my rib cage still
hurts if i try hard enough:
gasp for breath
and clutch the thin
skin wrapping carefully
over my bones
and then stop.
if i don’t there is nothing,
no black and blue
light, no fingertip
blur wrapped less carefully
over my bones
with just twelve hours
of your time, or of your hands,
the temperature will fall, your
body shaken from last
summer’s heat so instantly denied;
mine from humid air, from knowing you
your constant reaching for last
moments of the day reminds
me nothing comes
i wait for the last season
of the year
built a stage not truly for me
and told me: it’s just
i learned to paint, create
a backdrop to your
to forget what we’d written, or
whole hands intertwined. easier
to touch your skin than tell
you, not the truth,
but any words
it’s not over
until we decide
there is nothing to say
they built the wall slowly: one foot
at a time, leaving space around frames
spaces to enter, or leave;
walls built of stone, meeting
at corners, spaces to one
day grow dust —
and what is your home
if not for your dust —
we all have our earliest
walls built, eventually climbing,
climbing until shuttered by rafters,
by shingles and snow.
now it is later; the trees in the yard
have matured and the house
won’t hold heat
and still there is warmth in the earliest
walls: first corners and stones, those
which eventually sink, every year,
inch by inch back to the earth
i’m at a complete loss for words. i know that sounds ridiculous on a writing blog, but i’m okay with it. “okay with it” doesn’t even begin to sum up what i’m going through right now. i’m drained, inspired, exhausted, overwhelmed with thoughts, and feeeelings, and i need, need, need to write. i’m going to try to force my loss of words into actual words, which means that i don’t really know how much sense this will make. the last thing i want is to get all gushy here, but just so you’re warned: i’m gonna get a bit gushy.
we wrapped up the An Accord of Poets tour on wednesday night in peterborough. it was the best imaginable ending to the four days leading up to it, the year+ of planning behind it, and all the words that were written and said in advance of it. i’ve been asked for my #1 favourite moment from the tour, and really all i can say is that day/night. we went for dinner before the reading and it just felt so final, but still so exciting; it felt that there was so much left even though it was mostly over. we talked about some of the things we’d experienced during our time on the road, our readings, our nights out, our moments at the al purdy A frame & grave site. just being there, toasting to our tour, sharing a last meal, and then taking the evening to go over our words, sign books for one another, drink together, and prepare for the drive home, was enough to sum it up for me (sadly rachael was not there for this portion of the tour, but she was of course there in spirit).
i went into this tour knowing that i would come away from it closer somehow to these people. for me that’s a really big deal, & a lot of people might not get that but i know that they get that. of course we’ve been friends for years, and we still are, but it really is sort of breakfast club. or i feel like it’s sort of breakfast club. but BETTER, because poetry.
ottawa was overwhelming. it was particularly meaningful for me that our home base friends were in the room, some family, and most importantly our partners. they have been impressively patient & supportive, and it was truly something special to have them there before & during our opening night. montreal gave me a few moments i don’t yet know how to begin processing. the reading was a good one, but it was also lovely to meet new people, wander the streets for booze, stand smoking in another city, come & go from the hotel, and just simply be with these people.
i can’t talk about the A frame in this blog post.
toronto was a night of change for me. the room was packed, and filled with some of the best people i’ve ever known. seeing some my oldest friends in the world did a lot for me, and i appreciate it. the readings that night were incredible. these people inspire me consistently. and just the four of us going back to the house at the end of the night was one of the highlights of the whole tour for me, although i wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly why.
peterborough itself, the reading i mean, was a wonderful way to end the tour. having justin as our host, welcoming dave emery to read with us, jeff entertaining the hell out of the room, and cameron taking on the task of briefly summing up the tour before he read. and my voice shaking at the end, only because it needed to, not because of nerves (imagine nerves on the last night), but because of what was happening, and because it was ending, and because i had to pee, and because i’m not allowed to cry during my readings (perhaps the strictest tour rule), so i had to settle for letting my voice shake. & none of this even begins to touch on the full day: book browsing, zoo browsing, forced photos, highway driving, jeff, cameron, justin, patio drinking.
this doesn’t seem like enough, and it seems like too much, but whatever. i will be dealing with post-tour thoughts for a long, long time.
i’ve already said it, but thank you again to my tourmates Cameron, Rachael, Jeff, and Justin. i love you all. (i told you it would get gushy.)
(all), faucet that
cascades instead of
pours, and more,
i try to savour, also tried,
in the end the
out right in my hand,
and then the rain came
in haste i wrote three pages, notes
for going nowhere
i bet you say that, or you
don’t (to everyone)
in the end i wrote three pages
but not enough, enough
to fill a basement or
the back seat
of a car
and also not
in haste i tried to savour
TOUR TIIIIIME!!!!!! it’s getting so effing close.
as you probably already know, either if you read this blog or you know me in real life (or both), i’m going on a poetry tour (so soon!) with some extremely talented Ottawa-area poets and friends. we’ll be reading in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and Peterborough over five days.
photo by Cameron Anstee.
the readings will be October 11 (ott), October 12 (mtl), October 14 (t.o.) and October 15 (ptbo). visit our tour website for full details about where and when you’ll be able to come see us read! there will be some free or cheap chapbooks and broadsides available at each reading, and we’ll also have a book available for sale, Five, which features new writing from the five of us on tour (Cameron Anstee, Jeff Blackman, Rachael Simpson, Justin Million, and myself). the book is published by Apt. 9 Press and was printed at Coach House Books in Toronto. i can’t even begin to express how excited i am for this book to be a real thing.
i want to ramble on and on about what it will be like to go on tour, but i’m trying to contain all that until it’s actually happening. i want to be in the car, in the hotels, in the bars, in the streets, on the highway, in the basements or attics or kitchens or living rooms, smoking, drinking, writing, all of it. i want to live tweet it, document every second, take a million photos, have conversations i’ll never remember. i’m even looking forward to the ottawa-toronto drive. actually excited about it. i might even be looking most forward to it. that’s pretty much unheard of for anyone used to making that drive. i want this one semi-casual conversation justin and i had two years ago to become a reality. i want to spend the time with these people, learn something from them, and find out what it’s like to be stuck in a car with them for days. i wish i could more eloquently put into words how it feels to be touring with exactly these four people, but then i think maybe it doesn’t need to be said.
if you don’t come out to see me read, then at least come out to see Justin, Rachael, Cameron, and Jeff. you won’t be disappointed. friend of the tour David Emery took these photos to help support our tour. check out their words below, and visit their profiles on the tour website.
hope to see you in ottawa/montreal/toronto/peterborough!