Category Archives: Poetry

40 Week Journal

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We had a screening fundraiser last night. We had some great films, and it was exciting to see Fool’s Love: A 40 week journal, the short film I’d written some poetry for last year, up on the big screen. It’s inspired by a very personal story the filmmaker shared with me. Some of those in attendance asked to see the poem in print, so here it is.

A 40 Week Journal

4 weeks, a poppy seed. Tip of a paintbrush bristle.

You were the one we blamed everything on: spilled ink, clay left to harden.

Your hands covered in fish scales, this was no deterrent.

Bonnie and Clyde. Randy and Evi, in a Prius, on the run

from the Hollywood mind control. We blamed anyone we could.

 

6 weeks, a lentil. Plasticine eye of a dragon.

The man in the sculpture is having a scotch while the dragon

creeps up behind him. Open, you said to me. Free. I follow you to the dike,

to the Pit, to Gert’s. I look for you by the dredge pond.

I wonder if I am the dragon.

 

8 weeks, a kidney bean. The size and colour of an endometrial cyst.

My traitorous sex, my insides, out. A scarred up womb.

They said I’d never see the plus sign,

the blue line. Tonight we saw them both. Faded, but there.

 

12 weeks, a lemon. A product with flaws too great or severe to serve its purpose.

Ok, my breasts are still sensitive

and I got a charley horse on Saturday morning,

those are my only indications that yes, there might be something inside.

 

18 weeks, a banana, with a heartbeat, on a monitor.

7 o’clock, Mary and Solvey came with me,

even though they’re not morning people. I can’t find you. Not at the dredge pond.

Not at your sister’s. I can’t find my brushes—you took them.

I want to paint.

You don’t make it.

 

22 weeks, a mango. Sickly sweet.

You don’t make it.

 

28 weeks.

I’m in emergency. Just a scare. You don’t make it.

 

30 weeks.

Cook me breakfast and disappear.

 

32 weeks.

Tell me I don’t have to worry. Words under water. Submarine.

 

36 weeks, a cantaloupe.

A small, manageable depth charge.

 

40 weeks, a pumpkin. Hello, Pumpkin.

We had a good good-bye, no crying, and you were gone.

What collaboration looks like.

Kerry Barber - a 40 week journal Corrected (1)-1 copy

Here’s a little teaser from Fools Love: 40 Week Journal. A few days ago, Kerry sent me an email with the title 40 week journal corrections. There was a PDF attached.

Now, I can take feedback like a champ, but corrections? Now? The film is set to screen this weekend, and I certainly don’t have time to be making changes, and WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN, CORRECTIONS? There are no MISTAKES in this poem! This is not a test!

So, yeah, my hackles went up.

Kerry, an expert in dealing with sensitive artist types, had anticipated my stiff-backed response. “I don’t want you to change your poem-” the first line of the email, “but some of the details aren’t true to life.”

I bemoaned the vagaries of long-distance collaboration. Readied my speech on poetic license and on how fictionalization can add a comfortable buffer zone between an artist and her piece. Especially when it’s emotionally charged. I had a feeling she knew this. I recalled times when I was about to read a new poem or story and suffered an eleventh-hour panic attack, believing that everything needed to be different-Iambic hexameter enforced, names changed to protect the guilty.

Then just read the rest of the damn email.

“I just want my daughter to understand exactly what happened, one day when she’s old enough. I want a copy of your poem with all the facts straight.” I opened the PDF. What I found was a running commentary, and the inclusion of a few dates. There were no big red X marks, no F- at the top. I hadn’t failed. Kerry didn’t want to change the poem, but this was her poem, her story, facilitated by me. She needed to put her mark on it. The last word- for the record. I could appreciate that.

Dawson City International Short Film Fest.

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Kerry Barber’s experimental short film, Fool’s Love, will be screened at the Dawson City International Short Film Festival March 28-31. The film features two of my poems, 40 Week Journal, which I wrote specifically for the project and Randy and Evi. Congrats, Kerry!

Photo Credit.

Corner of Davie and Bute.

Is a greasy spoon too familiar? Does romance
still share milkshakes on Arborite counters?
You on a break in your greasy cook’s jacket, blood
on your sleeve. Me with coffee refills, apple pie, heartburn

This is minimum wage date night in the slow hours:
twenty questions, take bets on what people will order
Side of fries. Piece of strawberry pie
Buddy Holly burger. And Sonny and Cher trite
on the jukebox. They say our love won’t pay
the rent, before it’s earned the money’s all been spent
 
Home when the sun’s up, give your roommate five bucks
to go to the grocery store
to buy us the time. Next Sunday it’s the same,
a table of twelve want omelets at midnight
We thought you’d get out early

I can hear you singing from the kitchen
while you blanch onions and I know
you’re singing to me

High Art Haiku: Zander and Carleigh edition.

Haiku

We like to write communal Haikus, each participant contributing two letters a a time. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they’re nonsense, but they’re always awesome. Here’s the latest.

Frank learned bar stool
Vie for collective signs
wind renders ears deaf

Crevices sulk grey
Icicle centipede slides
tarred with hungry hand

O, tinder box blue
To fold mirrored ice, sharp, I
suspend space like flame

Bargaining Phase.

Okay, let’s be honest here, after nine years
of being high, is it any surprise that in your tenth
year, you get clean, look at the person you’ve spent
nine years being high with, and you want nothing
to do with him anymore? Who the hell is that guy?
I’ll tell you. He’s the guy you married on a cold west coast
beach, with bare feet and fog in your hair. You had to have
a morning wedding. Your bridesmaids played singing bowls,
rang a spooky tone across the sand as you and your dad
approached. I was the guy waiting there, in a suit with no tie.
No shoes. I was shivering, do you remember? The archway
we’d spent all night setting up? The enormous mole
on the officiant’s face? We’d been high the day before,
and we’d get high the day after, but that day we were clean.

Hot Messes.

Quaid

Photo is the property of Vanity Fair and I’ll probably get sued for using it, so enjoy it while you can.

Hey, remember when Randy and Evi Quaid were cruising around Vancouver, bringing the crazy? I wrote this for them. It’s actually a found poem, which means that I cobbled it together from an existing work, an article in Vanity Fair. Does anyone know if these whackjobs are still around?

Randy And Evi Go Viral.

They’re spending nights in their car,
on the run from some shadowy cabal.
Evi Quaid and her husband, Randy
the actor, had tried to drive to Siberia, but
they couldn’t figure out how to get there.
She said, “We’re running for our lives.”

Their car, a black Prius, smelled of fast
food and dog pee and Randy’s cigars.
I asked the Quaids if they were living
in their car. “Only on nights when we
don’t feel secure,” Evi said. “We used
to have a Mercedes. This whole ordeal

has forced us to become incredibly green.”
“Priuses are deceptively roomy,” drawled
Randy, who’s originally from Houston.
“We’re tall people, and the legroom is
important.” “They’re hunting us,” Evi said.
“It’s really happening. They’ve got us in a

spiral.‘Don’t let up on ’em. Drive ’em off
the road. Starve ’em to death.’ ” She was
slapping her hands together for emphasis.
“I guess I’m worth more to ’em dead than
alive,” Randy said mildly. They wore pink

handcuffs. Evi carried Randy’s Golden
Globe and had a “valid credit card” affixed
to her forehead. By the time they arrived
in Canada, calling themselves “refugees”
and claiming they were targets of an
assassination plot, the Quaids had gone viral.

Vanity Fair.
The Quaid Conspiracy
By Nancy Jo Sales

Jan 2011