A LETTER TO HAMMERTOWN 1. The orange chestnut canopy has shredded into a discarded hamper of wet umber, umber-orange, lacy amber, blood-orange & bloody amber rags through which tires carve calm channels in time, neat stripes of a general widening as the averages catch up. I snobbishly note on Shasta's behalf the oddly spindly thighs of her underemployed big city sisters short-leashed by fedora dad or leopard mom insulting white bags threaded through their collars a badge of slavery-- no sniff, no FIELD, no flicker. On the soundwalk the light is louder than I remember, darkest in the undertree gloom dramatic gravel bony underfoot until cranked across by cable car, eighties rain filtering through a carpentered forties porch onto the basement suite stairwell. Twin ghosts of my brother pass each other at different times & don't look up. wary, preoccupied, in transit. Later I made a loop of the pebble crunch & engine so that they'd course through her headphones & make a kind of disco that I could then loop again & install in a top branch under the streetlight a kind of permanent radio. Missing though: the persistent sense of misdirection, the relaxation of muscles associated with certain vocabularies, the slow rounding off of matter under successive waves of daylight & water. The next day the microphone was a hummingbird extracting sugar from ink, hovering locked sentences breaking up in a riot of orange lichen & red bricks flattened under solar flares. 2. I abandon my self to a blushing of precise boundaries, like where a squirrel would step up to snap the branch back fast enough to ride the torque all the way back, a walnut under each arm-- getaway with intent to spring rather than English leave. It's why I wear my shirts backwards & my jacket is the color of the sky. I'd abandon everything for a plush spring with a fat calendar, every day ringing a bell every day floating in a penumbra of sound echolocalic lenses unfurling coiled batwings unflapping as I velociraptor among rainy streets & thread on a knotted length of fishing line pinpricks of orange brick mixed with holiday sweat. You abandon yourself to the runnels & channels of a new boundary, ankle deep sliding thick transparency mirroring even when disrupted the thick marine light located by inference the waggle of a last leaf & two minutes of leaping edit is a spray of divided attention, your lupine shoulder dropping hot science on cold water. 3. The truckers eat on the roof & the roofers eat in their trucks tossing wax paper out the window until a cleansing thermal draft sweeps the top of a cherry-picker, a microbranded cyclist smoking a Drum Blunt squishes in half-sleep his thigh pyjama dancing headset tuned to the sound of a fan or a tiny big band but never opens his eyes not once-- an infant navigator in a chrome helmet racing the wax paper. At the highest branch of the chestnut an FM transceiver relays sounds from the street to another in an alder on the shores of Beck Lake; the chestnut is only discernible from the attic on very quiet nights during frog season or during storms but the one on Beck Lake carries traffic sounds at all times over the reeds, only fading at the forest canopy. 4. & in sleep the furious forest reconstitutes itself the ringing silence thick fleshly endrenched footfall & Shasta's fast footfall lakeside endorsement underalder endorsement ringing antennae of sleep along the long hillsides always stumbling & climbing gravity heavy feet prescient sleep sleep coming to each limb separately heaving the will forward fall asleep walk & fall asleep along the long lakesides. Run & drift awake the stubble of vocabulary swirls around your feet in spouts of antique bliss the furious forest now suffused with a pink x-ray light under which the bones of the street are revealed in arched & baroque forms ringing byzantine brass through coloratura speakers interrupts the operations of sleep along the long avenues always always climbing the will forward will fall asleep & run & drift awake along the long lakesides. 5. Doesn't everyone need a stapler to bind with fallen leaves their lists of unassailable demands? A scotchtape splice to return dead voices to the brink of audibility? A stubborn hippie structure a bottom heavy grid a moving sidewalk portrait? On the second soundwalk the streetcorners bulged with cartoon furniture & clouds of silent winter gnats swirled around the ducts & fans I'd closed my eyes against the expected unexpected birds who kicked the waterjug downwind stuck firecrackers in the gravel held electric toothbrushes against lampposts the expected unexpected tricolor of bad country fireworks strobing raccoon morse code through the left-open gate. Better though to lay down on the curb ears pressed hard against it like GC used to to catch those long lonely city tones, through the headlamp glow instructions were just ghosts in purple offices anyhow. Klondike? Do you hear what he called me? Aren't you going to fight him? Put together drunk, grinning at her favorite brown thing who's mock desperately dialing a cab on the unmanned cash machine her filled in diastema sinking through cookie to cold whiteness The other ones are called gaps... An interval then diastem as you step through this rip of surface tension into another world-- & just as my father carried a pint for his father home from the pub covering it with his hands from the rain I will carry this bucket of cinammon schnaps back from Kingsgate Mall & not spill a drop. Peter Culley's books of poetry include The Climax Forest (Leech 1995), Hammertown New Star 2003, The Age of Briggs & Stratton (New Star 2008) and Parkway (New Star, forthcoming). His essays and art writing have been appearing since 1986. His blog mosses from an old manse has been appearing since 2003. He lives in South Wellington, near Nanaimo.