Vallum Poem of the Week: “The Descent” by William Varner

The Descent

In the thicket of laws
I grew weary of the machete’s dull blade.
All around me were others
Turning slowly into plant-like creatures
Out of a campy horror movie
Tattoos of snakes, dragons, roses and thorns.
I too was turning, the vines growing
Into and up my legs, green blotches
And lines like varicose veins.
Each day new people arrived
Clean-shaven and smelling of fresh deodorant
They were not ready for the bugs and fire ants
Travelling over their sweaty necks.
They were not ready for anything.
The lightning threatened us all at night
Thrown in like javelins by people unseen.
The lone one who could sleep murmured
Constantly of boat rides with his father
The smell of cedar and baked apples in November.
We listened and with our dim torches
Traced our guilty fingers down the smooth, granite walls.

William Varner‘s poems have appeared in The American Journal of Poetry, Boston Review, The Cincinnati Review, Cimarron Review, The Greensboro Review, Green Mountains Review, Harpur Palate, New Ohio Review, Smartish Pace, and elsewhere. He works as Managing Editor for an educational publisher and lives in South Berwick, Maine.

To view other poems published in this issue 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!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Advertisements

Vallum Poem of the Week: “A Mid-Wife’s Late Sabbatical” by Peter Richardson

A Mid-Wife’s Late Sabbatical

Say tilted fields run up shadowed valleys
farther than you can walk with an easel,
does it matter? You have a rented horse.
A horse can graze for hours while you,
unpacking canvasses and food, adjust
your skewed optics to the washed air.
Later you can return to your pension
whose shower runs on tokens. Tense
por favors entreat you soon enough
through doorways of notched stone
where instinct demands you deliver
children since doctors are on strike.
Is risk a woman hiked up on a bed?
She may be doing a marathon here.
Your right hand takes her left wrist
and gauges her fine galloping pulse.
One good whack sets her son going.
Then you’re back out on the massif,
recalling a wealth of obstetrical tips.
It pleases you to ride from lavender
to lichen as light touches tiled roofs.
How did it take this long for insight
to reach you? Were you asleep? Let
the man hooked on new beginnings,
who shrank from your night sweats,
peel grapes for his child bride. Your
daughters can survive without word
from their painter mother till August.
In the village where you are admired,
where the Basque café owner refuses
the Euros you offer for a daily pastis,
lemon trees are losing their blossoms
but you don’t mind holing up here, not
for this jumbled throw of terraced fields.

Peter Richardson has published four collections of poetry, the most recent of which, Bit Parts for Fools, was a finalist for the 2014 Archibald Lampman Award. An earlier collection, Sympathy for the Couriers, won the 2008 QWF’s A.M. Klein Award. His poems have appeared in The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, Poetry Magazine (Chicago) and Poetry Ireland Review among others. He recently moved back to Montreal after a fourteen-year hiatus in Gatineau.

To view other poems published in this issue 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!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Removable Tattoos” by Piotr Gwiazda

Removable Tattoos

Root causes are in fashion, so are futures markets
and pink baby turnips. Culture is in,
anarchy almost out. Tattoos can be removed.
Judas Iscariot has been rehabilitated.

The great tradition of historical baloney
is coming to an end. Politics are impure,
entertainers inept, a nail in a wall
is just a nail in a wall, but who’s complaining?

Every six months you are required to change
your email password and/or sexual partner.
You fell asleep one sunny afternoon
and woke up in a driving hailstorm.

All is not lost, however, when poets—
tired of contests, fed up with manifestos—
improvise in softly toned sprechstimme
songs of dubious importance and vague beauty.

Piotr Gwiazda’s recent books include a book of criticism, U.S. Poetry in the Age of Empire (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), a volume of poems Aspects of Strangers (Moria Books, 2016), and a translation of Grzegorz Wróblewski’s Zero Visibility (Phoneme Media, 2017). He teaches at the University of Pittsburgh.

To view other poems published in this issue 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!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Hubris in the 21st Century” by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Hubris in the 21st Century

I find it hard to believe
I would be swept up
and killed
in a passing tornado.

I almost challenge the gods
as much.

I’ve done so many reckless things in my life
and should have died
so many times
that I now know
I have nine lives

or at the very least
a few more get out of jail free cards
kicking around.

Every time there’s thunder and lightning
I go stand out in the rain
with a nine iron raised above my head

and I don’t even golf.

It’s the family of four
with a double mortgage
and extensive life insurance coverage
a few blocks away

that kicks the bucket when the oak in their front lawn
caves in on dinner time.

I’m just left standing out in the rain
until the thunder and lightning stops
and I walk home with my eyes closed

across four lanes
of traffic.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, Vallum, Windsor Review, The New York Quarterly, Existere, Quills, The Dalhousie Review, CV2,and The Antigonish Review.

To view other poems published in this issue 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!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Class Confusion” by Scott Bryson

Class Confusion

“She was wearing these white Zellers shoes
and white socks
that went half way up to her knees.

She was not Gap at all.
She was totally Cotton Ginny.”

Overheard on a sidewalk in Oakville, Ontario, in 2004

Scott Bryson publishes a literary magazine at thebrokencitymag.com and talks about music at telescopemedia.com. His writing has appeared in Broken Pencil and CHART Magazine, among other publications. His hobbies include drinking beer and talking about Star Wars.

To view other poems published in this issue 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!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Featured Literary Event: Montreal Launch of Rebecca Păpucaru’s The Panic Room (Nightwood Editions, 2017)

Launch of Rebecca Păpucaru’s The Panic Room (Nightwood Editions, 2017)
Tuesday September 27th 2017 at Librarie Drawn & Quarterly, Montreal 

On a brisk night at the end of September, a small crowd gathered at Librarie Drawn & Quarterly for the launch of Rebecca Păpucaru’s debut poetry collection The Panic Room (Nightwood Editions, 2017). The guests chatted amongst themselves, helped themselves to the complimentary wine. Old friends greeted each other warmly as they entered. The atmosphere was jovial and relaxed; anything but panicked. The room felt more like a friendly cocktail party than an official book launch, perhaps appropriate for one of the last events held at Drawn & Quarterly’s 211 Bernard Avenue Ouest location, before they opened their new children’s store and event space down the block a few weeks later.

the panic room.jpg

The intimate yet casual mood was certainly fitting for the launch of The Panic Room, a debut poetry collection that draws readers into the humour, heartbreak, pain and banality of everyday life. Described as an exploration of “the complexities of identity and selfhood, memory, embodiment, loss, and family, through the lens of a second-generation Eastern European Jewish immigrant,” The Panic Room blends personal anecdote, stories passed down through generations, and historical narrative to weave an intricate web between the speaker and the world that surrounds them.

linda besner

Opening for Păpucaru was Montreal-based poet, Vallum Pop-up Shop guest  and a former Vallum workshop co-facilitator Linda Benser, whose latest collection Feel Happier in Nine Seconds was released by Coach House Books earlier this year. The observational wit of Besner’s poetry translated well throughout her reading. The irony suggested by her collection’s title—which she admitted was inspired by the self-help headlines of magazines geared towards women—made the moments of tenderness throughout her readings even more pronounced.

After Besner, the debut author took to the stage. An interesting conversation began to unfold between Besner’s poetry and Păpucaru’s. Both poets deftly employ an ironic tone to interrogate the complexities of understanding the self in today’s world. In one poem, Păpucaru’s speaker reflects: “I’m one generation apart from all this, / and ashamed. Of my father, before his / refrigerator, mourning age spots on lettuce.” Through her use of humour, Păpucaru encourages readers to grapple with larger questions of identity, lineage, history, and family. Halfway through her reading, an audience member’s cellphone rang, their Taylor Swift ringtone buzzing throughout the bookstore. “Are you kidding me?” asked Păpucaru, her voice dripping with mock indignation. She rolled her eyes and continued reading.

The launch, like Păpucaru’s and Besner’s poetry, felt familiar and cozy, the singsong conversation of a family reunited around the dinner table after a long time apart.

Read more about The Panic Room by Rebecca Păpucaru here, and Feel Happier in Nine Seconds by Linda Besner here.

Catch Rebecca Păpucaru at the Nightwood Editions Poetry Night in Montreal on Friday November 10th 2017. To learn more, visit their Facebook event.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “La Corriveau” by Deborah Herman

La Corriveau

She keeps me awake at night,
rattling around in the cage of my skull.
She was put on display for forty nights and forty days.
Supposed to represent something dear to the military
tribunal—British law in the colonies, all that.
Hanged by the neck at the foot of the Plains of Abraham.
Her cage suspended above a circle of grass
that won’t grow to this day, the shadow cast
there a blackened pentagram.
Like a good Shakespearean queen
she poured poison in her first husband’s ear.
Like Lizzie Borden she axed her second husband.
Their mistake? Sleeping with both eyes closed.
When the Sibyl of Cumae was asked
what she wanted more than anything,
suspended in a glass bottle
like a bat or a desiccated homunculus,
she replied resignedly, “To die.”

Deborah Herman’s work has appeared in The NonBinary ReviewSilver Apples MagazineSilver Birch PressMotifVallumThe Nashwaak Review and Existere. She is currently working on a collection of poems titled Fractured, in which she defines her project of “neuropoetics.”

To view other poems published in this issue 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!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “The Quote” by Vona Groarke

The Quote

‘The wind climbed right through my window,’ she said, ‘and lay down
in his greatcoat beside me in the bed. He was full of the big talk, had
quite the high opinion of himself. But that’s not all. He pad me two nice
compliments, tendered a line from somewhere with sweethearts in it,
kept his buttons buttoned, his eyes fixed on my breasts, and enquired if I
would remember him and what we would do next.’

Vona Groarke has published seven collections of poetry with Gallery Press, the most recent being X (2014) and Selected Poems, awarded the Pigott Prize for the best book of poetry by an Irish poet in 2016. Her book-length essay on art-frames, Four Sides Full, was also published in 2016. Her poems have recently appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares and The Threepenny Review. A former editor of Poetry Ireland Review, she is a Senior Lecturer in poetry at the University of Manchester in the U.K.

To view other poems published in this issue 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!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

 

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Northern Lake” by Kenneth Sherman

Northern Lake

They’ve given you a name—
Ox-Tongue, Loon Call,
Big Bass, Turtle—

but long before names
you reflected shattered
sun,

mute clouds,
unconscious eye
of moon.

When the turbulence of wind
pushed you to the limit
you encased yourself in ice
and went silent.

What’s nameless in me
goes with you.

You change,
you remain changeless
and these words are nothing more
than a way of making what vanished
permanent

as you lap away at rock
and nourish the deepening cold.

Born in Toronto, Kenneth Sherman is the author of three books of prose and ten books of poetry, including the highly acclaimed long poems, Words for Elephant Man and Black River. His most recent publications are Wait Time: A Memoir of Cancer, and the poetry collection, Jogging with the Great Ray Charles.

To view other poems published in this issue 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!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

 

Poem of the Week: “Topical Piece: November 18, 2014” by Jane Munroe

jane-munro-2013

 

Topical Piece: November 18, 2014

I am near the front. Geeta is complaining
about the terrible Canadian
headstand. So she renovates mine. Abhi’s
hands under my shoulders feels like hydraulic
jacks. Gulnaaz has to hold my ankles
to keep my upright. Take her to the wall,
Geeta commands, with two tri-folded
blankets under her head. It is hard to get
my elbows down, upper back in, sacrum
stretched, pubis level. Hard to go up.
Hard to balance. Stretch my back. Pull my front ribs
back. Move my thighs back. Abdomen back—
to change what I didn’t know I didn’t know.

Jane Munro’s sixth poetry collection Blue Sonoma (Brick Books, 2014) won the 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize. Her previous books include Active Pass (Pedlar Press, 2010) and Point No Point (McClelland & Stewart, 2006). She lives in Vancouver and practices Iyengar yoga.

To view other poems published in this issue 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!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.