Oyster Boy Review 14  
  Winter 2001
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» Levee 67



George Elliott Clarke

Rain-scruffed yellow-stone,
weather-wrinkled as bark
is like bark, flood-lit by rain;
and the harbour is slate,
heaving like a black lung—
or a cascade of rat's paws
tearing at the boats barged
against chafing wharves,
those tongues cunnilingusing
the salt-blasted waves.
The wind stinks of pitch or oil;
boats wobble back and forth
like Liberal Party rhetoric,
the keel and rudder uncertain
while the Imperoyal Refinery's
hellish, deathless flame smudges
the night-bitter air, its broth
and chowder of pollution.
If only snow or rain cascading
through smoky, cranky alleys,
could tint this city of raw war
petrifyingly beautiful! But its
history has only blessed horror:
the legislature's flanked by Howe,
defiant, and a Boer War soldier,
La Liberté guidant le peuple.
So orange light goes up as prayer
and comes down leaf-dark,
rotten as crushed cockroaches,
and pornographic drizzle
lays dirty rain and explicit sleet,
this King Lear weather heaps up
snow and shotgunned corpses.
Winter-closed roses look vase-
shaped; the harbour is stone
leeching black water, leaking
black water, near the winged
lion that Venice gave Halifax,
the Worker's Sodom, the Vatican
of Vice, the Dominion of Doom,
where every clock is stopped
at 9:06 A.M., December 6, 1917,
when eyes spiked on glass,
and molten iron rained on the streets
and the war came home viciously,
and all the light was smoke.