Bruce McRae's Poems




Of  You


Thinking of you

is a bridge never crossed

and waters rising.


Thinking of you

is an obelisk in Arcadia.

A bird in a net.

A butterfly over an ocean.


My head hurts, like teeth hurt.

My head is a bowl of dust

or ball for kicking

or cold Monday morning.


In my brain is a museum

where I go when it's snowing.

It's a library closed

by the heart's eviction.


A thinking person

weighs every thought,

and thoughts of you weigh

seventeen point four five grammes.

The mind wanders

and I'm Nostradamus

and the future is unknown to us.

I'm a comedian

and our joke needs telling.


Thinking of you, because

I'm always looking for excuses

or odd emotion to taunt.

I'm building a ziggurat

made of potions and charms

and peopled with priestesses.

A temple graced by oracles.

My mind is abuzz

with the voice of insects,

the thought of you

a desert caravan and exult

of a thousand little gods.


                                      My imagination is a box

I can't quite open.

Our book remains half-written.

Our new house

hasn't any windows or walls.


Thinking of you

it's always Christmas in Vienna.

Or we're strolling along

some boardwalk or forest path.

It's a warm summer's night

and we're lying on the lawn

while counting stars

and reshaping constellations.

For a thousand years

our love has been sleeping

within each other.


Thinking of you is a mountainous song.

Even when my mind is lost

I hear beautiful music.


Out Of The Toybox And Into The Fire


Every midnight Johanne's toys come alive.

They raid the kitchen and play with cutlery,

mother's suspicions turning to concern

after dolly has moved a muffin.

They hide daddy's papers

so he'll be cross in the morning.

Teddy sacrifices a mouse

on the altar of his yearning –

oh to be human, or very like Johanne,

his wooden soldiers planning a bedroom coup,

the hour primed for revolution.

The day is near! My brothers and sisters.

The playgrounds are for burning.


Not To Mention


When there's mention of politics

I want to lie down in fields of alfalfa

and make silent movies in my head.

I think of swimming the passages

between doormat and faucet.

My teeth begin ringing,

tiny bells the colour of starshine

and bootblack and bone marrow.


The idle talk of politics,

while we're slow-waltzing into history.

Empires failing and falling.

Our pylons toppled. The comedians

being hung for laughs,

political beasts in the countinghouses

among high numbers,

trading fortune and Yankee dollars.

They're putting on their coats of many arms

and striding over the bloodied snowfields.

Flightless birds of indefinite colours.


Too Much Time Is Not Enough


Becoming old is not unlike 

having a rat in the house.

Ancient auguries come to fruition.

Artful life is abandoned by the roadside,

an Appian Way lined with crucifixes,

real blood-and-guts oratory for the damned

seeming an earful of wax and honey.

The tower block of my hyperbole is being torn down,

tenants evicted, it's basement flooded, a cold furnace

like a bed of coals at Christmas.


Becoming old is much the same as 

sitting naked in a vegetable garden.

Your bones turn coat. Merchants prescribe coy medicines.

You're as welcome as a heron in hell.

The heart ticks like a deathwatch beetle.

Blood is water mixed with wine.

Wild animals come closer, no longer afraid.

Dreams are like a ledger being displayed

to a beggar Harpies willfully blinded. 

I'm always looking for a sock under the bed.

I eat slowly. I misunderstand the moment.

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