Carol Shillibeer

Detritus 1

Microorganisms (such as bacteria or fungi) break down detritus, and this microorganism-rich material 
is eaten by invertebrates, which are in turn eaten by vertebrates.

Our lives, a mayfly’s briefest wish, tiny home in the forest of desire, even our wooden walls have 
longer memories. The only out is through―connection to history’s detritus―each bite has lasted 
longer than we, can be breathed in, or eaten, then danced into life.

two step, pelt the floor, tip slide and only then
tap, over the archway, senescent floor
200-year arboreal history, daylight dance of abandon
click & slide of joints, muscles windy wail
ligaments as piano keys, snare of neuronal drives
whack the tingle, wrists stretch
wave legs celery in tomato and gin, pop of vertebra finally bridged
hair’s gravity lift & slap, wet forehead on sweat
jump the planks centuries old dust, detritus of a forest long gone

blue spark of aeon’s longing, yellow blaze of stratigraphic building
life, river funnel down, a teaspoon trying to bail
body & its calls, an ocean needs drinking
that old legend, a man who can swallow it all, & me tiny silver
what use micro-dose of power, tangled history under foot
humour plunges rabbit-eared, plainclothes bunnies & subterranean
detectives, playtime in porcupine’s garden, curve & twist
here goes the sound-cannon, tornado of a syncopated beat
purple haze & foot follow, never right but for the spray of heat 

Detritus 2

the detritus of war

I am the broken bits of the universe, blue shine
eats iridescent wing, sun’s tips latest ray
longing’s height, thunder’s gorge when confronted
long quiet, cavernous reaches of mind
blueberries on a mountainside, tight baskets empty
if not for small diamonds, fields of emerald sighs

citrine’s ogre, slow on the upswing of time
applause stirs rancid, rainshower‘s last drops
the letter E, dictionary’s remaining corpse
ant’s leg in segments, these last remnants of war
C# from Mozart played in 1859, dust from bedrock
exposed by an abyssal event, smell of pterodactyl love
shard of egg shell from the earliest of birds
a single aromatic molecule from bear scat
laid down in the Kodiak Islands before any humans ever came
raspberry’s ancestor, his last known hair
starfish stomachs, blasted basalt, rock dust in a lightning
strike, formed as I am from the detritus of war

Detritus 3

1. a loose mass of stones, silt, etc, worn away from rocks
2. an accumulation of disintegrated material or debris
3. the organic debris formed from the decay of organisms

pink in a indigo field, black lightning on white fields of stone
red petals, blue noses, fingers flash stoned by an intermittent sun
moon blares sequence of iterating keys, flash of jackdaw wings
philosophy of beetles huddled under turtle shells
wood smoke on a hamburger run, poems in corpus
aster from a corpse’s chest, shot through with dye packs
bank jobs for charities hum, songs composed of broken
silences, kings, & their sons, fragile egos & devastation

life begins in the wingbeats of a hummingbird, between spines
porcupine sings, squash blossoms fire the sun
morning songs at the river race soundscape of realty’s plum
broken stream of coronet hums, firelight of nightimes
electron sprites, hills that speak of transition
atoms in conversation with molecular jazz
protein synthesis water sung, of these things I become one 

Detritus 4

L, a rubbing away: see detriment

I long to
be worn down to the tongue of a rescued cat, transform
obedience to longing, loose locks over broken time

to call shards, broken bone re-embedded
call lost innovation, perhaps trust or just
quiet years between times, birds from their egg dreams
or an elephant’s song percussive in its planning

to store broken feathers safely, perhaps sailors
clothed in nutmeg & abalone, remark upon
fragility of hulls, waveforms tenacious & narwhal
horns legitimate firstborn pines, stir up storm winds
so that they echo aurora borealis in southern seas

to ride the crest of parrot wings cruising on human sighs
transmute cloud forms into rock towers
chant words so they swim with the tide
render the heart’s meaning in a beat, string theory
pasodoble heat, unglove capsaicin fingers to melt
eternity’s lies, stitch cowrie shells on red wool
pile hot rocks in a bathtub for three

remember the flash of burning salt that lifts
foot bare in the dust, jump to the sound of rafter squirrels
mice behind wallboard, possum under
roadways into the dark, and when nothing else is left
become the thump of an impromptu dance 

Detritus 5

Many freshwater streams have detritus rather than living plants as their energy base.

composed of broken caliphs, echoes made of someone’s
painful moans, disintegrating butterfly wings, moribund pupae
small row boats fragmented on transparent seas

drowned birch in a green lake, white shimmer under dead
eagle’s wing, listen to mountains kiss the wind, crumbled stories
never understood, hesitancy of buried volcanoes

orangery & parrot wing, speckled rocks squash columbine
rosemary on the pathway toward death
small grass-filled dune, surf undercuts endlessly

magic shit that fertilizes reality, scissors hyperintensity
trumpets call from orioles’ beaks, jackdaws chant the rising moon
birthing bed, its molecular dissolution creation’s implacability 

Detritus 6

(countable, chiefly geology) Pieces of rock broken off by ice, glacier, or erosion

kittens under sea, swim along the current of purr
snakes render calculus mute, function of a sign
measure the curve under someone's desire
platitudes of purple, where are the times for renewal

over sunrise the moon circles backwards
under a crow’s wing, in the ponderosa forest
small flower bark’s designated driver to the future
endings come long before beginnings
here are the signs of the times broken
bits realign, someone notices letters remain
bridge between history & rock’s quiet

like a beak you think it ends
clang of piano strings struck with a brass
rod once the part of a clock which ran the seas
dispersion of sound along the eye’s blue vector
beetle wings under glass, spark & fire wand
wood glows with greed, sweat lifts, clouds grow
can it be long before water comes, under palm leaves
new music hides silently, hurricanes free stolen notes
kidnapped songs lift free of memory, hurry back
into reality, here are the red sounds, bump mind bound
jack rabbits long feet on the trail down-river run
raft over the fish scales rising salmon calibrations
sperm shallows & egg deeps, corpses feed, planets breed
faint beating echo, a song that is me 

Detritus 7

dēterō (present infinitive dēterere, perfect active dētrīvī, supine dētrītum); third conjugation
          1.	I rub off, rub away, wear out, rasp
          2.	I lessen, weaken or impair
Sources of medieval detritus and middens

I am in these natural things:
modicum of river pebbles, glacial minds
grey rain on blue glass, shores of pillowed duck down
geese cranks over spring bulbs, red trestles
sodden wood, old wharves where the rats run
remnants of histories under rain glazing
smell of fried fish, music from the bar
flung sweat from 200-year-old dancers
men with poised arms, wrists turn white & shirts
flare the summer wind, red dress bells kneed breeze
lighthouse turned tourist walks cliff paths
dancers lift the skirts of the universe, stars pass by
promenade with comets & barely leashed asteroids
and still, despite an impeccable heritage
I remain merely me

Carol Shillibeer lives on the west coast of Canada. She has pieces published in a variety of journals.
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