September 20, 2006

File sharing, by Ken Belford

I have another job on the weekends now
and my neighbour goes about her business.
A foreign-born worker, she’s moving,
living under a married name. I’m thinking
of file sharing and the fiction of the self,
remembering the day I flew out, leaving
a new person in my place. I’d like to thank him
for coming. It takes a lot of energy to think of
his vacant face. And I had a real sense of place,
even though I’d never been here before.
She never winked at the camera. Apparently,
the man who worked in my shadow slept
through the whole thing. There were episodes
of confusion and frenzy in the south. And
contradictory opinions and book tours gone
after I shot the wrong person. Write down
I’m a traitor. I’m in the mood to work backwards
so I’m hanging on to my name right from the start.
Why write poetry? For the weird unemployment. For the painless headaches, that must be tapped to strike down your writing arm at the accumulated moment. For the adjustments after, aligning facets in a verb before the trance leaves you. For working always beyond your own intelligence. For not needing to rise and betray the poor to do it. For a non-devouring fame.

--Les Murray

September 11, 2006

The Soft Speakers (1741)

Traversed east-west the axis
of seasons a motion not a span. The rivers
then went around not through.
Less lush than overdone, the walkers
from there to there, when
here wasn’t somewhere. Back when
the traveler's track recorded
in hush and snare.

Imagined trails leading through
the poem, not from. The sentences
on the line cut
wide, overtaken as it
should be. Like parkland from
Grand Rapids through Saskatchewan
Rivers, then over. The living
was hard, a seasonal take.
The old tales moved. Still
do. Just not here.

Thieves & Preachers (Fort George 1914)

The salmon-coloured mirror leans
closer, closer and then
smack into the forehead

Don’t mistake repulsion
for submissiveness, she crowed
from the back of a boat
heading north

All this dog garned country
is good for is growing Christmas trees

and trading posts for
modernity to land on;
fence-posts disguise the limit

The Dreamland Theatre moved
on a sledge, the tickets
taken as ransom

South & Central in the same tired drawl

The site clear cut for practice
the trees a nuisance even then;
how to get through not why, and
the lens trained to look back south

Each southerner drawn
closer, closer and then
damned and darned
shut, a strange voice
heading away, north