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Photo: Christine McNair




Self-Portrait, With a Grassy Husk,

1. A change of temperature in Vienna

Baroque gardens, as her father said. You take
your habit from your hat. The gardener

roams. Compose notes like pollen.

2. Meticulous uncertainty

Is the only possible site. Epiphanies,
we draw from string,

a bit of cloud. Formations
shaped in clay.

3. Moon, a beehive

A mossy phrase, the tree-line
grows. A teetering


4. Saturate,

Hard-bare soil. An arsenal of mulch.
What’s the worst we could do?

Good night, my heart.

To sample, then. To






Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. He is the author of three works of fiction—white (Mercury Press, 2007), Missing Persons (Mercury Press, 2009) and The Uncertainty Principle: stories, (Chaudiere Books, 2014)—as well as two collections of literary essays, a tourist guide to Ottawa and more than two dozen full-length poetry titles, the most recent of which include A halt, which is empty (Mansfield Press, 2019) and Life sentence, (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019), with the book of smaller forthcoming in 2022 from University of Calgary Press. He won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012 and 2017. In March, 2016, he was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour.

An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, Touch the Donkey (touchthedonkey.blogspot.com) and periodicities: a journal of poetry and poetics (periodicityjournal.blogspot.com). He is editor of my (small press) writing day, and an editor/managing editor of many gendered mothers. He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at robmclennan.blogspot.com

He is currently working on, among other projects, a novel. 


To view other content published in this issue, 13:1 “OPEN THEME”, 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.