Sunday, 21 August 2016

Sunday Poem


All those years, before I became lost, I lived a different life. 
I am like the stones people place on graves to make them a little heavier. 
Some bring boxes of burning words grown from roots. 
Each attempts to read what the other has scripted. 
The rocks here are volcanic. They rise from the sea. 
They give a light unequal to the light that's cast on them. 
I've seen how the sky becomes the echo of what's flown through it. 
Not that it's easy to keep certain moments. 
What makes me break this silence and speak to you this way? 
Graveyards have things to say, and say them gently. 
There's nothing so wonderful as to be heard to the very end.

By Ruth Roach Pierson, from Untranslatable Thought (Anstruther Press, 2016)

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Rare Books, Ctd

David McGimpsey's tumblr site is a cache of rare treasures found while secondhand book shopping in Montreal. Check out his latest spoils. (I featured his previous discoveries here, here and here.)

Friday, 19 August 2016

The Idiot Boy

Jana Prikryl has a hate-on for William Wordsworth:
Poetry tends to resist smug certainties and predetermined conclusions, but Wordsworth has a kind of genius for self-transcription: He thinks a thought or holds a belief, and then he spells it out for you, and in that transaction—which is hardly a transaction! Nothing has really been exchanged, or changed— there’s no room for anything to surprise him much less the reader. I think his unquestioned pedestal in the canon has more to do with people’s admiration of his positions, his “message,” than with the ways he got that message across—which seems to me a function of the tastes of the prose-based community, warping what poetry is meant to do and capable of doing. Plus, he was personally and professionally cruel to Coleridge, whom I love in an awfully personal way. I tend to take my own partisanship on behalf of Coleridge past the brink of self-parody… because somebody’s got to.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016


Scottish poet Robin Robertson earns his living as a fiction editor at Jonathan Cape. He has a tip for aspiring writers:
If I could advise all of your younger readers, I would tell them not to go into publishing or into academia if you are writing. It's difficult, because if you're working at close quarters with text during the day, the last thing you really want to do, or the last thing you really can do in the evening is to turn your mind to your own work, because you've too many other voices in your head if you've been doing your job properly and are deep into editing and the deconstruction of a text. Your mind, then, is somebody else's. That has been an impediment. I mean, I enjoy my job and working with the 50 or so authors I look after, but it takes me a couple of weeks to detox from their creativity and try and turn my mind to my own.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Sunday Poem

for Elise Partridge (1958–2015) 
I have seen it a beaver-dammed
lukewarm dribble, but this summer the brook’s a river,
deep and cold, running steeped tea
and a skim of froth around lichened rocks,
roaring like an air conditioner.
Its white noise is enforced by oversized pines:
their branches albatross
from broom-closet dry to green ends shagged
with cones the colour of peanut skins
and flecked with crystals of sap.
A cindery sentry guards the top:
his ash beak clacking as he hunches
for takeoff, his wings branching
from a light crate core, eyelashing at the tips.
Timber creak in his phlegm-fat caw.

Down on the strand, big surf bangs,
lifting gulls from where they sit
like electric clothes irons. They leave
lead-white splotches
and webbed wavery wigwams.
A piece of driftwood perfectly catches
the boomerang of a swimmer’s arm.
Six-foot kelp bullwhips
have the trapped viscosity of poured motor oil
before they flare to lasagna at the tips.
Out where the ocean betrays
its breathing—closer in than the endless flat,
but farther out than the surf—a whiskery face
rides a swell and watches: time on the Nautilus
would bulk those milk bottle shoulders.
Drawn-tight hoodies small our faces
to beach stone ovals
on which our features perish.
Your message to us was simple:
look closely, and cherish. 
By Patrick Warner, from Octopus (Biblioasis, 2016)
(Painting by Mats Gustafson). 

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Sunday Poem


My mother hunted moose
as a child my grandfather taught her
how to field dress a bull:
make an incision from the throat
to the pelvis
the abdominal cavity emptied
haul him up between two pines
the body inverted
antlers almost grazing
the soil
each hind limb leashed to a trunk above
to allow the flesh to cool
then she’d climb inside
the open chest
fix her toes along the ledge
of two ribs
and with a kick to the bull’s left shoulder
he sent her

By Liz Howard, from Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent (McClelland & Stewart, 2015)

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Sunday Poem


One day I take a little razor and shave it all off.
Looking obscenely young, I admire myself,
head bent or staring forward in a mirror.
Cool and young and sexy,
I’m available, stripped to possibility.
Discover me or I need to discover myself.
For in the shower every drop of water is felt.
I am exposed and experience it as an intrusion.
Hair is an extra layer of skin, a means not to feel.
Being now so naked I sense my modesty even with clothes on.
Edge a blade across my most intimate skin,
a clean, marble look, with a slight rose glow.
By evening, there is a blue tinge,
little heads below the skin,
a female five o’clock shadow.
Shaving then isn’t an option.
It speeds growth and thickens the bush.
It leaves a latent feel of uncleanliness.

I try waxing a stylish square of hair.
Return to a woman where I don’t mind unfolding my legs.
She touches without fearing the smell of me.
Obviously one showers comprehensively
before such an intimate appointment.
She cleans me up and pats me dry like a baby.
But after, the sides are red,
the pores stand out,
little specks of blood where tough hairs were extracted,
discolorations in the soft folds between thigh and pelvis,
a bikini wax gone wrong, the sensitivity
of my pubis renders it unsightly.
After a number of days the region temporarily
settles into cinematic perfection.
Before the hair grows out, still too short to redo.
There’s an acid lotion that eats away the hair.
You smear it on like cream,
scrape it off with a pink plastic tool,
scared to burn your fingers
while lathering it directly on intimacy.
It stinks of putrefaction and dissolution of tissue.
Why complain, professionals say,
laser hair removal is permanent.
Permanence sounds traditional. I flee.

Initially when I decided to tidy up pubic hair,
I was told, there are styles, you need to choose an identity.
Do you want nothing,
a strip of hair,
a pattern?
If you leave some, will it be trimmed or naturally curled?
People like to say, au naturel, as if it’s funny
or an aesthetic choice to be yourself.
Hair has a life of its own. It splits,
two hairs per root.
It bursts through the surface, pubescence vying with maturity.
Or it won’t grow at all, sticking beneath the skin,
a type of pelvic acne. I read somewhere,
who cares, just pop them as you’d do on your face
I’m shocked, can’t believe what I see.

It’s all about surface.
To do with connecting the inner and outer planes
of body, while also destructing
the flatness of skin.
When hair is removed, uniformity is installed.
Feeling the leg, so smooth, but empty.
One-sided touch, a hand running along skin,
but body not reaching back.
Surface can mean that which is obvious,
or that which is not obvious at all.
Like the area of my visible body, a first superficial layer.
Like what still needs to surface, what is hidden deeper.
It’s in submission then, with a gesture of penitence,
that one day I start removing my body hair one by one,
plucking each out with a pair of tweezers.
The guilt of imperfection weighs me down.
I sense that my body is in the wrong.
It should be crystal clear.
By Klara du Plessis, from Wax Lyrical (Anstruther Press, 2015)