absence and fonder hearts
spark campground fires,
homes away from home
house-sat by anonymous
bugs tittering citronella
flame and drip

token guitars sing
through broken strings
of the ones that got away,
simpler times, and the blue
skies beyond the starry black
we conduct in mud-cake jean
and boot annealing
below marshmallow batons

beers and thermos-teas empty
as chill night fills
with harvesting moons, moonlight
and firelight ways to illumine
all these beckoning, vigilant
trees, these overnight canvas
communities, all the paths leading
back to the city

its various switches already
flicking on and off and off and on,
familiar beds and dreams and alarms
just another homecoming away

~ Ben Murray

Ben Murray’s debut collection What We’re Left With, was published in 2007 by Brindle & Glass. He was short listed for This Magazine’s 2008 Great Canadian Literary Hunt, competed in the 2009 CBC Alberta Poetry Face-Off, and has work forthcoming in Descant and CV2. Ben calls Edmonton home, the mountains close enough to call.

“Home to me ultimately means our planet, whose welcome mat we’ve soiled and sullied to the degree that the ‘welcome’ is barely visible anymore. Alternatively, home is where my cats graciously allow me to reside as their probationary border.”

Read more of Ben Murray’s poetry:
Elk Island Park Expedition, April 2004
Finders Keepers
Sharing the Stage

Editor’s note: This poem is from Home and Away – a sequel to the bestselling Writing the Land (2007). Look for one poet to be featured each day as Alberta poets ponder the question “what is home?” and explore our complex relationship with working on, living with, exploiting and protecting our land and our home. For more information about the project, click here.

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