Monday, April 09, 2012

First World Wars. Captain Kirk. Dora Keogh. (Thursday!)

Morning, folks, and happy Monday. Today we get two poems-of-the-day since (what's that? the Biblioserf was slack over the holiday weekend?) I missed Sunday's post. Both are in honour of Alex Boyd, who will be celebrating the Toronto launch of his new book THIS THURSDAY, April 12th, at Dora Keogh. Doors open at seven! Hope to see you there.

First World Wars

by Alex Boyd
from The Least Important Man, 2012

Summer and stepping outside to a wall of wood
lifting, I asked my father and grandfather what
they were doing – building you a clubhouse Dad said
grudgingly, as if I had demanded one (and now,
remembering the sound of hammers at work,
it felt like strange thunder, a warning).
We still have my grandfather’s letters up to the end
of the war, 1918, and some give details: the big shell
right in front of us that failed to explode. Lucky.

Word spread to other houses, and near one
a wooden castle appeared in response, all the boys
of the street springing to one side or the other.
When my Dad was young my grandfather drank
and talked about turning a trench corner to come
face to face with one of them. What did you do?
I got my bayonet up first. I fought the other leader
and we fell through bushes without a scratch.
Sharpened popsicle sticks a purpose turned inside out,
plans for turning batteries into bombs stolen. Someone
defected to our side for a day. One morning, plaster
in my clubhouse lock. I cut an enemy lip, took a
blunt speech from his mother. And the tension, dull
electric, and constant. Boys charged from the bushes,
pushing one long sharpened branch. I fumbled keys
to get inside. Lucky. My grandfather noted an accident
in a letter: ironically, an electrocution days after the war.
He said I guess they don’t need a war to kill a man.

Captain Kirk Love Poem

There was some small moment at the start, wasn’t there,
some touch: the most dazzelous woman you’d ever seen,
there on a street corner and you left, made excuses
like she’s on a bike, I’ve got to get this package home.
It was before you knew your body swarmed with luck,
a black and gold uniform of mashed black-eyed Susans
and lurking, tamed mustard gas reinforcing your eyes.
You thought to make up for it: time travel slingshots,
cacophony of rankled emperors, altered comets, viruses
and wicked computers trashed, your scattered children.
You charmed the tall freckled women of Widow Avenue,
and were gone, never seen on a doddering bus to have
some old woman’s purse full of tissues and lozenges
kiss your knee and carry on. But there was a whisper.
A worry the further you went, the more you missed, some
combination of null space. Back there, a former self aghast
to face that we’re weak and beautiful, made of sticks,
honey, water and ranunculi holding up under the wind,
or that one place is shiny with multitudes, if you stay
long enough to see it. Or that we can be manta ray thin,
but blue whale big-hearted. We needed you, can note
your example, splendour-addicted, finally seeing the woman
who reminds you most of her, and disappearing
in your own pattern: her green and black floral dress,
the thin river of a burst of sun standing up, as if to speak.

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