Vallum Poem of the Week: "Rue Barrée" by Esmé Pine

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Rue Barrée

Our street is an open gash, old plumbing exposed. New city pipes,
     like burlapped trees
laid out on the curb to be planted. Pipes so wide I could climb into each one
and build me a nest of hollow concrete. In there it would be quiet.

A digger is idle, a mountain of gravel will refill the hole come summer.
For now, a layer of snow interrupts the traffic cones and springtime work,
the shallow pit calling for snow angels, or local wound exploration.

All around are detours and railings, orange signs that warn against bridging
the gulf between this corner and the next. Pedestrians stare down into the
     drop off, and
picture all the cavities beneath a city, if anything can heal us from collapse.

Finally the hoses are aligned—a tap in front of every house. Our valve is left
     open,
and water explodes over fences, spraying slush, threatening to drown the
     sprouting daffodils.
If April rains enough, melts it all down, I will learn to swim the canyon to
     cross our street.

For now, I think of the ambulance stuck at the intersection. What is your
     emergency?
Our road cannot be sutured, we are stranded, awaiting technicians.

 

 

 

 

 

Esmé Pine holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Concordia, where she minored in Art History. She is partway through a Zoom version of the Master’s in Teaching and Learning program at McGill. She was once an intern at Vallum and is thrilled to have this poem featured on the blog. She is a settler born and raised in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal)

 

To view other content published in this issue, 17:1 “HOME”, 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: "Political Poem" by Stuart Ross

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Political Poem

This is a political poem.
Shortly I will allude
to some political things.
Not yet, though.
First: a one-winged bat
is dead on my sidewalk.
Then: the lake is crispy today.
Also: the man in the wizard gown
drove by in a Honda.
Now for the political part.
Right after I get some Triscuits.
I like them with soy cheese
and avocado. Everything
is political. “Even that piece
of chewed gum on the ground
with pebbles stuck in it?” Yes,
even that piece of chewed gum.
“So when you were saying
you were going to allude to
something political, that
was a trick, you were already
doing it.” Eat the rich.

 

 

 

 

 

Stuart Ross is a writer, editor, writing teacher, and publisher. He is the winner of the 2019 Harbourfront Festival Prize for his contributions to Canadian literature, as well as the ReLit Prize for Short Fiction, the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry, and more. Stuart’s 20 books of fiction, poetry, and essays include Motel of the Opposable Thumbs; A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent; Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew; and Buying Cigarettes for the Dog. Stuart was the 2010 Writer in Residence at Queen’s University and will be the Winter 2021 Writer in Residence at University of Ottawa. Through his imprints at Mansfield Press (2007–2017) and Anvil Press (2018–present), he has mentored many first-time authors and worked with dozens of mid-career and senior authors. His poetry has been translated into French, Nynorsk, Slovene, Russian, Spanish, and Estonian. Stuart lives in Cobourg, Ontario.

 

To view other content published in this issue, 12:2 “HUMOUS”, 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: "Brief History of Mirrors" by Karen Schindler

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BRIEF HISTORY OF MIRRORS


I. Pythagoras

They say he has a magic mirror.
Held up to the moon it shows him
the future, discoveries waiting. He sees
numbers are the origin of music, music

the soul of all things.     My face is altered
by polished kitchen surfaces, the glass cabinet
at the end of the hall, my bedroom window
when night falls. In the wardrobe mirror

I follow the arc of elbow across my body
as I pull my bow against
the cello strings. Each motion a reference
to the invisible lover standing behind me.


II. Russian Village

Midnight, a girl takes a torch and a mirror
to an empty hut, sets the mirror opposite
the open door and waits for the likeness
of her future husband to appear.

I place a bowl of water at my door, set a knife
in the bowl so evil spirits will see their souls pierced
and flee. From below my open window
whispers rise like underwater music.


III. Nostradamus

He stares into a pool of water. Visions
come to him in complete quatrains.
He says, listen when I say this is true—
bind yourself to the day, the light

of the sun, the brightness of the moon.
I leave, a shadow slipping under the door,
drive to the house of a boy I used to know,
park on the dark street, look up.


IV. da Vinci, Kepler

The first believes the artist’s soul is a mirror,
taking the colour of all it reflects. The second
studies comets, thunder, falling leaves,
concludes each thing contains all others,

the earth itself is a gentle mirror, the mind
is full of windows.     I balance my left hand
with my bow, shoulders centred, wrist loose.
This is what I know—morning

on my mirror, the perfect pitch
of an open chord, ease of a shift
down the cello string like something slipping
out of its skin.

 

 

 

 

 

Karen Schindler is the publisher of Baseline Press, a micro-press in its tenth year of publishing Canadian poets in hand-sewn poetry chapbooks. In 2021, Baseline Press will be embarking on a new partnership with the recently restructured Insomniac Press, to become its poetry chapbook imprint. In 2017, Karen stepped down as a managing director of the Poetry London Reading Series after serving over ten years. Her poetry and book reviews have appeared in journals including The Malahat Review, Canthius, GUEST, and The Fiddlehead. She has also worked as a chemical engineer, a systems analyst, and a high-school mathematics teacher.

 

To view other content published in this issue, 10:2 “REFLECTIONS”, 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: "Shock & Awe" by Michael J. Shepley

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SHOCK & AWE

it would have been
a hot holy shock
to have been some
astronaut/cosmonaut
looking out a deep
space portal at sharp
and not scintillating
pinprick stars and
suddenly have a
huge fat rainbow
Koi go swimming by


                              011519

 

 

 

 

 

Michael J. Shepley is a writer. He lives (and works) in Sacramento, CA, USA. In the realm of poetry some 60 plus small lit “sources” have published his work. In the last year his poems have appeared in/@ Vallum, CQ, Trajectory,
Tipton Journal, FineLines, Creosote, & Common Ground.

 

To view other content published in this issue, 16:2 “FEAR”, 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: "Monoeuvre" by Frances Boyle

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Photo by John W. MacDonald

 

 

 

MANOEUVRE

Don’t pause, don’t let the momentum
fail to carry you forward. Keep rhythm,
urgency fueled by the tick-tack, thud
and reverb, metronome footstep music.
Feel of a follower, slow motion, filmic.
Movement seen from corner of your eye,

dark car pulling away, pale fingers dialing
down the light. How to know if you’re awake
or dreaming? Pinch me! they cry in movies
but you always feel the pinch; too-tight skirts
that restrict your steps so you can’t run, couldn’t
run, but you don’t know why you’d need to run.

You don’t dare disbelieve their urgent
deceit, their flippant lies but rather question
your own memory, your own sanity. Gaslight
turned low, there’s a gasp in the dark you’re sure
you heard, a silenced scream. They tell you
you’re lost, but they won’t help your feet

find the path, so you slip on scrubby grass
and loose gravel down the hillside, uproot
weeds, bend stripling branches as you grab,
afraid, for what might be the only truth you know.
You try to let go, calm your hammering heart
your seesaw breath. Find a place where your mind

feels inside itself. But you sense heavy breathing
beyond your peripheral view. Shadows
ominous, full of menace. That’s all
in your head they say, all in your
fevered imagination. Turn your head.

 

 

 

 

 

Frances Boyle is the author of two poetry books, most recently This White Nest (Quattro Books, 2019), as well as Seeking Shade, a short story collection (The Porcupine’s Quill, 2020) and Tower, a Rapunzel-inspired novella (Fish Gotta Swim Editions, 2018). Recent and forthcoming publications include work in Best Canadian Poetry 2020, Blackbird, Dreich, Prairie Fire, Event, Feral, and Parentheses Journal. For more, visit www.francesboyle.com and follow Frances at @francesboyle19 on Twitter and Instagram.

 

To view other content published in this issue, 16:2 “FEAR”, 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: "Self-Portrait, With a Grassy Husk," by rob mclennan

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Photo: Christine McNair

 

 

 

Self-Portrait, With a Grassy Husk,

1. A change of temperature in Vienna

Baroque gardens, as her father said. You take
your habit from your hat. The gardener

roams. Compose notes like pollen.


2. Meticulous uncertainty

Is the only possible site. Epiphanies,
we draw from string,

a bit of cloud. Formations
shaped in clay.


3. Moon, a beehive

A mossy phrase, the tree-line
grows. A teetering

calm.


4. Saturate,

Hard-bare soil. An arsenal of mulch.
What’s the worst we could do?

Good night, my heart.

To sample, then. To
know.

 

 

 

 

 

Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. He is the author of three works of fiction—white (Mercury Press, 2007), Missing Persons (Mercury Press, 2009) and The Uncertainty Principle: stories, (Chaudiere Books, 2014)—as well as two collections of literary essays, a tourist guide to Ottawa and more than two dozen full-length poetry titles, the most recent of which include A halt, which is empty (Mansfield Press, 2019) and Life sentence, (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019), with the book of smaller forthcoming in 2022 from University of Calgary Press. He won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012 and 2017. In March, 2016, he was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour.

An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, Touch the Donkey (touchthedonkey.blogspot.com) and periodicities: a journal of poetry and poetics (periodicityjournal.blogspot.com). He is editor of my (small press) writing day, and an editor/managing editor of many gendered mothers. He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at robmclennan.blogspot.com

He is currently working on, among other projects, a novel. 

 

To view other content published in this issue, 13:1 “OPEN THEME”, 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: "The Invisible Life of a Pair of Discarded Green Gloves in a Painting" by Gill McEvoy

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The Invisible Life of a Pair of Discarded Green Gloves in a Painting

Have these gloves just been peeled
off the hands, cast aside
on an unseen chair?
They hang in the painting,
one glove pointing down,
finger extended,
the other bent and wrinkled
at the wrist.

Maybe invisible hands
are still inside
gesturing at nothing
but the black air?
(How like catching yourself
in the mirror this is,
thinking it’s someone else
inside that skin.)
One unseen hand perhaps
props up an unseen chin,
the other stabs out patterns
on a table’s rim?

Their crinkled silk’s
alive with gesture—
what these gloves are doing
(I see it now)
is arguing with other
(invisible) gloves
and from the way they’re posed
I think they’ve scored a point.

Any minute now they’ll light a cigarette…

 

 

 

 

 

Gill McEvoy won the 2015 Michael Marks Award with “The First Telling” (Happenstance Press). Two further pamphlets from Happenstance Press. Two collections from Cinnamon Press: “The Plucking Shed”, 2010 and “Rise”, 2013. 2012 Hawthornden Fellow. Forthcoming from Hedgehog Press in November 2020 “Are You Listening?”. Gill lives in Devon, UK, where she is a keen member of ‘Bee-wild’, a group involved in planting locally for bees and other insects.

 

To view other content published in this issue, 10:2 “REFLECTIONS”, 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: "Butterfly" by Tazi Rodrigues

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Butterfly

remember me like this:

limbs swinging, voice singing,
me swimming through the world
with fierce butterfly, arms-only,
slowest in the pool but
damn well determined to make it.

remember how when you talked
to me, you never knew where the
conversation would go,
if we would talk about mars or
cannibalism or chimpanzees
or the way the lakes freeze
in our homes. remember how i
would always talk about my home,
which is not important enough
to be interesting or unimportant enough
to be interesting.
remember how i danced with
so much gusto you wondered how i ever sat still.
remember me running, everywhere,
running because i needed to be somewhere,
running because i needed to stay awake,
running because i liked the feeling of wind
in my hair and we lived in a forest,
so the closest i got to the wind was when i ran.
remember me being fascinated by the forest,
by the bay, by the stars, by the way you laughed.
remember me trying to make sense

 

 

 

 

 

Tazi Rodrigues is a poet and biology student from Treaty 1 territory (Winnipeg, MB). Her work, which is rooted in transit, has most recently appeared in CV2 and Scrivener Creative Review

 

To view other content published in this issue, 15:2 “THE CHASE”, 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: "Storm on the Mountain" by Tom Wayman

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STORM ON THE MOUNTAIN

To exist amid
specks of snow
that descend to swirl
in an opening through the forest
while far aloft, the summit ridge
is blurred to
a white storm

To witness
the merciless beauty of these ranges
in such weather

To be abased before
the might that once heaved granite
skyward, cloaked slopes and valley
with evergreens, that now
tears at this world
with blizzard and ice

To weigh stepping into
this perilous grandeur: to struggle upwards
to the high country, to merge
with mist and wind-driven snow

To have been born into
the power that has prevailed, winter
upon winter, that will prevail
without my thrilling fear, my
insignificance

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Wayman‘s most recent poetry collection is Watching a Man Break a Dog’s Back: Poems for a Dark Time, out from B.C.’s Harbour Publishing this March just in time for the pandemic. His selected essays, If You’re Not Free at Work, Where Are You Free: Literature and Social Change (Guernica Editions, 2018), was a finalist for the Poetry Foundation’S 2019 Pegasus Award for poetry criticism. New poems of his are forthcoming in Cold Mountain Review, The Hudson Review and The New Quarterly. A Vancouver micropress, Alfred Gustav Press, will publish a chapbook of his in late fall, The House Dreaming in the Snow. He lives in the Selkirk Mountains of southeastern B.C.

 

To view other content published in this issue, 16:2 “Fear”, 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: "Magpies" by Ashley-Elizabeth Best

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MAGPIES

Last night I had a dream.

We were standing inside the entrance of a grocery
store, pumpkins surrounded us
you kept saying something
but only magpies
came from the dark stretch
of your mouth.

I’ll blame the concussion
ever since that ladder
fell on my head I’ve been dreaming
of a life that could never have existed.

My parents still together
you
still alive and rubbing the arch
of my foot after a hard day at work.

I would have you know I look fine this year.
Age suits me well. I still look young
but maybe a little weathered.

Here is the betrayal: my life isn’t so bad now,
this future where no one I know will recognize your name.

 

 

 

 

 

Ashley-Elizabeth Best is from Kingston, Ontario. Her work has been published internationally in CV2, Ambit Magazine, The Literary Review of Canada, The Columbia Re-view, and Glasgow Review of Books, among many others. In 2015 she was a finalist for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, and her debut collection of poetry was published with ECW Press.

 

To view other content published in this issue, 17:1 “Home”, 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.