by  Jamie Reid


Rhapsody: Lester's Sound

Here are notes like the motes of the last dappled sunlight, 
    melting like gold on the clusters of leaves.

Here too is the singing light of the dawn on the same leaves, 
    reawakened in the eyes of the man who has not slept 
    throughout the night.

Here are the first stars of the evening like emeralds embroidered
    on velvet, and here are the last stars of the morning,
    like ice melting on silk.

Here is the light in the smoke of the nightclub, where the 
    feelings of lovers and lonely ones float to the ceiling 
    in spirals.

Here is their love of the music, which they cling to because 
    they despair of anything else to rescue the heart of man.

Here is the sound of the heart purely in love, loving nothing 
    in particular, but all of the particulars of the world 
    in which that heart is alive and beating.

Here is the sound of the heart and breathing, alive to the nuance 
    of just this precise unalterable moment and no other.

Here is the joy of pure desire which desires nothing 
    but to be lost amongst all of the things which are.

Here is the permanent moment of rain remembered.

Here is the flurry of notes like snow, strangely warm, into which 
    the voice of a woman suddenly enters to comfort you, 
    but which is just as suddenly smothered again.

Here is the ache of the air from which her voice has been 
    so cruelly withdrawn.

Here is the milky luminescence of fog spread and reflected, 
    droplet by droplet of wet, until nothing is seen but 
    that silvery shining, the same as it was at the beginning 
    of things.

Beyond this, there is a darkness barely seen, beyond which again 
    is another and more perfect darkness unseen.

Here is the pit-a-pat-pat of counting, in which the spaces 
    between the numbers are never the same length 
    and are never the same shape either.

Here is the moment when time stops and goes back on itself, 
    when all the gestures and reachings of past life 
    are repeated as though in a film reversed.

Here is the single damaging phrase flashing like a tongue 
    of terrible flame into the darkened room 
    where a door has been opened by surprise.

Here is the flickering static of atoms and electrons jostling, 
    sounds which began their journey to earth 
    ten million years ago and more.

Here is the annihilating honk of the great black holes in space, 
    ravening for loose matter and light, so dense with being 
    they annihilate all being, all becoming and all knowing.

Here is the drone and cry of the creatures beneath the sea, 
    the clatter of billions of claws drowned in sea water.

Here is the love between particular men and women, 
    transcending sex and generation, but locked in that same 
    shuddering medium out of which the new is constantly coming, 
    smelling like roses.

Here are the eyes of the trees glancing at you without smiling 
    and without pain.

Here are dresses and suits lined up in racks on a city street, 
    the shoes piled in bins, which will never be worn, 
    while barefoot men and women are walking 
    the sides of the river, half-naked and hungry.

Here is the sound of coins in the pocket. Taken into your hand, 
    they speak with an echo of Hammurabi and Caesar, and of 
    the old man recently found dead in the street.

Here, strangely, there are no flowers, except for the odor 
    of those roses, and a single very white gardenia, 
    perched in a woman's hair.

Here is the sound of water wherever it appears. In its lapping, 
    you hear the sound of languages unwritten and forgotten.

But here too is the voice of a language not yet spoken 
    by a race of men and women not yet born.

Copyright 1993 by Jamie Reid


Born in Timmins, Ontario in 1941, Jamie Reid moved to Vancouver at the age of twelve. He attended King Edward High School and the University of British Columbia. While still in high school Jamie discovered the writers of the beat generation and was introduced to modern jazz. At UBC his love of poetry was encouraged and nurtured at the undergraduate writers' workshops. As one of the original editors of Tish magazine, founded in 1961, Reid helped establish Vancouver as one of the main centres for poetry in Canada. In 1968, his first book, The Man Whose Path Was on Fire, was published by Talonbooks. That same year he began a long detour away from poetry into politics. The detour ended in 1987, when he returned to the west coast and to poetry.

Rhapsody: Lester's Sound is the first section of Reid's book-length poem, Prez, published in 1993 by Oolichan Books. For ordering information visit the publisher's website:

Other works by Jamie Reid available online: