NewPoetry

Aptitude

Tanja Bartel

 

Who was I to diss the hipster poet?
Bowing my head into my late grading—
I’ve used the word ‘iffy’ in a reference letter.
I’ve cancelled two classes to watch Survivor.
–David McGimpsey “Orville Redenbacher’s mistress rejects the label ‘porn star’”

1.

I came up from under the city, satchel
full of bad handwriting. Tide of the train
crowd washed me to the edge of the platform.
Above, the skyscrapers with their many layers
of breath. Yellow ballet of some stranger’s
piss swirled in the lone cafe toilet,
greeted potential geniuses stalled in the line-up.
Hymn of an anorexic boy spiralled down
from the hotel balcony, circled my head like a satellite.
Who was I to diss the hipster poet?

2.

That grimy guy who always sat cross-
legged on the sidewalk, petting
a chunk of pyrite directly under the edge
of a torn awning, rainwater sluicing over
his drooping head. The part of his hair, a bald
stripe. Mistook him for a poor fool, fading,
till I heard him talking to a uniformed man
about his manuscript. My own, flabby,
unfinished. I’m a ham teaching English, ageing,
bowing my head into my late grading.

3.

I’ve reused personal report card
comments; laughed at others’ jokes
at one meeting, then mirrored them
in another; borrowed someone’s apple
from the staff room fridge; forgotten unmarked
papers at home; used a stencil to render
the word ‘Original’; parked in the Drop-off Only
spot when my heels were too high.
I’ve watched my students leave and felt better.
I’ve used the word ‘iffy’ in a reference letter.
4.

Soaking up the curses and cigarette smoke, I circled
the school parking lot and dreamed of coddling
capybaras in a sprawling Amazon tree fort. Sleep-
walked inside and toiled under fluorescent rays.
I’ve languished too long with frozen feet and lank hair
for a half-hearted coffee, pinching a French cruller.
Longed for gushing lava instead of cold appliances:
tinfoil sparking in the microwave, false warmth. I’ve lapsed
and relapsed before, squeezed in a one-hour mai tai bender.
I’ve cancelled two classes to watch Survivor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Communion

Adam Sol

 

I get all these boys poets confused
with their pop culture references
and their snappy wordplay. Also
the brilliant women reinventing language
for ambiguous purposes, them too.
If it weren’t for the bright noise
emanating from the stadium
I might not know my true purpose

but I can hear them chanting – all
of them, the pullets and mercies,
the ruptured uncles and night shift
telemarketers, the date rapists
and drama queens, the valets and vagrants –
all of them raising their magnificent voices
in grand exaltation – shouting DE-FENSE
DEFENSE, my holy, unbroken name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOOKER SUES KING

 

Adam Seelig

 

adam seelig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O Canada

O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada! Where pines and maples grow.
Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow.
How dear to us thy broad domain,
From East to Western sea.
Thou land of hope for all who toil!
Thou True North, strong and free!

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada! Beneath thy shining skies
May stalwart sons, and gentle maidens rise,
To keep thee steadfast through the years
From East to Western sea.
Our own beloved native land!
Our True North, strong and free!

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

*

Sous l’œil de Dieu, près du fleuve géant,
Le Canadien grandit en espérant.
Il est né d’une race fière,
Béni fut son berceau.
Le ciel a marqué sa carrière
Dans ce monde nouveau.
Toujours guidé par sa lumière,
Il gardera l’honneur de son drapeau,
Il gardera l’honneur de son drapeau.
De son patron, précurseur du vrai Dieu,
Il porte au front l’auréole de feu.
Ennemi de la tyrannie
Mais plein de loyauté,
Il veut garder dans l’harmonie,
Sa fière liberté;
Et par l’effort de son génie,
Sur notre sol asseoir la vérité,
Sur notre sol asseoir la vérité.
Amour sacré du trône et de l’autel,
Remplis nos cœurs de ton souffle immortel!
Parmi les races étrangères,
Notre guide est la loi :
Sachons être un peuple de frères,
Sous le joug de la foi.
Et répétons, comme nos pères,
Le cri vainqueur : « Pour le Christ et le roi! »
Le cri vainqueur : « Pour le Christ et le roi! »

The King of Birds

Amber McMillan

 

Here are two memories I keep like photographs.
First is a field on fire, lit up in the heat wave of 1989
that tore through all of Ontario that August. A white van
at the edge waiting to collect us kids for the hospital
where mum hollered herself through another labour –
you this time – wild flames stealing up tree lengths,
rapid and terrifying, the hazy, broiling air
haloing the swing sets, our abandoned bicycles.

The next is of my father, always unfashionable,
edgy only as a teenager is edgy, drunk and careless,
thinly concealing kaleidoscopic turmoil, a frantic mania.
He is standing on a table – a lit cigarette in his hand
for character – he is telling a story to an audience: look
at that confident smile he wears, that double-dealing grin.
The story is an old one, spun to tease and to rouse,
an old one about a fox and a crow and hunger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadow Puppet

Carmine Starnino

 

Thumb and fingers
add up to a dog
and pony show.

Whatever I throw
at the bedroom wall,
whatever comes

to hand, printed
with the ink of the hour
above the neck

of the wrist. The point
is to make a face
from a fist,

a four-limbed beast,
or a night-light
archaeopteryx take flight.

The point is to make
something
from the laying on

of nothing, then wait
for the shriek
of my little girl’s laughter

at the shapes I cast
at the other me,
the mirror side man

signaling back,
his cropped outline
bereaved of his body.

I square
my palm against
the space around it,

place the darkest
version of myself
centre-stage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collapsar

Ariel Gordon

 

My mother accepts our invitation to dinner, rumpled
& sleepy, two weeks after
a cancer-bloated kidney was carved
out. She eats half

of her food, squinting at her plate the way you do
when you come upon the unexpected
depths of the night sky, all
the constellations

you can’t place, then suddenly pulls up
her shirt,
showing us the scar, pink
& mottled, on her side. My partner & child recoil,

as shocked by the intimacy
as the rough slice,
but I’m not surprised. It’s something I would do
& my mother fucks with me

the way the moon fucks with me: often.
But my mother’s kidney black-holed.
It sucked in all
the details—the tiny bubbles

in the morphine, my sister’s miserable
tears as she watched our mother retch into
a kidney-shaped bowl,
how the three of us huddled

around her stained
Emergency Room bed—so none of us
have to remember them. When I came out
of the hospital

the night before the surgery,
having brought her a burrito
the size of a football, having shamelessly
apple-frittered her,

the sky was overcast, which seemed right.
I could find her in the dark
by the immunization scar
on her upper arm,

a pitted satellite that hung
over my childhood.
If I had to, I could identify her
from the broken nail

on her big toe,
the flash of her false teeth
as she mutters her goodbyes
& firmly closes the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Winter’s Wind

Spencer Gordon

 

— January 1, 2015

Keats, Wordsworth, AViSON, Tupac,
ex-Jackass star Ryan Dunn: they all

claimed the same sly things: New Year’s Day
was Optimized for Suicide

& Wings. It’s all sable stars & Arcturus skies,
the lonely tear-sucking Hoover of space

& that penile moon who thrives on
lovers’ pain. You Auld Lang Syne yourself to bae’s place

in cupidity’s clanging streetcar, & oh: what a fuck
day you’re gonna be. So start a New Year right

by unfollowing those who don’t follow Bing
& forgive us our trespasses, those Lena Dunham nights

of glassy apps that read, “You Better Work,”
“Fuck the Police,” & “Support Pirate Bay.”

Alright:
I’d rather be alive than dead

I GUESS, & that’s all I’ve moaned & kerned
from sixteen years of Sega Genesis in bed

& slobbing your inane numinous Tays …
So adios my tangy brothers, my booze-couched

sisties, pouring Red Bull into pizza ports to toast
no shame, an apogee, or a Something-Gate.

It’s another New Year’s Day, the bells all ringing out
like it meant something.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ghost knife

Gillian Wigmore

 

it was evening, or call it dusk.

a man held a knife to the blue skin

of the calf’s groin

stretched like a bridge across a gap

and pushed in.

there was blood, like you’d imagine it,

but also

the skin parting before the knife,

a giving in as well as the give

that is the force of the blade, so slight,

because my father is a hunter

as well as a doctor.

the steel pushing ahead of itself –a ghost knife

incising. that evening: heavy dew and wind

high in the treetops, the leaves growing indistinct,

the farmer eventually turning his truck headlights on

to ease the post mortem

and that gap? it glowed pink and then it was morning

not evening, the pink the pink of the blood vessels

in your ears when the sun’s behind you

and shining in my eyes.

there’s no coming back from what you’ve seen.

you can undo thoughts, the radio

is just the radio. maybe you know

before you know that what comes next

is indelible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“be grape disguised as apple or”

kevin mcpherson eckhoff

 

The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.
Proverbs 26:10

be grape disguised as apple or
raspberry with a heart of salmon:
pine blood, rug breath, pregenetic fallacy
………….bothness in all things

study the crib, the tree house, the club, then
crank call your Geography 12 teacher:
midnight neoNazi-wawa archipelago
………….why-not as inheritance

Angry Birds: Rio
Rovio, Fox Digital Entertainment, and Blue Sky:
new high score, play ad-free, loading…
………….reward is its own reward

turnip really tastes like rutabaga or parsnip
but chess can’t beat the finesse of pogs:
gressors ferable ience duction istor
………….everything is great, just

 

 

 

 

 

 

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