Article Category Archives: Poetry

Behind the Door

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The ache wakes her,
her breasts so hard and tender.
Something wrong with the nipples.
How they pull inside her
when she’s cold
like fists.

If it isn’t breasts, it’s hips.
Femurs lengthen in the dark hours.
At times, she limps.
The socket
no longer fits.

Changeling.
Legs so long, she sees
into the eyes of the elders,
combs hair across her face.

Tears and blood,
she hadn’t asked for this.
Childbody lost
as if the fairies came in her sleep.
Left her with this stranger.

At night, when bones grow,
when fur spreads
like moss over crevices,
when secrets bleed
into sheets, she presses
an edge, just here,
sharp, against
her own absence.

Rose by Larissa Monique Hauck

Scars / Murmur

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Scars

scars silence blood
shut up leaks and spills
stitch seams on skin
where none should be

scars silence blood
open up floods
of stories
word rivers, pouring out
from throat, bird voice
melody, telling and retelling
events that skin carries
in hues that pale away
until barely seen
which does not mean
invisible, does not mean
there is nothing to see
does not mean
repair occurred

Except That It Clearly Isn’t by Monica Lacey

Murmur

In the dark of my heart
a murmur
flaccid valve
cannot quite close
instead invites
rebel rivulets of blood
to flow back into eddies
that draw quick funnels
where meaning sinks.

A valve; mouth
unfamiliar with silence
leaks secret mumblings
into absent ears.

The first one who heard the murmur said
Did you know?
You have a murmur
.
Said it not like
you have a nose, a voice
two legs, two clavicles

but like, you have extra toes
a tail or gills
.

I hear, you don’t speak loud enough
you murmur
.

You may grow out of it.

And own a silent heart?
Inside my noisy interior
lives another body dialect
that I add
to my personal nomenclature
of internal sensations
—aches, grumbles, pushes
caresses, flashes of colour
buzzing ears, crackling bursts—
that I capture
into defective word boxes
where meaning may sprout.

With my mind, I see
the murmur curl like smoke
black ink coils
spelling o and c and e
but never l or k or f
language of fluid forms
and sounds like whoosh
sibilant, round and patient
talking in vain if I don’t listen.

This little valve works hard.
How many times is perseverance
how many fall into perseveration?

Blame the valve, they say, it is weak.
We’d replace it if it was really bad.
You’re not really bad though
.

The valve is, then I am, not really bad.

Yet I, owner of the murmuring valve
—not on an automatic system—
have power to draw the uneasy line
between enough and one more time.

At every heart beat
a delinquent pool of blood lingers
a stray rivulet stumbles back inside
audible. I promise to myself
to listen more.

Sunset Over a Mosque in Quebec City

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“You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.”
Rainier Maria Rilke, Sunset

Tonight, we ask questions of God.
The sun rose in the East this morning
and cast a long shadow to the West.

We know their hands pressed to the floor
as the sun set red over a mosque in Quebec City,
but by nightfall, they would not rise again.

Even with faith we have no answers. We try to find
understanding through our shared rituals
of mourning and remembering:

a community clasps hands around a city block,
a gathering light candles to overcome what haunts us,
a family prepares to bury their loved ones.

This sunset is a dark red stain on the aged cotton of their clothes.
We sink low to the earth drowned in the blackest of nights—
we look for stars, but with heads bowed,

we see none.

Fire Behaviour by Judith Skillman

Practice / Spirals

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Practice

The lump rises innocuous from pale flesh just below
your collarbone. A gentle swell, almond shaped, firm
but not hard. You insist I touch it, want me to feel proof
that it’s real. I can’t refuse, you ask for so little.

I search for words, find none and cannot remember those
that used to be there. It doesn’t matter, quiet is soothing and
somehow, enough. Robins sing and we can see your humming
birds flicker at the feeder, this foggy July morning.

Next, you lead me up carpeted stairs, fling louvered doors,
and start sorting through orderly closets, without hesitation,
as though you’ve done this many times before. We even laugh
as you remember the soft pink dress that was almost too pretty

to wear. I hold out my arms, you pile garments in jewel colours
for the clothing donation bin in the mall parking lot.
Later I make tea, yours like dishwater, and mine strong and
so bitter I can barely swallow it. You sink into your favorite chair,
a faded Magic Bag pressed to the small of your back, wheeze,

“A good job done,” and I agree as I pass the dainty mug patterned
with fruit that matches your kitchen wallpaper. I try but fail
to filter the sound in my head. It is the beginning of your breathlessness,
the sound that leads to the swish and gurgle of bedside pumps,

IV poles and oxygen masks, morning visits with Sobeys bags full of clean
underthings and familiar whimsies from your bedside table. I try harder,
ignore the images: “Thinking of You” cards, helium balloons, and
all those bouquets of roses, their silky petals, red as blood,

drifting to the sill.

She Tried to Put a Brave Face On It by Leah Dockrill

Spirals

On the day of your leaving I studied
the tangled spruce in the yard, all
leeched marrow and trails of glistening,

dark as blood. Withered fists unfurled,
dropped aborted cones into an obscene graffiti
of closed eyes on the ground while I played

the unwilling voyeur, watching blind
fetuses expel from a womb weary of holding on.
I am not this way!

I wanted to shout the words but
my voice had become a smoky sky:
nothing good could come of it.

How can it all funnel down to this? Spirals
on a tree trunk, whorls on a thumb pad,
cartography of an infant’s palm and

the knowing: ingrained and awful.
We can never go back; not really.

I searched in vain for a supple, lively flicker
in leaves, hoping to discern the persistent warble
of a brave, unwavering song.

Own My Own / That Word

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Own My Own

For Lucy, mother of us all

Dinknesh: the wonderful, the fabulous, the precious. That’s you.
They named you Lucy after the Beatles’ song playing
on the cassette as they celebrated finding you.

Small, 3 & ½ feet, maybe, 60 pounds.
You walked tall, 3.2 million years ago, in Afar, Ethiopia.
What happened when you walked by that riverbank where they found you?

You, the most complete, 40% of your bones intact. You surely surprised them.
You walked upright and made them give you a new title of your own:
Australopithecus afarensis. How could you know I would be thinking about you?

 

That Word

A boat named No Justice floats in the bay.
Gleams of gentle light peek at the horizon.
I hear the incessant juddering of the grass cutter.
The dull hum, an unruly crowd–a thousand terns
descending. Their outcry fades, that word rises.

Spewed by the Amherst councilman.
Tattooed where the children watch–
at the base of Glace Bay’s skateboard park.
Overheard at the Toronto York School Board.

Like a knife scraped over my old wound
still tender to the touch.