POETRY: STEPHEN COLLIS
Mostly I look quickly at the latest reports, through the cracks between my fingers, out the
corner of my eye, look away quickly, calculate years to collapse.
A—grass dies; B—human beings die; C—human beings are grass.
It’s years right? Rolling fields of us, all relative, the wind bending the blades back before the
dawn, all in the same direction, rippling, wave and particle, dying in drought, coming back green
in the spring, the colours—we forget—the colours of the grasses, their flowers, led purple
pewter scarlet—like a fever, so small yet so very many—the detail is lost in the collective sheen.
Intercalary meristem. Spiralate movement. We’re all relative. Relatives. That was then. This is
now. The plough is in the sky. The earth is tilled by no one.
A—all civilizations collapse; B—you call this a civilization?
What will have been the case in the future I read will depend upon possible pasts that will also
have been the case at least one of them that is.
Do you have any possible pasts I could trade for some uncertain futures at the going rate? / I
found them by the dumpster out back beside a thrown away planet a bit flat or even concave
like a crushed and stained mattress / I want change I want not this pathway but that presently
unknown one we know too much and too little I am convinced or can infer?
The possible is simply what either is or will be true. If it will be that p will never be the case,
then p—right now—will never be the case.
I am skeptical. Wander through truisms like trees making potential sounds if they are
potentially cut then they are housing. Birds bugs and the precariat. I have no time for this. Then
there will be no time for this at some point in the future.
Stephen Collis is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, including The Commons (Talon Books 2008), Once in Blockadia (Talon Books 2016) and Almost Islands: Phyllis Webb and the Pursuit of the Unwritten (Talon Books 2018). Current research on the climate emergency and human and other displacements is involved in two in-process projects: Future Imperfect (poetry) and A Sestina for Max Sebald (prose). He lives near Vancouver, on unceded Coast Salish Territory, and teaches poetry and poetics at Simon Fraser University.
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