April 3, 2020

THE BIRDS OF THE PANDEMIC

Anthony di Francisci / Smithsonian

 Anne Archer
THE BIRDS OF THE PANDEMIC

The birds return in shifts: robins first like intrepid scouts,
crows who crowdsource, blackbirds, thick in the conifers, the geese
who sense a change in the air, alter their flightpath, keep a distance, and that 
unknown bird who fills twilight with 'you girl you girl, you pretty, pretty girl.'

The trees wake like sleepers from a dream of plenty, the forest 
on edge, wary of change, even as snow gives way to water pooling in the hollows
between pine and spruce, brown needles and green fans of cedar and juniper
fill the air with a tang and a sigh and a memory of something found and then lost.

The cats eye us with disinterest as usual, as usual preen themselves
and pester to be let out, not to prowl in meadow or wood but to linger,
to pounce and twitch and shimmy in the sun that, against all odds, 
strikes the south-facing porch, solely for their delight, a few minutes earlier each day.


Anne Archer is a poet and musician who lives near Sharbot Lake, Ontario. 


 

April 2, 2020

ARLEEN PARÉ ON EARLE STREET AT THE POETRY PARTY

Arleen Paré writes from Victoria, BC: I chose this poem because it’s so currently Victoria, a small city where the deer, now prolific, have populated the city’s streets in just over 8 years. An urban population explosion. I wrote it after Steve Collis’ beautiful and serious poem called “Come the Revolution”. I hope the rather light-heartedness of “Come the Ungulate” does not even slightly affront Steve’s really striking and meaningful “Come the Revolution”, which everyone should read at least thrice.
Arleen Paré
Come the ungulate (from Earle Street)
                after Steve Collis’ “Come the Revolution” from To the Barricades

Come the ungulate    through the streets   the gates come the deer    they will on sidewalks
small groupings   come the doe and the fawn families come the buck    through the streets as 
if there were none they will complicate   five or six they thread through across ignoring 
the cross they will    intersections three fawn behind they will on the diagonal stop signs or 
stop lights    come the deer they will at their own laneways and boulevards ungulate they 
will regal   their pace they will slow through cars they will from the north they come 
problemate   laneways they will roads into backyards front yards they will graveyards in
the southern direction   as if preferring the young tops of short trees miniatures pear trees and 
cherry they will over fences   arrive come the roses prefer they will yellow and red 
recline the cemetery is two hundred years old they will   overlooking the ocean range until 
the ocean lie down as if no one lounge between headstones they are not ready to die    three 
buck they will ruminate consume come the deer out of campuses and government gardens 
come the deer come the people   the love come the hate under street lamps weave come the
park they will bend their dark shadowed necks under spliced overhead light   three deer on the 
grass flower beds and hedges antlers charcoal grey navy blue they will they could be 
three oversized hounds under the broken beam    stillness below the 3 am the window they 
will paying no attention as if no human population no houses they will their place come 
the doe buck come the fawn    come cougar hunger come evening the night

April 1, 2020

IRFAN ALI AT THE POETRY PARTY

Image courtesy of NASA
Irfan Ali writes: “Gravity” is a poem from the climactic section of Accretion’s narrative. In it, our protagonist, heartbroken and alone, finally gives in to his violent and destructive nature. That trajectory ultimately leads him somewhere neither he nor anyone else could expect.

GRAVITY

An insignificant thing
lacks the needed weight to attract.
Laws state
it will barely inspire a reaction.
An insignificant thing
will always try to accrete,
even if hate is the only available mass.

Let it build
until you collapse alone
beneath your own weight.
Then for a moment
you will become a fire on the horizon,
beautiful
and impossible to ignore.

Accretion's publication date is April 1, 2020 (Brick Books). The launch was originally scheduled to take place on April 9 at Another Story Bookshop (315 Roncesvalles Ave) in Toronto. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has, of course, been postponed indefinitely. The book can be purchased directly from Brick Books.

March 31, 2020

RHONA MCADAM AND SWEET WATER AT THE POETRY PARTY


Rhona McAdam
BY THE GLASS

Free for the taking

through all my childhood,

crashing into glasses bouldered with ice,
poured thickly from the sides of plastic jugs,
the unremarked and neglected

sentry at the top of place settings,

sweating on formica,

seized to cure fits of coughing

or moments of spice, replenished

unasked and endlessly.

When the costly bottles came,

in thalassic greens and fluvial blues,
the taps still turned for the frugal,
and we got what we paid for,

tepid, swirling with mist, fragrant
with swamp, or sold for 10 p a glass at
a parsimonious caff in Cornwall.
We drank each chlorinated drop
and spared the tip.

In New Mexico restaurants,

cards propped on the tables

invited us to value even this, the stuff
of dishpans and swimming pools,
while all afternoon in the Hilton

the self-flushing toilets

thundered their copious refrain

in unoccupied stalls.

A friend has returned from Africa.

We sit on the beach in clothes the colour of sand,
watching clouds gather

on the undrinkable blue horizon.

Sweet Water editor Yvonne Blomer

Rhona McAdam's poem is from the anthology Sweet Water: Poems for the Watersheds, edited by Yvonne Blomer. It was meant to be launched March 18, 2020. Republished with permission from Caitlin Press. Copies may be ordered from the press.

March 30, 2020

ERIN WILSON AT THE POETRY PARTY - AND A GIVEAWAY

Erin Wilson's first poetry collection, At Home with Disquiet, was released with Circling Rivers Press on March 24, 2020. She would have been sharing this poem in Sudbury, Ontario, the day the first case of COVID-19 was announced there.

Erin Wilson
MARE

    “When is it we come to the realization that all things are wandering away?”
                                        Charles Wright

i.

I am driving by, watching.
Things like this always happen
inside the momentum of other things.
Time is like a waterfall,
someone says.

ii.

In the centre of a green pasture
four corpulent mares have gathered
in a circle to confer.
What they are discussing
is the listless colt
lying like a sable fur
upon the dew-lit grass.
One mare, probably the mother,
is stomping her hoof,
tearing up divots of soil.
Certainly, she thinks,
if I translate this angst
through this body—!

The four of them stare,
one unblinking eye
staring into the green eye of earth
which doesn't blink either.

This is how my grief for you works.
This is how it changes nothing. 

Erin Wilson offers free Advance Reader Copies to the first three writers/readers who write to her at thetinyleaf(at)gmail(dot)com

March 28, 2020

TYLER PENNOCK AT THE POETRY PARTY


Tyler Pennock writes: This poem is the opening to Bones - and is a part that took me quite some time to settle on. The book itself is set in winter, and I really wanted to capture the season in the first poem. I remember the image of snow in "the dead" by James Joyce.  Don't get me wrong -- I've never read it. But I remember being told about it by a former partner, some time in 2002. He described it with such detail and admiration. At the time, I, too was listening to him, such detail and ... admiration. 

Given how I write, I thought snow would be the perfect vessel for the opening of this book. What I love about snow is its gentleness, and beauty. It signals the death of so many things, but can still hold light above a forest floor (the same way some flowers do). This, the circle-nature of seasons, relationships, and memory are all brought forward in this poem. A wonderful start, and one I'm very proud of. 

Tyler Pennock
from BONES

Under the moonlight
the softness that night gives us –
    the earth rising to meet
    in snow, or the glow of trilliums
where there is enough sound in a breath –

in here
I speak

gently step
    and story-weave
sending out a thread of me           

like a foot’s condensation
drying on a summer floor

hoping the memory of me
    survives
        in the eyes of others

I’ll speak
of blood
and wounds and beauty
in terrible things

the way the wind pulls a thousand leaves
    down an empty street 

and when they settle –   
        we look up
        to trace the direction of the wind 

    *
Tyler Pennock was set to launch Bones at First Nations House, University of Toronto May 8 2020. The launch and a reading scheduled for April 15 in Toronto have been cancelled. Copies can be ordered through Brick Books.