Mennonite Poetry Home | Leonard Neufeldt



Selections from FIND WHAT ISN’T MISSING (2021),
Copyright Silver Bow Publishing and Author

“Cantos on Time and Distance”

                              Canto 10

Morning screek that came as refugee ragman,
horse and wooden sledge careening fitfully
yet surely over uneven fractures
of old avenues. How long does it take
to begin as a stranger in Montreal
and end knowing this each seventh day
when he reads the Yiddish weekly
in Mile End? He survived,
had lives, and spoke words softly
to his horse as if from one of those lives,
from deep inside of it.
On Mondays he cracked his whip
on the winter’s breath to close gaps
of the day’s disrepairs

                              Canto 15

The memory of you this unspoken morning,
Allen Ginsberg, how on the undergraduate green
in the shade of ancient firs your minimal accordion
pressed out harmonium hums
and a litany of eye-watered Oms.
Then, so close, in and out of time,
from your “Kaddish”
Dreaming back thru life. Your time—and mine
accelerating toward Apocalypse,
the final moment—the flower burning in the Day—
                and what comes after,
looking back on the mind itself
. . .
and I looking back on Coast Guard ropes
trailing water and Keith’s travel-bag body,
his eyes, like yours, wide open

Final moments continue their talkathons
of redemption and disaster
as did the lone blackbird in the firs
endlessly talking back to you as though
to let us know the moment is still here,
that there is more to say
even as time laps our lives

There is more to say on what comes after

                              Canto 16

They said if Trotsky could remain faithful
there would be time enough

Russia might heed the unburied,
give them names, make this a choice

They said if Stalin could only remember
one repetition in his seminary chants

They said if the faithful cast votes
for eternity, the earth won’t wait

to turn cold, and so they dressed
in layer upon layer of separateness

and fled. The head-high rosewood
pendulum clock and its counting loud as keys

in a prison door were left with neighbours
who stayed, who didn’t believe every alarm

would reinvent the vanishing point
of staying behind. It took thousands of miles

to resettle prayers and promises adjusted
like the hands of silver-plated pocket watches

to the failures learned, and it took a lifetime
to stop winding those watches

despite a clock in every room




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