Three Poems

by Bruce McRae

Cry Timber

The arborist has gone quite mad.
For every tree felled another woodland grows.
He saws and saws, and there is no end to his sawing.
The mills are heavy with his lumber,
an unholy racket following him throughout his days.

In the arborist’s thumb is a splinter
of spruce or pine or arbutus or elm.
He’s on a limb and barking at ravens.
There’s no respite found from scenic splendor,
no stand that’s not a clear-cut surety.

That’s him now, swinging in the high branches.
He can’t see the forest for the trees.
He’s nearer to God in his madness.

Flubbing My Lines

Can you follow the involutions of human speech?
The patterns they make, like rain on a pond.
The guttural impairment of being stuck on a word.
The flubbed line evading memory and the bitten tongue
of truth, but not too much truth, and not too easily told.

Can you hear what the living say about death,
the curt rejoinders the dead parlay in return?
Before there were sounds in silent movies
and all the world turned to silver and grey.

Wolflike, bend an ear to the universal hum.
The atonal tune of the bone-deaf dumb,
the ear-bashing silence lovers share
when wills clash and jealousy bemoans its discontent.
Can you hear? The song of the soul.
The clever patter of ice pellets following evening
over drumlins and dells, like intrepid footsteps.
The tiny noises of elementary particles
pinging at light speed, buffed by the infinitesimal.

Are you even listening, still on the line, on hold,
a soundless thing comparing vast distances to each other?
The unsaid a monument to the unspoken.
The rose’s melody pressed between vellum pages.

Can you hear outer space knocking on the inner ear?
Filamental vibrations trembling in your teeniest bones.
The whoosh of a sigh as you rise one morning.

Ask About Our Lay Away Plan

Et in arcadia ego

Father & Sons Funeral Home,
its motto, ‘You have to go sometime’.
Located down a brightly sunlit suburban street,
painted a brilliant white, its garden trim and colourful.
Inside, hushed tones and sprays of flowers.
Music playing softly, so as not to wake the dead,
everybody more or less miserable;
death being like that, a proper killjoy.
A real party-pooper, death can ruin your day.

Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. So and So have come to bury mama.
Vast sums are exchanged, grave-digging being an Art.
There’s all that fuss and bother, the cost of chemicals,
the price you pay for attending morticians’ college.
Those grave chaps who rarely speak above a whisper.
A necessary evil. Dead men walking.


Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with well over a thousand poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press), ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pskis Porch), Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).

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