Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tuesday poem #134 : Rachel Loden : At the Grave of Pigpen

        September 8, 1945 – March 8, 1973
              —Alta Mesa Memorial Park, Palo Alto, CA 

Who gives this woman
to be buried

with this man? I do.
I lie in the green grass

next to you, Pigpen,
without flowers,

not to be star-crossed
but to be forgotten.

Rachel Loden is the author of Dick of the Dead (Ahsahta), which was shortlisted for both the PEN USA Literary Award for Poetry and the California Book Award. Loden’s first book, Hotel Imperium (Georgia), won the Contemporary Poetry Series competition and was selected as one of the ten best poetry books of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle, which called it “quirky and beguiling.” Her new book, Kulchur Girl: Notes from Berkeley 1965 is just out from Vagabond Press in the ‘deciBels’ series, edited by Pam Brown. She is working on an investigative memoir, Finding Krupskaya. Three new poems are in the current Journal of Poetics Research.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday poem #133 : Jennifer Londry : Hitchcock’s flock

At night they hide in cupboards. Red and white
tins fall down.
They eat God.
He tastes like vanilla.
He goes down slow like the snake that eats the toad, the girl-moth drawn to cinder.  

In the neighbour’s basement
boy dance
a condom in his pocket to shame
her blond sugar.

Burnt sweets, virgin cigarette,
morning paralysis
pin in the eye, his purple song between her legs.

In the morning
she aborts through a window.

All the pretty boys she knows are ugly.
All the ugly boys she knows want to be pretty.          

Jennifer Londry is the author of three books of poetry: Life and Death in Cheap Motels, which was adapted for stage, After the Words, which was nominated for a Saskatchewan Book Award, and Tatterdemalion, newly published by Chaudiere Books. A featured reader at the 2009 Kingston Writers’ Festival and at the 2011 Sweetwater 905 in Northern BC, she has also facilitated and organized a literary event for Alzheimer’s Awareness. Jen has taught creative writing and recently was a judge for Words from the Street, a creative writing competition, which gives a voice to the downtrodden, in association with The Toronto Writers’ Collective. She is also a contributor to the anthologies: A Crystal through which Love Passes, Glosas for P.K. Page (Buschek Books, 2013), Where the nights Are twice As long, Love Letters of Canadian Poets (Goose Lane Editions, 2015), and has work forthcoming in the Alzheimer’s anthology, A Rewording Life, editor Diane Schoemperlen, creator Sheryl Gordon. Currently Jen is collaborating with the documentary filmmaker Sarah Turnbull at the Carleton School of Journalism and Communications to produce a mental health video.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tuesday poem #132 : Jamie Reid : FAKE POEM 21 / WHERE I’VE FOUND GRACE

Under the kitchen table with the flour and the cat dish,
in the kitchen sink with the supper dishes and the bubbles of soap.
Behind half-closed eyelids in the sunlight.
Round About Midnight in the moonlit garden.

Two steps down into the Qu'appelle Valley in April sunshine.
Called by name on the street by an unfamiliar voice on any uncertain gray day,
no-one there but strangers when you turn.
Wherever women are talking and laughing, watching their children at play.

The water that falls from the sky is always a grace.
Equally graceful, evaporation in sunlight.
The fact that the very same water is always falling again somewhere else,
and is taken up again, again condensing and falling, again taken up.
Only to know about this, to be able to think about it: impossible grace.

Surrounded by grace, inescapably, always.

Like the ordinary rain
of any ordinary day.

Jamie Reid (April 10, 1941 - June 25, 2015) was a veteran Vancouver poet who first published in 1961. He took a nearly twenty year sabbatical from poetry pursuing anti-imperialist politics. He published four poetry books, and edited a poetry zine called DaDaBaBy in the 1990s. His most recent collection from Talonbooks is called I. Another. The Space Between. One of his last projects was a manuscript called Fake Poems.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Tuesday poem #131 : Liz Howard : KNAUSGAARD, NOVA SCOTIA

I just walked the street of my father. The street is called North.
I paused in front of his white apartment building as the sun
fed me from the west. There were two shopping carts chained
together, one from the liquor store. My father turned empty
bottles into full ones, into food and into rent. He pushed
his cart across the city gathering emptiness.


North is the repository of our best intentions, Ursa Major
overhead when I am exactly this old in a winter
without fathers. He left when I was an infant
to take on liquid. He took himself away.
A cosmic stone cast into this ancestral wind

I cannot afford. The Pleiades still know me.

Seven sisters who know me to be as bold
as a conjectured fjord.


As I write this
in a Tim Hortons
a man next to me asks
what does this word mean?
pointing to a spot on the page
of a MacLean’s where the word
'rapport' appears.


My father's skin had yellowed and the sclerae of his eyes,
half open but clouded by sedation. A tear slid
from the corner of his right eye to past the bone
of his indigenous cheek. This tear had not yet dried
when they began to withdraw life support, machine
by machine. The breathing machine that jerked his
head back and expanded his chest with decreasing
regularity was the last to be withdrawn. A nurse said,
"He is in the process of actively dying now." 

Actively dying.


In the ancient Near East a seer would look to
the stars or the livers of sheep for divination.
What does a liver show or hold? Spurinna
the haruspex foresaw the death of Caesar
in the entrails of a sacrifice. Paugak,
the cursed Anishinaabe skeleton
who flies through the Boreal forest,
is said to consume the livers of his victims.
Prometheus’ punishment for stealing fire
from the gods was to be chained to a rock
and have his liver torn out daily by an eagle.
Every night his liver would regenerate.


Two days have now passed. Two days I have been
in Halifax. Two days since my father has passed.
He has passed from mystery into appearance, laying
bare his totality on a death bed, distended cirrhotic belly
and ethereally beautiful face. He passed from unknowing
into eternity as I watched the neon lines above him lay flat.
I am still watching. I still do not know what I know. A nor'easter
now passing over me, spilling its moisture from the Atlantic,
heavy rain that by midnight may turn to snow. 


What does it mean to actively die? Actively?
At this time Knausgaard is very much with me,
For the heart, life is simple: it beats for as long
as it can. Then it stops. Full stop as in a period,
as a period is a flat line, extended. I have been
given my father's papers, his Polaroids and a pocket watch
that belonged to my great-grandfather. I have been
given his ball cap that kept the maritime sun
out of his eyes as he scavenged for bottles.
The band of this hat has collected his scent
which is lemongrass, earth, and discount smoke.
I have been given his small tools, cologne, nail
clippers, a water canister, a small plastic box of razors,
a picture of me as a baby, a drawing of electrical currents,
a knife.


I'm here, wedged within three nor'easters.
The first fell after he died. The jaundice,
the eyes that are mine, the snow a white-out
of every street. The third will come Tuesday
and cover Halifax in a foot of lace. Today I
bought Ocean by Sue Goyette. A black dress
and a pair of tights. Today I ate berries
and drank black coffee. Today I felt
the harbour folding in. A sphere flinched
in my portal vein. Today I woke up late.
This evening I looked up at the constellation Orion.
Tomorrow I will see my father's body for the last time.
Tuesday he will become ash.
Become ash.

Liz Howard was born and raised in rural Northern Ontario and is currently a poet and cognition research officer in Toronto. She is co-curator of the feminist reading series AvantGarden and graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph. Her chapbook Skullambient (Ferno House Press) was shortlisted for the 2012 bp Nichol Chapbook Award. In 2014 she was invited to read at Princeton University as part of The Rhythm Party, a colloquium organized by the poet Lisa Robertson. Her first full-length collection, Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent, was published by McClelland & Stewart in April 2015

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan