Untitled (Books for Women)

Julia Polyck-O’Neill




I’ve been reading books for women
Hundreds of books for thousands of women in
the free libraries here 

domestic themes and light comedy. The covers
are mostly turquoise with inviting fonts.

all best sellers. They all involve trauma and
death but somehow make this seem airy and

I take cold baths imagining my ugly tub as a
small swimming pool, and I’m a pale whale
sliding around 

mostly I’m on my phone. I drop it in the water at
least once, but the world has made phones
that withstand this, now 

at first I let all my body hair grow in like I’m a
heroine in a fairy tale, time stopped and the
grooming stopped 

I mean it didn’t matter anymore. 
There was no one to see. We might die. We are
mostly alone 

such a bizarre thing. I’m mourning the end of
my marriage, my mother’s illness, and instead

the world marching on, time stopped,
And life stopped for everyone. Even movies

we collectively rewatch films about pandemics,
first as an ironic gesture, then as a kind of
research, comparing 

fictions to the news. The news seems
to match, and this is oddly reassuring at a time
when everything shocks 

every day I go for two walks. One is longer,
taking me around the whole neighbourhood.
We map cats 

there is a house with four of them, but only
one is friendly, he purrs and rubs up. For a
while he is my only friend 

we think we know all the cats, but posters go
up to advertise that some are missing. Cats
I’ve never seen are missing.




JuliaPolyck-O’Neill is an artist, curator, critic, and writer. She is currently completing an interdisciplinary doctoral dissertation at Brock University, and is starting a SSHRC postdoc at York University’s Sensorium Centre for Digital Arts and Technology in 2021. She has published three poetry chapbooks with above/ground press.



Well, Okay

ryan fitzpatrick






In before the thinkpieces
on the aesthetics of Zoom calling,
the parasociality of the Twitch stream,
and false friendship. 

According to Pitchfork,
pop music is thirsty this summer:
There is no 
“horny on main” anymore
because everyone is horny,
on every account. 

Any relation where
two things can harmonize,
but mean differently. 

Maybe all I’m wishing for
is the contact high
of VHS nostalgia. 

Spooling a nest
of magnetic tape
sounded against the curb
back into its casing. 

grimy like the body
grinding against itself. 

Kathleen Edwards
defining total freedom 
as a mutual lack of dependency. 

I don’t need you
and you don’t need me
except through the glitched frieze
of shitty download speeds. 

Big Yeetus,
take the wheel. 

Just don’t do it
on my account. 

All I can do 
is keep writing 
this project book
even though
the oppressive tone
of the project book is
only something that
The New York Times
complains about. 

It’s still tough 
when the cold vibes
of professional courtesy
meet the clear benefits
of writing through a problem. 

Unable to write today,
I clean the inside
of the bathtub. 

How bad is it
that I deeply relate
to this story about 
Japan’s 8050 problem? 

I hear an answer in
my favourite Kinks’ song
“Kyoto Sunset”:
I am so lazy,
I don’t want to wander,
I stay home at night. 

What will the social scar
of this moment be? 

Probably just 
a string of smug comments
the learned helplessness
of an economic freeze-out
as a failed sexuality. 

Thank god for 
this motorized scrub brush,
as gender reveals
spark wildfires
across the continent. 

On Instagram,
the skies in the Bay
are right out of Blade Runner. 

Watching the time-lapse
informatic of the smoke
over the Pacific Northwest
on my phone. 

it’s mediated information. 

Like feeling sick
when someone cues up Vangelis 
over some drone footage. 

Actual quote
from The New York Times:
This has been the busiest
two months I’ve had
in 22 years of selling islands. 

In the trailer
for the new version
of The Stand:
Baby, don’t worry
about a thing,
‘cause every little thing’s
gonna be alright. 

Walking down
the Glen Stewart Ravine,
I didn’t expect to read
a conspiracy theory titled
Covid 1984,
suggesting I search Facebook
to see Facebook’s the problem. 

It’s easy to point fingers
at the superspreaders,
but tougher to pin down
our structural failures. 

A bingo card recording which 
Calgary high schools get Covid
followed by the Principal of Bowness High
tweeting at Jason Kenney
about Covid hitting the quad
this early in September. 

I’ve watched enough
Among Us on Twitch
to know that it can be tough
to suss out the saboteur
when they are invisible
and randomly selected. 

Email from Cineplex:
Have you seen Tenet yet? 

All the little details
out of joint
like a bullet
returning to a gun. 

I really don’t
want to write about
Trump getting Covid. 

The complexity 
of the wind as it
moves the clouds
over the lake. 

A story circulating 
about an A.I.
reinventing phrenology. 

What’s the over-under
on getting Covid
from a re-opened casino? 

Right before being ejected:
You’re going to regret this. 

The University of Alberta
is laying off 1000 people. 

Ontario reports
700 new cases today. 

No, that’s
900 new cases
with a caveat
that testing is backlogged. 

Something about
blaming young people
who are mandated into
close proximity. 

Make sure your camera’s on
and it can see your eyes. 



ryan fitzpatrick is the author of three books and fifteen books of poetry including Coast Mountain Foot (Talon, 2021), Fortified Castles (Talon, 2014), and Fake Math (Snare/Invisible, 2007).


An interview with Dan MacIsaac

Dan MacIsaac served for ten years as a director on UVIC’s Environmental Law Centre board. Brick Books published his collection of poetry, Cries from the Ark. His poetry has been published in a wide variety of literary magazines, including filling station, Stand, The Malahat Review, and Arc. Dan MacIsaac’s work has been short-listed for the Walrus Poetry Prize and the CBC Short Story Prize. His website is www.danmacisaac.com

How did you begin writing, and what keeps you going?

I turned to writing after studying music because I found that words offered the kind of precision that I was not reaching in melody and harmony. I keep writing because, paradoxically, in words I am seeking the clarity and unity of music.  Walter Pater asserted: “All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.” One of my goals is to write poems about aspects of music that are as accomplished as Sue Sinclair’s “Learning the Waltz” where she celebrates “the third beat that catches/ us off guard.”

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

I have joked about the impact of my poetical 4-H Club, getting steeped in soil by Hardy, Heaney, Hopkins, and Hughes. From Earle Birney, ee cummings and Joe Rosenblatt, I learned much about loosening up and playing with language. For sheer lyricism, I still turn to William Blake, Robbie Burns, John Keats, Federico García Lorca, Gabriela Mistral, Dylan Thomas, and William Butler Yeats.

But there have been a host of other influences, including: Margaret Atwood, Margaret Avison, John Donne, Carla Funk, Sharon McCartney, Publius Ovidius Naso, P. K. Page, Sappho, Edward Thomas, Phyllis Webb, and Jan Zwicky.

Have you noticed a difference in the ways in which you approach the individual poem, now that you’ve published a full-length collection?

Yes, now I am often considering theme—where the poem might fit in a collection, what hole it could fill. One looks for compelling patterns and shuns crass repetition. Or, to put this in musical terms, can the individual poem be like a chord that is part of a pleasing progression?

How important has mentorship been to your work? Is there anyone who specifically assisted your development as a writer?

Regrettably, I did not take a creative writing seminar or course until about 10 years ago. Although I came to this process late, my work has benefited greatly from workshops with Don McKay and Lorna Crozier. Don has a keen eye and trained ear for accurate natural detail. Lorna’s attention is unfailingly focused on what is best in a poem and what needs to be revised. Nick Thran, my editor at Brick Books, quietly encouraged me to learn how to cull the dull lines and highlight the words that worked.

Can you name a poet you think should be receiving more attention?

In the U.S., Molly McCully Brown: her collection, The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, is a harrowing verse account of eugenic sterilization.

In Canada, Julia McCarthy: this superbly lyrical poet shows in her Return from Erebus and All the Names Between the stellar radiance of ephemera.

In Scotland, George MacKay Brown (1921-1996): his work is as starkly and powerfully formed as the standing stone circles of his Orkney Islands.

In Spain, Gloria Fuertes (1917-1998) exhibits persistent, impudent wit that reminds us that poetry is serious play.


The Rain, the Park (& other things)

Stan Rogal




knew I had to say hello [hello, hello]
droning a drowsy syncopated tune
speech impregnated with a rhetoric absorbed through the airwaves
to lighten. make light of. to arouse elation, buoyant ascension
[insert here the aleatory decay of sound]
I mean, in terms of describing love or longing or libido
          what does each look like?
                     what shape, what colour?

                            what coarse wale of warp & weft?
if text is the electricity that moves the body from one thing to another
what are the results of being relentlessly specific?
literally momentary?
all the parts are more like plumbing fixtures
than pieces of a poem
a clear example of “songs & dances of social allusion”
that is: music which however danceable & “swinging”
                    remorselessly contrasts social imperfections
                               against implied criteria for perfect living
well, why didn’t you just say so?
suddenly, the sun broke through [hello, hello]
pussy willows big, their tops above water
green & red leaves flat against the branches
whatever it was she was wearing — poof! — gone
was she reality or just a dream to me? [hello, hello]
object dissolves into a field of loose relations
flowers in her hair, flowers everywhere
at the point of ceremonial sex (no touching, no tongue) 

we stand starkly naked at the edge, singing




Stan Rogal: I live and write in Toronto. Work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies in Canada, the US and Europe. The author of 26 books: 7 novels (most recent, The Comic, Guernica Editions), 7 story and 12 poetry collections, plus several chapbooks. I'm a Pisces, which pretty much explains it.




Penn Kemp


“Golden apples of the sun”
wrote Yeats and he
might have described these.

Okanagan apples, tinged red,
descend from one Golden
Delicious, sparking
sensation among taste, touch
and aroma.
on the tongue between
sweet and ever so
slightly sour.

Hinting mystery.


Old tales tell of tainted apples, tempting.
Not just to eat the fruit proffered by
Serpent or Lilith for the tree
of knowledge.


But tantalizing too. “Who is fairest
of them all?”

Maleficent clings to beauty’s power
and poisons that
upstart Snow White, offering
her the apple
no-one could


Eris, goddess of Discord, cunningly
labels her golden apple “For
the Most Beautiful”.

And sits back
laughing to await
the display.


Three goddesses swarm to
claim their prize from Paris, Prince
of Troy.

               Hera, Athena
and Aphrodite, goddess of Beauty—

she who promised Paris the
loveliest woman in the world—
how could he not
award her the trophy?

Miffed, the rejected ones revenge
themselves on Troy, ongoing
for a decade and more.


The apple still belongs
to Lilith, to Venus/Aphrodite.

Open one
sideways and her emblem
is revealed, splayed
in a star circle of five seeds.


“As seen from above, the orbit
of Venus forms a near-perfect
pentagram, with the five lobes”

Tell me how the ancients gathered
such correspondence. Tell me how
the apple tree knows.

How seeds drop to the earth and some



Poet, performer and playwright Penn Kemp has been celebrated as a trailblazer since her first publication of poetry by Coach House (1972). She was London's inaugural Poet Laureate (2010-13) and Western University’s Writer-in-Residence (2009-10). Chosen as the League of Canadian Poets’ Spoken Word Artist (2015), Kemp has long been a keen participant/activist in Canada’s cultural life. Recent tiles include P.S. (with Sharon Thesen, Fall 2020); Fox Haunts; Local Heroes; River Revery and Barbaric Cultural Practice.



An interview with Kim Fahner

Kim Fahner lives and writes in Sudbury, Ontario. She was the fourth poet laureate for the City of Greater Sudbury (2016-18). Her latest book of poems is These Wings (Pedlar Press, 2019). Kim is a member of the League of Canadian Poets and is the Ontario Representative for The Writers' Union of Canada (2020-22), as well as a supporting member of the Playwrights' Guild of Canada. She may be reached via her author website at www.kimfahner.com

How did you begin writing, and what keeps you going?

I’ve been writing since I was very young, but began to write more seriously in high school and in university. I don’t know if this is true of other writers, but I don’t think you have a choice as to how you ‘begin,’ really. If you’re a writer, you likely already have a big imagination and a lot of ideas. You also likely read a lot. Those ideas just need to come out somewhere. Telling stories is something I love to do. Writing is something I’ve always loved.

What keeps me going is my curiosity about people and places, I think. I’m always drawn to new ideas and I always have questions about the world, so that often directs me towards new writing projects. There is always another story to listen to, or to write and tell. Writers never stop, or at least all of the ones I know don’t stop.

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

Two of my most important poetic influences are Seamus Heaney and Mary Oliver. I spend a lot of time out in the natural world, so their work is rooted in landscapes that I can relate to, even if I’ve never really been to some of the places they’ve written about. Lately, though, I read very widely—mostly contemporary Canadian poetry—and love writing poetry book reviews for a variety of literary journals. I’m keen on seeing what new and emerging poets are doing, but I also love to read and study the work of veteran poets because I can learn from their work.

Have you noticed a difference in the ways in which you approach the individual poem after you began publishing full-length collections?

To be honest, I don’t write collections to a central theme or question to be answered. I know this is the more common with poets these days, but I have always just written poems as they come to me. Having said this, they tend to come in waves—thematically and stylistically—so grouping them into an arc within a collection always seems to work. I’m not really into creating numbered or titled sections within a book of poems. I like a more holistic approach, with the connections of poems being a bit organic in nature. 

My poetic style has changed over the years. When I was in my 20s, I wrote very long poems. Now, in my late 40s, my poems tend to be more succinct and crystalline. This is not always true, but it seems to be happening more often, certainly. I play with various poetic forms a bit more frequently now, and I’m largely focused on eco poetry and ekphrasis. These are things I’ve always been fascinated by, but now they tend to be my poetic touchstones.  

I like that I’m at an age where I can see such a large chunk of my writing career behind me, and then I can trace what’s changed and evolved in my work. It’s interesting, to look back, and then to wonder where your work will take you next.

How important has mentorship been to your work? Is there anyone who specifically assisted your development as a writer?

Mentorship has been key to my development as a writer. I live in Sudbury, which is in Northern Ontario. It can, at times, feel at a great geographic distance from more urban centres where there tend to be larger writing communities and connections. I’ve spent time away at writing retreats—during my holidays from teaching English at the secondary level—to further my own work. I learn from being around—and workshopping my work with—other writers.

When I was in my twenties, I was mentored by Timothy Findley through the Humber School for Writers for my short stories. We sent letters back and forth in the late 1990s. He was the person who first made me realize that I could write in a variety of genres. Prior to working with him as a mentor, I really only saw myself as a poet.

Since then, I’ve been lucky to have been mentored by Lawrence Hill, Ken Babstock, John Glenday, Jen Hadfield, Tanis MacDonald, and Marnie Woodrow. I don’t have an MFA in creative writing, so I’ve made a purposeful choice to apply to short writing retreats through places like the Sage Hill Writing Experience, Moniack Mhor (in Scotland), and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. It’s also helped me to create a community of writers and friends from around the country, with quite a few of them living in England, Scotland, and America.

I hope I’m of help as a mentor to newer, emerging writers, but I don’t think I’ll know that until much later in my life. I do believe that we need to lift one another up, though, in the writing community across Canada. If we can support one another’s work, and encourage one another, I think we’ll end up building a stronger community of writers.

You were poet laureate of Sudbury. How did you approach that role, and what did you learn from the experience?

For me, being Poet Laureate was a great honour. My goal was to make poetry more accessible. I got out into schools and worked with students and teachers, using visual art to inspire poetry. I also just really wanted to put poetry in places where it isn’t often found. I called it ‘poetic graffiti,’ for lack of a better phrase. I created projects where I called for local poets to submit poems. Mostly, I wanted people to see that they could write poetry, even if they didn’t actually think they were able to. I worked closely with Jessica Watts at the Greater Sudbury Public Library, who was a huge help to me throughout my term. She helped me to bring my ideas to life in tangible ways.

With the Street Poetry Project, poems were placed on vinyl posters and put up in windows of local small businesses (mostly in the city’s downtown core). The Rain Poetry Project was fun because it meant using special biodegradable paint on sidewalks, so that stanzas by six local poets only appeared when it rained. It was a bit of magic because the actual project only lasted about a month or so—dependent mostly on weather— and it really got people excited about looking down to find and then read the poetry on the sidewalks while they were walking downtown.

I’m most proud of putting up poems in the windows of Health Sciences North (HSN), though, in the palliative and oncology wards. I believe that seeing poetry in places where you wouldn’t normally expect to see it—especially in places like hospitals, where you often have to wait for difficult news—can allow people to briefly escape their realities for a bit.

Sometimes, we need a break, and sometimes poetry serves as a doorway into a different way of thinking or being in the world.

Can you name a poet you think should be receiving more attention?

Over the last year or so of reading and reviewing poetry books, I was really impressed with a number of collections by Canadian poets. Some of the ones that are in my head and heart lately include Conyer Clayton’s We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite (Guernica Press), David Ly’s Mythical Man, M. Travis Lane’s A Tent, A Lantern, An Empty Bowl (Palimpsest Press), rob mclennan’s a halt, which is empty (Mansfield Press), Jane Munro’s Glass Float (Brick Books), and Betsy Warland’s Lost Lagoon/lost in thought (Caitlin Press). The list in my head of other poets is long, though, because I’ve read and reviewed so many books of poetry this year. I feel lucky, too, to be living in a country where the poetic community is so strongly woven—even despite our vast geographic distances.



(Reading Poem 16: mistyped text, Nick Flynn, perfume notes, Hesse’s Hang Up, Rimbaud, Ninjutsu Haiku from memory, Ondaatje, messenger exchange)

John Luna

Have a threat day. Pains that feel like swallowing is every morning I wake up split, missing you. Here, a small piece of light keeps opening and closing on the floor with the curtains as the earth.

Sweat as cotton-blossoms, sweat as cumin seed & coriander, sweat as onions sweating out time in the crisper. The cat, variegated as pepper up your nose, leaps nimbly off the counter; outside lawnmowers brindle the air before it has got up & got warmed. The first time my idea of absurdity or extreme feeling came through…was the best time, but it’s lost in summers now (old as in old magazines...) It [was] the most ridiculous structure… “I sat Beauty on my knees…”

A saline twang hangs around all afternoon. Mystery is a furrow set in the center of the attack truth makes in a state of benighted obscurity or liberty, undressed; unconjugated conjugal visitation. Error and romance slide & elide. It strikes you, like light slanting on a log, a roofbeam: for your eyes. Things we lost: (the) knowledge of the dead. Not yet, or not forever. Children who suffer from anxiety, depression, dysphoria, suicidal ideation, are on the frontier of a new shock... one the world has yet

to know personally; everywhere in the house this morning, a smell of paper burning, like fresh latex paint, like Habit Rouge, like Arthur Rimbaud setting down to work. It was lonely

John Luna is a biracial writer, artist and critic, whose practice includes poetry, visual art and critical writing as well as teaching in the areas of visual art and art history. He the recipient of a 2017 BC Arts Council Project Assistance Grant for an ongoing project involving text and visual art. Publication of his written work in art criticism and poetry has appeared via Ditch, Canadian Art, Border Crossings, Canyon, Cordite, Train, Matrix, GUEST, Rattle open mic, and The Hamilton Review of Arts and Letters, among others. His first poetry collection, Listing, was released through Decoupage Publishing in 2015; a second book-length manuscript was shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry in 2017. He lives in Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia.


Shopping for a Plant That Will Actually Grow

June Son

On my eighteenth birthday or sometime
around then I spilt bile and lime juice and all the water

in the oceans probably weighs
nothing to a man who knows which

rope to pull. What light meant
and who decided its definition is

misty the night you stared at the decaf
like it was going to talk you out of it.

Somebody’s nephew and ideal
handholder and flushed ion looking

to pair infinitely, again and twice
or three times pored over kind

partings like bible study. I enjoy
tea steeped repeatedly until it’s

clear. That way you know what you’re
getting. Therefore I enjoy feeding

it to my guests. My coat was
brown. It never kept me warm.

Formerly a resident of Vancouver Island/a student at Tufts, June Son was drafted to the South Korean Army last year. He now serves as a gunner of a K1E1 main battle tank for the armored reconnaissance battalion of the Eighth Mechanized Infantry Division (just a half hour tank ride, a decent afternoon walk away from the North Korean border). His work recently appeared on Thimble Literary Magazine.


An interview with Sherry Johnson

Sherry Johnson is the author of two books of poetry, Pale Grace and Hymns to Phenomena. Her poems have appeared in many journals, magazines and anthologies, most recently in The Malahat Review and forthcoming in CV2 and The Iowa Review. Also a film critic, her articles have appeared in Senses of Cinema, MUBI Notebook, the Swedish academic journal Film International and others.

How did you begin writing, and what keeps you going?

I was an avid reader from an early age and began writing poetry in my early teens. At the age of about 12 I first encountered Emily Dickinson (There is a certain slant of light) and Alfred Lord Tennyson (Break, break, break,\On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!\And I would that my tongue could utter\The thoughts that arise in me.) Their language recurred in my mind, and the feeling their poetry initially gave me was like that of shock combined with extreme joy. I began to suspect that I was a poet like them, and wrote a lot of bad poetry as any beginner does. I write poetry I suppose in order to recapture that initial feeling of discovering language for the sake of language. What fuels my language is often the language of other poets, the favorites I keep returning to, and there are always new discoveries. I am currently completing a manuscript of all ekphrasis. So aside from influences of language, I am also influenced by the visual language of whatever subject I choose to focus on. What has surprised me about ekphrasis is just how varied my response has been to the many visual works I have chosen. I never know what will unfold when I sit down to write a new poem. And what is most unexpected is what makes it all gratifying in the end.

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

There are too many to list here of course and as I noted, my poetry is influenced by factors other than poetry. In Canada, I especially admire Anne Carson, Anne Szumigalski, Margaret Atwood, Margaret Avison, Christopher Dewdney and Sharon Thesen is a poet I have been wanting to return to. I read a couple of poems which took my breath away online and I'm wondering why her work is not everywhere. I'm going to order her book The Receiver sometime soon. For American poets I especially love C. D. Wright, Mary Jo Bang, John Yau and Charles Wright. Celan in German and Rimbaud in French. In Italian, I love Eugenio Montale, although I don't really read Italian. I just read Montale.

Have you noticed a difference in the ways in which you approach the individual poem after you began publishing full-length collections?

The more I write I think the more I seek perfection and work harder at the craft aspect of writing, maybe too much sometimes. Writing is certainly more than inspiration. At the same time though I've become more open about the direction a poem will take. I realize that the possibilities of poetry are almost endless.

How important has mentorship been to your work? Is there anyone who specifically assisted your development as a writer?

Many people assisted me as a young writer. In hindsight, I feel I learned the most from Anne Szumigalski, as an example of a woman who labored and labored against the odds. She was a truly amazing woman. I attended a writing group in her house in the late 90s where she awed us with her erudition, linguistic attainments (I believe that by the time of her death she had studied over 20 languages) and her fantastic scones and homemade jams.

You’ve published poetry as well as film criticism. What is the difference between working on poems to working critical prose? Do the two sides of your writing interact at all?

There is some confluence in mood\subject\approach between poem and essay to be sure. Of course I don't wish to be too clinical in a poem or too flighty in an article. I only write criticism about films I find to be truly inspiring, so I do try to temper myself. And I do long to say something in a poem, even if I know it isn't necessary.
Can you name a poet you think should be receiving more attention?

Are people familiar with John Yau's poetry in Canada?!! It is something I have only discovered in the past couple of years. I encountered Yau through an article he had written on Cy Twombly. I love Twombly's paintings and Yau managed to express so much I couldn't have elucidated myself regarding his work. From there, I read his poetry and a really awesome anthology he put together of poets writing on the painter Neo Rauch. Also, I was truly impressed with a poem on the train site recently by David Martin. I don't know if I've ever read his poetry anywhere else, but I know I'd like to read more.


Stillleben mit drei Orangen / Still Life With Three Oranges (Cuno Amiet; oil on canvas, 1907-08)

Sherry Johnson

                                       Angles glyphed in softness
to keep the softness from rotting. Somewhere
between form and pleasure; one blindly depthsounds
the length of some pliant, swaying barrier
with the feel of a velvet cordon
snaking a waiting line at the bank. Cold wink
of a metal hasp curved at the end of it. Snap
                      & click & let it slip. Business
is business as they say. As they say. And here
business is oranges. Plated and paint-scaped. Sunk
with such a totality into their names as to sit
nearly umbrageless, echo-less. As the pale pink
money of such little-mouthed flowers, their smudged
work at light-silkening and how they shut up
(so quiet-like) as a group about it.

                                        And what of the punch-card cardboard
postcard’s quadrangle broached counterpoise? Infuses                            
a papery sense into leaves, a beige shrug. The painter’s
equivalency of an area rug. Register a hole-punch
glance just once — then move on. To black area blocked
behind fronds and pot / does not impart a sense of itself
to anything, remains delimited and distant; a knees
-pulled-up-under-the-chin-of-itself black look.

Memento mori for the Eurasian oriole he glimpsed
out of the pleated, flash-shot panes of the east oriel. A screen
                                                                   / screen winging shut and
yellow of feather admixed with split bone, coiled gut; he
angled the thing haphazard on a gash / scraped
once with the trowel and it vanished
as instantly as intimated. Light stayed liquid and brass.

Memento mori for 4 ‘o clock tea. For the jubilant, fleet skiing parties.

Memento mori for the many small lies navigated
in order to accommodate a social ease.

Memento mori for the poor and squalid,
                                                                                 and for those who are without locks.

Memento mori for the oily, fingerprinted scroll of the exhausted
tube of Mummy Brown, made from the chocolate-coloured, ground-up
remains of 6 separate Egyptians. Bury it with funeral rites in the garden.

Memento mori for the late light diffracted on the snow-crusted
peaks, and for the one who looked up, and — in
                                      looking — plummeted a moment down the mountain with it.

Memento mori for those who died in the mines — extracting the pigments.

Memento mori for the question which stood up defiantly
in the soul, bivouacked a brief time in the ribs, made it
all the way up into the throat’s pink vaults — then promptly died there.

Memento mori for the chrome points
flashing between bearings, the lace collars and volatile smell of wood polish.

Memento mori for the tabby found drowned in the cistern. The soft,
                                                                     limp leadenness of it. Its glassy green gaze.

Memento mori for the yellowed ledger
from the last century, with its 5 water-stained, empty pages.

Memento mori for the frame. And for the casual, flaccid
brushwork accentuating cloth’s tooth. This second hand
                                                            feeling hung on the hook

of an August day when absolutely nothing (everything) was immanent. 

Sherry Johnson is the author of two books of poetry, Pale Grace and Hymns to Phenomena. Her poems have appeared in many journals, magazines and anthologies, most recently in The Malahat Review and forthcoming in CV2 and The Iowa Review. Also a film critic, her articles have appeared in Senses of Cinema, MUBI Notebook, the Swedish academic journal Film International and others.