, a monk sits
deep in meditation, while candles flicker, glowing
their blessings on the path
And each of us in his or her own way discovers
Fire enjoys reaching up

And now is the day of the celebration of light
Dawali falls later in the year, but today
We’ll all walk down to the water together
Watch as people from far away lands make
starbursts of colour over the deepening blue
Burrard inlet at dusk. In August the sun sets late
people gather talking and laughing,
We thought we were here to see the show
but realize we are part of the show
As the water reflects the brilliance and sound
celebration takes on many meanings and
This is Vancouver, we say. We love it here!
And we relish the sounds of the crowd
Fire is the riot of one being

Each year I light a fire and am thankful for the gifts
and for the burning. I have thrown in words I no longer wanted
When you told me the story of your humiliation
How your body was worn with sadness.
the pain of it still fresh in your being, I cried
In a book for children – but it’s only the adults that understand
Only three more sleeps, says the little girl
her medicine pouch by her side – a sense of pride and belonging.
Grandmother’s gift is to protect her on a new adventure
But we all know the ending – the medicine taken away
Three or four generations of sickness and loss.
Pride and belonging required new and stronger medicine bundles
Pray to break the bondage – to burn those places to the ground.
Fire unhitches, unstitches once and for all

Our world can fill quickly with places of hurt.
Some burdens are hard to carry and sometimes
we just want to laugh and be glad we have food in our bellies
Glad we have each other and places we can gather
sharing stories – Remember when? Remember how life is?
Communion. Living large
Why be small and isolated and afraid of Being?
At the university, dignitaries gather. Among them 3 Nobel Laureates!
Teach the heart they say. Educate the heart.
One tells us Keep an ember from the fire. One day return.
To spark a new flame, for a new life in a changed world.
Fire opens the air around it not at all as a knife
A large log burns to nothing while we sleep by its side:
in certain places sorrow is thus cleansed

August 18, 2009
For Susan Yarrow (Clark),
A collaboration with her poem Fire

Poem for a Mad Monk: A Sunday Memorial for Allen Ginsberg

Like all good monks
you entered the continuum,
knew how the light links
the far reaches of time

You who sang
like a red chested robin
of the eternal return

You are passing over
passing in and out of memory

I hear the flutter of wings
A last song of spring
before the melting gaze of summer

Then a fleeting glimpse
of one golden leaf
floating between heaven and earth

Vancouver, 2004-2005