i don’t understand these service charges
Woody Guthrie belongs
buried in photographs (his eyes like bronze planets).
(his corpse without hands).
Yes, I’ll hold.
i don’t understand these service charges
Woody Guthrie belongs
buried in photographs (his eyes like bronze planets).
(his corpse without hands).
Yes, I’ll hold.
boots of the girl students have drawn and quartered my manhood.
boots which ride up the ankles, calf, knee, and like conquistador
Spanish boots of Spanish Leather, they ride me, in the abstract, of course.
like Brown Shirts or nascent Israeli henchmen, the boots of the girl
students gather outside the library, pouring kerosene and oil,
dropping journals and Jewish/Palestinian letters, on my manhood. My mantle.
My manifest destiny. Manticore-mangled Meningitis. those boots!
they are mounting a production of Since You Went on the 14 bus
(“make arbeit, not frei” mumbles a shiny black pair of the Russian
(photo of Russian infantry boots here)
but enough about the boots of the girls students! i long for them,
notwithstanding, to destroy me, to walk on me in ceremonial
conclusion to the death of Patriarchy. how could there ever be
such a death? not ever, if it meant the boots of the girl students
were to pass away, down the long, damp alley of history.
make boots of the girls students at home!
1cup: yes! already the tannins!
2tsp: make expensive at home!
4: five large eels! dental floss!
1: new good hockey pucks!
$: penis of the white ghost!
i realise i cannot stop with the boots of the girl students.
it is the phrase, “the boots of the girl students,” which has me,
trapped, in a spell. and located, as i am, in the trees, the birch sap rising, the boots keep passing, anonymously tapping, clicking and
slapping, SLICING AND THWACKING!!!! Literally punching me in
the ears, gouging my thorax.
but i see.
i see you cannot picture the
boots of the girl students. i see you are not met by them, secret-police-
boots-of-the-girl-students, at every turn, at each twist of the stair,
within the line-up for Donut Thing, in the hall outside “Forensic
Snowboarding” YOU CANNOT SEE THEM, free, as you are,
in the flip-flop, sandal’d air.
they are short, with buckles, faux-suede; or
mid-height, a tortured brown, tight on the calves, like a bridle;
or high, swallowing the knees, a tsunami of a shiny black
leather, ruffed in folds, black leather, stinking of paraffin,
parts of the hands of the slaves that were making them
sewn tight in, for effect, for fashion, FOR FASHION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
of course i am sick. but you may not judge. do not judge my
slack, blanched, and withered corpse. it was the boots of the
girl students what destroyed my soul. even now. as i write the
phrase, “boots of the girl students,” my chest aches, my fingers
gnarl, my mind races: did i bring the Dubbin? the tallow? the nugget?
will i find a closet? will i yet ever so soon be able
to finally grasp to seize to consummate my ardour for
THE BOOTS OF THE GIRL STUDENTS?!!!
Reprise: manic fanatic gets well soon
we are the walking thud. the clicking, endless, recedes, approach. we are the crushing heel. we are never. we hide in the hall closet until autumn. we know this mccann. we have him on tape. we know what. we have stepped with/on his toes. we are silent (arch) killers. the dawn is burnishing your eyes. the miracle of whip. the age of bootie, the age. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEG!!!!!!!!!
the Board of Oversight
Dear Seniors, please,
we need you once again,
after turning our backs on you,
and hiding your faces away in homes,
under pills and bad food,
and pacifying your sweet souls with television…
NOW we need you.
Please come out and play,
NOW we need you.
You’ve seen a lot of what rich white men will do,
we need your help to slay a dragon—or two.
God, we NEED your wisdom, so bereft down here,
and we need your voices to flesh out the choir,
WE LOVE YOU, alright? There, I said it,
and for the love of whatever Episcopalian Jehovah
you wanna bring with you,
we need you to take your rightful place
as community advisors, leaders,
as memory, as bearers of justice
(without you, we’re lobotomized).
I don’t know if you’ve noticed
but you’ve helped us elect a monster
—and I only bring it up
because yesterday was Hitler’s birthday.
He’s told you we need prisons
and we need dead and guns for Afghanistan,
and he’s sold Canada’s water
to the highest-paying business man
—you may remember these business men,
they run the care facility you are currently locked within.
Dear seniors, Stephen Harper isn’t your buddy,
he doesn’t stand for safe communities
he doesn’t even stand for Jesus Christ,
he rose, slick and shiny, from the Alberta oil sands.
We’re in a sorry state, dear Seniors
and we could really use your help,
the women’s centres have been shut down
and, perhaps you’ve noticed,
Seniors’ pharma-care funds curtailed,
this Harper isn’t the devil,
because the devil is sort of pretend,
if you really want to help Canada,
then come, let’s rid ourselves of this petro-bog-man.
Dear seniors I ask you especially
Because you seem to be frightened,
like a lot of us
you’ve started believing your television
which is a mistake;
you likely recall
even Brian Mulroney
and (like Merle Haggard said)
how they lied to us all on TV.
You probably remember
a country that was safe to live in
where people had health care
and access to services and community…
Well, that place is almost a memory
and we’ve rich white supremacists
like Stephen Harper to thank,
oil and gun men laughing
all the way as they empty your bank.
They’re selling off Canada,
and they’re shutting down Canada,
and they’re telling you it has to be this way
to balance the budget,
to lower the deficit
but they’re picking your pockets
and they’ve taken the family silverware,
and they’re sure no-one can stop them
’cause they’ve got the law on their side.
Dear Seniors let’s get rid of these clowns
before they devour the last piece of Dominion cake,
I sure wish you’d do your homework
so you understood just what’s at stake.
Imagine as our dictator
—yes, Stephen Harper—
imposes curfews, makes it illegal to be poor
Which will be most of us,
puts high school kids in adult jails
sells off the Canadian Arctic
blasts a pipeline through unwilling B.C.
prorogues Parliament when he senses any dissent
laughs in the face of starving First Nations
shits down your shirt front when pensions can no longer buy a scrap of bread
IMAGINE all this,
BUT stop imagining because it is real
and you’ll start to understand
Just what sort of freakish monster
has been hoisted
to the highest office in your land,
your home and native land.
So, yeah. Okay, like. Alright, here be the piece performed by everyone at the House in the Middle Platypus Open House open studios and readings wine cheese rum-balls!
Speaker #1: (at podium) Thank you, we thank you. It is so good of you for being here with the rest of us, upon whom so very much depends; it is you, you, you, dear ones,
without whom a silence reigns, without you we’re nothing, a stillness falls when we’re not here.
Speaker #3: (shouting slowly from the other room) What? What about this really fake, binary opposition, really, terribly phoney, dichotomy; the one speaking to the other; a (pause) heuristic that privileges one voice over another!
ALL: (from wherever you are) …PRIVILEGES ONE VOICE OVER MANY!! (breathe here) SO MUCH DEPENDS ON (shout the name of your street)! SO MUCH UPON (shout your Mother’s name)! (pause) WE’VE ALWAYS SAID: THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY SOUNDS LIKE (mumble loudly for 3 seconds)!!! VOICES! THESE VOICES!!! OUR VOICES! NOW! HERE!!!!!
#1: So much depends on this situation, of ourselves over here; and us, just where we are, so much—
Speaker #2: (from the back) So much relies on the SPACE WE’RE IN!!! If we were in the thinly woods, or the Burger Baron, why what a different poem is this!
It’s the space we’re in, the space! In which we rely.
#1: Let’s not forget the time! What if we all showed up at different times?
You were here this morning; she, tomorrow; him, he didn’t come at all!
There’d be no one listening.
ALL: (from the diaphram) WE’RE NOT LISTENING! WE’RE SPEAKING!!!!!
#1: Fine, fine, but let’s be mindful of the time.
#3: (shouting slowly from the other room) Proxemics! What about Prox…emics? We need to be close together, close enough so all this makes sense. But! Not! Too close! Our culture will decide if groping is permitted!
ALL: WHAT ABOUT CONTENT?!!!
#1: Mostly filler, like hotdogs! A little weeping, to sell the chapbooks; a little self-righteous indignation to disalign the speaker with corporate capitalism, and we’re all set. Mostly it’s TODDLE! The anti-structure is what counts.
ALL: WE BRING THE MEANING! WE MAKE THE MEANING! AND FILLED WITH MEANING, WE STAGGER HOME, TO BED, AND RETURN THE MEANING TO OUR DREAMS!!!!!
#2: This is an OUTRAGE!!! We came to hear poetry!!!! We came to see art!!!!
ALL: WE ARE POETRY!!!! ART IS WHAT WE ARE!!!!
#1: True! And we’re made to disintegrate! To forget this moment forever! Even now I’m thinking I wore the wrong pants! Who are you people again?
ALL: WE ARE YOU!!!!!! DID WE WEAR THE WRONG PANTS?
#1: (holding up pants) THESE ARE PANTS. There are many others, but these are ours. Pants are like a dog, they die long before the dog-owner. Pants are life. We must master pants as we must many other things in life. Without us, our pants are useless. Without pants, we are still doing fine. We shouldn’t dwell overly on pant-thought. However, we swear this creed: our pants and ourselves combined are defenders of something we may not wholly comprehend, but we are the masters of our pants, notwithstanding; we are the temporary saviors of our lives. So be it, until there is no longer pantness, but peace. Huzzah.
#3: What about linearity? None of this makes any sense without linearity. So much depends upon it!
#2: I tried saying everything at once. It happened on a date. The thing about first dates—
ALL: THERE IS GREAT RISK!!!
#2: Well, I guess that depends on your tastes.
ALL: NO, THAT’S NOT WHAT WE MEANT… SPEECH ACTS INVOLVE GREAT RISK!!!!! WE MAY BE DISTRACTED BY THE SPEAKER’S GENDER, ETHNICITY, TIMBRE—
#1: Here, permit me: (briskly reading) We may be distracted by the speaker’s
sex, race, tone, (loudly) apparent socio-economic status, uniform, my frailty,
the inadvertence of my leotards, facial tattoos—
#2: Here, let me help: We may MISS THE POINT because the speaker HAS NO POINT!!!!!
#3: Or, the speaker is cryptic, cagey, plagiaristic, evil, or worse: overeducated.
ALL: (disinterested) Yeah… (carry on like that for a few seconds)
#1: There is much to be gained in toppling these artificial barriers. We at least ought to try.
ALL: AT LEAST WE DIDN’T HAVE TO SIT THROUGH A POETRY READING!!!!!!! HUZZAH!!!! HUZZAH!!!HUZZAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A Dirge for Boys
In middle summer the trees were emerald fire. Light turned each new leaf
to brilliant moss-green paper lanterns in the ancient oak, maple, and elm—
survivors of disease years. Trees glowed as their branches swayed. The sun
came early and burned away thin grasses in the fields.
Cars came at separate times to the farm house, turning off the dusty side
road, slow-rolling up the long lane. The first car arrived in the morning. A
woman got out and unloaded a little boy and his bags. After a few words of
greeting with grandparents the woman drove away. The second car came in the
afternoon. A man got out and led a small boy to the trunk; he opened it and
pulled out a small kit bag which he handed over to the child. The car soon
disappeared over the hill which marked the one bank of the little valley.
The two cousins were nearly identical. It was difficult to tell who was
older. Later, the clearest mark of distinction would become a scar cut through
the eyebrow of the younger one. The stitches remained—for the duration of the
holiday—laced through the white skin above the eye across the shaved eyebrow
and on up the forehead. The older boy had been compelled, on the first day of
the visit, to throw a thin, sharp stone at the younger one. But the boys remained close.
They walked for hours, exploring the large 150-acre farm. Their grandparents were aged and reflective folk who wiled away their afternoons watering the country garden, engaging in long bouts of silence.
The boys were excited. Rummaging through the tin shed one evening
they discovered an air rifle. Their grandfather showed them how to clean it. A
pile of coins was laid on the counter of the country store in exchange for a
cardboard tube of pellets, perfectly round copper balls.
The children woke early the next morning to the sound of their
grandfather singing in the kitchen. They dressed and went downstairs. Each
boy swallowed cereal without chewing and were soon outside.
They went to the shed.
The gun was pump-action. This thrilled the boys because it was like the
shot-guns they had seen in movies. Each took a turn at the thing: loading a
single pellet into the chamber, pumping the arm along the underside of the
barrel, and pointing it at the shed. The pellets made hollow thuds against the tin wall and left little indentations.
Tiring of this, the boys ran down the path to the dilapidated barn.
The building had collapsed upon itself in a storm. The damage had been
irreparable. The boys set pop bottles up along the limestone ledge of the
foundation and fired shot after shot until the bottles were shattered and in
The younger boy found two jars in the tall grass; when these were broken
by the pellets the boys searched deeper in the grasses and uncovered old beer
bottles. These were made from darker glass and had grown mired in the grasses
close to the soil. The older boy gave the rifle over after the targets were set.
“I got a idea,” he said. “If ya hit a bottle ya get ta keep shooting. But if
you miss, yer turn’s over.”
“I dunno,” said the younger boy.
“Come on. It’ll be a contest for best shooter in the world.”
This notion stirred something in the younger boy, and he agreed. He was
excited. Holding the gun was difficult. He tried lining up the v-notch with the
little metal point at the end of the barrel; then pointing toward the bottle. He
The older boy took the gun. He loaded a pellet into the chamber. He
froze as he aimed the gun. And then, Pompf! as the pellet flew through the air in a straight line and cracked the beer bottle.
“My turn,” said the younger boy.
“Nope. I hit the target, so I get to keep shootin’.”
“But you didn’t bust it,” said the younger boy.
“I don’t hafta bust it, just hit it, stupid.”
The older boy fired again. A large chunk fell out of the bottle neck. He
grew excited and spoke in a strange voice to himself as though he were radio
operator: “Captain Smith, we need you to take that enemy agent out,” and he
answered the imaginary command, saying, “10-4, General. Leave everything to
This aroused the younger boy’s imagination for a time, but as he watched
the older boy continue to fire and the bottle crumble away, he became
disinterested and sat on a rock. “When’s it gonna be my turn?” he asked.
“When I miss the target,” said the older boy, vigorously pumping the rifle.
The younger boy sighed and stood up. He walked off in the direction of
The older boy watched him go. He raised the rifle and pointed it at the
younger boy’s back. He turned and fired at the last bottle. It broke and fell into the grass. He looked along the empty ledge, turned, and called out to the younger boy. “Hey! Come on! We’ll go shoot somethin’ else.”
“What? What’ll we shoot?”
“Umm.” He looked around. Tall, brown grass swayed in a blast of hot
wind. The farm spread before him, the high fields blending into lower plains
beyond a cow fence. A sparrow darted out of the wrecked barn. It flew in wild,
soaring bounds, twisting in the air in impossible ways.
“We’ll shoot birds.”
“Takin’ turns?” asked the younger boy.
The younger boy skipped through the grass. “Where should we go bird
Looking up into the sky, the older boy realised the air above them was
filled with sparrows looping and soaring and skimming the tall grasses. It was
as if he had never seen sparrows before. One flew straight up over his head and
disappeared through a crack in the crumbled wall of the wrecked barn. Another
bird burst out through the same opening. “Come on!” he cried in his radio voice and ran off.
“10-4,” answered the other boy, in his own, peculiar radio voice.
Inside the barn dusty beams of sunlight broke through the wall, lighting
everything a bleached grey. The far wall was tumbled down and the roof had
sunken in on top of it. It was a jumble of splintered wood and shattered nails.
The older boy noticed another sparrow fly through the hole in the wall and drift up to rest on an angled beam which hung precariously above.
In notches and gaps along the beam were nests of sparrows and
hatchlings. On top of the beam were more nests.
The older boy spoke in his radio voice, his hand cupped over his mouth
for resonance. “Captain Smith—you and Robertson get into position. The
enemy bat planes are your targets.”
“10-4!” crackled the younger boy, his hand cupped over his mouth. But as
he watched the older boy take aim at one of the perching sparrows, his hand
lowered slowly to his side.
The older boy aimed carefully; the rifle shook uncontrollably in his hands.
Instead of squeezing the trigger gently, he pulled at it recklessly. A pellet
embedded itself in the porous beam. A startled sparrow leapt into the air from
its nest, circling in the dusty shadows and half light of the barn.
“Did ya hit it?” asked the younger boy, his voice hushed.
The older boy did not answer right away. He lowered the rifle and stood
motionless, watching the flying bird. Something overcame him. It took a
moment for the thing to take shape inside of him, working its thrill over his
mind. The idea moved down his arms into his hands and burned there,
sweating. It rose out of his stomach and flowed into his chest, circling above
him. He could feel his heart beat coldly, tight against his ribs. “Yer shot,” he mumbled, and passed the rifle.
The younger boy aimed at a hatchling. It was five feet above him. The
pellet struck the head protruding out of the nest. The head sank out of sight.
“Didja see that?” shouted the younger boy. He stomped through the old
hay on the barn floor in a burst of joy, aiming the rifle at imaginary targets.
He made gunfire sounds with his mouth, Pchow! Pchow!, and radio noises
with his cupped hand, “Tfffff—Good work, Major Roberts. Any more enemy
agents in sight?”—and, in response to his imagined commander, “Yes, Sir!” He
knelt down to aim but the older boy pushed him and wrenched the rifle from his
“It’s my turn,” he said, and took slow aim at a bird perched on the beam.
The gun made a popping sound and at the same moment the bird fell to the dirt
floor below. It fluttered on the ground, its head bent at an odd angle.
“What are you gonna do now?” asked the younger boy.
“I dunno,” said the other, and the two watched the bird.
“Maybe we kin fix it.”
“Looks like its neck’s broke.” The sparrow slowed its frantic movements
and lay breathing, moving one wing then the other. “Can’t fix a broke neck.”
“Step on it! Step on the thing,” said the younger boy, though he made no
motion toward the bird.
The older boy, too, remained where he was. He handed the rifle over. “Here, shoot it in the head. Put it outta misery.”
The younger boy cocked the air rifle and pressed the barrel against one of
the bird’s eyes. When the gun fired the bird shook and then lay still. The small
black feathers on the bird’s head were parted by the blast and the pellet had torn its way into the skull. The bird’s body resembled a lump of cloth.
The boys stared down at it for a few moments. Their faces were empty.
Blood collected on the bird’s small, pointed beak. “Let’s go outside,” said the older boy. He took the rifle from the loose hands of the younger boy. They walked out into sunlight.
“Ohh …” the younger boy held his stomach as though he might be ill.
The older boy did not look at him. His eyes traced down the long cattle
fence and over the lower fields. “Let’s keep a secret over this,” he said. “No-one knows. Let’s keep a secret over it.”
The younger boy nodded.
Their eyes drifted to the horizon and into the sky. The hot light of day
spread across their faces. Clouds rolled in the blue.
Throughout the night, rain fell onto the grass fields. It coated the black
leaves of trees. When the rain first moved down the slope of the valley the noise was a gentle tapping. It rose to a rhythmic drumming as it moved across the gravel side-road at dusk. Everywhere at once the summer heat dropped away.
Soon the rain became a hissing roar.
The boys slept heavily, but the rain permeated their dreams with a
background that was indelicate and shocking. Though each of them slept on and
did not awaken, both began to roll and turn in the large beds of the guest room.
The older boy was having a nightmare. He was stuffed in a basket and carried on the blue back of an enormous bird-person. The creature hobbled as it walked, moving through a damp and endless hollow, struggling along on crutches. The creature wore a short white shroud. The boy could not see its face, but occasionally, as the creature struggled, he caught a glimpse of a long yellow
beak. The boy sensed this bird-person was weary from carrying him. He could
hear its exhausted breathing. There was something in the basket with him. It
terrified him. It was there and yet not there, cold, half-formed, next to his head.
But the boy could not move his head, as though he were frozen. The dark
figure loomed fully into shape beside him. It placed a cold metal finger on his
forehead. At that moment the bird-person carrying the basket stumbled,
staggering in the dimness. Then it fell. The boy was falling, falling.
Their grandfather was not singing in the kitchen. The two boys got up
from the table, put their bowls in the sink, and walked out to the shed. The
younger boy took the air rifle down from its nail. The older boy filled his
pockets with pellets. They wandered the path to the ruined barn but passed it
by, making for the lower fields.
The sun lit the trees in the early morning. The leaves, watered throughout
the night and filling slowly with moisture, had grown darker. Grass scratched at their bare legs as they walked. An early morning cicada thrushed its electric pulses into the air. The sound of the thick, shrieking metallic buzz startled them.
They moved through the low fields and came to a semi-circle of trees. The
ground sank into a large declivity – a watering pond once used for cattle. The
pool had swollen above its banks from the rain. Pinched under the surface were
lily pads, water flowers, and weeds.
The boys looked into the pool. Water stryders skimmed the surface in
short bursts, trailing small wakes. A light wind touched the water’s face and
The younger boy knelt and pulled a small stone from the ground. He let it
drop into the water. Frightened by the splash, frogs leapt from hiding into the
pond, seeking the safety of the depths.
The boys looked at one another. The older boy lay down on his belly at the edge of the sloping embankment. He waited. The younger boy got down beside him.
They scanned the water’s surface.
Soon the younger boy nudged his cousin and pointed to the shallows at
the far edge of the pond. The older boy aimed the gun at a small bump rising
cautiously above the surface. Two small eyes protruded from the water.
The older boy squeezed the trigger. A splash upset the still surface. There
was a spasm in the water and then the frog’s body surfaced, inverted and rigid.
The boys passed the rifle silently between them. They bore down on surfaced
frogs, aiming and killing. Occasionally, they moved to the water’s edge, holding
the barrel up to the heads of frogs they’d failed to kill outright.
This act did not trouble them. Eventually, instead of killing off the
wounded, helpless frogs, the boys carefully went about the work of blinding
them. The younger boy had discovered this technique. He aimed for the head of
a large frog but when the pellet struck, it embedded in its eye socket. The frog
writhed in the shallows but did not die. The boy seized it by the leg and drew it up onto the steep bank. He pumped the rifle and held the barrel against the
frog’s other eye. The frog groped madly in the loose sand of the bank, becoming
coated in the grit, its limbs moving frantically. Blood flowed from its wounds.
The small mouth opened and closed mechanically, filling with sand.
The younger boy’s mouth unconsciously mimicked this movement. He stood and wiped his hands on his shorts. Both boys watched excitedly until the frog stopped moving. Its abdomen rose and fell once more and then it was still.
The older boy took the rifle and circled to the other side of the pond. A
small frog floated in the deep water. He struck with his first shot and broke the creature’s spine. A portion of bone protruded from the wound. The frog’s arms beat helplessly in the water. Its legs did not move.
The older boy searched eagerly under the trees. He returned with a stick
and used it to reach out over the depths and draw the slowly clawing frog to the
shore. Once this was done he set the stick aside. He dragged the frog out of the
shallows by one of its back legs and laid it on the dry sand. He looked from rifle to frog and, unsatisfied, once more went up into the trees. Soon he returned with some small twigs. Kneeling, he erected a crude scaffold, against which he leaned the dying frog. Then he moved back, pumping the rifle. He spoke in the voice of the radio.
“The enemy agent is to be executed at once. Captain Smith, proceed with
The frog slumped a little. Then the boy answered in his own voice, saluting, his eyes staring straight and hard out over the lower fields. “Yes, Sir.”
The younger boy, who had been watching from the far shore, followed
around and stood next to the older boy. “Can I have a shot?”
“Aw, come on.”
“Get your own enemy frog. Now stand back, I bin ordered to execute.”
The younger boy persisted. “Please?”
“No!” repeated the older boy as he took aim, firing into the belly of the
injured frog. The force of the pellet knocked the frog over, toppling the scaffold of sticks. A long gash was torn across the frog’s white belly. A red foam emerged from the wound. The small throat moved up and down.
“Come on, lemme try!” cried the younger boy. He lunged for the rifle.
The older boy kicked him in the stomach. The blow sent the younger boy to his
knees on the water’s edge.
The older boy pointed the rifle at him. He pulled it up and cocked it. He
The younger boy’s eyes clenched shut as the barrel was pointed at his
chest, then lifted and pressed against his face. He opened his eyes, feeling the
barrel on his forehead. It was held tight against his skin and then dragged along the scar, catching on the stitches.
The older boy moved away, turning his attention back to the frog. He
pointed the barrel. “This is you,” he said over his shoulder at his cousin.
The day crept slowly into afternoon. The boys crouched silently, waiting,
and then with quick excited movements, bursts of air and water, they killed the
But then a moment came when they were merely waiting for frogs. The
pond was empty. Carcasses of dead frogs littered the waterside. The boys stared
Soon the older boy waved the gun. “Come on,” he said, and they moved
off toward the upper fields and the farmhouse.
When August came the boys went home in their separate cars. The pond
dried away to a light brown dust, devoid of vegetation. Only a hint of moisture
could be seen, in the middle, where the deepest waters had been.
*From Mark Anthony Jarman’s “Love is All Around Us”
tetanus (for Laurie Siblock)
1. i know it’s serious:
when i got off the phone
—something i never
and the blood came plodding, ocean-green
(things go unsaid,
2. at my favorite restaurant, Pants,
i decide on the
varietals of garnish from mid-western strip malls.
the meal arrives sans cutlery:
3. your flamingo
lurking in the wings,
4. the logic of Twinkies, bear-claws, wagon wheels:
tangible evidence of the
still-born, indigestible reminders
of one’s unfortunate longings.
5. i know it’s serious:
Friday night, Monday morning.
makes no mention
i know, i know.
6. not Cuba this year, either.
7. who can say how
many personal revelations
have led, erroneously,
to this place?
pylons to a troubled bridge,
freeway to footpath:
8. dream vacation:
to the last blank bill-board,
but the scissors.
I am so melo’t’nin today, sleepy like I have brain cancer
and, don’t laugh, the curse of the winter semester
is its unrelenting parade of ‘tarded assignment
after mini-paper after poetry/pruning seminar
after Inca masonry exhibit after stack
after stack after stack of Marxist
anthropology essays and
rotten I know
but I’d rather be at
a shit job right now all
giddy on the rope and clock
watching and okay you can laugh
I mean what else can you? I feel as though
a $60,000 joke has been played in my honour and
I don’t get it will I ever get it or a job or even a weekend at
ward? I just
hope for spring
but remember when
we were in the shit and we
couldn’t wait to get out? It’s all
hell, Sherman said that, all hell is war
and, in our case, cheap labour like coffee
picking or rubber plantationing or slave trade
into slaves when
I had the chance now
I’m in graduate school
I’m the slave
slave to the pen
the laptop the mini
recorder the lecture the
seminar the essay the the the
I think I’m’a
take my student
loan next September
and spend THE WHOLE
THING on a motor home a real
nice class “A” and really start living
and just because I don’t know what really
living looks like it won’t stop me
I’ll drive somewhere and from
there somewhere else and
I’ll have a woodstove put
in so I can tough it
out over winter
up in the
a lake my god
every day and eating re-
frieds just to stay alive and
maybe I’ll write something signif-
icant but I’m not gonna put any press-
ure on myself that’s my fail-safe is not put-
ting pressure ’cause we’re not bloody wounds
you don’t HAVE TO APPLY PRESSURE to life now
do you? even if it all seems like the pipe dream
wrought from the soul-gut of an aging
hipster who is likely never to
leave Kelowna again
or even escape the awful
dread corporate nightmare life
I see men my age they scare me but
not the way you might think they are
dead inside except for a really small part that
moves their mouths their hands and the smaller
part that sees money and I wonder what they do at
night but really I know already they watch TV TV TV TV
a machine that builds machines in their heads so
they go to bed with the machine dream in
their heads and I’m likely already one of
these low-voltage monsters
and my dream
of a class “A” is proof it reeks
of comfort it stinks of middle class
senility like your dad wearing “sensible” shoes
there’s a bit of death in “sensible”
all this time I was
being vigilant for sudden
and unremitting death DEATH
but in fact it is gradual comes with
the collapse of WONDER the fugue of
sugar the forgetfulness of mid-life when you
forget the once-was electric joy in your bones and
blood and you stagger into a New Balance outlet and
lay your money down on a new pair of “sensible”
but I promise my class “A” will be something
insensible incomprehensible a film
studio a gallery of taxidermied
cats a rolling cafe unlicenced
but no matter WE GIVE IT
AWAY maybe a
in the informal logic
of Ponderosa pines
maybe the biggest coffin
in the history of the McCann Klan
maybe penicillin for the dread that daily
washes through my transom window
oh god this poem
has lost its brakes
did I mention this is all procrastination because
to write a GTA application
twenty minutes ago but I am
completely uninterested and but so that
doesn’t take away from my vision splendid
far from it these moments of acute stress make the
visions all the more lovely all the more real all
the more apotheotic so’s the sub-alpine lake
so’s the refried beans so’s the class
“A” I think I wanna be buried inna
class “A” the HUGE driver area
that SHAMES a Hummer
the full bath
the master bedroom
the chance for life
people laugh just shake their heads
but I will be
I mean a class “A”
coming down your driveway
with me and a whole bunch of
novel relics or stories or
have to take