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Best Famous Michael Ondaatje Poems

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by Michael Ondaatje | |

Speaking To You (From Rock Bottom)

 Speaking to you
this hour
these days when
I have lost the feather of poetry
and the rains
of separation 
surround us tock
tock like Go tablets

Everyone has learned 
to move carefully

'Dancing' 'laughing' 'bad taste'
is a memory
a tableau behind trees of law

In the midst of love for you
my wife's suffering
anger in every direction
and the children wise
as tough shrubs
but they are not tough
--so I fear
how anything can grow from this

all the wise blood
poured from little cuts
down into the sink

this hour it is not
your body I want
but your quiet company

by Michael Ondaatje | |

The Time Around Scars

 A girl whom I've not spoken to
or shared coffee with for several years
writes of an old scar.
On her wrist it sleeps, smooth and white, the size of a leech.
I gave it to her brandishing a new Italian penknife.
Look, I said turning, and blood spat onto her shirt.
My wife has scars like spread raindrops on knees and ankles, she talks of broken greenhouse panes and yet, apart from imagining red feet, (a nymph out of Chagall) I bring little to that scene.
We remember the time around scars, they freeze irrelevant emotions and divide us from present friends.
I remember this girl's face, the widening rise of surprise.
And would she moving with lover or husband conceal or flaunt it, or keep it at her wrist a mysterious watch.
And this scar I then remember is a medallion of no emotion.
I would meet you now and I would wish this scar to have been given with all the love that never occurred between us.

by Michael Ondaatje | |


 Griffin calls to come and kiss him goodnight
I yell ok.
Finish something I'm doing, then something else, walk slowly round the corner to my son's room.
He is standing arms outstretched waiting for a bearhug.
Why do I give my emotion an animal's name, give it that dark squeeze of death? This is the hug which collects all his small bones and his warm neck against me.
The thin tough body under the pyjamas locks to me like a magnet of blood.
How long was he standing there like that, before I came?

by Michael Ondaatje | |

Application For A Driving License

 Two birds loved
in a flurry of red feathers
like a burst cottonball,
continuing while I drove over them.
I am a good driver, nothing shocks me.

by Michael Ondaatje | |

Notes For The Legend Of Salad Woman

 Since my wife was born
she must have eaten
the equivalent of two-thirds
of the original garden of Eden.
Not the dripping lush fruit or the meat in the ribs of animals but the green salad gardens of that place.
The whole arena of green would have been eradicated as if the right filter had been removed leaving only the skeleton of coarse brightness.
All green ends up eventually churning in her left cheek.
Her mouth is a laundromat of spinning drowning herbs.
She is never in fields but is sucking the pith out of grass.
I have noticed the very leaves from flower decorations grow sparse in their week long performance in our house.
The garden is a dust bowl.
On our last day in Eden as we walked out she nibbled the leaves at her breasts and crotch.
But there's none to touch none to equal the Chlorophyll Kiss

by Michael Ondaatje | |

(Inner Tube)

 On the warm July river
head back

upside down river
for a roof

slowly paddling
towards an estuary between trees

there's a dog
learning to swim near me
friends on shore

my head
back to the eyebrow
I'm the prow
on an ancient vessel,
this afternoon
I'm going down to Peru
soul between my teeth

a blue heron
with its awkward
broken backed flap
upside down

one of us is wrong

his blue grey thud
thinking he knows
the blue way
out of here

or me