Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"forgive the living and the dead." - nicholas samaras

"Forgive the living and the dead."
                                                                 Saint Kosmas Aitolos

This is the weight of the unresolved dead.

Deep hours. A wooded house
with one yellow pane of light. 
Words on a page.
Wind in the foothills.
Years I have carried you like a tombstone in my heart.

Tonight, with this book before me
in simple lamplight,
I find the small surprise of perspective,
feel how one found passage may show
the thin, bright plume beneath a closed door.
I know you are alive somewhere --
dreaming I hand you a plate of oranges,
each day waking to forget my name,
dressing and arranging your hair
to meet someone younger than I.
Before a stoked spine of fire
with this volume on my lap,
I sit up in the hushed parlor,
remembering the closed history of us,
my old habit of thinking you buried to me.

Now with this quote from a quiet saint,
I care to be winter, choose
to unclasp like leaves.
Hatred has kept me
tied to you, kept me your servant.
Anger is a hard strength that isn't good enough anymore.
So, to this paragraph, I speak your name.
Once.
Simply.

I tell you it is alright.
I let the past be finally adequate.
I forgive the living and the dead.
Whichever you are is your own choice.
Mine is to move from him.

Samaras, Nicholas. "Forgive the Living and the Dead" Hands of the Saddlemaker. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992. 49-50.

Monday, April 29, 2013

(from) out of cana: maura eichner

Eat bread. Drink wine. Try to sing the song
of Christ. Live life. If you can dance, dance.
Everywhere grace awaits. Desire to love to love.

Eichner, Maura. from "Out of Cana" Upholding Mystery: An Anthology of Contemporary Christian Poetry. Ed. David Impastato, Ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. 163.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

you talk of art - joan murray

You talk of art, of work, of books.
Have you ever sat down, thought all that's to do?
That book to read, that book to write,
Sat down, stood up, walked back and forth,
Because not an action you could do would
Fill the gap that's wanting action to the chin?

Look. Look into the past one damned moment,
And on that you ask me to work, to dream, to do?
Try it yourself on nothing. I can't.

Every confounded one has had so much of life
that left them gasping in a stinking or a lighter air,
Left out of breath and glad to think at last,
Higher or lower, their there and there to there.

And where am I? Where I began, and where I'll end:
Sitting, sitting, with the last grain of will
Rotting in time, and there's no time or tide in me.

You talk of art, of work, of books.
I'll talk of nothing in its lowest state,
Talk till my jaw hangs limply at the joint,
And the talk that's one big yawn in the face of all of you,
Empty as head, empty as mood, and weak.
And I can hear all the watery wells of desolation
Lapping a numbing sleep with in the head.

Murray, Joan. "You Talk of Art" Modern Canadian Poets. Jones, Evan and Todd Swift, eds. Manchester: Carcanet Press Limited, 2010. 74.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

artisan and clerk - a. f. moritz

Like ghosts leaving their bodies those factories
were leaving us. Their black hulks were lying here,
complex and empty -- but we heard that they

were in fact still living, elsewhere. Their souls
had flown to a heaven called Brazil and there
had new bodies, glorious, in a new world.

The cages and vented fires there, we heard, the power
of the renovated hammering, the titanic outputs,
the inexhaustible eternity of the materials

and the labour of that world were beyond our imagination,
and the way those mills shone beside plunging rivers
fresher and wider than our oceans here,

the way they stood in the shade of primitive trees and eyes.
And we were shaken by a further rumour: of a flaw
in the world, in being itself, and even deeper --

a flaw in salvation. It was said that those ghosts,
even beatified, were eating heaven -- that despite
infinity, they would soon consume it all,

have nothing left, and start on their own bodies.
Was this, then, what awaited us? Not likely. We
were condemned. They sat us down with the manual that said,

'If you are seeking work for fifty hours each week,
then seek for one hundred. Forget sleep. Work
at having no work harder than you ever worked at work:

then you will find work faster and when you find it
you will have learned how to work. Remember,
all who seek will find, and so, think what it means

that you are still seeking. Remember, there's work for all,
but unless you try harder than the others 
they will get it and there will be none for you.

Take their work. It will teach them to work better.
You will have what you desire, so think what it means
that you are unemployed and want to die and do not dare.'

I remember that when I wrote this manual we were happy.
It was a difficult, long-drawn-out job,
what with the committee, the management, the board,

and even the shareholders demanding to approve each word,
and in total agreement fighting over the drafts,
differences without distinction, hoping to compose

by mindless opposition something perfectly insipid and bold.
Months, years went by, I was paid well
for my work to be erased, and when we could

we huddled together in the depths of the house.
We had and raised our child, we fought and cried,
watched the birds in the garden at the seed

the manual paid for, though they were free in the wild
to take their glory elsewhere
and find what seed they would.

Then it was all over, the warring factions
were satisfied, the self-help manual
for the unemployed was finished and so was I.

And now that, to help me, they put it in my hand,
I have to contemplate the perfection of my work --
no future book can equal its inescapable clarity --

and its uselessness -- neither I nor anyone
will ever find work again. Our child, for instance:
when we were employed we trained him at dire expense

with the greatest artists, and he had already created
his famous series of workers,changed into light and money,
circulating through the elongated no place

of fibre optics. But now he draws graffiti on walls,
dodging the police, for who can afford canvas?
Or he breaks windows, scrapes stones over marbles facades,

writes manifestos on stolen fast food paper napkins,
identifying himself with the subtle, relentless
markings and destructions of the wind and rain:

for no one is going to buy him any other press
and lithographic stone, no bank is going to invite him
to carve the divine history with all

its demonic grotesques on the new cathedral's door.

Moritz, A. F. "Artisan and Clerk" Modern Canadian Poets. Jones, Evan and Todd Swift, eds. Manchester: Carcanet Press Limited, 2010. 155-7.

Friday, April 26, 2013

essay on adam - robert bringhurst

There are five possibilities. One: Adam fell.
Two: he was pushed. Three: he jumped. Four:
he only looked over the edge, and one look silenced him.
Five: nothing worth mentioning happened to Adam.

The first, that he fell, is too simple. The fourth,
fear, we have tried and found useless. The fifth,
nothing happened is dull. The choice is between:
he jumped or he was pushed. And the difference between these

is only an issue of whether the demons
work from the inside or from the outside
in: the one
theological question.

Bringhurst, Robert. "Essay on Adam" Modern Canadian Poets. Jones, Evan and Todd Swift, eds. Manchester: Carcanet Press Limited, 2010. 141.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

we travel like other people - mahmoud darwish

We travel like other people, but we return to nowhere. As if travelling
Is the way of the clouds. We have buried our loved ones in the darkness of the clouds, between the roots of the trees.
And we said to our wives: go on giving birth to people like us for hundreds of years so we can complete this journey
To the hour of a country, to a metre of the impossible.
We travel in the carriages of the psalms, sleep in the tent of the prophets and come out of the speech of the gypsies.
We measure space with a hoopoe's beak or sing to while away the distance and cleanse the light of the moon.
Your path is long so dream of seven women to bear this long path
On your shoulders. Shake for them palm trees so as to know their names and who'll be the mother of the boy of Galilee.
We have a country of words. Speak speak so I can put my road on the stone of a stone.
We have a country of words. Speak speak so we may know the end of this travel.

Translated from the Arabic by Abdulah al-Udhari

Darwish, Mahmoud. "We Travel Like Other People" Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry. Peter Forbes, Ed. London: Penguin Books, 1999. 359.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

the christian's year in miniature - margaret avison

I

Beside the still waters,
infant-pure,
God is, in flesh.
Now the skies soar

with song. Heaven utters.
In a white blur
lost, in a rush
caught up, we hear.

II

To the hills we lifted
our eyes, and you
sat on the pasture ridge
strongly in view,

and taught us. The breeze wafted
your voice through and through
our hearts. From the timeless verge
you moved, to our now.

III

Unsullied one, though midnight
is lucid to your heart,
here, in God's unspeaking
you are set apart.

Where kings brought gold by starlight
at first, now I have marred
your clarity, breaking
my clayful - to your hurt.

IV

A walnut shell broken
(small, wafered skull)
still litters the hillside.
Morning breaks, still.

The garden, awaking
to a terrible day-swell
knows the rock-sweet, the pulse set
of Emmanuel.

V

Your places of dwelling
held up for our own
together, if we fashion
your now with soon

fill us with spoiling
of the deaths we had won.
Only in your possession
can such Life go on.

Avison, Margaret. "The Christian's Year in Miniature" Modern Canadian Poets. Jones, Evan and Todd Swift, eds. Manchester: Carcanet Press Limited, 2010. 83-4.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

song - joanne weber

My hair once oiled your feet.
You, not I, knew what it meant.

Now you gather me, small and white,
freshly wakened from my sleep.

Please stay.
You are a tent over me,
a canopy of swallows,
and I will quickly embroider
in gold thread,
their resting and mating.

The swallows are startled into flight.
You gather me.
Now we cover the sky.

Weber, Joanne. "Song" Fast Forward: New Saskachewan Poets. Klar, Barbara and Paul Wilson, eds. Saskatoon: Hagios Press, 2007. 89.

Monday, April 22, 2013

cain's legacy - richard jackson

You can't stop the boxcars of despair.
You can't stop my voice from hiding out
like a virus inside your words, their knives
clamped between your teeth. You can't stop
the dogs gnawing on the bones from mass graves.
Thus your mirrors holding other faces. Thus your lungs
filled with someone else's words.
The eyelids of the heart closing. The sky drunk
on vapor trails. Otherwise, a few packages of conscience
to the refugees. You can't stop the sounds
of exploding stars as they approach you.
The anxious triggers. The land mines of idealism.
You can't stop Dismay from stumbling
out of the trenches of your dreams.
You can't stop these ghosts sitting around your table
gnawing on the past. Their candles burn down
to shimmering wounds in their cups.
Everyone holding their favorite flags like napkins.
The sound of bugles spilling from the room like laughter.
I know, you kill what you love just to hate yourself
all the more. You put on the cloak of distance.
A wind that blows away the weeks. The lovers' wilted embrace
that was your only, last hope.
Everyone his own Judas. After a while
even the moon is just an excuse not to look too closely.
You can't stop the past boiling up in the heart like lava.
Otherwise, a history written by shadows.
For example, someone says the universe is expanding,
more anxious optimism, but where would it expand into?
There's only the vacuum that's always inside us.
There's Stephen Hawking saying the past is pear shaped
but that doesn't feed anyone. You can't stop the brain
of the starving child turning into a peach pit,
not his body terrorizing itself for food,
not his face wrinkling like the orange you leave on your table,
his liver collapsing, the last few muscles snug
over his bones like the tight leather gloves of your debutante.
Otherwise your old lies yawning to wake in the corner.
You can't stop the pieces of the suicide bomber
from splattering all over the cafe walls.
You can't stop the walls the tanks crush from rising again.
Otherwise a few tired rivers, a few fugitive stars.
The seasons that ignore us. The cicadas giving up on us.
Hope's broken antennas. Love trying to slip out of the noose.
The betrayed lives we were meant to live.
You can't stop that town from turning its soul on a spit,
not the light chiseling away desire, the morning
wandering dazed through the underbrush of deception.
You can't stop these sails of tomorrow hanging limp
from their masts. All you have are these backwaters of touch,
this voice spinning like a broken compass,
this muzzle made from your own laws.
But you can't stop the bodies piling up.
You can't stop the deafening roar of the sky.
You can't stop the bullet you've aimed at your own head.

Jackson, Richard. "Cain's Legacy" The Pushcart Book of Poetry. Murray, Joan, ed. New York: Pushcart Press, 2006. 579-80.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

robert kroetsch: selections from the hornbooks of rita k

[hornbook #1]

Often in the afternoon he cries for awhile. He wants a poem that will be as accommodating as a peanut shell. Sometimes he sits at his desk while he cries. Sometimes he goes outside and pretends he is weeding his rock garden. He wants a poem that will make him understand why men plant land mines.

Sometimes he laughs in the middle of his crying. He wants his fingers to recover their lost intelligence. He wants his mouth to speak. He stares out through the windows at the place where the sky should be. He wants a brick to crash through one of the windows, A brick thrown by a poem.


[hornbook #27]

The crescendo of our loneliness fills library basements. Books transform into dust, dust into landfills, landfills into gas. There is always hope.

The brittleness of our desire forces us to climb stairs on our hands and knees. We groan. We imagine we are praying. There is always hope.

He is always standing in the snow, watching for the sun.


[hornbook #28] 
     A poem is an empty house.

[Stranger, you must enter, then knock.]

In a poem, everything (including the hollow door, the reddening sky) is at risk. A risking business:
     
     once again the old thump
     onto belly or the rump.

[hornbook #[]
One of the considerable and neglected art forms is the stack of papers.
This can be at once a literary form and a version of performance art. In my own case, it takes he form, most often, of a stack of letters which I feel I should or must answer quite soon. But not immediately. The stack then occasions in me a complex mixture of delay, anticipation, dread, shame, guilt and self-condemnation. I am vaguely aware of the individual sheets of paper and texts in the stack, but the hole [sic] is much greater than sum of the parts. The mere and sustained appearance of the stack, unfortunately, announces a kind of completion. It is a completion which is flexible in that it can be added to but not subtracted from. The stack, like a poem, begins, if nothing else, to describe intention.


Kroetsch, Robert. The Hornbooks of Rita K. Edmonton: The University of Alberta Press, 2001.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

the spirit is too blunt an instrument - anne stevenson

The spirit is too blunt an instrument
to have made this baby.
Nothing so unskilful as human passions
could have managed the intricate
exacting particulars: the tiny
blind bones with their manipulating tendons,
the knee and the knucklebones, the resilient
fine meshings of ganglia and vertebrae,
the chain of the difficult spine.

Observe the distinct eyelashes and sharp crescent
fingernails, the shell-like complexity
of the ear, with its firm involutions
concentric in miniature to minute
ossicles. Imagine the
infinitesimal capillaries, the flawless connections
of the lungs, the invisible neural filaments
through which the completed body
already answers to the brain.

Then name any passion or sentiment
possessed of the simplest accuracy.
No, no desire or affection could have done
with practice what habit
has done perfectly, indifferently,
through the body's ignorant precision.
It is left to the vagaries of the mind to invent
love and despair and anxiety
and their pain.

Stevenson, Anne. "The Spirit is too Blunt an Instrument" Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry. Peter Forbes, Ed. London: Penguin Books, 1999. 316-7.

Friday, April 19, 2013

men and women have meaning only as man and woman - joan murray

Men and women have meaning only as man and woman.
The moon is itself and it is lost among stars.
The days are individual, and in the passage
The nights are each sleep, but the dreams vary.
A repeated action is upon its own feet.
We who have spoken there speak here.
A world turns and walks away.
The timing of independent objects
Permits them to live and move and admit their space
And entity and various attitudes of life.
All things are cool in themselves and complete.

Murray, Joan. "Men and Women Have Meaning Only as Man and Woman" Modern Canadian Poets. Jones, Evan and Todd Swift, eds. Manchester: Carcanet Press Limited, 2010. 79.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

prayer - carol anne duffy

Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade I piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer --
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

Duffy, Carol Anne. "Prayer" Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry. Peter Forbes, Ed. London: --Penguin Books, 1999. 494.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

this given day - george elliott clarke

Morning yawns, the sun stretches, and the train
Pitches the air with smoke, paws the iron earth,
Tracks its big city game along the coast,
Narrows the span between our birth and death.
From dreams, we, depayses, fall to coffee,
Orange Free State oranges, new news, fresher dreams,
Prophesying what tomes were now must read,
What names we will need, what gods we will prize.
   All we can prove is the sun and the bay
And the baying hunter that is the train,
All joined in a beautiful loneliness --
Separated from our pure world of wounds,
Our globe of love (sharp nails hammered through palms),
Happening alone, as if it matters.

Clarke, George Elliott. "This Given Day" Modern Canadian Poets. Jones, Evan and Todd Swift, eds. Manchester: Carcanet Press Limited, 2010. 216.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

night visit - robyn sarah

A woman in bed with a man and his dead father
is lonelier than a woman in bed alone,
for three's a crowd -- and face it, a dead man
weighs in to make a formidable other.
It is a son she holds now, not a lover:
flesh of his father's flesh, bone of his bone,
heart hurting with the unsaid and the undone --
a nakedness, but not hers to uncover.

She holds a son (not hers) whose difficult grieving
she cannot reach as wife, nor soothe as mother,
bound as it is to years she has not known.
What can she do but listen to his breathing,
stroke his cold brow, and wait for calmer weather,
allowing him this darkness for his own.

Sarah, Robyn. "Night Visit" Modern Canadian Poets. Jones, Evan and Todd Swift, eds. Manchester: Carcanet Press Limited, 2010. 182.

Monday, April 15, 2013

variation on the word sleep - margaret atwood

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and as you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.
 
Atwood, Margaret. "Variation on the Word Sleep" The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse in English. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

the way we live - kathleen jamie

Pass the tambourine, let me bash out praises
to the Lord God of movement, to Absolute
non-friction, flight, and the scary side:
death by avalanche, birth by failed contraception.
Of chicken tandoori and reggae, loud, from tenements,
commitment, driving fast and unswerving
friendship. Of tee-shirts on pulleys, giros and Bombay,
barmen, dreaming waitresses with many fake-gold
bangles. Of airports, impulse, and waking to uncertainty,
to strip-lights, motorways, or that pantheon --
the mountains. To overdrafts and grafting

and the fit slow pulse of wipers as you're
creeping over Rannoch, while the God of moorland
walks abroad with his entourage of freezing fog,
his bodyguard of snow.
Of endless gloaming in the North, of Asiatic swelter,
to launderettes, anecdotes, passions and exhaustion,
Final Demands and dead men, the skeletal grip
of government. To misery and elation; mixed,
the sod and caprice of landlords.
To the way it fits, the way it is, the way it seems
to be: let me bash out praises -- pass the tambourine.

Jamie, Kathleen. "The Way We Live" Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry. Peter Forbes, Ed. London: --Penguin Books, 1999. 481-2.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

the great leap forward - matt rader

   *

and none and none and none and none and un-

   *

zip, a light before light, quickening, like children

   *

of early enzymes feasting, each of each, protean
seas gone glacier, gathering footprints, thread, skin

   *

for collection at the Exhibit of Humans, a mountain
casting a mould from a city of walls and curs, women
at wash with basins of ashen water and no reflection

   *

to recognize their own husbands in a crowded pavilion
of charlatans, quack doctors, snake-oil salesmen
shilling goat glands for impotence, a foolproof gin,
horse semen brandy, and on the buckboard,a Christian
with hurdy-gurdy accompaniment hawking salvation

   *

in the antebellum lands, where black winds separate us kin
from kin, and the people of the plains hear the coming din
of cattle crossing the continent forty days before it even
begins, and leaded tins of fruits and vegetables poison
Franklin and his men, leaving them delirious and rotten
in the head, composed of thoughts and faith in a northern
passage from ocean to ocean that consumes them like vermin
in the cutch of an owl, picked to pieces, or else frozen

   *

in the mind like that line from Keats we failed to learn,
heard melodies are sweet, unheard sweeter, so play on
into the cool afternoon of touching under tables, linen
hung on the line, saxifrage, stonecrop, phlox and gentian,
common-touch-me-not, the meadow beyond our garden
gate opening into bittersweet, death camas, fool's onion,
and again farewell-to-spring arrives in the parched season
of brittle grass, titian leaves, auburn and tawny crimson
infecting the edge of things, as dusk draws from dawn
to envelope us in dark arms like hope or lust, wintergreen,
the flowering weeds we kneel in without naming one
or all or none, for that is a kind of love we call possession
and have abandoned, Dominus vobiscum, a woman, a man

Rader, Matt. "The Great Leap Forward" The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008. Bolster, Stephanie, ed. Toronto: Tightrope Books, 2008. 95-6.

Friday, April 12, 2013

bright world - carl phillips

—And it came to pass, that meaning faltered; came detached
unexpectedly from the place I'd made for it, years ago,
fixing it there, thinking it safe to turn away, therefore,
to forget—hadn't that made sense? And now everything
did, but differently: the wanting literally for nothing
for no good reason; the inability to feel remorse at having
cast (now over some, now others), aegis-like, though it
rescued no one, the body I'd all but grown used to waking
inside of and recognizing, instantly, correctly, as mine,
my body, given forth, withheld, shameless, merciless—
for crying shame. Like miniature versions of a lesser
gospel deemed, over time, apocryphal, or redundant—both,
maybe—until at last let go, the magnolia flowers went on
spilling themselves, each breaking open around, and then
apart from, its stem along a branch of stems and, not of
course in response, but as if so, the starlings lifting, unlifting,
the black flash of them in the light reminding me of what I'd
been told about the glamour of evil, in the light they were
like that, in the shadow they became the other part, about
resisting evil, as if resistance itself all this time had been
but shadow, could be found that easily. . . What will you do?
Is this how you're going to live now?
sang the voice in my
head: singing, then silent—not as in desertion, but as
when the victim suddenly knows his torturer's face from
before, somewhere, and in the knowing is for a moment
distracted, has stopped struggling— And the heart gives in.


Phillips, Carl. "Bright World" The Pushcart Book of Poetry. Murray, Joan, ed. New York: Pushcart Press, 2006.610-1.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

the dream world - alison pick

Shake up envy. Shake up
the impulse toward acquisition --
it batters you nightly, a moth at a bulb.
Shake up the trope of the moth at a bulb:

words take shape in fresh combination,
cheerleaders on court at halftime. A girl tossed
skyward, bent at the waist, a check mark
against a ballot's blank box. Vote for the moment,

vote for atonement, for taking a long walk alone
through the forest. Morning is raising
its snapping white flag. You exit the alders, hands
in the air, and wake: your final surrender.

Pick, Alison. "The Dream World" The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008. Bolster, Stephanie, ed. Toronto: Tightrope Books, 2008. 89.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

from the meadow - peter everwine

It isn't that you were ignorant:
star thistle, bloodroot, cruciform...
beautiful words, then as now,
unlike pain with its wooden alphabet,
its many illustrations, which are redundant.

You had imagined vistas, an open meadow:
on the far side, water trembles its lights;
cattle come down to their shadow lives
beneath the trees;
the language of childhood is invented anew.

But now you know, right? what lies ahead
is nothing to the view behind?
How breathtaking these nostalgias rising
like hazy constellations overhead!--

little to go by, surely,
though from the meadow where you stand looking
over your shoulder, that tiny figure you see
seems to be calling someone,
you perhaps.

Everwine, Peter. "From the Meadow" The Pushcart Book of Poetry. Murray, Joan, ed. New York: Pushcart Press, 2006. 355.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

(from) zero gravity - gwyneth lewis

XII

Only your eyesight can be used in space.
Now you've captured the telescope, nebulae
are birthmarks on your new-born face.
The sun's flare makes a Cyclops eye
on your visor. The new spectrograph
you've installed in the Hubble to replace the old
makes black holes leap closer, allows us to grasp
back in time through distance, to see stars unfold
in nuclear gardens, galaxies like sperm
swirled in water, rashes of young hot stars,
blood-clot catastrophes, febrile swarms
of stinging explosions. But what's far
doesn't stop hurting. Give me a gaze
that sees deep into systems through clouds of debris
to the heart's lone pulsar, let me be amazed
by the red shifts, the sheer luminosity
that plays all around us as we talk on the beach,
thinking there's nothing between us but speech.

Lewis, Gwyneth. from "Zero Gravity" Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry. Peter Forbes, Ed. London: Penguin Books, 1999. 500.

Monday, April 8, 2013

bounty - robyn sarah

Make much of something small.
The pouring-out of tea,
a drying flower's shadow on the wall
from last week's sad bouquet.
A fact: it isn't summer anymore.

Say that December sun
is pitiless, but crystalline
and strikes it like a bell.
Say it plays colours like a glockenspiel.
It shows the dust as well,

the elemental sediment
your broom has missed,
and lights each grain of sugar spilled
upon a tabletop, beside
pistachio shells, peel of a clementine.

Slippers and morning papers on the floor,
and wafts of iron heat from rumbling rads,
can this be all? No, look -- here comes the cat,
with one ear inside out.
Make much of something small.

Sarah, Robyn. "Bounty" Modern Canadian Poets. Jones, Evan and Todd Swift, eds. Manchester: Carcanet Press Limited, 2010. 181.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

submit to Bridge Songs: Heartbreak

some friends of mine are putting on a great community arts event. details:
Bridge Songs is an annual two day community arts event blending original music (a recorded album and live performances) with visual art, poetry and short films around a central theme. 
This year's event, Bridge Songs: Heartbreak, runs June 14 and 15, 2013, at The Anglican Parishes of St.Faith's and St.Stephen the Martyr (11725 93st, Edmonton, Alberta).
"You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up.” ― Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum
From lost loves to lost hopes, let downs to letting go, we've all housed broken hearts. Sometimes we're all alone, and sometimes communities break together, all at once. Every heartbreak holds a choice - retreat or restart? Seal off, or open up? Contain, or continue? 
We invite artists in all media to submit original works about heartbreak. We want to hear the deep and abiding stories of hearts at risk, hearts betrayed, and hearts made whole again.
you can submit songs, art, poetry and/ or short films here.

show & tell: a workshop



i will be doing an introductory workshop about exhibiting your work with the bleeding heart art space crew april 20th. developing artist statements, finding the right audience/ venue for our work, submissions processes, etc. here's the blurb:
A workshop on how to exhibit and talk about your work

Once you’ve made your work, who do you share it with, and how do you get it to them? 
Join professional artist and curator Edward Van Vliet for an interactive workshop on showing and speaking about visual artwork. Artists will be challenged to consider the audience for their body of work, and how to best connect with that audience.
This workshop will look at what is involved in submitting for gallery shows, including crafting an artist statement and CV. Different types of galleries, as well as alternatives to the gallery system will be discussed. 
Artists are encouraged to bring a sampling of work (6-10 images) in digital format (jpg photographs) for projection, as well as current CVs and artist statements for group critique and conversation.
This workshop is geared toward artists working in visual culture (painting, photographs, mixed media, video art, etc.).
register, or find out more, here.

how we care for trees in winter - anne compton

To the west of the highway, cedars
burlapped for winter. Trappist monks moving
slow as a car in storm. Snow on their shoulders.

The bushier ones came in A-frames, hinged at the top.
Rodents scramble up one side. Look at the world from
the peak, scuttle down. Their story, the tracks in the snow.

Everything is after. Do you not find it so? Then,
a road shrine long past. The beginning of a descent.

I was wondering, do you remember the view from there?
Or did that cloth you were called to
enforce a forward focus? Is God's voice when it calls
like snow falling: a flurry that wipes out tracks?

I've been stopped in mine ever since.

Compton, Anne. "How We Care for Trees in Winter" Modern Canadian Poets. Jones, Evan and Todd Swift, eds. Manchester: Carcanet Press Limited, 2010. 152.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

ghazal: waxwing - crystal sikma

tsee-tsee, to see, to sleep, to dream, to smoke the night's
last cigarette, to see, to quote the waxwing

this winter, you can see the stars again, the orange light of the city
rises in the east, and falls on the coat of the waxwing

the December wind scattered tiny apples, fermented blood on snow,
frozen, then warmed in the throat of the waxwing

we breathe the prairie silence, the cold dark sky, listen
to the wind beneath songs of the coyote and the waxwing

the branches of the tree hold their bodies, flutter, give
darkness the last trill note of the waxwing

when you slip into bed, kiss the curve of my neck,
Poet, I say, who wrote of the waxwing?

Sikma, Crystal. "Ghazal: waxwing" Fast Forward: New Saskachewan Poets. Klar, Barbara and Paul Wilson, eds. Saskatoon: Hagios Press, 2007. 68.

Friday, April 5, 2013

five ways to kill a man - edwin brock

There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man:
you can make him carry a plank of wood
to the top of a hill and nail him to it. To do this
properly you require a crowd of people
wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak
to dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one
man to hammer the nails home.

Or you can take a length of steel,
shaped and chased in a traditional way,
and attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears.
But for this you need white horses,
English trees, men with bows and arrows,
at least two flags, a prince and a
castle to hold your banquet in.

Dispensing with nobility, you say, if the wind
allows, blow gas at him. But then you need
a mile of mud sliced through with ditches,
not to mention blackboots, bomb craters,
more mud, and a plague of rats, a dozen songs
and some round hats made of steel.

In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly
miles above your victim and dispose of him by
pressing one small switch. All you then
require is an ocean to separate you, two
systems of government, a nation's scientists,
several factories, and a psychopath and
land that no one needs for several years.

These are, as I began, cumbersome ways
to kill a man. Simpler, direct, and much more neat
is to see that he is living somewhere in the middle
of the twentieth century, and leave him there.

Brock, Edwin. "Five Ways to Kill a Man" Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry. Peter Forbes, Ed. London: Penguin Books, 1999. 290-1.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

what the animals teach us - chard de niord

that love is dependent on memory,
that life is eternal and therefore criminal,
that thought is an invisible veil that covers our eyes,
that death is only another animal,
that beauty is formed by desperation,
that sex is solely a human problem,
that pets are wild in heaven,
that sounds and smells escape us,
that there are bones in the earth without any marker,
that language refers to too many things,
that music hints at what we heard before we sang,
that the circle is loaded,
that nothing we know by forgetting is sacred,
that humor charges the smallest things,
that the gods are animals without their masks,
that stones tell secrets to the wildest creatures,
that nature is an idea and not a place,
that our bodies have diminished in size and strength,
that our faces are terrible,
that our eyes are double when gazed upon,
that snakes do talk, as well as asses,
that we compose our only audience,
that we are geniuses when we wish to kill,
that we are naked despite our clothes,
that our minds are bodies in another world.

de Niord, Chard. "What the Animnals Teach Us" The Pushcart Book of Poetry. Murray, Joan, ed. New York: Pushcart Press, 2006. 464-5.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

meeting point - louis macneice

Time was away and somewhere else,
There were two glasses and two chairs
And two people with the one pulse
(Somebody stopped the moving stairs):
Time was away and somewhere else.

And they were neither up nor down;
The stream's music did not stop
Flowing through heather, limpid brown,
Although they sat in a coffee shop
And they were neither up nor down.

The bell was silent in the air
Holding its inverted poise --
Between a clang and clang a flower,
A brazen calyx of no noise:
The bell was silent in the air.

The camels crossed the miles of sand
That stretched around the cups and plates;
The desert was their own, they planned
To portion out the stars and dates:
The camels crossed the miles of sand.

Time was away and somewhere else.
The waiter did not come, the clock
Forgot them and the radio waltz
Came out like water from a rock:
Time was away and somewhere else

Her fingers flicked away the ash
That bloomed again in tropic trees:
Not caring if the markets crash
When they had forests such as these,
Her fingers flicked away the ash.

God or whatever means the Good
Be praised that time can stop like this,
That what the heart has understood
Can verify in the body's peace
God or whatever means the Good.


MacNeice, Louis. "Meeting Point" Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry. Peter Forbes, Ed. London: Penguin Books, 1999. 290-1.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

we go forward - anne compton

We go forward by grace days. A phalanx of survivors.
On either side, the Inscrutable lays a hand on some friend.
Wrestles him to the ground, stops her dead. This is not an elegy.
Though we sign the air with ceremony, hands and heart in slow motion,
our feet don't stop: we're already crossing the border into tomorrow.
More of everything is what we want. We're greedy. Glad to be left
standing. When we glance behind in grief, we're afoot in a changed world
and isn't it every day? Altered, larger somehow, and we're allowed.
That's what's amazing. And what's on our minds every morning?
Prevent us, O Lord, not from sin -- we stir the dust of it with every footfall --
but from nonchalance: a look unanswered, a kiss unrequited. Someone else
in our arms. And though words can't compass this tender of days,
let the one word be yes even if every step away concurs, Be it so.
Consider the foot, beloved, the hold it has on here.

Compton, Anne. "We Go Forward" Modern Canadian Poets. Jones, Evan and Todd Swift, eds. Manchester: Carcanet Press Limited, 2010. 152-3.