Sunday, 29 January 2012

Sunday Poem

CARDIO ROOM, YOUNG WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION

You won’t know me. Any resemblance
to the woman I was is purely
agricultural. That fluff. A pink annual
given to low-born intemperate acts
unbecoming a modern person. No more.
I’m tough. Nothing
could eat me. No profligate billy
with a hacking cough, or that old goat
and his yen for plagues, floods and burning
fun places to the ground. Not you,
either. There was a time
I rolled like dough, plumped up
to be thumped down with artless yeasty
chemistry. Dumpling. Honeybun.
I sickened some. But evolved
in a flash, like the living flak
of a nuclear mistake. In space-age fabrics
I’ve moved more iron than a red
blood cell, climbing and climbing
the new world’s dumbest tower. I’m on
to this. Alongside the rest
I sweat it out with the smug one-party
affability of a sport utility vehicle.
Deceptively little cargo space.
Even covered in mud I look great.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Verbatim

"I'm interested in the everyday, in how people express themselves, often more profoundly than we realize, using common language. I think that too often we dismiss the meaning of what people say because it is expressed ineloquently or without sophisticated language. This is a real problem for me. I think everybody has something interesting and smart to say; it's just sometimes a matter of listening a bit harder."
Leigh Kotsilidis discussing her first book of poems, Hypotheticals.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sunday Poem

STANDING BY

Suitcases do get misrouted,” I say
as he swabs my testicles with yellow
disinfectant, and one at a time,
separates the two halves of my
scrotum with forefinger and thumb,
wielding a local anesthetic, which
as I discuss the two automated
baggage sorting terminals, one
in Denver, the other in Hong Kong,
renders small talk possible. Surely
my hands don’t want to be parked
on my chest, assisting from afar?
They want to stray to where tubes
are being cut, ends cauterized,
future paternity nul-and-voided.
An electrical fire I don’t watch
seals my clipped gametal ducts
as I natter on about Hong Kong
at Dr. Carrier’s behest. Go on, yes,
about feeder belts and standby
baggage and how many million
tons of fill were shipped in to make
an island planes could land on,
while another part of me has to be
reminded to stay up at my chest.
I must be a recumbent figure
forged onto a medieval tomb,
a protective spirit overseeing
the desk of an obscure prelate.
“Your hands want to go lower,”
he says and we snigger at that,
at how much it sounds like a joke
about three farmer’s daughters
and a lucky travelling salesman—
halter tops flying in scenarios
we might get to the bottom of
in a bowling alley or duck blind.
Though already I can sit and hold
a wing-shaped band-aid in place.
I’m grateful for pinpoint accuracy,
for the proper use of materials
that lay close to hand, for cuts
so small there are no stitches
as I slide off the bed-table, dress
and begin a week of lollygagging
far from the site of my livelihood:
those festivals of Airbus-319’s,
wheeling up to painted stop-lines
where stevedores are standing by.
From An ABC of Belly Work (2003) by Peter Richardson

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Sunday Poem


INVOCATIONS

In this zoo there are beasts which
like some truths, are far too true
(clawing ones, and fire-breathers
and flesh-rakers like piranhas
and those that crush the bones to chalk
and those that bare their red teeth in the night)
and some shoot fire to melt the snow
and some chew lazily
on continental shelves,
and some wrap themselves around the world
in an embrace which does not kill
but invents new life around the wound.

Therefore I invoke you, red beast
who moves my blood,
demon of my darker self,
denizen who crawls in my deep want,
white crow, black dove,
eagle and vulture of my love,
and you great buzzard of my dreams,
I call you down
out of yellow rocks and pools of salt,
desert temples hollowed out,
and you white ghost who dwells
in the corner of my eye
to see those things I cannot see
(the broken edges of the air,
the flicker of forms before they occur).

But I invoke you all too well
and you are all too true.
A dragon scares me into heaven,
a fish spits out the continent of Mu,
a big snake recoils and goes to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
By Gwendolyn MacEwen, from Penned: Zoo Poems (2009) edited by Stephanie Bolster, Katia Grubisic, Simon Reader

Fightin' Words

Natalie Zina Walschots has a short review of Anita Lahey's Spinning Side Kick in the Nov/Dec issue of This magazine (review not available online). The poems—many of which dramatize sexual politics and gender relations as a combat sport—seem to have excited Walschots' blood lust:
"The whole book gouges and gropes for weak spots...The men in these poems are slow as lordly walruses, clearly outclassed by the lean muscle in the voice of the book talking circles, fancy footwork, around them."

"J.A. Dimling's Shadow"

A new poem by Eric Ormsby.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Sparks and Cuffers

Mary Dalton, bookworm:

Zadie Smith and Michael Ondaatje (among others) said it exactly when they remarked that, if forced to choose between reading and writing, they would forego the writing. For me, too, reading is the vital act. And if this desert-island game were to go further, if the choice were between books and furniture, or books and a fine wardrobe, it’s the books that would stay.
Find the rest of Mary's Globe & Mail essay here.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

"Snowman"

Mark Callanan reads "Snowman" from his book Gift Horse. Hear more poems on his site.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Sunday Poem

SERVICE RIG

Half these men are boys, like you are, but yell
so loud the cracks in their voices are hard to catch.
The other half, giants, older than the rig itself,
they knew this oil before it was black. A bare chest
here is thin and folded into itself a thousand times.

You’ve never seen them take the head off the pumpjack,
it’s clean in the dirt when you arrive, but you get to see
the service rig rising, the tongs turn on. Watch the youngest
man on crew climb the derrick and stand, harnessed,
coveralls dropped from his chest and tied with the sleeves
around his waist. Up where no one can yell at him to zip up,
no one can tell him to remember Charlie, where he can feel
the prairie wind beating his chest like the skinny fists
of a woman who almost wants him to let her go.
by Mathew Henderson, from Maisonneuve #42

(Photo: "Oil Rig Worker" by Richard Avedon.)