The Cowichan Series

by Jim Jackson & Josephine LoRe

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1.
Goegraphies 02:34
geographies   we are people rooted in different geographies you, northern plain me, shore lapped by southern seas   your fathers did not know the ways of my fathers did not have the same word for creator, for earth   we found each other in western filtered-sun forests sat by one fire, ate from one pot shared the bodies’ warmth under velvet skies   I did not understand your people’s word for freedom   you did not understand my people’s word for love   you are a wanderer, not a fixed star me, a pool reflecting trembling birch under autumn moon in eastern light, I crouch by river offer song to wind, to spirit in stone   you sharpen your blade dreaming of the hunt   gaze upon the open field – your heart listening for beat of drum, signal to depart   your eyes go first < I see their emptiness >   my mouth forms the words to grant you release and I watch as you take your shadow out into the night
2.
for my children I do not want to remember, but it is wrong to forget the exact shape of my grandfather’s fingers he cupped my chin, called me ciù-ciù my mother used a washcloth to wipe my father’s face the exact shape of my grandfather’s fingers your feet jammed tight in the space against my ribs your tiny fingers holding onto mine my grandmother’s soul, leaving her body feet jammed tight in the space against my ribs the softness of a baby’s skin my grandmother’s soul leaving years before we lowered her body to the ground the softness of a baby’s skin I cup your chin, call you ciù-ciù years before, we lowered my grandmother’s body to the ground I do not want to remember, but it is wrong to forget
3.
Above the Surface Only five percent of slugs live above the surface, it is said Though how they survive with no legs, no arms, no bones, no shell is a mystery to me. It seems they would be much safer in dark ground Are they like the worm, whose entire body is an extended digestive tract – mouth to stomach to anus in one straight line? Their task simple: to eat, decompose, enrich. Create soil. They don’t need eyes What is my task? Why so many complicated systems? Lungs, heart, veins, arteries, capillaries … that’s easy. We need oxygen to survive But why legs? Why not trunk and roots like the limegreen-leaved honey locust tree which grows beside that amethyst jewel of a house against slate-grey summerstorm sky? And why arms? Things keep slipping from me, slinking just out of reach. Why not branches on which the crossbill finch, russet, yellowgreen, and the iridescent blue-crested stellar jay could roost? And why bones? So easily broken by sticks and stones and words. Words said. Unsaid. Would I not be better off without them? More able to curl into a ball or burrow into fecund earth? And why not a shell into which to retract when danger is sensed? As children, we would pull snails off the white-tiled walls of my godfather’s fish market, feeling the tug, hearing the shhhuck then touching each tentacle with a curious fingertip to watch the slow dance of retreat Or to be a hermit crab, to find refuge in someone else’s carapace or, like Eliot, a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas
4.
Crescendo 01:44
crescendo dust rises from this gravel road, logging trucks haul out today’s carcasses. in a land so rich, must we still   destroy to survive? I follow a curve and step onto wooded path, palatial green within steps, road vanishes. soundlessness. leaves knit overhead; air cool and green   to my skin, to my lungs. I inhale chlorophyll. observe moss on rotting log, living wood   cedars hatch atop ageless stumps, ferns wave, regal, lush, as rustling   wind builds this elaborate symphony of forest, crescendo   to the left, exposed bed of rock where next spring’s creek will run
5.
Saturday afternoon jam I wander over to market, afternoon drizzle you said you’d fly out with me even though this place is called Honeymoon Bay   almond brittle butter tarts fresh turnips goat’s-milk soap lily blooming pink in pond   that was before the break-up   tea-tree lotion to counteract fungus and bacteria sun-catchers earrings made from bits of coloured glass Stevie Ray Vaughan on the loudspeaker how many times did we dance to that tune at Mikey’s Juke Joint, Saturday afternoon jam?   the only jam here is Cowichan plum   blackberry hand cream corked key-chains for boaters flannel baby blankets with ruffled, hand-pulled seams and a teeny tiny chapel where you can’t buy a thing She’s my sweet little thing … … she’s my pride and joy   She’s my sweet little baby and I’m her little lover boy   drizzle lightens sun comes out this lady sells cards and eggs and hand-knitted coffee-cup cozies in violets and blue that lady makes garlic hummus and sells lavender bags hot or cold, to soothe   in La Cantina Bandido, a row of potted tomatoes a battalion of drained tequila bottles this is not Mikey’s, there are no brewskies and you are definitely not here but showers then warm sun on a Saturn marketday
6.
This Town That In this town, banana-seat bikes leaning up against loggers’ cabins – shingle-siding painted sapphire, mustard, sage moss grows thick on roofs    In that town, streamers, clackers bikes with just one gear kids waiting ‘til dusk to play hango-seek hiding behind parked cars, in neighbour’s yards scurrying around 100-year-old maple trees like squirrels   In this town, a fire station, a butcher shop where hunters bring fresh kill a trailer-park down by the water nestled in a valley ringed by peaks that remember indigenous names  In that town tucked in a city named for trees standing in water an Italian bakery, a greengrocer, a corner store – candy three a penny, five a penny In this town, a green Boler trailer under plastic wraps tyres gone flat indoor chairs ring an outdoor fire pit a budding of beer cans on brown lawn gypsy-inspired music from behind a ten-foot cedar hedge  In that town, a schoolyard where we’d play Seven-Up against a brick wall old tennis ball badminton under a canopy of leaves a verandah for listening to thunder  In this town, a felled lot swallows swooping over corpses of lodgepole pine the rumbling dust of logging trucks a caravan of campers travelling to somewhere just past the next bend in the road   In that town, knowing which doorbell to ring for trick or treat the singsong voice of the lady next door calling to her kids in Greek – “Yanni, Elena, Elado!” In this town, no fences no bike helmets a dog on the lap of a kid on a gyrating swing If I were to wait ‘til dusk would they come running out of these houses – amethyst, mustard, royal blue calling out Ollie Ollie Oxen Free?   this town, that
7.
Untamed 01:36
untamed for Jae you inhabit the untamed spaces outside the circle of this garden  past black-stemmed bamboo and cercis canadensis whose heart-shaped leaves cache a windchime  which tinkles as I pass you are summoned by unseen birdsong just past creamy lilies dotted with dew  past purple clematis which like Icarus reach to touch the sun past orderly fern, astilbe potted thyme beyond paving-stone path recessed in twilight lawn  you are bramble, exposed roots   dips and falls of newbrown earth timbered scent of deepmade soil   you pull me out of comfort, beyond clarity of morning   you wait and whisper to me from the wild spaces outside the circle of this garden
8.
nonet and reverse you lay motionless on stone tile legs still, yellow-green wings tucked close unseeing eyes lightly shut russet mate by your side hopping left to right tipping its head chirruping asking life?  glass a crash no passage reflected sky blood flowed from your beak stunned, you fell to stone tile no one could explain to him how immutable and final would be these moments of fleeting life
9.
The Finches 02:40
The Finches Were you careless in your flight, oh yellow finch? thinking weightlessness, propulsion just a game, a sleight of wing? Did you not see the glass, oh yellow finch? Did you mistake the reflection for a projection, a mirage – more branches, more sky, more space through which to fly? I did not hear the crash, did not see the fall I came upon you, lifeless on stone tile – legs pulled tight, wings tucked close, eyes unseeing a trail of blood from soundless beak He stood beside you, your russet mate hopping side to side head tilting left to right, right to left Had no-one taught him the finality of death? We formed a wordless wake around your still lifelessness – the gardener, with plastic bag in hand eager to dispose of your remains, a solemnity of ants encircling Your passing so recent, flies did not attend Your mate, head tilted, hopping left to right right to left Chirrup? Silence Chirrup?? Silence Chirrup – then the slow rush of his wings
10.
missing: woman   I could step off this path into the woods use strands of silver from my hair as passage into faerie world   inhale the richness of the earth learn the call of birds wash my feet in morning dew   and, as light deepens towards the mystery, lay my body down in bowers of sweet moss
11.
Secrets 02:55
secrets what secrets have you to share with me – waves licking rocky shore midmorning light dazzling wind lifting hair   what stories have you to tell me in this language heard only by the soul my breath matching the rhythm of these wavelets breaking at my feet   clouds stretch out like time like cotton batting thinning then dispersing hiding then revealing the old bones of this land   what song have you to sing to me – lyrics lapping wind caressing sunlight softly stroking my cheek like a lover, like a child
12.
13.
Take Me There I could step off this path, I could walk in the woods Using threads of my hair as passage I could breathe in the earth, breathe out the song of the birds Unravel the strands of your message I could deepen with light and fade into the night Letting drop the veils of my vestige Oh, won’t you take me there Where the summer air Is dancing in your hair Oh, won’t you take me there Take me down to where I don’t need to care I could cast them all off to the mud and the moss I could burn to the bone the bother I could leave them behind and flee for what I could find Abandon my perfect other I could dance with the dead to the songs in my head I could find what they did to my father Oh, won’t you take me there Where the summer air Is dancing in your hair Oh, won’t you take me there Take me down to where I don’t need to care I could bang at the breeze and bring the girls to their knees I could let my cord uncoil I could slice at my arms and mix by blood with alarm I bring my body to boil I could slip into sleep and watch the women all weep As I’m taken again to soil Oh, won’t you take me there Where the summer air Is dancing in your hair Oh, won’t you take me there Take me down to where I don’t need to care
14.

about

The bones of an old land transcend a magnificent present, encompass a deep-rooted past, and retain hope despite an unknowable future. These poems and music are a reflection of that journey, both ephemeral and eternal.

The music that accompanies these words was inspired from the forms and tone of these nature-bound, sensory poems.

credits

released June 1, 2019

Poems - Joesphine LoRe
Music - Jim Jackson
Creepy singing - Miranda Jackson

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about

Jim Jackson Calgary, Alberta

Jim Jackson is a Calgary Herald bestselling author, reluctant gentleman and dabbler in the dark arts of blues music. Jim’s mission is to give – in these troubled times – intelligent escapism for modern readers and listeners.

Find out more at jacksontron.com
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