Vallum Poem of the Week: "I Was Here" by Heather L. Kelly

I Was Here

I’ve been here before
I know this air, this smell, this terrain
Pent up clouds release a downpour
Watch drops slide along the pane

Pent up clouds release a downpour
Memory washing away in sheets
I watch drops slide along the pane
Took all my pills for the week

Memory washing away in sheets
Sure I know where the lawnmower is
Took all my pills for the week
I think someone is breaking in and stealing things

Sure I know where the lawnmower is
When are you coming home, Son?
I think someone is breaking in and stealing things
Look at all these little locks, each with its own key!

When are you coming home, Son?
Where was it that you said I was born?
Look at all these little locks, each with its own key!
Nobody calls or comes by anymore

Where was it that you said I was born?
Need your help to work the microwave please
Nobody calls or comes by anymore
Have I been here before?

Heather L. Kelly is a writer, poet, book artist, communications consultant, organizer, and educator. She is the author of four chapbooks; Textianity (2019), Serendipity (2018), Night Toad (2017), and Her Nature (2015). She has lived in Alberta, B.C., and Ontario, and currently lives in Toronto with her husband and aquatic family members. www.AitchkayBooks.com

To view other content published in this issue, 15:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week: "Tower" by Elana Wolff

Tower
At first there was the brain-grey plane.
……………………………………………………………..Warmth arose

as cover. Context dawned elliptically and swiftly: tower,
……………………………………………………………………………………….town:
the intersect of upright/horizontal, portrait/
………………………………………………………………………ground.

Light replaced the anvil with a silver wingtip-touch,
the fluency of flutes.

…………Outwardly, I’m drawn toward the swath of corn-pone gold.
Here there could be anything—
…………………………………………………..all the mirth of rose un-
……………………………………………………………………………..folding mauve
…………………………………………………………………………………………in perfect birth.
……………………….Inwardly, I’m focussed on the sliver—
………………………………………………………………………….gun-grey blue:
the tower, and the old familiar sequence it reflects:

reach and freeze,

…………………………block and dodge.         

………………………………………………..Fey………and fade away.

………….The soul slips into the hidden oubliette.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elana Wolff is a Toronto-based writer of poetry and creative nonfiction, literary editor, and designer and instructor of social art courses. Her poems have recently appeared in EVENT Magazine, Room, Riddle Fence, Acta Victoriana, and White Wall Review. Her nonfiction pieces, “After Kafka in Berlin” and “Franz among the Animals,” are currently featured Eclectica Magazine and GRIFFEL, respectively. Her sixth collection of poems, Swoon, is forthcoming with Guernica Editions in spring 2020.

To view other content published in this issue, 10:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week: "Rupture" by Pamela Porter

Rupture

Pearls in a silver
bowl, half
the clasp, no string.

Among the smaller
stars, fallen
planets.

I was your final dance.
The night and its prophets,
all your eyes watching.

You were a road,
a river; now
you’re spindrift,
washed up.

Where everything,
eventually, is finished.
Boarded up. Abandoned.
Your cities of ruin.

Little cave
of skulls,
all the names for loss.

Ancient lost tongues.
The hundred hearts
pulsing inside the heart.

Thread by thread.
That’s how the world
splits open,
until even the moon
stops eating.

Little runes,
small irritations,
read to me the future’s
palm.

You’d think
we could mend,
could hold
each other, gently.
You’d think.

Pamela Porter’s work has won more than a dozen awards, including the Governor General’s Award and the Vallum Award for Poetry. Her ninth volume of poetry, Defending Darkness, was released in 2016 by Ronsdale Press. Pamela lives near Sidney, BC, with her family and a menagerie of rescued horses, dogs, and cats.

To view other content published in this issue, 14:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week: "Y" by Changming Yuan

 

Y

………….within the temple of your
yellowish skin, you enjoy
…….meditating within the shape of
a wishbone, inside the broken wing
……………of an oriental bird strayed, or
in a larger sense, you look like
……..the surfacing tail of a pacific whale
………….who yells low, but whose voice reaches afar
far beyond a whole continent, to a remote village
………near the yellow river, where you used to sunbathe
…………rice stems, reed leaves, cotton skeletons
with a fork made of a single horn-shaped twig
…………when you were a barefooted country boy
…………………………………………on the other side of this new world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yuan Changming started to learn the English Alphabet at age nineteen and published monographs on translation before leaving China. With a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations, eight chapbooks (most recent one titled East Idioms [cyberwit.net]), & publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) BestNewPoemsOnline, among 1,629 others across 44 countries.   

 

 

 

 

 

To view other content published in this issue, 11:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week: "Olives" by Steven Ross Smith

 

Olives

It’s always the springy stir
plan, plant, hope
slipped into earth-skin’s slopey pores
(soon to be cellular mirrors)
glinty, green, spring flares
sprung from soft mossy pads
as you slice on the chopping board

This truth’s a bit musky for most
(like the unwashed uncle
invited for fettucini champignon)

“Tsk, tsk” or “snicker-snicker” go the guests, or “ah-h” their
claims or denials

“Who planted this row?” they ask, draining

“How lovely.”

Truth in the furrows, the veins,
the answer lost
in the pasta’s kerfuffle.

“How fresh.”

Chase around the gleaming glass
spear an olive in a vodka martini.
Does it have a red heart?

Soon enough the shoots will show

“How lush.”

The leafing out

The membrane is thin, contains all life

“How” says uncle “al dente.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steven Ross Smith, over three decades, has crafted the innovative multi-book poetic series fluttertongue, now six books long. He is at work on the seventh book. His work, performative and page-based, appears in print, audio and video in Canada, USA, and abroad. In 2005 his poetry collection fluttertongue 3: disarray won Book of the Year at the Saskatchewan Book Awards and his collaboration Pliny’s Knickers won the 2006 bpNichol Chapbook Award. He is the 2018-20 Banff Poet Laureate. Find him at fluttertongue.ca

 

Vallum Poem of the Week: "Ignite" by Evelyn Lau

Ignite

For weeks you had the sensation
of all your pores opening, hundreds of thousands
of grains in your skin’s surface,
tiny apertures blooming.
*
Here in Olympic Village, the day is chemical bright.
The sun ignites the seagull’s wild glare,
the windows of the highrises stacked around the creek.
The sheen of his upper lip.
*
Beneath the bottle-green water, metal and glass.
*
Last week a former student
recognized you on the street, seized your hand
in both of hers, apologized for not staying—
I’m on a day pass, they won’t let me out
of the psych ward again if I’m late!
Her camel coat and tidy hair distracted you
from her shiny, staring eyes.

*

He spent a month in the psych ward,
gazing into the wall’s blank page. The line blurred
between wake and sleep, life and death.
*
You swallow more meds, sleep less and less.
A lone bird trilling into the dark
startles you with its small hope.
*
He doesn’t remember where he used to live,
just the sickness of vertigo. The precipice view.
You could rescue yourself when you were younger
but now even stairs are treacherous.
*
The tourists circle the seawall
with maps unfolded, giddy from the sun
and saltwater. He has the longest lashes
you’ve seen on a man, and already
you are following him as if he knew anything.

 

 

 

Evelyn Lau is the Vancouver author of twelve books, including seven volumes of poetry.  Her work has received the Milton Acorn Award, the Pat Lowther Award, a National Magazine Award and a Governor-General’s nomination;  her poems have been published in hundreds of journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry and Best Canadian Poetry.  Evelyn served as Vancouver’s Poet Laureate from 2011-2014.  Her most recent collection is Tumour (Oolichan, 2016);  her eighth collection, Pineapple Express, is due out next year with Anvil Press.

 

To view other content published in this issue, 13:2, please visit Vallum’s website.

 

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

 

Vallum Poem of the Week: "Unbearable Paradise" by Jennifer Cave

Unbearable Paradise

self was a song
almost coming to mind
in beginning
to be able
to sing it

walking through
dark forest
light breaking canopy
until a clearing

alone yet not feeling so
the context of the journey
a mystery
in the absence of remembering

no word for forgetting
a need
to advance
to find more

another clearing
another forest
another

Jennifer Cave lives in White Rock, British Columbia. She was born in Vancouver in 1966. She has published poems in issues 7:1 and 15:1 of Vallum Magazine.

Jennifer Cave can be found on Facebook here.

To view other content published in this issue, 15:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week: "Husk" by Emily Mercurio


Husk

A night rain beats the windows,
pushes a tree to the ground.
I am writing you a poem
on curls of garlic paper.

The poem rasps, odorous,
a minced head pressed
by the side of a knife.
It rains and rains in my kitchen.

Heavy drops collect on the ceiling,
skitter down the walls, splash the stove.
The hot oil cracks, splashes back.
The burner flashes blue in the breeze.

The oven’s black chamber
fills with rain. The door leaks.
An acid water, it could dissolve knives,
given enough time.

The garlic husks float on the flood,
white sails with narrow veins.
The smell never fades. Underwater
the ink melts, clouds itself away.

Emily Rosello Mercurio teaches creative writing and academic composition at Cornell University (M.F.A, 2018). She has served as an Assistant Editor for EPOCH and as the Literary Editor for Rushlight. Her work has appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, Puerto del Sol, Vallum, and other journals. She is a 2017 winner of the Bermuda Triangle Prize.

To view other content published in this issue, 15:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week: "Stick" by George Sipos

Stick

And in the end, or almost, to be abroad alone,
by unknown ways, in the gathering night,
with a stick.
—Samuel Beckett

Like that, which even now
you cling to,
phrases of old songs, old jokes
you once thought unseemly
whose punch lines tether you now
in the dispersing night
to that which …

Or the tap tap
of words, the clink
of everything discarded
like blue tanks of oxygen among rocks,
so much breath lost on the descent.
But breath still
all the same

Or these green beans
your hand knows even now
to slice into three,
days of the week a blunt knife
dividing day in no particular order
from night—each one thing
from every other

There were birds once
among the rocks, or on a road,
their black wings,
each its round eye, each
its beak
like that


something sharp
you knew you wouldn’t forget, years ago

and didn’t,
then


George Sipos is a retired arts administrator, former bookseller and one time teacher living on Salt Spring Island. He has published two volumes of poetry, both from Goose Lane Editions, and a prose memoir called The Geography of Arrival from Gaspereau Press. This last book was a finalist for the Charles Taylor Prize for creative non-fiction in 2011. For a number of years he was a caregiver for his elderly mother, who eventually died at age 95 after some years of progressive dementia. “Stick” arises from this experience. 

To view other content published in this issue, 15:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Current” by Kevin Irie

Current

The sludge-slow flow of a runaway current
opens a path we can’t continue, tugs
at what no hand can pull along.

It’s how even water loses memory,
travels a direction it cannot find,
a body let loose of its own skin
to separate itself from what it belongs to—
depth, surface,
flow,
source.

Keep going,
it says, without a word

as it takes the plunge to free what was form
into no shape it knew
it could be.

Kevin Irie has published poetry in Canada, the States, Australia, and England. His poems have been broadcast on CBC Radio and have been translated into Spanish, French, and Japanese. His book, Viewing Tom Thomson: A Minority Report (Frontenac House) was a finalist for the Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Award as well as the Toronto Book Award. He lives in Toronto.

To view other content published in this issue, 15:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.