Poet James Deahl




……. How strange to see Hamilton Harbour without its mask of drifting smoke, and odder still to look along Sherman in late afternoon and see no rush of cars taking men home from the day shift. My fifteenth spring in the city: the air never so fresh, the days never so bright, and this unexpected freedom to deeply breathe. But what to make of the buildings on James Street North! Revealed by such sudden light, all their scars are visible, every bit of suffering stands out as Renaissance Revival gestures of grandeur slide into abandonment.

……. The police abandon city parks to cocaine gangs, preferring to patrol the city’s forty-four Tim Hortons outlets as spring renews the urban face where flowers remain and, yes, beauty, too. Still, when the academic year ends, the young abandon their city for Toronto, Vancouver, or Calgary, seeking new lovers and a place to stand. With each decade the old buildings sag a little more on their foundations. I watch a line of ants transverse the clothesline. They hurry east and west like cars on an expressway. Studied closely, the ants appear to carry nothing as they journey from the boxelder by the back laneway to the maple by my back porch. Back and forth, back and forth, industry and discipline for no obvious reason; perhaps for no reason at all.


James Deahl was born in 1945, and lives in Sarnia with the writer Norma West Linder. He is the author of twenty-three literary titles, the five most recent being: Two Paths Through The Seasons (with Norma West Linder, 2014), North Point (2012), Rooms The Wind Makes (2012), North Of Belleville (with Richard M. Grove, 2012), and Opening The Stone Heart (2010).

A cycle of his poems is the focus of a one-hour TV special, Under the Watchful Eye (Silver Falls Video Productions, 1993). The audiotape of Under the Watchful Eye was released by Broken Jaw Press in 1995. These have been reissued on CD and DVD by Silver Falls.

Deahl writes and edits full-time. He is the father of Sarah, Simone, and Shona.


To view more poems from this issue please visit Vallum’s website here.