Saturday, March 6, 2021

Two Poems, by Elana Wolff

 

Calf Love

                 —after FK


You were lying

supine in the river. Held by the fevered

stream of breaking through.

You who were always

grieved by the deep

embarrassment

of human existence,

found exhilaration in display:

to write about ejaculation in traffic;

traffic over the river

drowning you out.

As if by word association,

one achieves release. As if—

but then it’s done.

Under the bridge and out of sight,

you have to choose:
                              Do I sink?

Instinctually, you swim.

Yet only between the lines,

and after the story ends.

 

 

Jejune

 

This tongue was never altogether mine.
I dreamt a guttural country,
desert mountains at the heart
and woke up parched. 
I put my ear to earth
for an indication,
heard a soundtrack—every song I knew
I had to learn: how losing isn’t opposite
to winning,

                      it’s making space.
One only sees the space
in looking back.  

You were every hydrant that July
I was on fire. Heat inside me
adolescent / green.
What did you see?
That value would eventually
increase? That one day
we would face the parent range?

                         (I speak of mountains.)
That language needs decoding
and translation (whatever we speak)? 

Where do dragons live?
                               —In castles.
What do foxes eat?
                                  —Gingerbread men.
What’s as soft as a preemie’s wrinkled knee?

           —The smaller wrinkled knee
                         of the tinier twin.  

Jackals howled in the street last night,
beneath the babies’ window.
Creatures tempted   
out of the woods,
into the heart of the city. 
I heard them eating off their knives,
licking the blades
as if they were lips—

                      like preternatural humans.
I ran to grab the babies from their cribs.

 

 

 

Elana Wolff is a Toronto-based writer of poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has recently appeared (or will appear) in Canadian Literature, The Dalhousie Review, Taddle Creek Magazine, Vallum: Contemporary Poetry, The Banyan Review, Eclectica, GRIFFEL, and Sepia. Her collection, Swoon (Guernica Editions), is the winner of the 2020 Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Three Poems, by Chris Turnbull

 
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from "notes from recently"







Chris Turnbull is the author of Continua (Chaudiere Books 2015; Invisible Press 2019) and [ untitled ] in o w n (CUE Books 2014). Recent chapbooks include contrite (above/ground 2019), Undertones, a collaboration with text/artist Bruno Neiva (Low Frequency Press 2019), notes from recently (Trainwreck Press 2020), and, with artist Dominique Cameron, a visual and poetic exchange, Converse Walking (stickywilly press, 2020). Other visual and text based work can be found online, in print, and within landscapes. She curates a footpress, rout/e, whereby poems are planted on trails: www.etuor.wordpress.com


Friday, February 5, 2021

Two Poems, by Lillian Nećakov

 

Wreckhouse Winds

It was a lie we told for years. That it had snowed in June of ’67, because we could,
because no one stopped us, because the trees that day, looked as if they were made
of bone or young ice. Because the inaccuracy tasted like snow on our tongues and
coaxed us into believing we were much further from the fracture zone than we were.
It was a cloud song born of broken storm gutters and puddles on the kitchen linoleum.
A thunderclap in place of a backhand on nights when darkness fell as heavy as a city.
It was you and I, weathering the wreckhouse winds, gasping for air, grasping for
sunshine, because the sorrow sprouting from between our fingers, like a tangle of weeds 
was not an anomaly. Because the funnel clouds that formed in our backyard
were simply the architecture that held our father’s fury. Because the world ended
where our driveway met the periwinkles and the constellations looked like they
were held together with safety pins and because 40 light-years away there was
something called a goat star. Because a moon as big as an opera would come
and go in witness of bone being broken into fossil. And the shoals and islets of our
childhoods were like lame animals left neglected under the northern sky, and the
horizon, as thin as a sheaf of wheat bridled all the madness of the killing frost.
It was a lie we told for years because it was you and I, lilting under the whisper of
the aurora borealis in wait of grace.

 


Ōkunoshima

We remove our shoes before entering the poison gas museum
you whisper Usagi Jima and the sky fills with watermarks
a flatus slips through the ginkgo trees unbuttoning leaf after leaf
until the ground is feathered yellow
later, we will find a secret map wrapped in rabbit fur
and a photograph of a fisher-wife holding a small child
covered in mustard gas
and later still
the cheery captain will ferry us across the Seto Inland sea
along the fog bank
back to Hiroshima
where the sun will scream open-mouthed
against a dandelion wind.

 

 


Lillian Nećakov is the author of six books of poetry, numerous chapbooks, broadsides and leaflets. Her new book il virus is forthcoming from Anvil Press (A Feed Dog Book) in April 2021. In 2016, her chapbook The Lake Contains an Emergency Room was shortlisted for bpNichol chapbook award. During the 1980s she ran a micro press called “The Surrealist Poets Gardening Association” and sold her books on Toronto’s Yonge Street. She ran the Boneshaker Reading series from 2010-2020. She lives in Toronto and just might be working on a new book.

 

 

 

Monday, February 1, 2021

Four Poems, by Chris Hutchinson

 

MEANWHILE, MYRMIDONS

 

Clouds float by
like the distracted minds
of underpaid lab technicians. 

Their hypothesis is
thoroughbred enlightenments
breed rough lichens. 

Meanwhile, the faces of Myrmidons
appear in the rear view mirror, grotesque
like half-formed similes. 

We mean what we say
when we say we say 
what we mean 

they say
without really having to—

 

ACCORDING TO THE ART OF POWER


Your resubmitted treatise on class wa­­rfare
has supplanted my feelings
which once tried to spell the word
“hunger” in blood-tipped toothpicks
on the paper plate of the moon. 

An evening breeze spins around your oyster mushroom hairstyle.
If they were real, your cheeks might boast a puce filigree of veins. 

From this place, Jupiter appears
multiplied in the compound eyes of office towers
before it rolls across your naked forearm and snags
on a razor-wire tattoo. It’s still summer. 

Another plinth gets vandalized
by billowing sail-shaped shadows, but then      
it’s too late. Liberty Island turns blue.


 

ANOTHER POEM THAT WANTS SOMETHING TO DO WITH HISTORY BUT NOTHING TO DO WITH ME, THANK GOD

  

Beneath a blue afternoon of evergreens
vernacular shadows and cerebral-colored mosses
once dappled and draped themselves in slow-motion-time across
acres of the exposed sandstone’s flesh. 

Behind a dust-spangled screen
of regrets, I once heaved and scattered myself into being like this—
with the charm of a pointillist, drunk on schnapps. 

Today, the sky slantwise thrusts the net of its will
upon you, and me, and everyone who’s ever been
quarantined with seven-billion hues, post-factual
grooves, and pornographic options. 

I slaughter from afar, as always. 
You text, twerk, invent new pronouns
sail away with Musk to Mars.
Pastiche, pandering, and politics
instead of poetry. Clout. 

I cross my heart, hope not to die.
Your mind’s sun-shot
like a hummingbird’s wing beneath 
sledgehammers of disinformation. 

Together, we once gnawed the mineral-rich air
spat vapid hashtags back at the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—
both of which, today, let’s both agree
taste like rust.   

 

YOU’D THINK I’D NEED A TITLE 

 

You’d think vanilla swimwear would be
the envy of chocolate statuary. 

You’d think psychedelic lichens would mean more
interest in four-player chess as a metaphor 

for metaphoricity.

But as you — who on a cold bench facing the river valley
feeds an albino skunk crumbs of stale coffee cake — 

as you might say — you meaty man of valor, you lover
of the word  “moreover” — 

Look on my works, ye mighty
and disambiguate! 

And the truth is never not anywhere. 

 

 

 

Canadian writer Chris Hutchinson is the author of four poetry books as well as the speculative autobiography in verse novel Jonas in Frames. His most recent poetry collection, In the Vicinity of Riches (Goose Lane Editions / icehouse poetry), appeared in spring, 2020. Catch him online at: chris-hutchinson.com


Friday, January 29, 2021

Five Poems, by David Martin

 

This tree,

a furious machine,
spewing blossoms about
its face. And fruit, obscene,
demeans birds who pick out
with rancid shouts
the limits they can glean. 

Root splines overrule
the soil’s fallow pact,
and thylakoids in leaves
deceive light, extract
photons and stack
up throbbing molecules. 

Though engine appears
to sleep, its pore-exhaust
will soak into our night.
Upright, bole burns frost
so no fuel’s lost
in deciduous gears. 

Profit of breath is mine.
My greedy instrument
consumes as its bond
beyond what it can vent,
and never content
with either air or time.

 

 

Security

My crank radio wound to its utmost, I ease
into the smoke-lacquered cab to oversee
a construction site through its night scree.
Static cranes, stark girders — it’s these
I guard by flashlight, flip phone, brass keys.
After final newsbreak, fade-in with spooky
intervals, and this episode’s keen guest: he
solders words into a fine wire breeze,
segues from stone age to neutrino quarks.
Remote viewing. Ghost ledgers. And Ouija
credos. Wrap up with Earth’s ballooning core.
I haven’t slept in dark for years, but my work
of sitting watch from dead hours to sun debris
allows airwaves to mute my brain’s bed roar. 

 

 

All-Ages Show, 1999


 

Slam-dance riot; stropped elbows seek the jaw.
The Neckers squall in Carpenters’ Union Hall.
Teen punks pissed in alleys, our hair like saws.
Slam-dance riot: stropped elbows greet the jaw.
To practice or sign to a label’s against the law.
Set’s done when your drummer begs for a brawl.
Slam-dance riot. Stropped elbow quits my jaw.
King Rats spew at the Carpenters’ Union Hall.

 
 

A Frame 

            for Ron Martin

They say the first time you do it is a mess.
Five-hole, they’re right. I pounded with a crew
those studs that will abide just south of true.
Joists, sills, headers of our frame under stress
of inexperience erected an edifice you’d guess
hung by drunkards, addicts, those with screws
well past loose. Again, on the nail. We blew 

cigarette crows from nostrils, stooped to bless
bungalow sprouting at edge of endlessness,
and saw its future, owned by the likes of you,
gratefully guileless of novice hands that glue
boards just enough to turn backs on success,
then head home, blotting tissue with alcohol,
and shrewd enough to never look inside a wall. 

 

Formula
 

Carrots, pasta,
grapes, and water. 

Lego, Minecraft,
Harry Potter. 

Bicker, settle,
make-believing. 

Giggle, gloating,
grudges, grieving. 

Freckles, iris,
blood type, skin tone. 

Carefree, anxious,
accident-prone. 

Mirrors, puzzles,
son and daughter. 

Carrots, pasta,
peas, and water.

 

  

David Martin works as a literacy instructor in Calgary and as an organizer for the Single Onion Poetry Series. His first collection, Tar Swan (NeWest Press, 2018), was a finalist for the Raymond Souster Award and the City of Calgary W. O. Mitchell Book Prize. David’s work has been awarded the CBC Poetry Prize, shortlisted for the Vallum Award for Poetry and PRISM international’s poetry contest, and has appeared in numerous journals across Canada.

 

 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Rosemary oil lowered the heart, by Michelle Moloney King

 




Michelle Moloney King, {she/her} neo-postmodern poet, asemic poet, & editor of Beir Bua Poetry Journal / Academic background ~ computer science, primary teaching & Hypnotherapy / Work published in Spillwords, streetcake, Artistic Differences Project, Babel Tower, & others / Holds Pushcart Nom  / Visual Artists Ireland member / 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Three Poems, by Chris Banks

 

Reverse

Conquistadors sail back to Spain
leaving the Amazon untouched.
An old man regains his memories,
a child her innocence. The giant oak
over-hanging the street is an acorn
with mighty ideas. The marriage
never happens because I love yous
slip backwards into the lover’s mouths.
How runs the stream? Strange to think
time running opposite. Hindsight
in front of you like a coxswain telling you
to pick up the pace as you row
towards old tragedies and delights.
Maybe you will handle things differently
this time. The dead dog is a puppy
in your arms. Your deceased friend
smiles. The cancer cells gone. Despite
the creams, you are getting younger
and younger looking. Where does it end?
With no surprises. Tomorrow is already
yesterday. Perhaps it is best time runs on
ahead of us, the past a guide, and not a bully
waiting up the path, taking off his rings
one by one, saying this is going to hurt.
I guess I will take the future even if it means
our lives unravel unknown like red carpets
at a debutante ball where fate is only a minor
player at the party in a tuxedo handing out
pickled or d'oeuvres, while the rest of us
look for dance partners, or maybe leave early,
because lost as we are, at least we are moving
the way sharks do not stop moving,
the days, the hours, the minutes,
wild, unfamiliar, free. 

 

Edward Gorey

I feel most times like an Edward Gorey character
pulled from an illustration, made to stand here
among the traffic lights and the mall renovations.
Just the mere act of living one day at a time now
a diminishment of all the romantic possibilities
I dreamed of in my twenties. No one ever dies
of ennui. At least you can hit two or three words
together to spark a new idea or a conceit but
I’ve grown too old to explain how images work
to the young. The world happens with or without
you. The tree in my yard will be standing long
after I’m gone. A poem persists whether anyone
reads it or not. In Montreal, I remember long
winters, my own inability to write anything
but failure, which reduced me to reading and
rereading the work of others who were like Gods
to me, the way their poems flowed through, 
eddied around forms, a consciousness that
seemed semi-divine, but really was the product
of hard work and ambition. You can’t teach
ambition which is the pilot-light of any poem.
Mostly, I want more from a meagre lifetime
of teaching which is why I catch a glimpse of
my former self scurrying down St Urbain street
with the snow falling lightly on iron staircases
of the many houses while I try to find my way
to the Graduate party where I will no doubt
be embraced by friends. I remember the lights
lining the street, the warm glow coming out
of the houses, my trudging along sidewalks
through snow, thinking life does not get
better than this, this soft sifting of memory
and experience, which itself is like a Gorey
illustration, the tiny figure in the foreground,
the houses looming about him, a stirring
of menace somewhere in the frame. I’m forty-
seven, and I still love that kid who will not
know addiction for at least ten more years.
The way his life is still unwritten. His only
thought whether to pick up a quart of beer
from the Depenneur where a twelve year old
boy sits smoking beside his grandfather, or
whether to pick up bagels on the way home.
I’m hungry for that life but I can touch it
in a poem. The pleasures of the authentic.   

 

Memorandam

The moon is moving measurably
away from the earth every year.
In space, you do not cry because
there is no gravity to make tears flow.
Not sure this has anything to do
with 1,800 thunderstorms sprawling
over oceans and continents at any
given time. I learned most lipstick
contains fish scales. To testify,
derives from a Roman practice of
making men swear on their testicles.
Coca-cola was originally green, 
a detail sparking neurons in my brain
to fire 200 times per second,
when really all I wanted to say
was something nice about flowers,  
like how tulips were once a form
of currency, or how their bulbs
can be substituted for onions,
which are stray facts sitting in
a surgical tray until I place them
here for safekeeping. So what?  
The truth is most facts will never
give me a night’s satisfaction, no
matter what I say about Leonardo
Da Vinci inventing scissors,
roller coasters being first designed
to help people avoid sin, Buzz
Aldrin urinating on the lunar
surface. No wonder the moon
is moving away from us! This is
a memorandum of understanding
between me and Voyager I spinning
its golden record way out past
our solar system, Mozart playing
in the vacuum of space, as if
in its data stream, its little sighs
of ones and zeros, there might be
an official important message, 
and not just a random assortment of facts
calling collect to the stars
that have no answering machines.

 

 

 

Chris Banks is a Canadian poet and author of six collections of poems with Deepfake Serenade from Nightwood Editions forthcoming (Fall 2021). His first full-length collection, Bonfires, was awarded the Jack Chalmers Award for poetry by the Canadian Authors’ Association in 2004. Bonfires was also a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry in Canada.  His poetry has appeared in The New Quarterly, Arc Magazine, The Antigonish Review, Event, The Malahat Review, GRIFFEL, American Poetry Journal, Prism International, among other publications. He lives and writes in Waterloo, Ontario.

Two Poems, by Elana Wolff

  Calf Love                  — after FK You were lying supine in the river. Held by the fevered stream of breaking through. You w...