Ken Babstock


Griffin Poetry Prize 2012
Canadian Winner

Book: Methodist Hatchet

Poet: Ken Babstock

Publisher: House of Anansi Press

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.

Ken Babstock reads Hunter Deary and Hospital Wing

Hunter Deary and Hospital Wing

Hunter Deary emits noises like peach pits;
  dry, scrotal humming that punctuates fits.
When a hip comes loose it comes loose
  before breakfast and she pops it back in

with a winch, a rock, a clean tube and hemp belt.
  Ask Hunter Deary what the microbes
are for. Ask Hunter Deary what the library’s
  for. Ask Hunter Deary what agent con-

tested her birthright, her staying out late, her
  transmission on broadband at night.
The men in the neon X. The hole in the
  plastic. The ppb. The stitches. The snug.

The snug. The stitches. The parts per billion.
          Hospital Wing sings to his children.
Children of blood lung.
Children of static.
          Hospital Wing sings to his children.
The snug. The stitches. The parts per billion.

Hunter Deary has clicked on the task pane
  reads there what they cut from the thought:
a topographical map of the region, a vein
  darkening wetlands, strung north through

some temperate zone. Hunter Deary left gas
  in a bird’s nest, bags under bypasses
phenobarbital in the mud of the Don. Hunter
  Deary in traction. Hunter Deary in Huntsville.

She’s counting down days to a hearing, fed on
  black pumpkin, on cheese string, on
marrow sucked through wing of an auk. Ages
  in ice bubble. Calving. The fake vermillion.

Calving. Ice bubbles. The fake vermillion.
          Hospital Wing sings to his children.
Children born sexless and cleansed.
Leaded gametes in frog ponds.
          Hospital Wing sings to his children.
Calving. The ages. The fake vermillion.

From Methodist Hatchet, by Ken Babstock
© 2011 Ken Babstock


Griffin Poetry Prize 2007
Canadian Shortlist

Book: Airstream Land Yacht

Poet: Ken Babstock

Publisher: House of Anansi Press

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.

Ken Babstock reads Compatibilist

Compatibilist, by Ken Babstock


Awareness was intermittent. It sputtered.
      And some of the time you were seen
         asleep. So trying to appear whole

         you asked of the morning: Is he free
      who is not free from pain? It started to rain
a particulate alloy of flecked grey: the dogs

wanted out into their atlas of smells; to pee
      where before they had peed, and might
         well pee again – thought it isn’t

         a certainty. What is? In the set,
      called Phi, of all possible physical worlds
resembling this one, in which, at time t,

was written ‘Is he free who is not free – ‘
      and comes the cramp. Do you want
      to be singular, onstage, praised,

      or blamed? I watched a field of sun-
   flowers dial their ruddy faces toward
   what they needed and was good. At noon

they were chalices upturned, gilt-edged,
      and I lived in that same light but felt
         alone. I chose to phone my brother,

         over whom I worried, and say so.
      He whispered, lacked affect. He’d lost
my record collection to looming debt. I

forgave him – through weak connections,
      through buzz and oceanic crackle –
         immediately, without choosing to,

         because it was him I hadn’t lost; and
      later cried myself to sleep. In that village
near Dijon, called Valley of Peace,

a pond reflected its dragonflies
      over a black surface at night, and
         the nuclear reactor’s far-off halo

         of green light changed the night sky
      to the west. A pony brayed, stamping
a hoof on inlaid stone. The river’s reeds

lovely, but unswimmable. World death
      on the event horizon; vigils with candles
         in cups. I’ve mostly replaced my records,

         and acted in ways I can’t account for.
      Cannot account for what you’re about
to do. We should be held and forgiven.

From Airstream Land Yacht, by Ken Babstock
Copyright © 2006 Ken Babstock

One Reply to “Ken Babstock”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *