The boardwalks scuttled like diving reef schooners –
a walkable Galilee if anyone dared, but each jogger rears
to higher ground. I’ve lost my son a half-second here
or there before I pulled him up, his lips like planks,
in tubs and pools and once a mirror lake – the obsidian
endless kind that really ends abruptly in roots and husks
and carcasses and muck. This country’s full of them.
All summer we swim bellies up, avoid anoxic thoughts.
The joggers, any other day, linger at the point
just long enough to catch their breath and contemplate
an app, perhaps the sun. Yes, there it is, afloat. My son,
I need to know what you thought of water when it first,
again, surrounded you. Your eyes were wide. You didn’t
make a sound. Not one thing was born or died.
THE SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE OF THIS WORLD
The successful people of this world
are always busy. They work all day
then come home and need to do something
so they cook the dinner, wash the car, cut the grass.
It's because of the successful people
that we have water restrictions:
this side of the street on even days,
that side on odd.
They like that kind of thing: schedules,
they are usually big fans of schedules,
and when they have free time in theirs
they spend it composing new schedules.
When they take medication
they always put it in one of those plastic things
that divides the pills up by days.
the successful people of this world
are busy and efficient, their actions
are their own rewards, and a green lawn
during a heat wave is their poem.
"The Successful People of the World" previously appeared in The Other Side of Ourselves (Cormorant Books, 2011).
Rob Taylor is the author of three poetry collections, including The News (Gaspereau Press, 2016), which was a finalist for the 2017 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Rob is also the editor of What the Poets Are Doing: Canadian Poets in Conversation (Nightwood Editions, 2018) and guest editor of Best Canadian Poetry 2019 (Biblioasis, 2019). His fourth collection, Strangers, will be published by Biblioasis in Spring 2021.
it is how our footsteps alter the flurries
how we move through the breeze
in the boughs of our hope.
when time stops in the sideways glance
you will find me in the missed heartbeat
see me in the many moons of your longing
in the place where words fail us
with a sharp astute parlance and
war is upon us and the sun sets black
under the yoke of
a darkening century
we are going nowhere fast.
in storms and tornados
of prognosis and forecasts
over a horizon of planted crosses
the weather turns passive aggressive on us.
and there is no way we can say such things
about the weather
as we forget how to move through the elements
that we are.
it’s up to you and I what we’ll do
in this tortured oil-spilled winter.
where even in sleep
loneliness alters us re-interprets us
how I even begin to smile at people
in my dreams.
how a little bit of light brings nuance to the shutter
in the prolonged exposure photography of grief
where the struggling light shreds
the clouds of our sorrow
into the rags of tomorrow
you will also find me here waiting
This poem was inspired by the poem Angst by Alexander Block (1880-1921) and it was published in Ping Pong: An Art and Literary Journal of the Henry Miller Memorial Library (Big Sur, California, 2014).
Daniela Elza lived on three continents before immigrating to Canada in 1999. Her poetry collections are the weight of dew (2012), the book of It (2011), milk tooth bane bone (2013), and the broken boat (Mother Tongue Publishing, 2020). slow erosions (a chapbook written in collaboration with poet Arlene Ang) is coming out with Collusion Books (2020). Daniela also has essays forthcoming in The Queen’s Quarterly and Riddle Fence.
Watch Your Head is an online anthology of creative works devoted to the climate crisis and climate justice.
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