Monday, July 29, 2013

Interruptions In Glass - Tracy Hamon

Today's book of poetry:  Interruptions In Glass.  Tracy Hamon.  Coteau Books.  Regina, Saskatchewan.  2010.

Tracy Hamon's first book This Is Not Eden was a finalist for two Saskatchewan Book Awards, Hamon won the City of Regina Award in 2005 for portions of this book, Interruptions In Glass.

Awards are nice but have little meaning until you read her poems and see that Hamon is that real rarity, an utterly fearless voice.  These poems cackle with unbridled wit and intelligence while distilling language to its lovely poetic essence.  In short, Tracy Hamon has all the tools of the trade and employs them with the excitement of youth, filters them through a wise old head.

Things I Think about while Reading Robert Bly

How the clouds like to dance, wave
tight little asses into the half-moon's face.

How my hands moves to a pulse
pockets the inside of his soft cotton pants.

How a Miles Davis chord gasps
low over each breast like a moan.

How I close my eyes, let my finger
fall to his mouth, over his lips.

How I let my mind's palm brush
the brome of his beard.

How I thumb his chest,
steal lint from his belly.

How his heat carries me
hardwired into the night.


Hamon both races down that hill hammering out staccato pearls and lolls into the pasture, her wanton sexuality sauntering with confidence.  These are grown up poems.

Even in March it Rains

sometimes the whole night, a slow grief,
the sound like feet on the roof and I
am reminded of the time you asked me
to dance for you, and how later you let me
tango on top, and what I remember most is how
the sweat eased out of each pore of your body.

How you held on to me, as if you might never
be this consumed again, and even when my gold
chain waltzed into your mouth, an imitation
of your entry into me, you absorbed that too.
And tonight this memory drums in frustrations,
drops pounding on damp shingles, sudden disaster
that won't stop after I hear of your passing.


Hamon shows admirable restraint in these poems, she trusts in the intelligence of her reader enough that she leaves at the right moment, returns with strength when needed.  I was completely hooked after reading the first poem of this collection, hooked and filled with both excitement and dread.  What if the rest of the book wasn't as good...

In the Absence of Conversation I

Eat rice.

Engrave your name on a grain of rice.  Tiny.  So small no
one will see it.  Wear it around your neck.  Engrave your
name of thousands of grains of rice.  Save them like
memories, for years.  Throw them as confetti into the
face of the one who has left you.


Absolutely nothing to worry about.  I was hooked from the first poem and Hamon never steps off the gas.  Interruptions In Glass is fiercely smart, uber-hip and clean as glass.  This is poetry that makes no apologies, nor should it, for Tracy Hamon's thoroughly modern voice.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Animal Husbandry Today - Jamie Sharpe

Today's book of poetry:  Animal Husbandry Today.  Jamie Sharpe.  ECW Press.  Toronto, Ontario.  2012.

(Noun) & (Noun)

Today is the 50th anniversary of this poem
and although the chapbook it was published in
is long out of print it's been kept alive
by backwoods, misinformed, literary perverts,
like Denis Baswitcz of Volga, South Dakota,
who covets any work that references
Tom Brokaw, as this poem does with the line:
"an unwavering beauty, like Brokaw seen
through a haze of lace and barbiturates"
which confounds and arouses Dennis, as he floats
adrift in the sentiment of this convoluted
sentence, because it carries the sweet
longing of his only fantasy not involving
the particulars of this poem's title.


Jamie Sharpe spits out poetic gems like they were coming out the end of Thompson Machine Gun.  As a follow-up read to Stuart Ross and You Exist.  Details Follow., Jamie Sharpe's Animal Husbandry Today asks the reader to make some of the same leaps of faith.  And very much like Mr. Ross - Jamie Sharpe delivers, page after page.



I found a combination lock
lying in the middle of the road

and carried it everywhere, twisting
its dial (14-37-6, 40-29-0, 12-16-07),

hoping for that telltale click
to unlock the mystery


Eight months later: another
lock in my mailbox.

A simple thought settled
heavily within:

the solution to the second
might lie in the first.


Sharpe's Animal Husbandry Today is illustrated with several drawings/collages which may or may not relate to various specific poems.  It was hard for me to tell and truthfully I didn't care.  Each and every one of these delightful poems is so thought provoking and entertaining it hardly matters that I haven't figured it all out yet.

Increase Your Web Hits With These Secret Phrases

adiaphorous sand beauties
people suffer only in cinema
barber romance guide
it's always 8:30
carbon allergy controversy
feline division
racist hair removal system
furnace aesthetics
pajama reaction
not plop
"Aqualung" line analysis
the seven-year soup
fork spacing
famous Scrabble battles
old laughter (proximity to)
build your own Dennis
broken romaine hearts
aura markets, 2009
favourable drunk victims
drunk victim concept
a cure for September
the indescribable salad
moustache responsibility


For me, the pleasure in reading these poems is watching a writer like Sharpe skip as though he were a be-bopping Charlie Parker through convention, go where few have the chops, and come out the other side smiling and smelling of roses.  If I say whimsy it might seem to imply a lack of seriousness and that is not what I want, meant.  Sharpe's whimsical voice dances over all manner of terrain as sure-footed as a mountain goat.  And it is a thrill to watch him gracefully jump from ledge to ledge without fear.


After children incessantly
attached a cloud with sticks
the weather decided to end,

talking its life by curling
around the Chrysler Building.

Unaccustomed to compliments,
the building fell.

Workers, unwilling to dig
desks from under rubble,
went to the beach.

It was a beautiful day,
not a cloud in the sky.


In a recent interview Sharpe pays homage to the American poet Ron Padgett and it is no surprise. Sharpe may or may not be a disciple of Padgett, who is a Poet God to many, but he sure lives in the same postal code.

Animal Husbandry Today is a stunning debut, Jamie Sharpe's book can hold it's own on any shelf in the country.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

You Exist. Details Follow. - Stuart Ross

Today's book of poetry:  You Exist.  Details Follow.  Stuart Ross.  Anvil Press.  Vancouver, British Columbia.  2012

A DISCLAIMER:  Everything I am about to say must be digested with the reader knowing that I personally believe Stuart Ross may be Canada's most important poet.  Stuart and I have been friends since the 70's, there is no poet I admire more.

You Exist.  Details Follow. is Stuart Ross's 32nd book and it mines territory familiar to anyone who has had the opportunity to read Ross before.  Classic, seat of the pants, surrealism and a brace of reason, blended with a deeply caring humanism.

Why Must There Be Such Suffering?

Dear book,
do you have
the time?  are
you divine or
grey?  Marvellous
or a shipyard?
I bristle whenever
I see them kiss,
but also whenever
I bathe in a birdless
sea.  Butterflies and pork
strap themselves into
my 1997 Honda Civic.
Why can't I read French?
Why can't I come down the staircase
with burning boys in my furnace
of hair?  Stay with me,
stay silent, stay male
or female.  The dog has run
away with my slippers
and your eggs.
Oh, demented roar
of innocent babies!
I wanted to be daylight,
but it rained.
A part time Campfire Girl
was a dictionary,
alone and suffering.
The wind romped
right over her.


Ross could be called a "narrative surrealist" but that, like most labels, does not adequately capture the gymnastic feats of construction he employs.  At his best Ross combines images and emotions with the same alacrity of a Max Ernst or Salvador Dali.  The literal is a sheer curtain that surrealists drape like a fabric or a fold in time.  Ross gives a master class in almost every poem in the delicate art of balancing truth from fiction, what we imagine from what we know to be real.

Cobourg, Night

If I shove the boxes
of books aside, drag
the curtains, crane my neck
just so, I can see the clock
on Victoria Hall.  It
chimes twice.  My parents
died in another city
75 minutes away.  The story
of their lives, as filmed
by Ealing Studios, is screened
on the night sky.  Here
it is exotic.  Tonight:
the screening.  Tomorrow:
the Pulled Pork Festival.
Down below, vines have tumbled
from the brick walls, encumbering
the porch.  A green ribbon has
unravelled.  I wind it tightly
around my well-sucked thumb.


Stuart Ross is a senior poet who has honed his craft in the best way possible - a life dedicated to writing, and you can see it in every poem, every book.  Ross's poems are those of one of the truly unique voices we have in Canadian poetry.

Somehow Ross continuously taps into our unconscious with his breathlessly funny and crisp wit, observational bon mots and pretzel logic leaps of faith.

Pop. 18,5000

in winter
at night

there are
eighteen thousand
four hundred

the beach

i stand
in snow
and stare

into the silent lake
i cannot


And sometimes the candid realist in Stuart Ross takes centre stage and his unbridled humanism just dances right out there.  There is almost always some humour in Ross's work but that is the sugar, the kiss on the cheek as he whispers in your other ear the secrets of the universe and the codes to deconstruct the present.

I would like to offer in the face of my obvious bias, the following:  Stuart Ross is a small press King.  His Proper Tales Press, editorial work, tireless work on behalf of countless other writers, including his new imprint with Mansfield Press, A Stuart Ross Book (which has already produced a number of excellent titles), are only a small hint at the contributions Ross has tirelessly made on behalf of many of us in the poetry world.

For me, there is no poet as entertaining as Stuart Ross and very few as smart.  Ross builds a new universe with You Exist.  Details Follow. and we get to travel in it like explorers entering a new dimension, luckily it comes with instructions and a guide map for home.

Stuart Ross looks at the world through a different lens, how extraordinarily lucky we are that he shares that view with us.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Need Machine - Andrew Faulkner

Today's book of poetry:  Need Machine.  Andrew Faulkner.  Coach House Books.  Toronto.  Ontario.  2013.

Andrew Faulkner's first book from Toronto's venerated Coach House Press, Need Machine, is simply too damned good.  There must be someone to complain about this too, but whom?  Faulkner rattles off razor sharp and deathly smart poems from the opening page.

The Lobby

The Holiday Inn sign issues the kind of light
you inhale through a dollar bill.

On the fringe of the parking lot, it's a lot like
the Wild West: a grave Corolla rusts,

and someone pisses on an oak at dusk
as if his urine were an axe.

I commission a new scent to enter
rooms before me and pat down its occupants,

confiscating cellphones and sketch pads.
It's not paranoia if your interest is academic.

I'm flannel mouthed.  Produce a sweat that lingers
like a waxy second skin.  In the corner, the last American-made

pinball machine grazes on quarters.
But the concierge doesn't care.  His yawn is wide and full

as a luscious lash arcing over the eye of finance.
That's a mouthful, over the phone.  Can you say that again?

The piped-in music swells like teen acne.
The concierge nods solemnly.  He can, he can.


Matthew Dickman, author of Mayakovksy's Revolver, had this to say about Faulkner's debut volume Need Machine:
     After reading Mr. Faulkner's incredible book, something happened.  I began
     to feel bad for the person I was before reading his poems, I felt bad that I had
     been living without the joy and wonder of this book for so long.  Faulkner's
     poems illuminate the world we live in, engage in its humour and strangeness,
     its sadness and bravery.  The poet writes: "I've strapped dynamite to your
     heart/ and jammed a bit between your teeth./  How bored you must have been/
     before you met me.'  And he's right.  It was so goddamn boring before we met him.

This was the blurb on the back cover.  Wish I'd written it, hope Mr. Dickman doesn't mind me quoting it.


The east wing of my heart rises like a hot
air balloon.  The west wing descends like bad
news on the oblivious.  The radical wing
of my heart sets fire to the stock exchange.
The silent wing gestures like a museum.
The wings of hope trade away several promising prospects.
Winging it at the press conference,
despair tells fans the team wouldn't
have made the playoffs anyway.  As a right-winger
I've scored several goals and lowered
your taxes.  As a left-winger, I'm here for you.
Attention all passengers, this is the captain speaking:
that thing on the wing is the old god, the small god,
all the thieves and lawyers, every good deal you've made.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what keeps us aloft.


Faulkner frequently jolts the reader with electric images, a shocking strike to the central cortex. Faulkner's rapier wit and caustic charm abound, but never get in the way of these very smart poems.


Dot-com speculation.  Violin lessons.
Behind your old grade school, the spotty field
you first drank in.
                            No, you're son
has a failure to thrive.  A train jumps its tracks
onto another, shittier set of tracks.
The spiny, thin-ribbed ego of success
takes a comparison to a condom personally.
Even though you meant it as a compliment.
And even though it's true.


Need Machine is an exciting read.  I like poetry that makes me laugh and this book did that with aplomb.  I like poetry that makes me think, challenges what I believe to be true, Faulkner accommodated.

Coach House Books has long been publishing an essential stream of Canadian poetry, Need Machine assures Andrew Faulkner a place on the water.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Masham Means Evening - Kanina Dawson

Today's book of poetry:  Masham Means Evening.  Kanina Dawson.  Coteau Books.  Regina.  Saskatchewan.  2013.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of hearing Kanina Dawson read several of the poems from her stunning debut volume Masham Means Evening, at the opening night reading for the latest Ottawa Small Press Bookfair.  She read well and the poems, full of obvious gravitas, caught the audiences full attention.

The Road to Bagram

Horizons away from where I am going
we stop to change a tire on a road leading north.
It's littered with scrap metal, red and white painted rocks
telling us to be careful of mines.

Nearby is the faint clinking of goat bells
and the remnants of a checkpoint
where an Afghan guard is banging his pot against a metal post.

A speed bump in the middle of nowhere is what he tends to.
Long ago he might have kept a garden or read books.
Now he smokes hash and merely stares at us as we pass,
his AK slung, his kettle hung on a hook.

The wind makes a moan that cuts across the sun,
kicking up dust devils near an old Soviet tank
destroyed over a decade ago - its side ripped open,
its turret popped off and flung fifty feet

down a gravelled slope - nothing
history remembers.  War came too many years ago,
scattered too many teeth among the rocks
where the goats now graze
and where the guard goes to take a shit -

uninterested in the lost jaw bone of some Russian
whose parents no one can name.


To read Dawson's on the ground account of her experiences is another realm entirely.  It is not only easy to suspend your disbelief, Dawson grabs the reader full frontal and screams - here it is, the face of war, have a bite.

The visceral reaction one has to poem after excellent poem is shattering.  Kanina Dawson marches into a very small cadre of writers who have captured the true heart of war from the ground.  You can think of Philip Caputo's Rumour's of War, If I Die In a Combat Zone: Box Me Up and Ship Me Home by Tim O'Brien, Gustav Hasford's The Short Timers and Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun
As I write these names there is the realization that these books are all from the Viet Nam generation or older and that I am showing my age.

Helicopter Crash

Crumpled, dusty, whirling into the camp wall,
a helicopter folds, burning like a metal deck of cards,
melting the seatbelts.

No way to get them out, the pilot and door gunner.
Inside the operations centre the order gets given -
start making calls back home.

The officer in charge swallows hard, nods.
Poised on the last step of the stairs
he feels his own bones on fire,
thinks of his boys, eleven and thirteen, says -
It would be quick though.
It would be quick.

But I can tell from his face -

how he sees those flames
like a tableau, those hands
in a cockpit spasming for air -

that he's not sure.


Kanina Dawson has tapped into a vein of literature that is soaked in blood, terror, valour and every extreme emotion imaginable, but like Herodotus, it is the details flashing by at the side of the frame that sometimes tell the story.

Dangerous Men

I remember a village in which we sat,
the local men and us, a tiny gathering on a grass patch
bleached by the daily dump of night urine,
salty hot.  I sat with my back against a fire brick wall,
sweet with smoke and crawling with flies.

The men there had laughed at my hair,
used their hands to scoop the insides out of melons,
taught me words for bird and trees and sky.

We were offered apricots, the hospitality of almonds
and we talked about the price of peace.

We didn't know until later how dangerous
these men were, pretending to be friends of the coalition,
covering our hands with both of theirs, smiling,
letting our trucks return home in the semi-dark, unmolested.

We thought that meeting a great success.

Back in Canada we figure it out - what duplicity means -
when we hear that one of our own got his head cleaved with an axe.
He'd been sitting among the elders, sipping tea and spitting seeds
when someone slumped him into darkness.
Made of him a melon, split,

They hoped it would be enough to make us leave.

And I remember how I'd sat not six months before
in a place like that, laughing, cross legged on the ground,
my helmet off, my grimy tea glass resting against one knee -
the men with their sticky hands, sucking their fingers cleans,
telling us how their district was famous for its melons,
its hospitality.


What Kanina Dawson does in poem after poem in Masham Means Evening is to tell us about the real experiences of a Canadian soldier at war.  The where and when hardly matter.  Poem after poem in this rich and tender book sweat, bleed and confess truths and conundrums beyond reason, yet Dawson makes either sense or soldier's prayer out of every moment.

Last Looks

I'm sitting with my back against a building
by the runway, kicking at my kit, anti-social as hell.
The sun is burning circles into my legs.  I'm waiting
to get on the plane.  I'm out of here for good.

I watch a newswoman on the tarmac
talk to troops  about going home, their faces smiling,
heads nodding.  I look away, sad
that I can't quite get there.

Still dwelling on suicide bombers and perfect paper sky,
this fight, both winnable and un-won,
the silence of mountains in the distance
plummeting, indivisible.

This morning the plane sits ready out on the runway,
its shadow rippling in the heat, its ramp folded down.

We head off towards it in single file.

My lungs go in and out like a last look.
I try to breathe it all in  - all these hard things -
this detached ache like a paper kite on a cut string.

I can't figure out what it is I've lost.


I could have chosen any of the poems from Kanina Dawson's Masham Means Evening for this review. Every poem in the collection as crystal clear as a bullet from a gun.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Water Damage - Peter Norman

Today's book of poetry:  Water Damage.  Peter Norman.  A Stuart Ross Book.  Mansfield Press.  Toronto.  Ontario.  2013

Peter Norman's second Mansfield Press title Water Damage fulfills all of the promise of his first book, At the Gates of the Theme Park, which was a finalist for the Trillium Poetry Book Award in 2010.  No Sophomore slump here.

Dried My Eyes

Dried my eyes
and slunk out of the tower where I worked
and found the smokers clustered by the door,
coughing, shooting shit, recounting
how one day the big red bell
struck itself, repeatedly,
because of smoke.

Having dried my eyes, I spotted
all the paper blowing down the street.
The articles and photographs and letters to an editor
who never answered.  All the adult classifieds.

My eyes would not stay dry.
In bars I couldn't see the TV sets.
Could not make out the score.
Could not discern the urgent headline
scrolling underneath a shot of coifs
and mouths ajar to let opinions out.
I couldn't see the latest, and I wept.

I'm in good company.  Don't mock.
Da Vinci wept.  The Bronte sisters wept.
Marcel Marceau evinced that he was weeping.
Every major prophet must have wept--
the things they would have seen!
And monsters wept.  Yes, Himmler wept
and Torquemada in his toils wept.

Surgeons worked my moistened eye,
stripped out the blots
that hovered everywhere I peered.
Efficient as a dagger's tip
they went too far, too deep,
and scoured my sight.

Printed words have blurred into a cipher.
Cloudy symbols and their high romance
are hieroglyphic now.  My fingers itch
for Braille prowess, but that's a long way off--
the classes don't resume until next year.

Somewhere beyond the old screen door
that's meant to keep mosquitoes out
but fails because it's gashed,
figures lurch and stumble from the marsh.
I cannot see them come.

You listening, Doc?
Yeah, you who wrecked my eyes?
You hear the slurp as legs work free
from gripping muck?  You hear the bulrush break?
Mistakes don't disappear.  Their discharge festers.


It's not hard to see why astute editor Stuart Ross choose this title for his series of imprints from Mansfield.  Norman's poetry is all serious stuff and yet his sense of humour is always present, almost always showing.


Even the last crushed can
fetched from the deeps of the fat blue bin
in which we keep the empty things
lives in hope as the old man's hand
drops it in a reeking plastic
hamper filled with other cans
that there in the stench of the depot
to which it knows it's headed
where it will be flung on appropriate heaps
and carted away and reduced
into a single useful element
a moment might occur
where some grand shudder
ripples through the depot's
mounds and bundles,
makes them shift in unison
and so impels them to believe
that when the whole procedure is complete
and all of them are mere, pure
plastic, metal, glass or pulp,
their differences will burn away,
the categories will dissolve
and all this motley mess of outcast crap
will thus emerge the other end
clean and buffed
and functional
and one

(though cans
don't think that much
and are not metaphysically inclined
and being crushed might dampen
daydreams of such scope--
the can's got plenty else to fret about)

(and yet, old friend,
who drank with me
the contents of that can,
who slurred your words recounting
criminal adventures of our youth,
will you deny there's comfort
in pretending this aluminum
accordion can hope, 'cause after all,
if it can do so, even now,
what excuse is there for us,
for you and me,
to wallow in a marsh of anecdote
and count our missing hairs and swear
the future is the candle brimmed and gagging
on a pool of its own body
processed into something new
and worse?).


Norman writes about the world in quiet moments, opens them up to us like a wise elder, giving meaning to lore.

The tenure of Norman's Water Damage is so consistent, the reader effortlessly moves through this collection, delighted at each step, poem, along the way.  Norman is a highly inventive poet but there is nothing experimental here.  These are precise, smart, narrative poems and a pure pleasure to read.

The Perfect Octopus

The butcher had a waist-high fridge
heaped with seafood bound up tight
in plastic -- severed bits or creatures
whole.  Crab shells plucked of claws

with meat still cleaving.  Shrimp,
legs primly tucked.  And octopi
bundles into vacuum-sealed husks--
greenish-grey unwieldy clumps,

hideous but edible, I guess, and worth the price
jotted in Sharpie pen on cardboard squares.
Yet one was perfect, like a star
(more truly like a starfish), all its arms

curled out in symmetry, the suckers
evenly arrayed.  What hand
or eye framed such exactitude?
I wouldn't know.  But I know this:

precisely where the ink's discharged
or food pulled in or out or sex
asserts itself -- a centered hole
nestled in the roots of arms--

the gap, I thought, resembled to the lash
a human eye by Botticelli.
It saw me watch.  I almost heard it murmur:
Nothing evades perfection's gaze.

But really, in that rimy fridge,
huddled with others hauled from the sea,
crammed into plastic slathered with data
listing all its nutrients, awash

in self-preserving slime, this bundled beast
was tarted up to speak a cruder tongue.
The cephalopod said nothing noble.
Only Eat me.


Water Damage ends with the lone long poem in the volume, The Flood.  Considering recent events in Calgary and Toronto -- I would hard pressed to recommend a more prescient poem.  The entire collection reads like a glass of water on a hot day, totally refreshing.

Monday, July 15, 2013

punchlines 1.0 - Aaron Tucker

Today's book of poetry:  punchlines 1.0.  Aaron Tucker.  above/ground press.  Maxville, Ontaro.  2013.

Finally, I get to say something about the small presses hardest working man, Rob McLennan.

above/ground press, McLennan's press, has quietly, produced hundreds of simple chapbooks.  For a certain generation of Canadian poet having an above/ground book has become a right of passage.  If you think I am kidding, here is a quick list of poets who come to mind:  David McFadden (who just won the Griffin Prize), John Newlove, B.P. Nichol, George Bowering, Stephanie Bolster, Victor Coleman, Robert Kroetsch and Michael Dennis.  Thought I'd sneak that in and see if anyone was paying attention.

McLennan has brought attention to his press with works by named poets - but where above/ground thrives is in introducing new voices to Canadian poetry.

Aaron Tucker, whose punchline 1.0 is his second above/ground press chapbook, shows he is comfortable in any company with his witty and deceptively clever poems.

what did the Twitter say to the Facebook?

we propel hyperlink from space to space linger long enough to be
terrified + continue
without ornament unaware of external things.

(137 characters)


These are short, crisp and highly entertaining poems.

when is a turk not a turk?

we often talk of the tiny man in
my smartphone tweeting expertly hidden

a small man proud
paperboy's cap plaid face forward
small cigar smell wafts off him
if he had a moustache Freud might say
he is my father made small by envy + pride

he shaves every morning savouring the bite of the razor
as much as the tiny specks of blood that litter white sink, drain

late at night he returns to his room after a day's work
his room is slight, almost barren
walls the cheap plaster of a hasty hotel
he hears all the ticks + turns of the night
metal bed frame a perfect portrait of
his compact nature tiny bedside table with
a single volume spine split always open to
the same page a passage he repeats returns to every night
a stub, still smoking, barely extinguished in the ashtray
the smoke curls up like briny screensaver wraps entirely around
almost sleeping face then my screen winks out entirely


Tucker is a professor of English at Ryerson University and with his second title from above/ground belongs to a very illustrious list of poets who McLennan has published.  There is little doubt that we will see more from Tucker.

And luckily even less doubt about McLennan.  His tireless efforts for poets and poetry through above/ground and countless other ventures help ensure the future of poetry in Canada.

Aaron Tucker's entirely-worth-the-time chapbook punchline 1.0 was a pleasure to read and a harbinger of bigger things to come.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Rebel Women - Vancy Kasper

Today's book of poetry:  Rebel Women.  Vancy Kasper.  Inanna Publications.  Toronto, Ontario.  2013.

Vancy Kasper has been a feminist for over 30 years.  That's a long time to spend making oneself heard.  Luckily for us Rebel Women calls upon the voices of generations of women.

Sunday in the Wartime Nursery

Aunt's fingers,
nicotined and yellow
match the chalk lines
on the fabric.
A smooth dart is not in the pinning.
A flat dart is not in the sewing.
She pulls and stretches,
lays the material under the needle.
It's in the pressing.  All in the pressing.
Her feet rock the treadle
back and forth         back and forth.
Then she holds up the pressmitt and spits on the iron.

Her niece, climbs up off the floor,
heaving and rumpled with cheap green garbardine
She is here for a reason
she only partially understands.

On weekdays, three floors below,
her aunt's hands, stiff and blue-veined,
beat egg whites with a fork.
Floating Island pudding for 67 children
whose fathers could be driving jeeps,
or mothers, lured by ambulances,
at the Bellevue Avenue Wartime Day Nursery.

Had her wrists forgotten those seven years
at the Berlin Conservatory?
She barely remembers her salad days;
her mildewed flat on Lindenstrasse
or Hans, whom she had kissed,
married and then left.

She's abandoned Greta, Reiner and Carl
whom she'd hugged, studied with, watched perform.
Her fingers still argue with Wagner
but she's misplaced any memory
of the Carnegie Hall debut, the ovations, reviews.

Her son volunteers for the RCAF.
Now at 18 he flies a Lockheed bomber,
low over Berlin blackouts.

She waits -- lights another cigarette --
every Sunday, teaches her niece to be a tailor.
An international profession.


These poems are rich with strong, independent women telling us about the social history of our world and times - because recorded history, until very recently, was "HISstory", and generally concentrated on the deeds of "Great" men.  Kasper brings life to the poignant sounds of several generations of women as they discuss their lives with passion.  These are lives full of hardship and loss, lives where women have borne witness and now Kasper animates their voices.

Big Black Sunshiny Day

for Ayanna Black

My friend is wearing her brand new cap
as she lifts her arm, now savaged of flesh.
We are toasting the biggest black day in history.
"Remember that time I offered you South African wine?" I say.
"And you said, 'I hope you choke on it.'"
Our laughter has patina
on Obama's election day.
She sips - and these things within her, sip too.
She leans forward - her stick-like fingers
reach for some of my roasted garlic.
"When we met you had short hair," I smile,
as she fails to pat shorn dreadlocks.
Her cap falls off, as bald-headed now,
she looks up at the waiter, and orders quiche.
She knows these things inside
will enjoy eggs and milk so alien
to her 90 pound once rigid vegetarian body.
"You don't have the look, yet," I say.
"You got rid it of it."

"But I eat for two or three now" she says.
"Here's to Obama, and to me not getting the look."


Vancy Kasper has published one previous volume of poetry, Mother I'm So Glad You Taught Me How To Dance, as well as award winning Young Adult fiction.  Kasper, a former reporter and magazine feature writer, brings a high level of professionalism to her poetry, but never at the cost of a loss of passion.

Rebel Women

for Catherine

There are herbs, Catherine,
my Great-Great Grandmother was told --
tansy can slow a heart,
hibernate the trouble.

She had tied a Rebel ribbon around
her son's arm and knew it was too early
to roll the Christmas pies
- apple, sparse, crabapple.
Give us this day, our daily --
slap hard on the board for
Mrs. Lount, 30 miles north-east --
her arms aching from the waving,
roll and roll for Mrs. Matthews.
The Lord is our Shepherd
Does she have a letter too?
Crouching between candlesticks,
sealed against defeat, penned
by her sons, like mine?
Anointest their heads with oil,
flute the apples for Mrs. Anderson

Dear God, do we have enough pennies for the eyes?

The icy ground between the oak and birch
is thickened by their Rebel sons,
their fathers, brothers and husbands,
who stumble with courage -- towards York.

Forgive them their trespasses

Eerie winds this December
deafen these Rebel mothers, wives and sisters
with pitchforks under, piles on, their tables.
They do no look out
at wind and ice bending pines
wood for coffins.


These characters aren't bigger than life, they are life, the rich unrecorded lives of our mothers, sisters, daughters, friends.  All of these women know their own horrors of conflict whether it is war and rebellion or in the home.  Vancy Kasper has given them a voice.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Whisky Sour City - Edited by Vanessa Shields

Today's book of poetry:  Whisky Sour City.  Edited by Vanessa Shields.  Black Moss Press.  Windsor.  Ontario.  2013.

There are no author notes in this collection, Alistair MacLeod, who taught in Windsor for many years, writes the Foreword.  I am President of the club that thinks Alistair MacLeod can walk on water, and that he is our very best writer.  If he is taking the time to write the Foreword - then this is an anthology that I'm interested in.

Generally I don't enjoy anthologies, I might even have an unreasonable bias against them, totally unjustified, of course.  But Vanessa Shields has done some fine selecting for this volume that celebrates all things Windsor, Ontario.

On The Line (Ford's, GM, Chrysler's) 

I sewed the seats for the cars and
each stitch had to be perfect.
Not like today.  Everything done by

We sewed it all by hand and the foreman would
come and measure it, make sure each stitch
was exactly the same.  The exact measurement and
                           that's how we did it.

You had to have nerves of steel
to work in the factory.  Someone always
watching over your shoulder, telling you what to do.

But no one could break me.

I hadn't been there one month and
my boss comes up to me and says, where'd you learn
to sew like that?  Cause all my stitches were perfect,
exactly all measured out perfectly.

I just looked up at him and said, I been sewing all my life!

And at the end of the month, when I looked at my
paycheque, it was already there, you know, the
raise you got after 3 months.  But I
got it after the first cause I was so good.

A course, all the other girls were mad as hell cause
they didn't think it was fair.

Too bad for them!

-- Lisa Pike Fiorindi


Having lived in Windsor and worked at Ford (Engine Plant #2), for two years, I have an emotional attachment to the city, an affection.  Like every anthology there are a few weak links but Shields has peppered this collection with gems.  Robert Earl Stewart's Twilight Cincinnati from his collection Something Burned Along The Southern Border is top notch, Terri Ann Carter's Dante and the Boys Drop in to the Caboto Club for an Evening of Penne and Poetry is as delightful as the title suggests,

Dante and the Boys Drop in to the
Caboto Club for an Evening of
Penne and Poetry

(for Samantha Alfini)

Dante, Galileo, Caboto
stopping by the Caboto Club
for an evening of metaphor and tortellini.

Dante interested
in the journeys to hell, the poems
that conjure hollowed eyes
and sunken skulls, the burning inferno
of long married lives - He loves the spicy
vezione verro and prosciutto with melon.

Galileo expresses his penchant
for sky, the sun dangling from a golden
chain around his neck, always ready for a salad
Calabrese style, tomatoes like half moons.
He waits for final lines,
like fireworks on the dark horizon.

Caboto, enthralled with epics
of travel, the diaries of long road trips,
bizarre customs - compares the pastas
served by winsome waitresses.
He loves to dabble in the written word
himself, knows the time it takes
to fill a leather notebook.

After liquors of Amaretto, Frangelico, Sambuca -
I see the three ascending the grand
spiral staircase, pursued by a security guard
who wants to check their I.D.

They scurry down the gleaming hallway,
life their feet, begin the flight
through ceiling tiles, their hinged wings
beating back summer air, their bodies
becoming stars, shining down on Parent Street.

- Terri Ann Carter


Eugene McNamara gives us this lovely treat:

Early Autumn at the Market

A table of various squash like
wizened men in turbans head
to head whispering

A final load of sweet corn

A bee among the tomatoes

Those dusky purple plums
which say autumn regret

- Eugene McNamara


I found Mary Kate Brogan's poem Newly Born disquietingly charming and I guess that is the tone I find for this book, disquietingly charming.  It's not a bad feeling at all.

Windsor - A Love Story

Arrive by taxi after midnight at a Dufferin duplex.
My Palestinian landlord fast asleep.
Baba's watchdog fails again.

Twenty-somethings making halfway love in a stairwell
They do that, you know.
Inhibitions lost in a city
Foreign to us both.

Now, with the baby in the back seat,
I can map our love in the landmarks of this city
I couldn't wait to run a mile from.
Toronto-bound from the start.

Wyandotte's Arab markets,
Smells that remind me of my Grandmother
Made you raise your eyebrows, purse our lips.
Garlicky shawarma after a night at the casino,
Drinking in Voodoo on Ouellette
Sin crushing me beneath you.

I hid you in the Leddy Library
From Baba's watchful eyes.
An overnight stay amongst the classics
Reading an analogue in Anne Frank.
Riverfront festivals, a mic in your hand
While young people drink from plastic cups
Swaying to the rhythms.
The GM tower witnessing the modesty young couples

Shed with clothing and inhibitions.
The night advances then retreats.
The smell of pot wafting through the air.
"It was a stop on the underground railroad," I say.
Still harbouring runaways looking for
Freedom and love and who knows what else.

- Donya Tag-El-Din


Donya Tag-El-Din's fine poem serves as both a poetic introduction to this collection and to this Canadian city that I love.  It is a good introduction to both.

The following is a list of the poets whose work appear in Whisky Sour City.

Brenda Houghton
Debbie Okun Hill
Donya Tag-El-Din
Eva Antonel
Karl Jirgens
Mary Kate Brogan
Keith Inman
Rosalind Knight
Jesse Poho
Marty Gervais
Michael Laverty
Lynn Tait
Maria Matuscak
Laurie Smith
Sonia Sulaiman
Donna Hreceniuk
Kate Hargreaves
Jason Rankin
Sarah Faye Morris
Priscilla Bernauer
Natalie Hillis
Penny-Anne Beaudoin
Eugene McNamara
Josh Kolm
Lenore Langs
Elsie Csepregi
Robert Earl Stewart
Karen P. Oulette
Carlinda D'Alimonte
Mary Ann Mulhern
Susan McMaster
Anne Baldo
Vanessa Shields
a.m. kozak
Jordan Turner
Dawn Marie Kresan
R. Patrick James
Lisa Pike Fiorindi
Rynn Gibbs
Marisa Gelfusa
Dorothy Mahoney
Emi Varutti
Priscilla Bernauer
Terry Ann Carter
Dorothy James Kavanaugh
Peter Hrastovec
Melanie Janisse
Mark Nenadov
Hugh MacDonald
Jason Rankin
Roger Bell
Keith Inman
Eva Antonel
Marie Groundwater
Kim Conklin Hutchison
Mary Ann Mulhern
John B. Lee

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Phrases - E. D. Blodgett

Today's book of poetry:  Phrases.  E. D. Blodgett.  Edition du Noroit, Buschek Books.  Montreal, Quebec.  2012.

Edward Dickinson Blodgett (1935 - ), is a writer with an established reputation.  Born and raised in Philadelphia, Blodgett studied at Rutgers University before moving to Canada in 1966.

Since then he has published the following books:

Take Away The Names 
Beast Gate
Musical Offering
Da Capo
Apostrophes: woman at a piano
Apostrophes II: through you I
Apostrophes III: alone upon the earth
Apostrophes IV: speaking you is holiness
Ark of Koans
Apostrophes V: never born except within the other
Apostrophes VI: open the grass
In The Heart of the Wood
Practices of Eternity
A Pirouette and Gone
The Invisible Poem
Poems For A Small Park
Apostrophes VII: sleep, you, a tree

E. D. Blodgett has twice won the Governor Generals Literary Award.  His 1996 winner, Apostrophes: woman at the piano, is full of poems that are meticulously crafted and deep with grace.

Last Things

Let me speak of simplest things, assurances of tables, the space
they make.  Let me remember hands, yours perhaps, at rest upon
the wood of such old tables, and something in the wood that enters in
your hands.  If there were time, time would be a table, the endless knowing
of wood possessing us, trees, the wind that they have breathed, and rain,
the seasons of the sun.  Thus I bid you, friend, ask nothing else

of me.  To speak of what we know is not within us.  Words fall
forever from our mouths, a rain of ancient music flowing through
our bones.  Sometimes in early winter evenings the young moon comes
briefly into sight.  The light over the snow is shadowed, and what
we breathe is what the moon gives.  The silence that it sheds becomes
imperative.  Its disappearance is possession.  Nothing else endures.


I am very lucky to own a signed copy of Apostrophes: woman at a piano and a hard cover copy of Sounding, Blodgett's second book from Edmonton Alberta's Tree Frog Press, published in 1977.  Unfortunately I don't have the dust jacket.  But I prize both of these books, they come from a body of work this highly polished to a jewel finish.

Phrases is much like any other Blodgett title.  They all seem pre-ordained, fully formed and copied out in full blooming flower, as though he found them that way in some philosopher poet's old chest.  The poems appear in both French and English.

     certaines statues                                                       some statues
     dans de vieux jardins                                               in old gardens
     possedent une musique                                            possess a music
     qui evoque                                                               which recalls

     les obseques des rois                                               the funerals of kings
     qui tiennent entre leurs mains                                  who carry in their hands

     les tresors de leur vie                                               all their life's treasure
     ensoleillee                                                                full of sun

     descendus avec eux                                                 going down with them
     en sourdine dans leurs cryptes                                 hardly heard into their crypts


These poems are precise, written with wisdom and articulate brevity.  This new book,  Phrases, a bilingual edition from Editions du Noroit, Buschek Books, continues Blodgett's fine tradition of excellent books.  E. D. Blodgett has written a river of good poetry,  Phrases fits comfortably into Blodgett's canon of exceptional work.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Four Hundred Rabbits - Steven Artelle

Today's book of poetry:  Four Hundred Rabbits.  Steven Artelle.  Angel House Press.  Ottawa, Ontario.  2013.  Edition of 50.

Steven Artelle's book Four Hundred Rabbits is made up of one longish poem, it runs to 18 pages.  The entire poem is about the history and the future of rabbits.  Those who delighted in Watership Down or who enjoyed Peter Rabbit, this isn't your mother's rabbit.

     when he heard the story of the tortoise and the hare
     one rabbit arrogantly demanded a rematch
     winning both that race and the ensuing tie-breaker
     he proclaimed the true moral:  don't be ridiculous


There are ruminations on what it means to be rabbit, or perhaps human.  Very amusing and witty, these numbered rabbits parallel the lives of those and those like us, people we know, people we know when we look in the mirror.  This poem contains narrative snippets from movies you have and haven't seen, but they are laid out in Rabbit reality.

     In Warren Township, one rabbit broke her bedsore heart
     and tried forever to make excuses in the room
     where the dust like a bride's veil settled and settled again

     imagine an electric guitar dropped down the stairs
     for one rabbit, sex was that good every single time

     one rabbit was conscious of his endless obsessing
     but there was nothing he could do to suppress his thoughts
     the constant worst-case-scenario speculation
     the invented confrontations and crazed rationales
     the forensic dissection of motives and meaning
     until the twitch of paranoia interrupted
     every. wait. why did she. and remember. what if

     one rabbit smashes safety glass everywhere she goes
     the astronomer of vandalized constellations


What Artelle does here, and seemingly without effort, is to keep the reader's attention.

Had I been asked, the odds of liking a long poem about 400 rabbits would be relatively small.  400 rabbits small.

But Steven Artelle's clever little book Four Hundred Rabbits continues the fine work Ottawa poet and publisher Amanda Earl has been doing with her Angel House Press.

This chapbook, Artelle's first, is better than pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Adultery Poems - Nancy Holmes

Today's book of poetry:  The Adultery Poems.  Nancy Holmes.  Ronsdale Press.  Vancouver, British Columbia.  2002.

The Adultery Poems by Nancy Holmes covers the emotional ground of infidelity in both desire and deed, Homes explores what it means to give in to guilty pleasure and tempts the readers to taste from forbidden fruit.

The Adulteress and the
Communicable Disease

This month
she is living on
coffee, lust,
and ruby red cough syrup.

Over and over again,
I tell her she shouldn't dream of it.

But she licks the spoon.
She loves it,
its stickiness,
how it jolts her awake.


There is ample comedy, wit, a good share of sadness and a pinch of exuberant joy in these stained sheets.  Holmes' verse sits on the knife's edge between glib and clever - but always cuts through the extraneous nonsense to get at the heart of the matter.

What Do I Want?

     Though Australia may offer the temptation of greater
     wages to female servants . . . rather bring them to
     Canada than form connexions with such characters as
     swarm the streets of Melbourne or Geelong.
                                                        - Catherine Parr Traill

Do I really want those everyday men?
The fine upstanding men of Canada?
The woodsman who hacks the forest off the mountain?
The cowboy who straps his guns and leather to the back of his
     pretty mare?
The coureur de bois who aims his fragile canoe down a bruising
     sluice of thunder?

It's the sweat they love,
the salty foam that makes them shine and smile.
The surface is all.
They do the male dance, just once,
and then they're tested.
For the rest of their lives,
they brag about the cheap whores of Spain
and the drunken brawls in the North.

Come on,
let's emigrate with dreams, girls.
We don't need mounties or lumberjacks,
or guys with skidoos on the backs of their trucks.

Let's look for the rogues, the rakes,
the heart stoppers:
the pale musicians in the Melbourne suburbs,
the Byronic accountants of Geelong.


Nancy Moore has published four other books of poetry. Valancy and the New World with Kalamalka Press, Down to the Golden Chersones:  Victorian Lady Travellers with Sono Nis Press, Mandorla appeared from Ronsdale Press in 2005 and The Flicker Tree:  Okanagan Poems published by Ronsdale in 2012.  (The Flicker Tree:  Okanagan Poems was reviewed on this site back in May of this year)

Insomnia Afterwards

     for Sue P.

there's no such misery out there
I just want to stay home
and unplug everything
but the kids track it in on the soles
of their shoes unawares
through their insouciance and clean hair
daily rinse the house inside and out
still it never ends
we have to drag shopping bags
and stupid junk and botched hearts
through doors and into our filthy cars
sawing keys back and forth over hundreds of key holes
until everyone is in bed

and we join the ranks of insomniacs
who I'm sure would not be bad company if we could see them
(except for the drunk who will soon wake someone up
and smack her face)
I mean the ones who do housework at two in the morning
and then sit and have a cup of milky tea
or even those who have herbal teas
I'd even allow a small scotch
those are the ones I mean,
who listen to the washing machine
thump thump thump thump
in the basement

finding this comforting
because it sounds like some other love-lost friend
pounding her pillow over and over again
she can't sleep
she can't sleep


Nancy Holmes now has the singular distinction of being the first poet I've written about twice.  Perhaps because I identify with the simplicity and straight forward line Holmes employs.  Whether it is to implore the reader to appreciate nature (The Flicker Poems), or speak to the dark heart of human nature, Holmes handles her pen with fierce alacrity.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dark Matter - Leanne McIntosh with Jack Sproule

Today's book of poetry:  Dark Matter.  Leanne McIntosh with Jack Sproule.  Leaf Press.  Lantzville, British Columbia.  2013.

     I am fixated on the paradigm shift and I tend to look for it in almost everything.
                                                                                                              --Jack Sproule

These poems are a call and response, a soloist and an accompanying chorus.  Dark Matter by Leanne McIntosh is a civilized conversation between two human beings, deeply personal and instantly universal.

Using bits of philosophy, thoughts on religion, musings on mankind's fate and purpose from her long time friend and former Catholic priest, Jack Sproule, McIntosh has framed her missive as response in consideration to Sproule, prodding at her heart, soul and mind.  The poems are McIntosh's, Sproule's contribution appears in italics beneath each poem.


The future presses against the present
and we are nested somewhere

between birdsong and the firefly's cold light,
between roots exposed and rocks still tumbling,

And we are the river flowing through.
A hum poised to bloom,

the honey sweetened untouched until
the sound of bees is heard.

We are pollen's shadow on the wind
before the poppy claims its colour.

We are the mouth and apple.
Each shaped by the other.

We are the knife that cuts from dark matter
the golden light of the cat's eyes.

We are kin and what happens in one person
will penetrate what happens in another.

Who can know this and remain calm?

This new consciousness that I believe is emerging cannot be
conveyed except by experiencing the connections, the relationships,
in short, the community


McIntosh has two previous books of poetry under her belt:  The Sound the Sun Makes and Liminal Space.  If they have the same sort of passive wisdom, unobtrusive truths, scattered through them, they will be worth searching out.  If you are reading this and have published them - please send them to me.


As art begun in a wound.
As a blossom pressed in a book.
As water rushing to the wellhead.
As a animal,
an angel,
a stranger sitting in your chair.

As names rising from a pyre
flying out from the mouth
like crows.

Thus, the marginalized present themselves, choose themselves, set 
their own priorities, organize themselves, choose their own words,
articulate for themselves what needs to happen and decide how
they will insert themselves.


This conversation, between Leanne McIntosh and Jack Sproule, covers all manner of sin, from the war we each conduct with ourselves, with our hearts, to the war in Afghanistan.


At Jean Talon Market
while I wait at the counter
to buy hallal slaughtered lamb
the war in Afghanistan is extended.
A war where a soldier's life is bargained
so a girl can go to school,
and mourning prayers are counted
on beads or wheels or foreheads.
A war where martyrs explode
the truth of their lives next to
women buying bread and figs.
Women who curl around children
at the first percussive rush of air
as though their bodies
were second wombs and a child
could be reborn in Brandon or London,
the bloodletting painless,
all brain messages stopped,
the convulsing world falling.

Our humanity is endowed in its core with a sense of the ultimate -
the divine as well as the demonic!


Leanne McIntosh's deeply considered Dark Matter is rich in its' genuine humanity, the desire to find basic goodness.  This earnestness often overrides melody in poetry but McIntosh has escaped that dangerous territory with aplomb.  These poems never feel heavy in weight, only in significance.  McIntosh is never trite and gives Jack Sproule and his deep thoughts all the seriousness and gravitas that they deserve.

Leanne McIntosh is a founding member of The Island Women's Poets and resides in Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Agony - Steven Zultanski

Today's book of poetry:  Agony.  Steven Zultanski.  BookThug.  Toronto, Ontario.  2012.

Steven Zultanski's Agony is the first part of a trilogy of long confessional poems.  To hear Zultanski read from Agony is to feel the sense of urgency that pumps through this litany.

Zultanski employs mathematics and logic as the pillars to hold Agony aloft.  At first blush the math seems anything but poetic or possible, but there is a mantra type concert playing out here.  Think John Coltrane turning to sheets of sound and then think Ornette Coleman.  Steven Zultanski is past bebop as he rhythmically pounds away any resistance to his new form of autobiography.


     I live here.

     They know it.


     I yawn in their faces nearly continuously.

     Given that the average person breathes, on average, 16 times a
minute, and that the average tidal volume, that is, the air displaced
between inspiration and expiration, is 30.513 cubic inches, we can
assume that when I breathe normally, that is, when I am not yawning
in anyone's face continuously, which is nearly never, I move 703,109.52
cubic inches of air a day.

     Not to mention in a year.

     Now.  Considering that the average person who happens to be male,
such as myself, for now, yawns ten times a day, and that each yawn
forces 289,709 cubic inches of air out of the lungs following maximal
inspiration, on average, we can assume that, when I'm breathing
normally, which is nearly never, I yawn in ten faces a day, or in one face
ten times a day, and thus I force 2,807.09 cubic inches of air into their
mouth or mouths, over the course of it.

     Whether I yawn in ten faces one time or in one face ten times
depends on the relationship of their faces to myself.

     If I am alone I yawn in my own face, which is also theirs, in the sense
that they see it.

     If I am in love I yawn in my lover's own face, that is, theirs or the one
closest to them that is mine.

     Since we've been in love two or three times, it's hard to say whose
mouth is whose.

     So I won't exactly say.

     Given that I've been in love three times, say, and that, on average, my
being in love has lasted a year, we can assume that I've spent three years
yawning in their faces, knowing they know that I live here, at least for
those moments immediately following maximal inspiration.

     So they've only known that I live here for three hours and 2.5
minutes, if we assume that each yawn lasts merely a moment, and that a
mere moment is measured in seconds, one.


     Just enough time for me to force 1,536,881.775 cubic inches of air
into their faces.

     Just enough time, three hours and 2.5 minutes, to live a little, to see
a little something come of breathing, finally, which at first seems to yield
no return but the repetitive consolation of mechanical certainty, tidal
and all-together inhuman, like a birth rate.

     I was born in the morning.

     After my first cry of many must have, because it usually does, forced
8.604 cubic inches of air into my mother's doctor's face, which said face
I am not counting as one of theirs, but only as one of mine, since it was
no the face of a lover, but of an impersonal representative of a hospital,
which might as well have been, for all I can remember, the hospital itself.

     That is, I guess so.

     So then they, the lovers I've loved who are not hospitals, force at least
the normal tidal volume of air into my mouth every morning of my life,

     Now then.

     It's that time of day.

     That is, then.

     When they, the average sums of all known lovers, come in to my
year, a mere moment, to count again their fingers for you, and count
again your toes for them.


These poems itemize the mundane and the profound with equal enthusiasm creating seemingly fantastic lists and formulae that may or may not be accurate - but lead us to a new understanding of the order of things.  Zultanski is quite happy to rearrange the way you think.

It is an impressive feat of self-examination and an extravagant purge of inner demons, all playing out on a mathematicians notebook, a philosopher's ledger.

Steven Zultanski has given us lots to think about.