God’s Proxy

Posted in Uncategorized on February 4th, 2016 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

How can a God, any god, choose among Its creatures,
when It is all there is, and responsible for all? To be

true to Itself, a God must love the rebel goats for
their rebellion; the obedient sheep for their obedience;

must be on every side of everything that is, It is,
everywhere and always, simultaneously entangled

in every being, and cannot choose among Its many parts;
therefore, a God appoints Luck Its proxy—that blind,

indifferent force that strikes, or not, as its nature
moves it; that cannot itself be moved by either

prayer, or imprecation. With Luck a God embraces
Its entire creation, judging none; interfering never.

The Absinthe of Desire

Posted in Uncategorized on December 5th, 2015 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

This is the title poem, slightly revised, from the collection The Absinthe of Desire 

The absinthe of desire

distilled, the audacity
of strangers, the honey
of deceit, the fine white
toxin of shared delusions
clouding the senses,
precipitating lies, like
snowflakes, their kisses
melting

in the dark, passion flares
like a match, they drop
out of love as easily
as absinthe slips
down the throat.

The hangover lingers
for years, it is the one
sure thing of their lives.

 

When the Earthquake Struck

Posted in Uncategorized on November 1st, 2015 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

When the earthquake struck
I was washing my hair, wearing
only cut-off jeans, bent over
the sink began to shimmy; everything
began to rock and sway and fall about.

I clung to the basin’s slippery rim,
shampoo stinging my eyes,
soapy tresses draped over my face
—would they protect me
if the window shattered?—
then dropped to the heaving floor,
crawled under the dining table,
and crouched there, cursing,
more angry than afraid.

Books tumbled from their shelves,
spewing loose pages whirling about
in a black and white blizzard; cupboards
vomited china and glass and cans and cutlery
cascaded over the floor, their clatter
swallowed in the shuddering roar
which seemed to go on forever—then
it stopped; all
was quiet
except for—
—something dripping,
—somewhere—

—sirens—fire, police, ambulance—
all going off all at once, altogether
almost more frightening than the quake itself,
now receding into the past so fast as to seem
(almost) as improbable as before
—but for
the splayed books and broken dishes
littering the floor, and my wet, tangled hair
dripping cold down my back.

I began to shiver, my teeth clattered together,
a spasm of relief and pent-up terror shaking me
so fiercely I could scarcely stand, I crept
from under the table, staggered to the sink,
and turned on the tap—nothing
but air—
but I was prepared for this,
and opening the plastic jug of water
saved for just such an emergency,
rinsed my hair, and wrung it dry,
while hot tears dripped from my eyes.

Stallions

Posted in Uncategorized on February 1st, 2015 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

That country is all wild open
masses moulding space
folded into hills and water,
sky discovering storms and stars
dispersed across the open places
pines describe
in opening arcs of darkness
in the hollows of old hills
bones of wild horses whiten
in the bodies of young foals
old mares remember.

They die in many ways, horses
break their necks
—or cougars break them for them;
horses rip their bellies open
on barbed wire or green oats; drown;
are beaten; starve; or sicken into death
in many ways
—but stallions die differently.

When this present master killed
the old man under the death blow told him
all a young stud needs to know: more mares.

He learns devotion to that patient principle,
earning them by theft and conquest
of his own kind, none can stand before him
all go down and dying leave him
more of all he’s wanting:
mares:
deep-bellied matriarchs,
mellow-eyed and slow;

young mares
obedient in their brief sweet need
flirt before him
high-crested and commanding them
they yield, receiving him
with a secret satisfaction all their own;

old mares
knowing the shortest way
to the best water
the stallion follows
but the mares still know
he is their master
—like the one before him
and the one soon following after

their different lords are all the same
to them a love so constant
mares scarcely notice
when a stallion dies.

The pantheist

Posted in Uncategorized on February 1st, 2015 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

perceives something
alive
in-dwelling
everywhere
in everything—
in each atom and ion,
in the earth and stars,
in a cholera microbe,
a worm’s casting,
in dinosaurs and pachyderms,
hummingbirds and dogs,
in a murderer and Mozart:
in all: something—immanent.

The universe is a creation of its own design;
not by The Master on a high stool, drafting
laws and prohibitions, calculated in degrees
of misery and sin; but from the inside, growing
out of itself, it’s true nature
manifest in all
it’s variety,
infinite;
its appetite omnivorous,
its daring absolute,
its satisfaction immense
immeasurable
inescapable
known only as unknowable

everything there is
this something is.

Serpents present

Posted in Uncategorized on January 31st, 2015 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

past, and future, slithering through
the garden where I contemplate
temptations I never attempted to avoid.

My way has meandered like an old river;
an old snake weaving a cool mid-day enchantment
blue shadows hiding the sliding scales which
measure first things, only, once
you’re done with that

—here’s the next
conundrum coiling at your feet,
drawing ancient symbols in the dust,
ouroboros, the sideways eight, snake
with its head in its mouth, twisting
destiny and history into a Mobius strip,
its two-sided single sinuosity slipping
along continuously, it seems—

even as the past disintegrates
behind us—even as
it’s being created, second
by second, a sheer cliff
crumbles at our heels.

But I have no fear
of falling backwards;
I stand on a knife edge,
perfectly balanced,
if a little unhinged,

realizing how ‘now’ is almost nil,
a spell so thin, it’s a wonder
we have room to breathe between
time gone, and time yet to be,
we exist,
temporarily

Caught Smack in the Middle Blues

Posted in Uncategorized on January 31st, 2015 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

I once loved a man hooked on heroin, but our romance didn’t last;
I once loved a man hooked on heroin, but our romance couldn’t last;
there was no room for me in his arms, when his ‘Jones’ held him fast;

leaving me caught smack in the middle
between him and his happiness.

The first hit of smack makes you sick, but only after it makes you high;
the first hit of smack makes you sick, but it makes you very high;
the rush of light through your veins is the hook, and you, are its eye,

and I was caught smack in the middle,
between very bad and second-best.

But he would always deny it, no, no;
that was over, and done with, and past,
but I knew that he lied, and he knew
that I knew, no promise of his had a chance,

for his ‘Jones’ was an evil creature, with its claws stuck deep in his back;
for his ‘Jones’ was an evil creature, its claws were dug deep in his back;
no matter how hard he tried to dislodge it, it clung like a starving cat.

But still he kept on pretending, no, no;
there was nothing riding him; not like that.

Every day he announced he was quitting, but it was only a brief reprieve;
every day he announced he was quitting, but it was the shortest of reprieves,
and by now he couldn’t fool me, I knew better than to believe.

But still he kept shaking his head; not so,
though he was the only one he deceived,

while his ‘Jones’ was riding him through hell,
and too far out on the other side;
“It gives me something to live for,” he said
—and something in me, died.

Again and again, he claimed that smack was doing him no harm;
again and again, he pretended, that smack would never do him harm;
while all that he might have been was poured into his arm,

leaving me caught smack in the middle
between him and his deathly dreams.

He’d flag blood in and out of the needle, stuck in a vein in the back of his hand;
he’d flag blood in and out of the needle that he’d stuck in the back of his hand,
and I had to watch, though I cringed inside, and I came to understand:

It’s called smack because it hits you
with the force of a god’s command.

His ‘Jones’ rode him day and night;
his ‘Jones’ rode him astride;
his ‘Jones’ rode him sidesaddle,
and backwards besides.

I loved a man who was a junkie, but only for a while;
I loved a man who was a junkie, but for a very little while;
I couldn’t bear to look into his eyes, and see Death smile.

Universality vs. User Fees as Political Philosophies

Posted in Uncategorized on January 5th, 2015 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

 

Universality is a citizen-based philosophy; user fees are a consumer-based one.

Universality, as I am using the term, is the concept that citizen-taxpayers (and others who pay taxes), all belong to the same society, and that the most efficient and effective way to obtain many of the goods and services essential for a civilized life is to purchase them together through our taxes. With this view, even the wealthiest would be eligible for such services as free health care, education, and day care, and would pay for these benefits through a progressive income tax system, based on the ability to pay (as they do in the Scandinavian countries where high taxes provide for a high quality of life).

The user pay philosophy is consumer-based: We are all individuals responsible for ourselves and our families, for covering our costs, and buying the goods and services we need and want, including those provided through the government. In its purest form, only those who, for example, sail on a ferry, drive on a road, cross a bridge, or enjoy a park would pay for each such use. There is obviously a limit as to how far this principle can be taken; governments have always been responsible for providing some services for all—armies, roads, and such. But as we’ve seen in B.C. the Liberal government’s boast that we have the lowest income taxes means that, for example, those who depend on the coastal ferries, are being priced out of being able to travel, or being in goods, at an affordable cost.

User pay doesn’t come cheap. Take MSP premiums, for example. In a February 1, 2013 editorial the Victoria Times-Colonist pointed out that, “Collecting more income tax instead of premiums would spare the cost of a huge bureaucracy. Just mailing out invoices costs millions,” and goes on to detail other associated costs.
In Canada, at least, the user pay philosophy can never be practiced in its purest form. While some roads and bridges may be tolled, there are always alternate ways that are not tolled (except for the coastal ferries in B.C., of course); primary and secondary education, and some health care are also free to all. But in B.C., in exchange for lower personal and corporate income taxes, fees and premiums have been steadily rising—the very regressive MSP premiums have gone up, as have ferry fares, and fees for almost every kind of government services.

It’s time to bring back universality as the basis for funding public services, and to severely limit the imposition of user fees.

Fastidiousness

Posted in Uncategorized on December 13th, 2011 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

This poem was written in Toronto many years ago. The site was Queen Street West near Bathurst.

Fastidiousness

The man lies on his back on the sidewalk

at the bottom of the bank steps,

hands by his side, motionless,

probably drunk

(it is a custom of the corner)

 possibly dying.

 

She notices

other people notice

no one approaches.

 

She thinks of that sick

mouth to her mouth resuscitation

disgusting her reluctant,

 

she hurries on

to her destination two blocks away

where she telephones police

and tells them,

her fresh pink lips almost touching the black plastic receiver,  

of her concern.

 

 

 

Pastiche

Posted in Uncategorized on November 24th, 2011 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

As its name implies, this poem is composed of titles of songs that were popular in 1970. I have a list of the titles if anyone would like to see it.

 Let it be

just you

and me

this time

having tea

with the tillerman

in Cosmo’s factory;

 

déjà vu for the two of us

alone together, again, holed up

in the Morrison hotel, surviving

on one burnt weeny sandwich,

and cracklin’ rose wine,

                so close to you,

everything is beautiful,

but give me just a little more

time on this long and winding road,

for though we’ve only just begun, all things

must pass,

                 even as

                              American beauty roses wither,

        whether

in drought, or fire and rain,

their bruised petals scent the air

around our sex machine, shooting

at the moon, we cross a bridge

over troubled waters, hear

the madcap laughs of the star

sailor who claims

the moondance as his own

at the end of the game.