Ark

by John Glenday

copyright ©John Glenday 2009



Did we really believe
our love could have survived
on that boat something or other
had us build of spavined cedar
pitched and thatched against the flood,
with two of nothing but ourselves on board –
no raven to hoist behind the rain,
no dove returning with a sprig of green?

New Rule

by Anne Carson

copyright ©2000 Anne Carson



A New Year’s white morning of hard new ice.
High on the frozen branches I saw a squirrel jump and skid.
Is this scary? he seemed to say and glanced

down at me, clutching his branch as it bobbed
in stiff recoil – or is it just that everything sounds wrong today?
The branches

clinked.
He wiped his small cold lips with one hand.
Do you fear the same things as

I fear? I countered, looking up.
His empire of branches slid against the air.
The night of hooks?

The man blade left open on the stair?
Not enough spin on it, said my true love
when he left in our fifth year.

The squirrel bounced down a branch
and caught a peg of tears.
The way to hold on is

afterwords
so
clear.

In-Flight Movie

by Karen Solie

copyright ©Karen Solie 2001.



Above, blue darkens as it thins to an airlessness wheeling
with sparkling American junk
and magnetic brains of astronauts. We are flung
across our seats like pelts.

Some of us are eating small sandwiches.
Some of us have taken pills and are swallowing
glass after glass of gin.

We were never intended to view the curve of the earth

so they give us televisions, a film
about a man and his daughter who teach a flock
of Canada geese to fly.

Wind shear hates the sky and everything in it,
slices at right angles across the grain of currents
like a cross-cut saw.

Fog loves surprises.

We have fuel, fire, Starbuck’s coffee, finite
possibilities of machinery. A pilot with human hands
and nothing for us to do, turbulence being to air
what hope is to breathing.
A property.

Far below, a light comes on in the kitchen of a farmyard
turning with its piece of the world into shadow.
Someone can’t sleep

an engine noise falls around the house like snow, vapour trails
pulled apart by frontal systems locked overhead
since high school. Imagines
alien weathers that unfurl in time zones
beyond the horizon.

The Newsagent

by Paul Farley

copyright ©Paul Farley 2006



My clock has gone although the sun has yet to take the sky.
I thought I was the first to see the snow, but his old eyes
have marked it all before I catch him in his column of light:
a rolled up metal shutter-blind, a paper bale held tight

between his knees so he can bring his blade up through the twine,
and through his little sacrifice he frees the day’s headlines:
its strikes and wars, the weather’s big seize up, runs on the pound.
One final star still burns above my head without a sound

as I set off. The dark country I grew up in has gone.
Ten thousand unseen dawns will settle softly on this one.
But with the streets all hushed I take the papers on my round
into the gathering blue, wearing my luminous armband.

The Strange Hours Travelers Keep

by August Kleinzahler

copyright ©2003 by August Kleinzahler



The markets never rest
Always there are somewhere in agitation
Pork bellies, titanium, winter wheat
Electromagnetic ether peppered with photons
Treasure spewing from Unisys A-15 J mainframes
Across the firmament
Soundlessly among the thunderheads and passenger jets
As they make their nightlong journeys
Across the oceans and steppes

Nebulae, incandescent frog spawn of information
Trembling in the claw of Scorpio
Not an instant, then shooting away
Like an enormous cloud of starlings

Garbage scows move slowly down the estuary
The lights of the airport pulse in morning darkness
Food trucks, propane, tortured hearts
The reticent epistemologist parks
Gets out, checks the curb, reparks
Thunder of jets
Peristalsis of great capitals

How pretty in her tartan scarf
Her ruminative frown
Ambiguity and Reason
Locked in a slow, ferocious tango
Of if not, why not

from Route 110

by Seamus Heaney

copyright ©2010 by Seamus Heaney



iii

Once the driver wound a little handle
The destination names began to roll
Fast-forward in their panel, and everything

Came to life. Passengers
Flocked to the kerb like agitated rooks
Around a rookery, all go

But undecided. At which point the inspector
Who ruled the roost in bus station and bus
Separated and directed everybody

By calling not the names but the route numbers,
And so we scattered as instructed, me
For Route 110, Cookstown via Toome and Magherafelt.

from ossuary II

by Dionne Brand

copyright ©2010 by Dionne Brand



to undo, to undo and undo and undo this infinitive     
of arrears, their fissile mornings,     
their fragile, fragile symmetries of gain and loss     

from Venus Velvet No. 2

by Gjertrud Schnackenberg

copyright ©2010 by Gjertrud Schnackenberg



My pencil, Venus Velvet No. 2,
The vein of graphite ore preoccupied
In microcrystalline eternity.
In graphite’s interlinking lattices,
Symmetrically unfolding through a grid
Of pre-existent crystal hexagons.
Mirror-image planes and parallels.
Axial, infinitesimal bonds.
Self-generated. Self-geometrized.
A sound trapped in the graphite magnitudes.
Atoms, electronics, nuclei, far off.
A break, without apparent consequence.
Near-far, far-near, those microfirmaments.
Far in, the muffled noise of our goodbyes.

The surgeon, seeking only my surrender,
Has summoned me: an evening conference.
We sit together in the Quiet Room.
He cannot ask for what I’m meant to give.
No questions anymore. Just say he’ll live.
A world of light leaks through the double doors,
Fluorescent mazes, frigid corridors,
Polished linoleum, arena sand
Where hope is put to death and life is lost
And elevator doors slide open, closed,
The towers of the teaching hospital.
The field where death his conquering banner shook.

My writing tablet, opened on the table.
I touch it with my hand. The paper thins.
The paper’s interwoven filaments
Are bluish gray and beige. No questions now.
What is the chiefest deed that’s asked of us.
No questions anymore. No questions now.
I turned my back on heaven for good, but saw
A banner shaken out from heaven’s walls
With apparitions from Vesalius:
A woodcut surgeon opening a book
Of workshop woodcuts, skilled, anonymous,
The chisel blade of the engraver felt
Reverberating through the wooden blocks
Among eroded words, ornately carved:
Annihilation, subtly engraved:
All those whom lamentation cannot save
Grown fainter through successive folios.
A seraphy turns a page above: he’ll live;
Then turns a page again: he can’t survive.
I turn the page myself, and write: he’ll live.
Smell of my sweat embedded in my clothes.
The surgeon says: we’ve talked with him; he knows.
A seraph leaning near, Oh say not so.
Not so. Not so. My wonder-wounded hearer,
Facing extinction in a mental mirror.
A brilliant ceiling, someone’s hand on his.
All labor, effort, sacrifice, recede.
And then: I’m sorry. Such a man he is.

from Practising Bach – Gigue

by Jan Zwicky

copyright ©Jan Zwicky, 2011



              There is a sound
that is a whole of many parts,
a sorrowless transparency, like luck,
that opens in the centre of a thing.
An eye, a river, fishheads, death,
gold in your pocket, and a half-wit
son: the substance of the world
is light and blindness and the measure
of our wisdom is our love.
Our diligence: ten fingers and
a healthy set of lungs. Practise
ceaselessly: there is
one art: wind
in the open spaces
grieving, laughing
with us, saying
improvise.

from A Thin Plea

by Phil Hall

copyright ©2011 Phil Hall



When I can’t sleep – when I’m sick – when no one else is home – when I’m lost in transit – I tinker

This is my word for what I do – a slow – un-clever – tactile – cheap – harmless rearranging of odd bits of my nature & gatherings – until they sing – off-key

I tinker at long sequences – & stay close to notebooks – mostly when no one is looking

Am increasingly filled with hopelessness – but sometimes when I’m up to my elbows in a line’s perplexities

Confidence lands its flocks upon me & I feel – inside the poem – unafraid