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Jacket 18 — August 2002   |   # 18  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |

Stephen Cain

Five poems

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The Wild Swans At Sunnyside

Floating seems
To select her own Society
On the mirrored deck
Are nine-and-sixty swans

`God Bless Gwen Jacobs’
Lucky gym lapin
Perhaps nineteen late summers
Opportunity talks

The Darkling Thrush

Puff pater
With thin chest
A smoke-free century
For copse read corpse

Legions of lesions
Nineveh awaits conversion
Or does not
Sarcoma to despair


‘ Arms, and the Man I sing...’
— Virgil, The Aeneid (John Dryden, trans.)

Was one I could never handle. Macho control freak ten degrees of instrumentation. Roll reversal, twist to touch your spine, baiting the swarm to arrive. In the mist of life, we are the breath.

Et cetera intelligent armaments. Smart bombing Physics due to a distracting attraction to my left that was absolutely magnetic. Electrified fields where I only excelled at running and spurting.

Mutatus mundi. Ghosting through mountains, reversals more dangerous in the eternal return. Not a pinball wizard, nor a jukebox hero; Williams cased the joint with traces left three letters high.


‘We split, we split, we split.’
— William Shakespeare, The Tempest

A favourite spin around flipping icicles advance. Fantasia cum Frazata on the side. A vortex realized, a space where everything’s straight and nothing curves. As fine as Gaudier-Brezka’s mind.

Violence, the panic button, and the white flash that Coupland cries about. Stop duck and roll. Peering into the abyss, the vanishing point, where all ends are justified by where the lines meet.

Stare down the volcano. A windy tumult uproaring the simple stages. The point which divides XX from XY on the grid, where fraternity loses out to libertie. Spinning tales two years & four days apart.

Route III: Exit Sodom

1. All the bald young men. Maybe work on this techne instead. Approach the tabernacle with desecration in mind. Men escaping women or those Green Hills that Hemingway mastered. When did it ring, what did it suggest? Didn’t know the explosive I carried like a Conrad crook. To run back to that place you keep damning yourself to. The arrogance of the chap-book poet. Buffalo wings: no different than the northern variety, and it is only thinking which makes it so. Watching that door for a friend who is a brother, or else a brother who is a friend. I’ve got a lyric heart so clerihew me. Driving through a vineland which we once were denominated. Bringing back Bruges, a taste can send one feeling. Did she fall off that log? No one to ask without seeming stupid. Hopkins’ accents; vertical man. Inscaping from my instress. No one said it’d be sleazy. A dawn drawn with dappled brawn. Nothing else notable along the way unless I fail to stop. ‘Those who walk may run’ (emphasis, mine). Well, how ghazal of you! Take your picture outside the pharmakon and call it a glyphotograph. Urban archaeology, p. cob_ was here painting those stones of which we can only capture the flakes. What wonderful production, what means the world is too much with us? A feint towards destroying your only audience through attrition. Okay, I’m confused by those things which signify ‘stop’ — what are they again? ‘Signs’? Just rolls off the tongue dint it? Haven’t taken that exit yet, Lawrence lamented that they were too close.

2. Or perhaps a jolly sad man. Instead of amusement try arrogance and indifference. Born a Catholic, end apoplectic. Men seeking women with cellphones set to mute. Could be the worst anniversary spent ignoring, of course, that brief epiphany. Feelings that might emerge if one had the resolve. From where, to where I’m from. Dismissed by the ignorant, but it still burns. That insidious virus which creeps from the south, might have swapped had we been more aware. Letting one’s hair down might help, but might only result in becoming unbound. Mostly modern, but sometimes the emotion escapes. Vikings had them too; confessions of a mannish boy. A flag in Flanders, many more to plant before mein tine. Get back to me when you can do as well. If not, stop sending me the shit. Once made that gold vermilion discovery. To each it sings, saying itself is enough. But we call it maze. No there is none worse; terribly laconic. ‘See you in court’ (Chaucer, attrib.). That drunken prosody returns with a stilt or a wah. The first one to make a Derridean pun wins some lies. dfb, what thoughts I have of you tonight. Certainly a full moon and surely a hang-over. Too much world and not enough time. Baffled by your pretence to death, your confessions on the long road home. That ballad bites and somehow the balance has become ballast. Brings rain, half slanting through the screen — against the glass — as Owen sighs again. Sassoon told two friends, and so on, and so on. Betcha really love rhyme and metre within reason.

Photo of Stephen Cain

Stephen Cain (b.1970) is the author of two poetry collections, Torontology (ECW, 2001) and Dyslexicon (Coach House, 1999) as well as numerous chapbooks and broadsides. His sound poetry can be heard on Carnivocal (Red Deer, 1999) and his visual poetry has been published internationally. He has recently completed a collaboration with poet Jay MillAr (Double Helix) and is at work on a new poetry collection, American Standard/ Canada Dry. He lives in Toronto where he helps to edit Queen Street Quarterly and teaches English and Canadian Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University and Seneca College.

Photo by Sharon Harris.

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