Vallum Poem of the Week: “Tanka” by Paul-Georges Leroux

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Sous l’œil vif-argent
Tes pensées s’accélèrent
Fresques zébrées d’or

Crépitent soudain
Tes paroles Perséides


Paul-Georges Leroux has published poetry and short stories. As a screenwriter he wrote and co-wrote both documentaries and fictions. He lived in Iceland, France and Greece. His poems appeared in poetry magazines such as Mouvances, DesRails & Vallum, etc. His works include, Runes, The Whales are waiting, Les Clefs du monde, Mon ami Diogène. He lives in Montreal.

To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “All Is Lost in the Blink of an Eye” by Darryl Salach

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All Is Lost in the Blink of an Eye

Once spaceships were built that could fly faster than the speed of light, a day on board would be equivalent to a year on Earth.
-Stephen Hawking

My body is an earthquake. Tremors
and muscle spasms interrogate
the forbidden fruit. Circular weight
shift onto the commode minutes
before the phone rings. I have no
one to blame but myself. Wiping
away the evidence is inconsequential.
The old girl claimed the bedroom was
her favourite place. Housekeepers
make the strangest roommates. Life
savings lost in the blink of an eye.
Lightning strikes in the distance
followed by thunder and the doorbell
rings. The deliveryman acts on instinct
claiming not to be a hero. He felt she
looked scared. It was simply time to act.
Prescriptions needed to be filled.
Thats because according to Einstein as
objects accelerate through space time slows
down around them. Violating the fundamental
rule that cause comes before effect.

(Posted in memory of the wonderful poet Darryl Salach.)


Darryl Salach‘s work has been published in many journals, anthologies, and newspapers, including the Globe and Mail, The New York Quarterly, ditch, The Puritan, Open Book Toronto, GULCH: An Assemblage of Poetry and Prose, MESS: The Hospital Anthology and Jack Layton: Art in Action.

To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website.

thoughts on desire

Desire is not just something we want. The ancients would associate fire and longing with it, and not just treat it like an objective psychological term. “You can have all that you desire,” whispers a sly Luciferian voice. And usually it’s about money, wealth, sex, or other materialistic concerns. With desire, comes pleasure. But not necessarily happiness.

Wanting things is basically our world’s motivating force, mostly because it drives the power of capitalism and exchange. And to create “desires” is a very well-thought out and masterfully-executed plan of the superpowers. Or power on any level. Often true desire is eclipsed by the many jargons and opinions that circulate like a bad habit. To desire something, or someone, is not a simple matter. And immediate gratification usually devalues the desire and ends up by killing it and moving on to the next one.

To find true desire is to look into one’s heart and hear it flutter. What makes one truly happy and at peace? What are the things that clutter or debase this pure joy that, for instance, a small child feels so easily when it encounters the smallest wonder? “We are too much with the world,” and with fashion, and with hate. To find true desire, we must look inwards. /ez

Through the smallest window, the bird looks in
Sees the old woman with her buttons on the isle of Serifos
The climate is harsh, the house is cold stone
Yet she desires nothing more than the memory
Of the man she once loved, and who loved her back

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Meant to Be” by Karina Borowicz

borowicz potw


Meant to Be

The road a long ribbon
of rising dust
the roadside stand piled
with charred flatbread

who here can say
with any certainty

they weren’t meant
to be somewhere else
dressed in a stranger’s clothes


Karina Borowicz’s collection The Bees Are Waiting (2012) was selected by Franz Wright for the Marick Press Poetry Prize and has been named a Must-Read by the Massachusetts Center for the Book.  Her work has appeared widely in journals, and her translations have been featured in Poetry Daily.

To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website.

Featured Review: SEQUENCE by A. F. Moritz. Review by Patrick M. Pilarski.


SEQUENCE by A. F. Moritz
(Toronto, ON: House of Anansi Press, 2015, $19.95 CDN, 158 pages)
Review by Patrick M. Pilarski

Sequence by A. F. Moritz exists between the driven and the drawn, in a progression from “sand, heat, and panicking light” to “the quiet click of the curtain hooks in the / light wind.” Moritz fills this gap with a percussion of leaving and arriving—a shifting space that can be readily shared and inhabited by the reader. The resulting sense of an inhabitable, inevitable journey is one great strength of Moritz’s polished and well-crafted book.

The opening image of the collection, and one that recurs throughout, is that of human motion through a desert. By bringing broad views on this landscape into sharp focus, Moritz interprets the distance between two unreachable points. A cascade of untitled, unbroken poetic segments collapses that distance into a single, resonant image that unfolds and refolds throughout the work:

motion of a journey that reached
a rest it earned or seized,
or in a night without stars or wind
has died. The motion
of a journey that has turned to rest,
and continues in the form of rest.

The result is a long poem that at different times appears modern and ancient, common and rare, solitary and communal. The effect works beautifully.What makes it so engaging? The answer seems to rest in a series of risky stylistic choices made by the author.

First, Moritz has chosen to draw on a number of voices, viewpoints, and
tenses, changing these dramatically from section-to-section, even page-to-page. These shifts could have the effect of drawing a reader out of the flow of the work. However, in Sequence the transitions fall nicely into the rhythm of the poems, and Moritz’s use of the second person viewpoint is especially engaging early on in the collection (e.g. “Whenever you stop or slow, restlessness stoops / and drives you”). His specific, precisely placed use of the first- and second-person present tense helps the reader connect and remain connected with the work in the absence of poem titles or explicit contextual shifts. The only place where the change in viewpoint may be jarring to the reader is in the shift to the first-person narrative of the book’s third section, but by the end of the section the new voice has settled and comes back like a pleasant echo throughout the rest of the collection.

A second crucial stylistic choice is Moritz’s pronounced use of repetition and iteration of both words and phrases. These repetitions occur within and between poetic frames and include “belovèd,” “rest,” “dark,” and “light.” Like a skipping stone, or a “walk slowly into a vast land / uninhabited and maybe never to be inhabited / that begins to flower or will never flower,” things that are spoken repeat throughout the reader’s and poet’s collective journey. Each time these repetitions are more welcome. In a lesser collection, or in the hands of a lesser poet, readers might find the repetitions off-putting. In Sequence, they don’t become stale or predictable, instead growing in depth with each iteration. This is a challenging effect to pull off well, and Moritz does so masterfully.

Today will be the same. First a course set in darkness.
Then in the bleaching day a wandering from it.”
The wanderer prefers to know he is lost
to the other way of seeing:
that it’s the earth that wanders lost in him.

It is also important to note the collection’s contact with our shared literature. Resonance is created by Moritz’s skillful use of allusion to other works (as noted in the book’s well-detailed after matter). Most allusions are subtle, emphasizing the shared journey of the book, the feeling that it gives the reader of being both alone and not alone in the motion from one place to another.

The macro-rhythm that is created by the arrangement of poems in Sequence makes it a rare and well-executed book. Paired with Moritz’s use of changing times, places, voices, and allusions, the overall effect of Sequence as a union of restlessness and “a search / through the place to be found” makes it a collection not to miss. The reader will have ample room to leave, to wander, and to return.


Patrick M. Pilarski is the co-editor of DailyHaiku and the author of Huge Blue (Leaf Press) and two short collections. Patrick’s poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and he has served as Vice President for the League of Canadian Poets. He is a professor at the University of Alberta.

This review was published in the digital issue 12:2 “Humour.” To see more from this issue, please visit Vallum‘s website here:

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Jurisdiction of the Self-Cleaning Oven” by J. Mark Smith

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Jurisdiction of the Self-Cleaning Oven

[Alberta in late 2006]
That booze-wise, two-stroke shill the party boss.
An assembly close to thirty years redundant.
Civic revulsion stillborn. PR gloss
the face of untried force: plain truth best blent
with ooze, like bitumen under a cap of moss.
More realtors by the day, His agents, sent
corkscrew to panic cork—for buyers want
into the exurbs. With subliming oil,
contractors aerate worm-eaten promises.
Teams of lone men, trucks idling at low boil,
in the dawn are off to rightful work. Down Lethe-
stream, a head, someone else’s, lolls by. Thyrsus
in shade. Crack, crystal meth, percs. FASD.
The magpies brawl. Time pings, forensically.


Mark Smith was born about six years before the Progressive Conservative party began ruling Alberta. He went away and came back and now teaches English at MacEwan University in Edmonton. His poems have appeared most recently in The Malahat Review.


To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website.

In Memorium, P. K. Page

P.K. Page was one of Canada’s most esteemed poets. I would like to remember her as a vital poet of strength and worth, and to quote her poem, “The Search,” published in Vallum 5:2 SPIRIT in 2007. P.K. Page passed away January 2010:

By P.K. Page

Hunt, hunt again. If you do not find it, you
Will die. But I tell you this much, it
Is not under the stone at the foot
Of the garden, nor by the wall at the fig tree.
— “Treasure Hunt,” Robert Pen Warren

You have the whole garden to search in.
So begin. Begin now. Look behind every
shrub, turn up stones if
necessary, dig deep in the black
soil. Do not let night
interfere. Use a lamp to
light the darkness up.
There is no time to lose if
you are to succeed, so
“hunt, hunt again. If you do not find it, you”

may be sent to ‘Coventry.’
Not pleasant.
No joke. But worse
is indeed possible. So LOOK.
If you need glasses put
them on. NOW. In that
way you should not even miss a bent
stalk. I cannot really
talk, nor mention what
“will die. But I tell you this much, it”
is not where or what you think–
in the woodshed, for instance, and not
behind the wheelbarrow nor in
the compost. Don’t
waste your time
thinking where were YOU would have put
it, had you been asked. You
weren’t asked. But it–let me assist
you this much in your pursuit–
“is not under the stone at the foot”

of the broad leafed maple. So stop
your wild surmises.
Time is running out and,
as your life
depends upon finding
it, search meticulously.
And good luck, I’d like you to
Remember, not in the greenery
“of the garden, nor by the wall at the fig tree.”

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Dangerous Driving” by Sharon Black

Karen Black image


Dangerous Driving


……I clocked you on the verge I dawdled in the slow lane—
….knew I shouldn’t stop
but slowed and rolled my window down—
………………you pulled out sharp
…………your bumper glancing mine.
….Now my heart’s a demented engine:
It brakes at green lights     speeds up at red
….drives through No Entry signs, takes roundabouts
anti-clockwise     jams the pedal
……until rubber burns.     And when we collide
..let’s do it on the central reservation
……ripping through the guardrail, let my chassis
wrap round yours—make the pain
…………………so perfect I can’t feel it anymore.
…….And when they     pull me from the wreckage
let me be unrecognisable,
……limp with pleasure     my chest dripping
………………like rubies—
…………sparkling, impossible to stanch.


Sharon Black is originally from Glasgow but now lives in the Cévennes mountains of southern France. She has been published widely and in 2013 won the Ilkley Literature Festival Poetry Competition and was runner-up in the Troubadour Poetry Prize. Her collection, To Know Bedrock, was published by Pindrop Press.


To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Concussion 0H08D (or ‘Back Way To The Mental Hospital’)” by Michael Quilty

Michael Quilty image


(or “Back Way To The Mental Hospital”)

Haphazardness with uncertain quirks. The last
main corner juxtaposes a junkyard. Psychiatrists
never follow a script, what you feel is
tolerable. The obvious route has padding
that stops mid-air. Every change conveys ability,
impromptu symmetry. If you jump you’ll feel it later—
your sunken body escaping a ravine. Who graded
Overhead Bridge Road? Any permanent whim
can be broken but the significance of self-annihilation,
explicit. Here’s a form for staying
reasonably cool—checkbox for the wreckage
of a crooked signature; your identity abandoned,
asylum complete.


Michael Quilty lives in the shade near Georgian Bay, where talking points & shoulder taps routinely disturb daydreams. His poetry spontaneously delights journals. The poem included here is part of a disjointed but contiguous series taken from a manuscript titled, Portrait Of A Head Shot. “Concussion 1”, originally published in PRISM international (issue 51.1), also appears in the anthology Best Canadian Poetry in English 2013 (Tightrope Books).


To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website.

happy new year!

Vallum is ‘officially’ closed until Jan. 3. Nevertheless, automatic blog posts continue even through the holidays! I thought I’d take a moment to wish everyone a happy and safe new year, with lots of hope and poetic inspiration. Montreal has been seized by a vicious snowstorm today. It has virtually buried the city. Other places in the world are suffering even worse tragedies. With this, we hope for mercy from the higher powers and safe passage for all.

happy new year / bonne année!

Eleni Zisimatos

Image result for new year 2016


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