Sunday, November 24, 2013

Two Poems (Kateri Lanthier)


How to “pack light”? Darkness overflows from every carry-on.
While you live, you’re packing heat. And then the cold sets in.

Gather ye rosebuds, rock star. Go on, sword-swallow the pretties.
Fringed skirts flash in the prison-yard lights of the used car lot.

The dog attends His Master’s Voice; the cat’s a turntablist.
Yes, yes, rain looks like tears. It sounds like laughter in the gutter.

My pattern of behavior is obvious? Then solve my Rubik’s mood.
Run down that clock, little mouse, and whisker ‘1 am.’

Toes off the sustain pedal. Bass back in the case.
We had to cut our love tour short at the wistful terminus.

We tore the gauze of the ozone, ripped the veil from the butterflies.
The screen is our eternal flame, our festive firelog channel.

The walls have ears now deafened by the soundtrack of our lives:
The adenoidal buzz of the house fly and the faltering storefront sign.

I’m speaking from dead centre of a southbound arctic air mass.
Warm, warmer….Bye, ice floes…They left on a jet plane.

When you left, I took my temperature to peace talks in Geneva.
Oh, to be your split second! Not your makeshift memorial.


I started school at Immaculée-Conception, if you can believe it.
If you believe that, just step this way into my chalk drawing.

The freckles splotched on bamboo are the tears of a jilted wife?
Each day I find new beauty spots emblazoned by the sun.

He loves me not, he loves me past the melting point of steel.
Every streetlight’s a fixed star, a star burnt out at dawn.

Battledore and shuttlecock, hobbyhorse and peepshow.
I was a self-righting toy until you changed the rules.

Inside the glassy-eyed greenhouse, flowers amp up the heat.
Carnation, Lily, Lily, RoseJeunes filles en fleur taunt teacher.

The view from here to the earth’s core is quite spectacular!
The light will slow-dance on those leaves whatever day you’ve had.

Beds of roses end as bubbles in the claw-foot tub.
It only takes one burning bush to set the hills on fire.

Mary Mary, quite contrary, labour movement leader.
I’ll say it: Mariolatry left gorgeous stains on glass.

Maids with centre-parted hair, knights-errant in distress.
The temple is a wreck, but just think what we learned from this.

They are madcap pseudo-ghazals, very much in the vein of my poem in The Walrus"The Coin Under the Leftmost Sliding
Cup". A book of poems, Reporting from the Night, was published in 2011 by Iguana Books. An interview with Kateri is at
Toronto Poets. In a joint interview forthcoming in Boxcar Poetry Review with the American poet Dan Chelotti, Kateri in part 
addresses the "continental divide" between American and Canadian, British, and other English-language poetries:
"I read contemporary British poets quite closely for years – perhaps from a vague sense of Commonwealth connection  – 
and formed friendships with some on trips to London. I confess I had something of a bias against American poetry. It seemed
a vast, self-confident and self-absorbed place that hardly needed my attention. I’ve reformed, though! I’m a fan of the work 
of many contemporaries.... Poems travel the world at lightning speed now, and some of my closest Poetry World connections
are with poets in the States." Her other poems appear in Leveler and Canadian Poetries. Her website, is 
in the works.

-- Kateri Lanthier

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