URBAN KOANS (I) Bricked corridors, buildings bunched elbow-to-elbow in the blue-shift of coastal rain. Street-lamps duck and blush as we pass, fluoride-gazes eschewing all but their own perimeters of pavement, vision hung like a bell in some Pavlovian stoicism. In a corner café the woman beside me uses “logistic” too often to describe the process for naming her first daughter. Magnetic interferences of other lives, their corners flush. Rogue patterns inter-splice our own – how at this age all my friends are institutionalized by marriage, how right angles fashion themselves in every sky-line silhouette and turn of phrase, how the word alone in this city is anaphoric to being. * Intervals of buses Doppler past, heavy-engined. Transit-routes, I’ve read, modeled on the growth of Physarum polycephalum: slime-mold mycelia: neural. Appropriations implicit in every attempt at a human configuration. Outside a Starbucks a blind pigeon drags a scabbed-white leg across the pavement to pinpoint crumbs littered under tables. A useless desire slides like anger, nothing I can do about it: unpin the voodoo between its wings, let it dream of trees. (II) I will never assimilate sirens into something familiar. The phlegmatic cough of the man down the block collecting cigarettes off the sidewalk as if they were clues. Neon bar sign’s chemical slap igniting like indigestion. Also, arrivals I did not foresee. Wind shunted up avenues, smeared on the window panes, its treatise finding little purchase among the constancies of the city’s idling. The extant stirring of a brain while it sleeps: delta-wave erosion at the sharp banks of a dream where the salmon’s rubicund belly oscillates above enormous rooftops, its dying spilled out like slit-sky, a lingua ex nihilo. Nothing grows here, it mutters through hooked lips. * The goldfish you abandoned on my doorstep when you left has been left out to October’s scavenge. The neighbours complain about its death as it lifts like a rapt eye, pressing all of its certainty in what it sees against the thin dished bladder of a Ziploc bag. This particular harshness. I want no proof that I have lived here, nothing witness: river’s shore, bones fussed from the single muscle of a fish by adolescent osprey. What legacies we leave for others, messages fingered on the kitchen window suddenly visible in the condensation of morning’s drained light, the cusp of a single word, held vowels. (III) Felt petticoat, leather gloves, Oxford shoes, every angle conscious of the invisible camera when you snap your fingers on the cigarette between them. I would tell you, forget the gridlock of trying to love in two dimensions. In the distance the sweep of Granville Bridge mid-yawn above the inlet in an act of uncoordinated interface. Westward horizon’s huge arms fold into each other like a book being shut, blackness chaptering the sky. Smoke if it had a sound would be the crow conducted in its genius opening zippers or flagging down small roadside tragedies. The weather’s scanning field littered with their Morse-code, the dash dot dash as they push home, pulled like magnetic flecks of iron across a grey periphery. Something impinges on the senses the way there are sounds you anticipate before the arrival of bad news. * Far away in the north hills, at the fingertips of highways, mossed Sitka harvest the dark, seminal, bundling themselves as thick as marriage vows in the apogee of winter. Scar tissue when it binds in one direction: sap wrung down pale trunks. All our conversions of amber. _____ Jordan Mounteer graduated from the UVic Writing Department and has appeared in The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, Arc, Grain, Prairie Fire, and The Antigonish Review. He recently won the 2014 PRISM international Poetry Prize, and is currently writing bad were-wolf romance novellas in Australia to pay the bills.