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