Excerpt


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Sample Poems by Alison Pick, Matt Rader, Nathalie Stephens, Shane Rhodes

Quidi Vidi (Alison Pick)

Walk as far as you can,
then farther, past
the chain-link barring the road,
tire tracks deep as the rut of your mind,
the place you always get stuck.
Wanting more, or wanting
less, to be rid of the word
called wanting. Boulders,
tall grass, shrubs you can’t name,
birds you can’t name,
the ocean. Being a stranger sneaks you through
the latch of language – briefly. Bottles, you know.
Condoms, you know. And the weight
of being human where other humans have been.
Back of the sea like one line of thought,
slight variation of foam at the shore
where artifice gives itself up. Farther out,
a ledge in the rock
as though attention might help. Turning
for home, hands in your pockets, night mists in
like animal breath, the black-brown shapes
of gathering mammals
bending to drink at the silent pool
of mind submerged in the mind.
If a gap in awareness exists, it’s there
you might have slipped through.

Falling (Matt Rader)

Clipped my skull on the lip of the bridge
as I plunged feet-first into the anxious river.
My teeth jawed together, all castanet
or clam-shell, crunched my tongue to pulp.
I couldn’t talk, or scream, or lift a finger.
Couldn’t remember why I was there or where
amongst all the falling my body had gone.
Rivulets of red ribboned my head like an insect-
painter’s quick study of the wingless human—
The Faller—a gesture-drawing in blood and air.
Here’s how I picture it: limbs all stutter and wheel
in the rioting wind, all seizure of sign-language
and panic-dance, eyes scrolled back, calculating
velocity by distance, the time left to swallow
or spit before impact. Never mind the fear
or embarrassment, I pissed my pants just for
the warmth in my crotch, that one last sloppy kiss.
Falling and falling is lonely business.

Plate No. 9 (Nathalie Stephens)

Together perhaps they are together in and out of the image one stopping at a distance from the other which would account for the absence of one the one woman who appeared later in the image before the artist who might not have noticed her presence but they both the women the two women both women are present from the beginning inside and outside of the frame the one that marks lines around the image the one this image in which two women standing and leaning one woman present the other not until later until the artist shuddered and the shudder marked by the fissured city imprinted on the image indicates the presence of two women together one woman and then another she the woman they the two women leaning and standing within reach of the artist and the need to readjust the line of vision the one that draws one woman to the other she both they the two women perhaps drawn one to the other and maybe outside of the frame they are lovers,


from Haynes Town Store (Shane Rhodes)

my grandmother said

—he comes from the south east coast of china as a boy
(or a man or as far as I can figure out
wing wong was a hundred all his life)
and after two months on ship or so it is said
in vancouver he buys a pound of chocolate
and after two months of rice and salt water
it tasted of tears wing speaks no english yet
he has selling in his blood like the last dime in his pocket
he buys more chocolate and breaks it to ten pieces
and sells each piece to the immigrants off the boats
for 5¢ each to people like wing or you or me hungry for land
or anything that looked like dirt and tasted like the dust storm
wing bought his store with
and a bag full of nickels—