Monday, December 5, 2011

A golem's lament

I’m ashamed of this corrosion
the rust in my gears
that came about from standing
out in this icy drizzle
too long. Too stubborn

to drag my sorry, welded ass
inside, too melancholy
to think the mechanical effort
was worth it. And now

here you are, all springing step
and bright sunshine
and I can only
mournfully creak along
behind you.

Rachel Westfall
December 5, 2011

In tandem with Christopher

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Techno (1) misfit

Angels aren’t meant
to burn
nor should their feathers
glint of hardened steel.

Madder is wrong here
and ochre, that snaking
strand of sun-fire
that licks your ankles
and draws out poison
like a song.

There is a grey in your eyes
that has
the sheen of an impostor,
a reflection of this sky
gone wrong, the weathered skin
of a long-dead tree
or the sorrow of a forest
bereft of its loam.

Rachel Westfall
December 1, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fidelity lost

I flung you round me
round and away, into the wailing dark.

You say I pushed you.

I thought it would be safe
to let you go.

I thought you would be back,
drawn again and again
to my endless solar song.

Now I see you there,
shifting through the far reaches,
pulling me retrograde
as you chase the fire of a faraway sun.

I hope you never reach her.

I hope the ice stings your cheeks
and the chill fog pulls
the wind from your breast.

I hate you. I love you.
I never wanted you gone.

Rachel Westfall
November 22, 2011


... in response to Christopher

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sky god

As you swing by me
on your erratic orbit
around some greater force

how can I be the earth,
the moon, a celestial body
so perfectly round, a mother,
a sphere like a jewel
without falling hard against
your rough edge,
without brushing
your scarred surface over
my cheek, without

shifting my course
irrevocably towards
your aching curve?

Rachel Westfall
November 22, 2011


.... in response to Christopher

Monday, November 21, 2011

Breakup (death of a frozen river)

With the heat of your fingertips
you shattered
the cold, hard shell
I'd wrapped around
my shoulders
like a tattered cloak
stiffened by the
winter frost
and with a groan
the first of the tears
broke through

Rachel Westfall
November 21, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

bitter snake

You crush the sunlight in my day
and scatter it, broken and dead,
like litter on the ground.

I wonder if you’re pleased
with this dull grey light
you’ve wrought. I wonder

if you stop to reflect at all.

Bitter snake, your venom
drives me out, despairing
for clean air, fresh joy.

Rachel Westfall
November 12, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

A spider story

I was bitten by a black widow spider
her web a cape of silver
trailing along behind her.

I was making muffins in the kitchen

The fire in the woodstove
had the whole room glowing orange

And still she sidled up
and nipped me hard, right on the leg.

Her wicked face turned up at me
as I yelped in pain, and then

she scurried off to find the flesh
of some other helpless victim.

Rachel Westfall
October 17, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Spider

I knew you’d come back
slowly scuttling back
once your rage wore down
to an aching nub and your stomach
growled for belonging.

You had no place else to go.

I kept an ear on the door
and my mind sharp, ready
to pounce, hungry
to get the fight over with

so I could fold you in my arms
my pale, lonely arms
and weave my fingers tight
through your sad, sorry spider hair.

Rachel Westfall
October 4, 2011


I don't know what to tag this as. It's all part of a song and dance with Christopher; part fantasy, part something else. Maybe I need a new tag just for these interchanges.

Monday, October 3, 2011

In the black of the alley

When she hit you back
you didn’t see it coming. Your swagger

got knocked sideways, shaken down
to a stumble
that broke your sweet high.

It’s a long way down when you have
spittle running down your cheek
and your girl’s

just walked off
with the last of the weed and a curse
flung sharp over her shoulder.

Rachel Westfall
October 3, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Going neutral

I would feed you dinner, child.

A feast fit for a king.

When you stumbled in
with vomit on your sweater, eyes glazed
and a red welt
quickly rising on your cheekbone,

my heart turned upside down.

To the table, come.

Pull out a chair, sit.

Here is the linen,
the cutlery, the shuffling
pacing order of the kitchen,

steam called from a plate
freshly loaded
with such hearty delights.

Rachel Westfall
September 30, 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Raven's delight

I had promised to bring back more of my raven poems. Here is one. I thought of it this morning, as I met up with some locals-- human and otherwise-- on my way into work at ravenrise, that slip of pale sky just before dawn.

Raven's delight

The angry flight of birds blacken
the late-morning dawn, feathers crisp with frosty breath
an arrow painted by the streak
and shriek of the hollow-boned ones, straight up
and across town to the place
where the orange berries sit in iced clumps, bitter and dry
for their midwinter flesh to be torn
in clumps and scattered, ravens’ delight

Just one man, coat puffed-up blue
jeans frozen stiff, a streak of vomit spittle running down
mouth‘s craggy corner, waterfall or avalanche
caught by yesterday’s frozen night
tongue sore, head throbbing
with the racket of those damned birds
up and around this handy snow bank, this of all places
why can’t they go cuss up their mess
somewhere else, must get up and find me a drink

Rachel Westfall
December 21, 2009

Friday, September 2, 2011

Almost ten

There’s a restlessness
that stirs these feathers,
draws the mask tight
against our skins,
calls us to dance from the heart
of the leopard’s prowling night.

Our blood remembers
the thrumming of the drums,
the pounding of our feet
on the cold sand, wet
from the lapping
of the river’s briny tongue.

The girls, four of them
almost ten, tie sheer fabrics
taut around their waists
and pull each other’s hair
up into fountains, bound
with coloured cord, until
the hypnotic techno rhythm
compels them swaying,
rolling, undulating
into the inescapable groove.

Rachel Westfall
September 2, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

the ravens have eaten her heart

I've been thinking about the ravens, lately. They are starting to drift back into town, slowly, as the gulls and other summer birds line up their baggage and head for milder climates. This brought me back to a series of raven poems I wrote a few winters ago, and I decided to revisit just a few of them, one by one. Here is where it begins.


the ravens have eaten her heart

see how the thunderhead pounds
its coveted earth
heavy-handed as a jealous lover

just as the roiling sea loves the beach
against which it rails, raking angry
finger-marks through soft mounds of
care-tossed grains, silica and shell

Rachel Westfall
November 28, 2008

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mage fire

You drew sacred fire
from that place deep inside me
where I thought I had it well
enough hidden, tamped
down to conceal treacherous smoke.

Now I howl for you,
chase you, hunt you down to find
more of that same magic,
magic that feeds deep hungers
that I had thought gone.

Rachel Westfall
August 12, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

dead promises

You’re the broken edge of a dream,
shattered by the abrupt intrusion
of the early morning alarm, shrill
and persistent. Roses wither

in the ice of your breath,
petals receding, clutching tight
about the bud like a tearful
school girl’s slender arms.

Dead promises are your nectar,
dripped in the dark of night
onto the hungry ground,
then lapped up by the dawn.

Rachel Westfall
August 12, 2011
 

Friday, July 29, 2011

The moult

At first it felt so good,
so exhilarating to be free
from the prison
of that cursed, confining shell.

I could breathe again,
sing,
even shout, expanding
my chest broad as rubber,

and I could twist
front to back, loose and lithe.

But slowly I became lost,
forgetful of who I was
and there was just that hollow
feeling that comes with twilight,
the cooler nights
and voices distant,
but nobody close.

My limbs slowed
and I sought out a rock,
or some safe refuge to salt
my soft new bones.

Rachel Westfall
July 29, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Into the margins

Help me cover my tracks,
sweet howling wind,
sweep them full of sand
and autumn’s bitter rubble to help
make fast my escape. The rabbits,
the foxes will press the earth
smoothly into neat new grooves,
confusing the trail, collapsing it
into a weave, a sieve of dotted lines,
around and through the bush.

Rachel Westfall
July 27, 2011

Escape

Forgive my long absence.
I have been held hostage, wrists
chafed and limbs withered,
so long
until
one
day
his attention wavered, his delusions
shifted and I fell
outside his peripheral view,
and
slithered
as silent
and fast as I could, a snake
tasting the air blindly
with each flick of pink tongue,
on a desperate search
for home. Now, I think,
I am back, but muted;
concealed; my stripes hidden.
I don’t dare risk capture again.

Rachel Westfall
July 26, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When the sweet rain falls

When the sweet rain falls,
pulling the pollen down
licking your parched hair curly,

your cracked lips swell,
softening like the thirsty clay
under your feet, like a kiss

you’ve waited long
and lonely years for,
and can’t quite savour fast enough
to ever appease that ache,
that ravenous, infinite hunger

Rachel Westfall
July 26, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Out of bounds

Bleed, and I will lick the salt
of your sap, the pain of the sudden pruning
flowing rich as honey over my eager tongue.

Recoil, and I will cradle you
firm and tender until my chin and breast
are sticky with your tears and you melt again.

Mine and yours is the sting of betrayal
and the anguish of our bond,
the bittersweet ache of our reunion.

Rachel Westfall
July 15, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

An old song

I sift your ancient sand
and draw out a bead
of my own making, a bead

older than your stories,
older than your earth’s caress

and drop it tinkling
into my sieve of antler and bone.

These artefacts I gather:
a crow’s feather, tattered and glinting
blue in the pale spring sun;

some weathered strands of seaweed;

a ring of whale bone
and a slip of rainbow shell.

The mask I weave is sparse,
salty and hollow as a drum,
fit for a dance of eternities

the sea witch and her consort,
the sand-stripped sleek black god.

Rachel Westfall
July 15, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Feast day

It was one of those feasts, you know, not the ones you plan like a family reunion months in advance, right down to the potato salad and where the kids will dry off after the waterfight, but the spontaneous kind, when a truckful of crab tips over on the highway tossing its slippery load across the baking asphalt, so you call the relatives in from all around to drag the salty carcasses to a safe spot where you can crack their shells and stuff yourselves silly with the smoky meat.

It was one of those feasts, and we were all happily pecking away, us, the kids, the grandkids, when Joe there, he got a little too near the centre of the road in pursuit of a big old fella whop was dragging himself south as fast as he could on his gangly claws, and a truck came spinning by just a bit too close for Joe's comfort.

So Joe, off he goes with a long string of expletives, wings flapping, jabbing his beak in the direction of the offending truck as it disappeared up the highway, his taste for seafood soured in the eruption of road rage.

The rest of us, we just covered the little ones' ears and carried on as nicely as we could, looking away serenely, as if nothing could ever sully this perfectly wonderful day.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I remember you like this

Your back bent over the garden
as you laid mottled stones in a row:
a highway for slugs or rain-slick
homes for shining black beetles

shovel and rake leaned by the wall
handles crossed like dear old friends
companions in the long winter
months of dusty shed hibernation

and the pansies, reseeded from last year
quite by accident, purple and white faces
shamelessly gazing skyward until you
carefully loosed them from the soil

with expert hands and a rusty trowel
and laid them in loose bundles
on the grass, roots down, tops up: in stasis
as you dig them a new corner row

Rachel Westfall
May 22, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Spring comes harshly

seeds of grackle ice
skitter, lost in wind-blown sand
sun-blind, screeching thaw


Rachel Westfall
April 29, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rebirth

I want to dream of pretty things,
and draw them up my arm.

Put feathers on my necklace,
and beads of glass and ice.

With bells, I'll softly jingle
like a dancer's hammered treasure,
thin copper, slice of dawn.

Rachel Westfall
April 14, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

HUSBAND

When I run my cool hands under your layers
seeking your chest, strong and warm
then onto your shoulders, their familiar
curve drawing heat down through me, searching
for your tongue roughly with my mouth

it is to call you MINE without words
and with complete trust, to fall into abandon:
this is what love is

Defiled
by talk of freedom, whores and 'men have needs'
cheap trash talk, fast-food sex so rancid
my mouth burns sour
and I'd spit those words right back at you
if I could

Rachel Westfall

March 9, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Manipulation over a crust of bread

A seam torn open, soft jelly exposed
to the sweet licking of ants,
the barbed beaks of scavengers.

No hearts for the ones left grinning,
for the beaks, for the scavengers,
only the jelly, the sweet soft jelly torn open.

Rachel Westfall
March 6, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Residue

I’m not the one.

There is naked air falling
over the rough ground,
frost-heaved into longing
and regret, the sorrow

of small birds, plump
and frosty-beaked.

There are wolves, rough
scavengers, grizzled,
thin, silent as lost pups,
unbirthed through
the hungry dark months.

There is an empty place
in the land, that hollow
where we put
what we thought we had;

the earth has eaten love.

Rachel Westfall
February 17, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

The secret lives of goblins

We rattle our pikes and sigh
thin goblin sighs
in green and brown,
tired of the weight our helms,
fatigued by these codpieces
of beaten leather.

We hope you don’t notice
the rich soil under my nails,
a telltale sign
of my secret gardening habit, nor
the softness of the tunic
my companion wears,
chewed and sewn so lovingly
by his dear, sweet goblin bride.

We rattle our pikes and sigh
whistling goblin sighs
in red and puce, then
we lower our points and prepare
to ululate ferociously
as we charge pell mell
down the weather-beaten hill.

Rachel Westfall
February 14, 2011


Friday, January 28, 2011

Cold snap

Lupine jaws
with a flick of spit, a frothy comma
running shallow
as a laugh along your spine,
hackles raised into
a sacred crown of splintered frost

Rachel Westfall
January 27, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Coyote

I am looking for you, my friends
and that is why
I sing of the hollow ground.

The wind carries my thin song
through the stones
stones of cairn, barrow
and forsaken wood,
the scrub brush of the divide.

The sharp tinder scent of night
gives an answer,
silent and long, the end of song.

Rachel Westfall
January 26, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bramble

Your hand is gnarled by its timeless
grip on the weathered fence post,
that last frail marker of where we end

and the next begins. Between your roots,

we dig rough graves in thin rocky soil
and mark them lovingly
with found-stone cairns. They sing

in scattered rows, measuring time
imperfectly through their slow tumble,
frost-heave, and lichen’s patient growth.

Rachel Westfall
January 21, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cleaning house

There was a small hope of love
like a game between fickle birds
 
not those who mate for life
and grieve into bone-racked hunger
when one loses the other.
 
That small hope flickered
or was it more of a withering
 
a cactus bloom, pearled
and gaudy as an everlasting yet
turned to twisted crepe overnight?
 
Rachel Westfall
January 15, 2011

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Still in bed on a January morning

And then the sun comes out
a pale winter surprise kicking small dust-moths
into a startled flutter
 
And the pale yellow light
is open-souled as your ruffled head
on my pillow
 
And I’m drunk and lost
in the enchanted smell of your sleep
 
Rachel Westfall
January 4, 2010