Vallum Poem of the Week: “#16 Hastings” by Jennifer Zilm

#16 Hastings

While Downtown is beginning
to raise up its lazy grace
from the curve of Cordova and Carrall—
the bottle depot is closed for business.
And at Main and Hastings—that crux
of intersection—
street lamps are dying. Every eye
half opened, baffled by light
thinking
apples v. oranges
a perfectly valid comparison.
The bus doors—curtains on a moving stage—
shutter open on a body
—a god sized hole
opening to ascent of the injection
under a scab of fog—
who begins to rehearse that established
pretense: searching for change in broken pockets.
And Lucio said
that nothing benefits life more than
a witness. So record
that old ataxic supplication:

“Driver?
Could I just get a ride
down to Hawks?”
Then watch wings of steel and rubber
enclose the body of the voice
while Downtown is beginning
to lift up its lazy grace—
the eastbound bus
travelling you deeper into darkness.

Jennifer Zilm has published two poetry collections Waiting Room (Book*hug, 2016) and The Missing Field (Guernica, 2018), which was shortlisted for the Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award. She lives in the Greater Surrey Regional District (East Vancouver), works in in libraries and is an expert bus rider. 

To view other content published in this issue, 9:2, 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.

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Vallum Poem of the Week: “Like Someone Asleep in a Cinema” by Mary Jo Bang

Bang, Mary Jo (Matt Valentine) (1).jpg

Like Someone Asleep in a Cinema

Like someone asleep in a cinema who wakes to lean over into your space
and mock your open-eyed wonder. That’s how it was then, the eye
movements of others tracking my every reaction on the stage that ends
by design sans everything. When everything is over the shape of the moon
will still feign a bathtub boat in the underworld, at rest on its side. I’ll be
the flower I’ve always been, held by a woman wearing a hat, half-veil,
half-opened lips, the whites of her eyes matching the moon as the sun
reflects off its surface. The pockmark above my right eye will also match.
I so wanted to be stone but never achieved it. Wanted to lie to get
what I wanted, without wondering, What will happen if I lie? My face still
stings from the hand that slapped it. My teeth taste of some Naptha-brand
soap. Every act is literalized. The clock no longer flips one to two,
time is a hissing is. Lying is now in fashion. Lie down with me, people say,
when they hold someone back from the edge of that insane remembering.
What floats out of the mouth is the suds of tomorrow since I will never be
clean as long as I live. We watch unrealizable shadows and make something of them—an eye watching the lashes fall.

Mary Jo Bang is the author of eight books of poems—including A Doll For Throwing, Louise in Love, The Last Two Seconds, and Elegy, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award—and a translation of Dante’s Inferno, illustrated by Henrik Drescher. She has received a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship. She teaches creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis. Her translation of Dante’s Purgatorio is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2021.

To view other content published in this issue, 14:2, 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: “I Believe I Exist” by Billy-Ray Belcourt

I Believe I Exist

There are many ways to consume other people.
          —Gwen Benaway

Eradicate a concept, for example. 

I am a thick fog, stained by what I gobble up

—something to weather.

I am a sticky dance floor on which a poem has been written. 

It is a Saturday night,

so I get stickier and stickier until I am not a dance floor anymore. 

Something death drops. 

YAAAAAAAAAAS!

Someone drops dead,

but he is not white so no one is there to see it. 

Except everyone is there to see it,

they are just too busy 

thinking about how much they have changed for the better to open
their fucking eyes. 

I am a drag queen named Commodity Fetishism.

I perform to Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money”

except by “Money” I mean “Body”

—I am an abstraction of an abstraction of an abstraction and so on.

I believe I exist. 

One cannot be left hungrier than that.

I am a glass half-shattered.

What is a ghost to a ghost but photocopied pity?

A world made for corrugated sensation is a dead world at best.

I am put into a stupor by your smothering opacity.

I want language of a no place, 

but no language is placeless.

A not-claim hoard at least a small bit of that which it rebuffs.

I believe I exist.

One cannot be left hungrier than that.

Billy-Ray Belcourt is from the Driftpile Cree Nation and lives in Edmonton. His books are This Wound Is A World (Frontenac 2017), winner of the 2018 Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize, NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes From The Field (House of Anansi Press 2019), and A History Of My Brief Body (Hamish Hamilton 2020)

To view other content published in this issue, 15:2, 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: “I Want to Write a Book Called War Dreams” by Elisa Gabbert

I Want to Write a Book Called War Dreams

I’ve been having the most spectacular dreams.
As riveting as real life, but more vivid.

I used to smell nothing in my dreams,
but now, I smell smoke.

I once saw a film
about how they make fireworks.

A girl sits in a wooden booth,
wearing headphones and sketching.

They use classical music
to finesse the explosions.

Why have there been no
advancements in the technology?

I’ve got spectacular views of great ships
destroying each other in my war dreams.

In fact, I want this to happen.
In fact, I am making it happen,

like Ouija.
Sleep-hit me.

Insomnia is the interlude
when I feel most rested.

The singular joy of misery.
Of misery of quietude.

Et tu, Brute.
Chopin’s Etudes.

One year, in the gardens here,
the lindens didn’t bloom.

Any faded and falling-apart
tennis ball is a part

of my own past. That one shade
of yellow-green.

Elisa Gabbert is the author of four collections of poetry, essays, and criticism: The Word PrettyL’Heure Bleue, or the Judy PoemsThe Self Unstable; and The French Exit

To view other content published in this issue, 14:2, 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: “11th Letter Musings” by Aisha Walker

 

11th Letter Musings

luckily, this experience is fleeting

blending,
the walls come down

black spots blurring grey
face down in a white phone comfort station

suddenly I feel okay

looking out, looking up and seeing grey

now, I feel okay

finishing lines best places to start over

depersonalization and de-realization—
looks like rain again today. Time for that reset
looks like rain again … time for that
dissociative anaesthesia

finishing lines are the best places to start over

looking up, looking out and seeing

face down in a white phone comfort station

black spots blurring.

I know where to draw the line.

 

Aisha Walker lives in Winnipeg with his wife, Jayden, and 6-year old daughter, Marcelina. He has had a deep love and appreciation for poetry his whole life, and finally began writing his own in 2014. His most recent work has appeared in RoomContemporary Verse 2 and Vallum Magazine.

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: “David (a)” by Stephen Brown

Stephen Brown

 

 

David (a)

UV light, via sunlight; all night 
psychogeography.  A leftover half glass of house red
gone rosé, just sunned enough to saignée:
so it’s thin blood in a glass in this sawhorse kitchen.
Something nodular, or slightly nodular;
with a slight charcoal inclusion, going grey
to wet graphite and so onepointed you
can agglutinate it with the ‘we’ under a glass sun, 

so we can gel.                                                                      in conurbation

I saw Brahman in a milk aisle in japan
imitation (there was no end to the aisle)
or the sign and its likeness, something 
that from a far way off looked like flies
was not flies themselves but their likeness
and I was not I in reality, but my likeness

the woman                                the man
bagging tomatos,                       weighing tomatos

not themselves
                                                             but in likeness

My mind in conurbation, the Brahman
in the battered shrimp an epiphenomenalism:
an awareness awakened or an awakened awareness
either / or
a full anecdotal externality in economics
              leaning against the push cart, in animation
with a stalk of cilantro caught in my cartwheel
with Brahman in a reciprocating conurbation.

Metastasis, browning at the curb’s edge,
and leaves, and the reiterating brown on brown
of them in displaced metastasis. 
Some ambient consciousness coming down
            Some mauvaise foi, some false consciousness, 
settling in, not in the chava stacking cans
                   in displaced metastasis, la clandestina, fitting
in so well only le flâneur may see her, in gestell.

Nor in the whitechapel                           Nor in el mercado
fruit wagon                                           where you get
with a two pan balance                          galangal and acacia koa
downtown                                            in trade
barrio antiguo,                                      Monterrey  for Campeche axiote.

So you walk the city because you 
need to walk, to debuild the day, each day, 
walk thru neighbourhoods debuilding, 
going thru your day and the day before,
debuilding, down into old neighbourhoods 
with high sidewalks and walls of crumbling
sandstone, in a dérive, walking, debuilding.

Down along Santa Lucia in a drift,
debuilding, not a canal in reality save in its 
likeness as if, a private garden with a real
proportionality constant; bereft, debuilding
so much depends upon, these days, metastasis                debuilding
or as it may apply to Jahiliyyah in general
have a sit on a slab of wood akin to pinewood.

Fall asleep there, on newpapers, at midday.
Feeding the pigeons near your feet, à la flâneur,
drifting, debuilding, or staring at something where
once there was something to stare at, but where 
now there is only spectacle.  In the replica of a park
that looks like the same park in another city, 
the spectacle is a spectacle, with tended gardens.

Walls of failing sandstone, tended gardens
poured concrete pressed with brick moulds, 
ornamental castiron streetlamps, gated parks
the spectacle of an eden in fixed prefabrication
or as it may apply to Jahilliyyah in general, 
contrived instances of hypnotic spectacle,
           spectacle in the workplace, on cubicle walls.

 

Stephen Brown is a Canadian poet living in Mexico City. His first book,
drunken dumbshow, was published in 2008 by slushprint press. His
second book, psicogeografía, was published in Mexico City in a Spanish/
English edition by Textofilia in April, 2019. As a visual artist, his poems
have been curated and displayed as wall installations in Xalapa and
Mexico City. He currently teaches English as a Second Language at
Mexico City College.

To view other content published in this issue, 10:2, 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: “Mosquée de Paris” by Shadab Zeest Hashsmi

Shadab Zeest Hashmi

 

Mosquée de Paris

Ablution water,
opal
on a worshipper’s
slipper left by the doorstep:
She will travel far
and return before its sparkle has dropped.

Gold and ink on parchment
dyed blue
speaks of duty to the window and the wayfarer.

Light caught on pink marble
swirls into an open ear.

Eggs in outstretched hands
of an old woman in Kabul
For the widows of New York
The American author takes them trembling
Insha’Allah

If there were no kindness
conversation would be useless,
Rumi says. His guides:
A goldsmith, a desert wanderer, a scribe,

Stitched to silence,
you and I wander the same places,
wearing zipped shoes.

 

Shadab Zeest Hashmi is the author of poetry collections Kohl and Chalk and Baker of Tarifa. Her latest work, Ghazal Cosmopolitan, is a book of essays and poems exploring the culture and craft of the ghazal form and has been praised by poet Marilyn Hacker as “a marvelous interweaving of poetry, scholarship, literary criticism and memoir.” Winner of the San Diego Book Award for poetry, the Nazim Hikmet Prize and multiple Pushcart nominations, Zeest Hashmi’s poetry has been translated into Spanish, Turkish, and Urdu, and has appeared in anthologies and journals worldwide, most recently in McSweeney’s In the Shape of a Human Body I am Visiting the Earth. She has taught in the MFA program at San Diego State University as a writer-in-residence and her work has been included in the Language Arts curriculum for grades 7-12 (Asian American and Pacific Islander women poets) as well as college courses in Creative Writing and the Humanities.

To view other content published in this issue, 9:1, 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!

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Vallum Poem of the Week: “Ragged” by Ricki Cummings

 

Ragged

 Our sentence is up.

Grant Morrison, The Invisibles

This is a working prototype

of 4D printing—printing in the fourth

dimension. Printing spacetime. Writing

in the past so               Future You

   can hold it in your hand.

We asked for spacetime as filament,

like ABS or PLA extruded to

anywhere, anywhen.

We said: Get on it, science!

We said: Get on it, magick!

See who gets there first.

Instead we have ink.

It’s the accidental happenstance

of the universe            poking through.

God from the machine.

Printing an object, an idea,

where and when you want it

is a little           far off,             but this is a start.

The best evidence we have against

time travel, against printing in            4D,

is that we are still here,

that time and memory and ideas

and people       still exist, that we

haven’t written ourselves

out of the past.

 

Ricki Cummings is writer currently living in Chicago. Their work has been published in Vallum, Calibanonline, Solstice Literary Magazine, and Columbia Poetry Review, and has been shortlisted for Vallum’s Award for Poetry. They have just received their MFA in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago.

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!

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Vallum Poem of the Week: “Leap Day Birthday” by Adam Scheffler

adam scheffler

 

Leap Day Birthday

Today, a bright one in February,
sun made it down almost the whole way
into the courtyard. Knucklebones of tiny trees.
Arc of shadow on brick and glass
as something enormous comes near, and
decides to withdraw, peering out of the
vertiginous blue, as it does sometimes.
No, the off-years are better,
the feeling something’s special, different, but the clue only
no worry that it means anything
that it will be solved, going from prologue
to epilogue all at once, a better marker this
absence, this instant of midnight which ingests
a day’s vanishing, this invisible hummingbird,
which alights on my life for an instant and is gone.

 

Adam Scheffler grew up in California, received his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and his PhD in English from Harvard. His first book of poems – A Dog’s Life – was selected by Denise Duhamel as the winner of the 2016 Jacar Press Book Contest. His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from The Yale Review, The American Poetry Review, The Cincinnati Review, Rattle, Plume, Barrow Street, Antioch Review, Sewanee Review, Verse Daily, Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, and many other venues. He teaches in the Harvard College Writing Program.

To view other content published in this issue, 13:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

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Vallum Poem of the Week: “No Paradise Here” by Mary Ann Moore

Mary Ann Moore

No Paradise Here

In the refuse pile behind the taverna, what is discarded and forgotten,
a snake appears from beneath a flattened cardboard box.
No paradise here, where tomatoes rot, geraniums spring from rusted olive oil tins.
The snake had green eyes like yours I tell my mother later.

I dream of fire and a horned devil; snakes around my feet of stone.

In Herakleion, cats under the small blue chair and at my feet,
I sit at a table eating calamari and squash blossoms surrounded by women
calling ourselves Minoan priestesses, cats on our heads,
snakes spiralling skyward in each of our hands.

I dream of bulrushes in water, priestesses wearing long skirts,
snake-entwined.

I cannot describe the shedding of my conventions,
what is underneath,
what is revealed in the alchemical transformation.
What clings ferociously to my naked skin.

I dream a skin casing hanging from a tree.

 

Mary Ann Moore is a poet and writer from Vancouver Island, B.C. whose work has appeared in literary journals, anthologies,
and several chapbooks edited by Patrick Lane. Her collection of poetry is entitled Fishing for Mermaids (Leaf Press). Mary Ann
has been leading women’s writing circles for over twenty years and offers a mentoring program called Writing Home: A Whole Life
Practice
. She writes a blog at apoetsnanaimo.ca.

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

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