Mr. Sapiens. Jesse Patrick Ferguson. A Buckrider Book/Wolsak & Wynn. Hamilton, Ontario. 2014.
Mr. Sapiens by Jesse Patrick Ferguson is a mature entertainment of the first order.
Lightning behind your eyeballs intelligent, Ferguson is incandescent.
The myriad of speakers/voices that Ferguson employs in Mr. Sapiens steamroll effortlessly through secrets you've never imagined, truths as shocking as they are sublime.
But more importantly to Today's book of poetry, Ferguson seems to have found a way of accessing each of these voices and giving them clarity, you are going to like reading these poems, just for the feel of them.
For example, in his poem "Montreal Bus, Post-Christmas" it ends:
"the lone car in the on-coming lane
lowers its brights respectfully
as this bus follows the line
of red lights unrolling
into night's black closet"
Today's book of poetry just loved that last couplet. And it speaks to a feeling many of these poems convey.
Mangled Bicycle In Thaw
See them throughout the city, ownerless,
estranged at the end of the rack,
end of the line in spring thaw,
exposed by grime-grey receding snowbank.
Each a front-line infantryman
broken under the incursions
of snow-removal equipment, those sharp-tined
and scooped siege engines scouring
blindly through whiteouts.
Was it masticated by winter's nonchalant mouthparts,
or was it victim to the entropic stomping
of adolescent boots venting vague angst?
Either way, a ten speed mocked by its name,
going nowhere. Its scoliotic spine chained
to down-and-out oxidation
that reminds us rust is burn slowed down.
It lies dumbly where utility seizes into lockjaw.
Arthritic gear shifters changing the subject
when the topic of velocity's broached.
The braided steel in its brake lines
balky as tendonitic sinews in a tennis elbow. Rims folded
in half, forming empty baskets, demented grins
sucking toothless gears. Balding rubber
reverting to petroleum in the crucible
of May sunshine.
The spoke wire remembers
its mother coil as the bike waits, revolving
twisted dreams of the crooked man
who'll one day bolt-cut its lock,
flick the kickstand and pedal off into the sunset.
These poems give eloquent and elaborate voice to the toil of bees one moment - and then the life of a foot-soldier out in the field the next.
Regardless of the subject Ferguson is now writing poems that you are going to want to read. The subjects of this volume vary like changing the channel of a TV - the difference here is that there is something interesting on every channel.
All of this city's tinfoil cigarette-pack liners,
which, if compacted, would form a wrecking ball.
The stuff that ball would wreck:
all silent consonants. Burnt tubes
in the signs of big-box stores
from here to Montreal. The coffee-shop
chinwagging over big government.
The petty cash played fast and loose.
Curb appeal at night. In January.
The Aqua Velva on actuaries.
Ghost-ship city buses running
hors d'usages, desole. The corn husks'
sweaty decomposition lifting the bin's lid.
A dead wasp's wither. The wavelengths
excluded by polarized sunglasses,
the violent impulses stemmed by neckties.
Wishbones of geese sucked
into jet engines, a fallen soldier's AIR MILES.
The midnight metaphor not sexy enough
to merit leaving bed for pen and paper.
The remaindered poetry collections conspiring
to tunnel beyond the Chapter's perimeter.
Mothballed tan lines. The wasted youth those times
I got wasted.
And here, the empty boxes
from our move crowding the exit:
mourners suddenly ashamed of their solemn act.
The expired box of condoms. Tail ends
of painkillers. Questionable condiments.
My slightly foxed copy of The Cantos
soaking up spilled Cointreau. The three remaining days
of cable left unwatched at the old place.
The early September frost pressing a pale thumb
onto the catcalls of frosh boys
stumbling home past this window.
That same cold thumb -- the sun-smell it wipes
from tomato plants the next balcony over.
Today's book of poetry is feeling tongue-swollenly inarticulate today, two different interns have informed me that I am not doing Mr. Ferguson justice. And I'm afraid I concur.
But take our word for it - Mr. Sapiens rolled. It is a page turner with something worthwhile around every corner.
He was the kind who ties his own flies,
spins yarn a hundred-pound test strength,
who gauges slight static in the tension of his line.
A face that couldn't sell beer, but which
in between swigs and fiddling with tackle
dips into cottage-country lore.
He tells me how generations back
one fisherman's mind swelled with a scheme
for making his old cedarstrip dory
seaworthy once more.
Brought it to lake's edge and scuttled it,
hull full of stones borrowed from someone's cow fence.
Sunk it gurgling into the lakes's algaed subconscious
for two days and two nights, while neighbours
naysayed over split-rails and invariably missed
the parallel to the human heart.
And on the third day he raised that sodden ark,
its gunwales suddenly materializing
like something half-forgotten
from the deep end of his mind.
Hauled it shoreward, heavy and steaming in sunlight.
Each and every cedar strip's tongue
had swollen tight in its groove
as his neighbour's tongues when he piloted
past their docks in that SS Itoldyaso,
his hare-brained technique proven watertight.
All this my friend tells me, then stops.
The slight breeze making Vs
around his line on the calm surface.
The sound of his last empty
deposited on the boat's wooden seat: a dull thud
dropping into this pool of unawkward silence.
Jesse Patrick Ferguson gets a gold star for this outing. Mr. Sapiens is a big step towards the front of the class.
Jesse Patrick Ferguson
ABOUT THE AUTHORJesse Patrick Ferguson is a Canadian poet, educator and musician. His full-length poetry collections are Harmonics (Freehand Books, 2009) and Dirty Semiotics (visual poems, Broken Jaw Press, 2011). He is also the editor of the anthology A Crystal through which Love Passes: Glosas for P. K. Page.
"Ferguson's voice is as near divine as anyone could wish."
- Diane Reid, The Daily Gleaner
"Ferguson writes with intimacy and insight. His energetic sound-plays harmonize with an abundance of often-humorous wisdom."
- Jennifer Still, Winnipeg Free Press
Jesse Patrick Ferguson
reads his poem "Mr. Sapiens"
Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher. They are shown here for publicity and review purposes. For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.