Vallum Poem of the Week: “Lightly Up and Over” by Adele Graf

Lightly Up and Over                                                                                         

dormant kernels clatter down the steel bin
jostle headlong, rush to mingle
tremble when warmth they’ve never known
flows from below

then each releases its aroma

joint scent wafts among them
stirs the corn to yearn
for bliss its hardness has barred
it from so far 

pop – one bursts into white bloom

others sense softness in their skin
nestle in the throng of open corn
that levitates, touched by
such close contact

now their inner grain takes shape

but from below pops accelerate
rat-a-tat, new kernels surge on air
nudge the high corn through the chute
over the edge, to fall into cold bowls

a brief flowering dashed with salt

Adele Graf grew up outside New York City and immigrated to Canada in 1968. She has worked as a writer and editor, and taught writing in the public and private sectors in Halifax and Ottawa. Her first book of poetry, MATH FOR COUPLES, was published this spring by Guernica Editions. More than half the poems in her book had been published in Canadian journals including The Antigonish Review, CV2, The Dalhousie Review, Room and Vallum.

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 Review: Elana Wolff’s Everything Reminds You Of Something Else. Review by Kian Vaziri-Tehrani.


(Guernica Editions, Spring 2017, $20, 72 pages)

Balance, Opposition, & Interconnection: A Review of Elana Wolff’s Everything Reminds You of Something Else by Kian Vaziri-Tehrani

Though Elana Wolff has been a contributor to Vallum in past issues and a highly decorated poet in her own right, I myself am a relative newcomer to her work. Guernica Editions’ Everything Reminds You of Something Else is the first of her collections I’ve been fortunate enough to read.

As per the title of her collection, Wolff’s poems sew clever webs of interconnection between the mundane and the mystical, joining together seemingly incongruous notions while also pairing more universally acknowledged associations. Spread across subjects ranging from faith to nature, “Altarpieces” to “Air”,  Wolff’s poems explore the oppositions found within differing states of existence. Though this characterization is admittedly abstract, one line encapsulates the essence of her collection, and it comes from the poem “Theory of Dreaming”:

“Here I sit awaiting a car, there awaiting the war.”

The speaker posits herself in two liminal states, in anticipation of two very different situations. Though the words themselves differ only by a single letter, their meanings and connotations could not be any farther apart. The almost contrarian use of articles is noteworthy. Why the speaker would await “a” car and not “the” car  while awaiting “the” war and not “a” war raises interesting questions. Does the speaker truly know what they await?  What is the relationship between the “here” and the “there”, the “car” and the “war”? One expects more so a sort of familiarity with their ride than with a mass conflict that has yet to pass; a war does not become “the war” until after its historization. This article reversal suggests commonality in difference; it places side by side two differently charged yet orthographically similar words while complicating the expectations that are typically attributed to them. In this sense, Wolff’s poem, and her collection as a whole, speaks to opposition and balance.

Likewise, in the first stanza of the same poem, Wolff’s speaker indicates her love for “the garden,” calling it “[her] solace” but complicating the notion as she writes “especially in winter”. Her preference for a cold and snow-covered garden over one with sunshine and blooming flowers elucidates a divergence from poetic tropes while suggesting a love for the unappreciated, more inaccessible state of garden. Much like her article reversal, Wolff’s love of the garden in winter is unexpected. It comes as a welcomed surprise because it does away with the anticipated perception of this “other” state as less favorable; the garden is just as captivating covered in snow as when it blooms in abundance.

In one of the earlier poems called “The Bestiary”, an allusion to the medieval book of beasts that goes by the same name, Wolff associates predominantly human characteristics to a series of animals. Three of them were especially noteworthy and appear consecutively in the middle of the poem:

“The dog embodied the sad devout,

the mouse—the dutiful doubtful.

Conjugal life produced the spider-and-fly.”

Each association possesses tension within it.  While a dog’s loyalty is expected , its sadness is perplexing due to the characteristically happy and excited nature of the animal. Likewise, mice are known to tread hesitantly under kitchen tables and into crevices, but is it their duty to do so? Notice how the words describing the mouse look and sound similar, a common trend within her collection. But most strikingly, with the third line, Wolff marries predator with prey, subverting  both the expectations of marriage and the spider fly relationship thereby creating balance and harmony between opposing forces.

In “Grenade” Wolff’s fascination with the impact and importance of individual words is on full display. Once more, she places side by side two nearly identical looking and sounding terms, writing “Rudiments of colour/ split & spilt.” In the preceding lines, the speaker searches for a certain word, writing:

“A word escaped me yesterday. Its image came up vaguely in the

painting I was painting and I aimed to put it graphically in black.”

This desire, both beautiful and impossible, strikes me deeply. For, while certain words conjure universally common images, such as fire or cow, others are enigmatic, changing, or unrepresentable.

While Everything Reminds You of Something Else is a complex and enchanting collection, some of the poems, at times, lost me. This is most apparent in “The Innocent Spin of Dreaming Real”. The poem begins with the lines:

“I fell asleep on my elbow once and woke up

on a donkey that I rode into a monkey

sitting jauntily on its back. See me as a rabbit,

it said, believing it could speak”

I appreciate the dreamy qualities of the poem and understand that it applies a distorted dream logic. Though purposefully disorientating, the images feel inaccessible and the significance of the three animals and their actions eludes me.

The collection picks up momentum once more with the title poem “Everything Reminds You of Something Else.” Its lines are jumbled, and I use that term positively, with associations and interconnections, some of which are magical, imagistic:

“…Numeral ix

at the foot of the page springs into a walking stick, lifts its

insect wings and flits away.”

Other associations seem to have more sequential series of action , but possess the same otherworldliness:

“…Moses shines

his light on the wilds, a great white rhino startles and stops>

a football from the jeep.”

The surreal nature of the poem comes to its crux with the haunting line:

“Voices trespassed speech, surfaces failed colour.”

Wolff’s poems draw connections and seek to find balance through opposition. Every force of nature, every state of existence is dependent on its opposite. As Wolff puts it, among all things: “Eventually/ the differences collapse.”

Kian Vaziri-Tehrani is a Canadian-Iranian writer living in Montreal. He is currently in the third and final year of his B.A. in English & Creative Writing. He works for Vallum.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “A Newfoundland Chimera” by Ruth Roach Pierson

A Newfoundland Chimera

In St. John’s, a seal flip-flaps
up Barnes Road, the wind
at its back, its black coat
shimmering like spilled oil
minus the opalescence

How did this creature come
so far ashore to navigate
the steep incline of Prescott Hill
and the dodgy convergence
of thoroughfares at Rawlins Cross?

Or is it that I, having stepped out
the front door at #42, the wind
at my back, the sun in my eyes,
am hoodwinked by an airborne
black glistening plastic garbage bag?

Ruth Roach Pierson has published four poetry collections, the second Aide-Mémoire (BushekBooks, 2007), a GG finalist in 2008, the most recent REALIGNMENT (Palimpsest Press, 2015).  Her poem “Equipoise” was chosen for inclusion in The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2013.  She is editor of the anthology I Found It At the Movies (Guernica Editions May 2014).

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: Desert Pets Jess

Desert Pets Jess at The Rocket Science Room

Reviewed by Kian Vaziri-Tehrani

On the evening of Thursday July 27th, the Rocket Science Room (a lovely loft space in Little Italy, Montreal) held the Desert Pets Press chapbook launch of Jessie Jones‘s Nix, Jess Taylor‘s Just Pervs, and Jessica Bebenek‘s Fourth Walk, hosted by Catriona Wright.


Catriona Wright

The eager crowd of roughly 40 came to a hush as author and co-founder of Desert Pets Press, Catriona Wright, took to the stage. Introducing the three Jess’s and thanking Vallum’s Leigh Kotsilidis for providing the venue, she went on to cite the Urban Dictionary definition of “Jess”, claiming it to be the name of “most kind, beautiful, and nicest person you could ever meet.”


Jessie Jones and a curious polar bear

The first of the three Jess’s was Jessie Jones, poet and co-founder of the writing service Literistic. Her warm tone and deeply personal poems from Nix evoked memory, self-reflection, and past and present selves. In a comedic, frustrated tone Jessie explained the rationale behind one of her poems by referencing the “Yes” and “No” dance manifestos, specifically highlighting the satiric “Maybe Manifesto,” which she claimed, in disbelief, ends with the lines “Maybe yes, maybe no.” On self-transformation, a major theme of her work, Jessie left the audience with the heavy lines:

“you were once/
and will be again, were once, will again”


Jess Taylor

Next, Catriona introduced Toronto writer and poet Jess Taylor, who jokingly noted upon reaching the stage how the ocean documentary being projected behind synced up perfectly with the readers lines. Her confident, clever voice shone as she read selections from her chapbook Just Pervs. The story, she explained, is told from multiple points of view. She first read as Jill then as Jenade. The central theme of her work is sex, and Jess approached the subject without limitation, exploring its effect and influence on the lives of her characters with subtle humour and poignant realism.


Jessica Bebenek

Finally came Jessica Bebenek‘s turn to read, who, along with being a poet and essayist, coordinates the Centre for Expanded Poetics. She began by mentioning the passing of her grandfather as the main inspiration and driving theme behind her collection, noting in particular the cyclical nature of her work as an allusion to the course of death. Her poems dealt with grief, pain, and death with beautiful, heartbreaking detail. Her soft, melancholic tone worked in perfect, somber tandem with her descriptions of bodily and emotional decay.

The night of fantastic poetry was elevated with a surprise cocktail in honour of the Jess’s made from Soupson’s ginger pear juice, Kraken Black Spiced Rum, lime juice, served in a sugar rimmed glass!

Despite sharing the same first name, each of the three Jess’s readings were vastly different, captivating, and evoked a range of emotions. I admit, though Jess and Jess were great, my favourite of the night was…Jess!

To read more about Desert Pets Press and the amazing chapbooks they publish, visit their website.

Find Jessica Bebenek‘s poem “The World Without” in Vallum 14:1 “Evolutution” here.

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.

Interview with Jami Macarty, winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award

Photo: Vincent Wong

Photo: Vincent Wong

Jami Macarty teaches contemporary poetry and creative writing at Simon Fraser University. She is the author of Landscape of The Wait (Finishing Line Press, 2017), a chapbook of poems written out of her nephew William’s car accident and year-long coma. A former Executive Director of Tucson Poetry Festival (1996-2005), she currently serves as a poetry ambassador for Vancouver’s Poet Laureate, Rachel Rose. She is co-founder and editor of the online poetry journal The Maynard, and writes Peerings & Hearings–Occasional Musings on Arts in the City of Glass, a blog series for ANMLY (FKA Drunken Boat). She is also a dedicated practitioner of yoga and meditation, a fact that quickly surfaced during our conversation about her Vallum Chapbook Award-winning manuscript, Mind of Spring.

During the month of June, Jami Macarty and I corresponded over email to discuss meditation, bliss, interconnectivity, the palo verde (desert tree species), and the difficulty of articulating anything about the creative process with absolute certainty, among other topics. By fusing her poetic practice with her yogic practice, she is able to write in a voice that welcomes everything “just as it is.” The resulting poem is contemplative and intuitive, as well as vivid and visually stunning. Our correspondence has been edited for brevity.

– Jay Ritchie

 

VALLUMMind of Spring has a very distinctive voice, in how it chooses to present imagery, relay emotion, and move the reader through space. How did you arrive at this voice, for this chapbook?

MACARTY: At the risk of seeming to parse words, I’m not sure “I” arrived at this voice. I’d put it this way: this voice came to the foreground to claim its say. The poem uses meditative contemplation as a compositional mode, and from that mode comes the voice of a season of the mind. The mind speaks in the poem. The voice of this mind emanates from the deep self, the “guru” voice of the higher self. Qualities of the voice that interest me: it’s surprisingly shame-free; it has rare candor and intense tenderness for self, other, and environment. Its aim seems simply to welcome what arises—nest-building, DVD-returning—everything just as it is, in its field of attention, moment-to-moment.

VALLUM: I’m especially interested in the speaker’s ability to “welcome what arises” and treating activities like DVD-returning the exact same way it would treat something more conventionally beautiful, like smelling a flower or seeing a tree. When writing this way do you, as the poet, enter that state of mind? Living moment-to-moment?

The field of the poem intends to be an open space, a neutral space, welcoming everything.

MACARTY: Rather than it being an “ability” to “enter that state of mind”—to welcome what arises, moment-to-moment—it is an intention. The field of the poem intends to be an open space, a neutral space, welcoming everything. The poem tracks and enacts the expression of that intention through its compositional mode, which is contemplative, meditative. It can be weird to make these distinctions this way. You see, I’m answering these questions after the fact. I have to admit, or risk pretension, I don’t know exactly why choices were made, for what I was going. I am, at this time, not that one anymore.

VALLUM: Do you see a relation between a contemplative/meditative compositional mode and the season of spring? For example, would winter inspire a different mode?

MACARTY: What a charming question! The palo verde tree blooms in the desert’s spring. Across the city of Tucson, the blossoms are masses of yellow, joyful to behold. The palo verde bloom is long-lasting and expansive. Perhaps that’s part of why this led to the compositional mode. Then again, I’m an all-season meditator, so meditation is a constant in my life. Winter might indeed inspire a different mode, but I wouldn’t know what that was until the words began their process. I wish we could pose this question to Wallace Stevens, one of my deep loves. His poem “The Snowman” opens with:

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

I could say the blooming palo verde trees gave me a mind of spring and are a Mind of Spring.

VALLUM: Which other poets do you admire?

MACARTY: This is a question, the answer of which, to me, is enormous. How do I answer it? I admire many, many poets. I want to include everyone! How about this—that I answer the question from the field of this poem? Those poets joining Wallace Stevens, and who provide some shoulders on which Mind of Spring stands, are William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein, and Clarice Lispector; O, and these beautiful writers: Jesse Ball, Danielle Vogel, Hiroshi Ito, Rebecca Solnit, Cecelia Vicuna, Bhanu Kapil, Pierre Cixous, plus bits and pieces of writings on narrative and rhetorical devices, and the maps of geographer Denis Wood.

VALLUM: I’d like to talk a bit more about the writing process. Do you listen to music while you write?

MACARTY: For about a month leading up to the actual manifested ink on paper of Mind of Spring, I was listening to the music of those writers just mentioned, plus Bach, and the This American Life series Ira Glass did on Denis Wood’s mapping. My consciousness had been holding onto this abundance of words and sounds and images until Saturday and Sunday, April 21st and 22nd, 2012, the two days during which Mind of Spring was made. That weekend, I was on my own, and relishing listening to the silence and whatever else entered the field of (my) hearing. For instance, the voice of this sign [below], which called to me from the soft shoulder—speaking of which—of the avenue being walked in Mind of Spring. The consciousness of the poem listens to the verbal signatures of people and things entering its field. Everything, every sound, sight, taste, scent, touch, was oracular.

sign

VALLUM: I am curious about how certain words are drawn out, like
“y y e l l o w s”—would that be a poetic manifestation of these “verbal signatures”?

MACARTY: I was wondering how we’d get here, to the echoing vowels and consonants in Mind of Spring, which are still somewhat mysterious to me. Yes, I can go with your question and agree that to some extent those “drawn out” words, as you refer to them, are a poetic manifestation of “verbal signatures.” That arrival—at “verbal signatures”—is a surprise to me. I want to try to say what else, more specifically, the echoes, repeats, seem to want to do. One thing is emphasis, the way a stutter or echo can add emphasis. They attempt also in some places to create a fullness, an abundance. In all cases, I’d venture they attempt an enacting, an enactment. For example:

t take alley
     where usually
     pit bull r r rile

I’d love to stay with this a bit, and with your help, see if I can get even closer to this still mysterious (at least to me) aspect of the poem​. So, to gently and respectfully turn the table, would you say more about their effect on you?

VALLUM: Absolutely. I wanted to ask about them because they are so unusual, but also so intuitive. As I read them I’m not confused, they seem natural, which is, in a way, confusing! Why do they fit in the field of this poem? I think for me, this long poem doesn’t occupy a lot of space on the page, visually, so every word that makes it into the poem has more significance. So, when a word “lasts longer” in the speaker’s experience, it’s drawn out. For example: “no cars left t     no cars right t”: I interpret the added “t” as being the viewer looking a little further left, then right, into their periphery. It’s a long look. But, as you mention with enactment, in something like “t take path” the initial “t” is indicative of a hesitation. Then there’s the more internal register, like “home m m”: that’s almost like mediation, the OM, using sound to create a sensation. So, for me as a reader, they’re a way of creating different sorts of emphasis, kind of like articulation marks on sheet music.

MACARTY: Wow! My heart has goosebumps! And now it’s running through the streets singing yes yes yes, another human soul, reader has entered and is in the field of Mind of Spring, is in the poem’s sound field, is a sound in the poem’s field. What you say especially about “home m m,” as the OM (traditionally the three syllable AUM), points me to the ways my Bhakti (devotional yogic chanting practice) infuses the field of the poem and is a Presence in the field. I hadn’t fully realized that in a way I could articulate. You, through the field of the poem, pointed me toward Awareness! That makes me happy; bliss—Ananda!—arises. This discovery, this connection—yours and mine—reveals unequivocally the Presence (of Goddess) as a constancy in my life. Are you with me?

VALLUM: I’m with you! I’m feeling the bliss here in my office chair, across the country. I don’t recognize some of the yogic vocabulary you’re using, nor am I familiar with the practice, though I believe I’m inferring their meanings correctly. Do you think that poetry is a way to create meaningful connections between people; by catalyzing bliss, awareness, or other sensations?

…it is a gesture of self-trust and trust of other, and allows for the communication to be elevated and also deeper between us, which is another way of saying that we are communicating via the intuitive, present moment.

MACARTY: Yes, that’s what we’re talking about, while also feeling it: language can transmit feeling, connecting us, two strangers on opposite sides of the country. There is simultaneity and togetherness even while there is also linearity and separateness. And also the process of inference, as in your “inferring their meanings,” feels so sacred, feels such a necessity, because it is a gesture of self-trust and trust of other, and allows for the communication to be elevated and also deeper between us, which is another way of saying that we are communicating via the intuitive, present moment. This is the language and possibility of poetry. Also, I realize those extended notes act like Bija mantras, the one-syllable seed sounds that when uttered activate the energy of the chakras to purify, balance, and transform. The intention of the one-syllable notes in Mind of Spring seems to be to enact energy in the seasonal landscape, and to activate energy within the reader. Wow, this conversation has brought to the fore much about my practice of yoga and meditation…

VALLUM: Let’s talk about that a bit. How does your poetry practice relate to your yoga/meditation practice? Do you feel yourself entering a similar state of awareness when writing and when meditating, or are they disparate?

MACARTY: Practice is practice. My writing practice is meditative, is meditation. When it occurred to me some years back to think about and establish a writing practice that paralleled my practice of yoga postures, meditation, and chanting, the two came together as one practice of devotion.

VALLUM: I think that meditative state of being definitely comes through in the chapbook. If you could leave your reader with one feeling to take away from Mind of Spring, what would it be?

MACARTY: A one feeling take-away? That’s foreign to my way of thinking. One response that comes to mind is to contextualize the poem in hopes this may be of use to the reader. There’s also the presence of the thought “that response may be something to work against.” And, there’s the rub of dualities. The very “thing”—a warring of opposites—Mind of Spring, in its three parts, contemplates. Social, cultural, environmental, and personal mechanisms of war and the grief they accrete abide with (and within a poem of) uplift in the welcoming field. Everything just as it is—a radical contemplation of union between and among disparates.

Mind of Spring won the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. You can pre-order the chapbook through our online store.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Superb White-Tailed Buck” by Susan Buis

Superb White-Tailed Buck

Don’t be fooled by grace that the animal
is benign—it hungers like the rest of us.
Doesn’t it growl to warn, and didn’t you see one
kick a dog dead? A felt presence nudges you
from a dream-rut and through glass a deer grins
abashed as if caught in trespass, with bared teeth
perfect and square as celebrities’. It could maul
your lip with its horsey bite and tear it, in fact
didn’t you dream so, felt the night peel you?
The muzzle sniffs hankering salt, and wasn’t your dream
sweat-crusted? And didn’t your own salt craving
guzzle broth that burnt all the way down, and still
you’re scalded. The dark eyes seem warm
but haven’t you always
misread a glance and loosed buttons
your view sweetened by a waking pink.
Morning, tracks in snow tell a corporeal deer
did stand at the window, shuffled its steps
as if restless, lifted its scut and left pellets.

Susan Buis studied visual art in Saskatoon and creative writing in Long Beach, California and now lives in the grassland hills outside Kamloops BC. Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in journals including CV2, Grain, Event, Prairie Fire, The Fiddlehead, and The Malahat Review. Her writing has won some awards and been longlisted for CBC Canada Writes several times.

 

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 Bridge” by Glenn Hayes

THE BRIDGE

After one honey and vinegar run
tripping into throaty fog-horn booms,
I know it’s Sonny Rollins,
teetering on the parapet,
blowing solo on the bridge at midnight.

A chorus skitters off the river,
circles back to scatter
through cables, never quite
forsaking island beats,
a path to the distant key.

I close my eyes, see
the marriage of Mona Lisa
to an old cow hand,
hear hoof beats, bells, the swell
of one colossal soul.

Praise him, praise him, all you
little children, all you
lovers and insomniacs
who pause at midnight in the flutter
of his almost perfect freedom,
wavering at the railing’s edge.

Glenn Hayes’s poetry has appeared in many magazines and journals, including The Antigonish Review, Dalhousie Review, CV2, The Fiddlehead, Grain, The Malahat Review, The Nashwaak Review, The New Quarterly, Prairie Fire, Qwerty, Vallum, and The Windsor Review. His poetry has also appeared in two anthologies: Christian Poetry in Canada (edited by David Kent, ECW Press, 1989) and Larger Than Life (edited by Roger Bell, Black Moss Press, 2002).  He is currently working on his first book. He lives in Newmarket, Ontario.

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: “To my mother, aloud” by E. Canine McJabber

To my mother, aloud

Send your snail mail and I’ll hide the table salt.
When I stamped my last mail-order
bride, she threw the book at me.
Her velvet twinset in divorce court
the only good pairing that came of our match.
Now, I work hotlines pushing human tissue
samplings: primed for fucks or transplants.
Do not apply my transferable skills
to mucous membranes. That beefcake
of the week, he wracks my hunger pangs.
Give me your food, give me your meat—
yours, the second best fit to my lips.
I’ll take you in like homeopathy, knowing
you’re likely quackery. I’ll swallow
what feels good, if it comes free.
Let me blow your Venezuelan
vuvuzela, watch me put my stops
in all your holes. Oh, player, wind
me up. Sight-read my crotchets.
Let me cut my bold italic
on your thigh. Will you blurb me,
if I read your novelty? If I compliment
your margins, will you press them
to my letter? I can’t seem to get my head
out of your gutter. Remember,
a prose is a prose apropos.

E. Canine McJabber has published poems in several journals and zines across Canada. A travelling salesperson by day, they live and write between Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. Their travel entourage consists of their two pups, Bonnie and Clyde. This is their first award-winning poem.

E. Canine was the first place winner of the 2016 Vallum Award for Poetry, to view submission guidelines for the 2017 Vallum Award for Poetry click here!

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: “Her First First Nations Boyfriend” by Sue Reynolds

 

Her First First Nations Boyfriend

That summer
she saddled a cabin of tank tops and shorts
and rode them every day.
But at night, the counsellors collected elsewhere.
She spent her time speculating:
which cigarette liked which scrunchie?
The older blonds, coasting
between semesters of limestone,
got claimed pronto.
The juniors breathed in almost
any smoke that drifted their way.
Herbie floated toward her.

Stablehand Herbie unafraid
of hooves and teeth,
impervious to blowflies and gelding,
tentative with the scrunchies,
and why not?  His absent front teeth
emitted words with the gees scraped off.
She knew he was puckered for her.
At fifteen, any cigarette
was better than none.
She didn’t understand the Mexico that lay
between them until fall, when
they each returned to their bricks or boards,
promising to write.

His first alphabet arrived,
the address barely readable,
the letters scattered stars
absent of constellation.
Inside, also, a gift,
a flat and patterned necklace.
As she decoded
the few words on the page
she understood his Mexico
was a land of longhouses,
an ocean away from her settled existence.

His grandmother rattled the seed pattern.
Her grandmother drank from handpainted bone.
His wrong alphabet spelled the gulf
between his hooves and her feathers.
She delayed answering.
What would she say?
Eventually she forgot to alphabet him back.

Sue Reynolds is a writer and psychotherapist whose area of interest is writing for therapeutic benefit. She has won awards for her YA novel, short stories, poems, and non-fiction. She teaches writing in various settings and has led writing workshops for inmates at Central East Correctional Centre for 12 years.

Sue was an honourable mention for the 2016 Vallum Award for Poetry, to view submission guidelines for the 2017 Vallum Award for Poetry click here!

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.