NOTE: Canadian poetry! For no particular reason, I am taking over Melissa Broder’s column for the month of the October to spotlight poems by contemporary Canadian writers. Today’s poet is Andrew Faulkner, whose (rad) debut collection, Need Machine, was published last Spring by Coach House.
Acknowledge Your Sources
It was a sky-draped year. We collected data like habits,
stockpiled information to have something to look into.
We were all about identity. Our primary theme was abstraction –
I know, right? With small words we touched it, and with big words
we brought it home. At a right-wing party’s office, a bomb explodes.
At a leftist rally, something something. It was the year Heidegger
walked among us and seemed especially deep. Like, at the bottom.
A little red light signalled some really important shit.
As a gift to individualism, I eschewed the individual.
As a gift to myself, I learned to hail a cab like a flower
bending towards the newly departed. We kissed strangers,
stayed up late, depended on discipline to save the day.
That summer Justin Bieber insinuated himself into your heart
like an undercover agent. The Insurgencies of Love topped all
the charts. It was a good year for wanting and my stocks did well.
But you thought I’d gone all art deco in the mind
and the four-roomed apartment we’d claimed as ours
was a little too …something for you.
You were raging for pastels. You wanted to move. So we spent
those eighteen months in a mid-sized European city whose transit
map, when crumpled, resembled a once-popular cognitive theory.
We tried to avoid cancer like the plague.
We wanted a sky the colour of a painting,
any painting, just something you don’t have to think about.
One Saturday God went out, left us $20 for pizza
and said He’d be back in the morning.
The point was that we could have done anything.
Friends stood before us like a porchlight that night
and we fought over who would ring the doorbell.
You began writing letters to Jennifer Aniston
but in a really, like, political way.
As in, between two people.
Dear, no one’s mind is right.
But then you left exactly how all the sad songs said you would
and I moved into a hotel the way a fastball chooses the mitt
it’s tossed to: the glove’s there and there’s throwing to be done.
For a while, the world was everything in my suitcase.
The morning rose up like a Parisian mob, made unreasonable
demands, then settled in for an afternoon coffee. Or café, as they say.
In terms of currently accepted physics I was pretty fucking sad.
There were birds. I made my heart into the shape of the moon,
or perhaps it was the other way around,
but you must have seen my longing in the sky
because you came back. God helps those He really likes,
as Benjamin Franklin used to say.
I was coming down with something.
Beset with symptoms, I gave up style with panache.
That is: with panache, I gave up style. I tied my tie up tight.
Is there a doctor in the house? Drumroll, punchline, drumfill.
But, seriously, is there?
Because I’m finding it hard to breathe.
Andrew Faulkner co-curates The Emergency Response Unit, a chapbook press. He is the author of two chapbooks, including Useful Knots and How To Tie Them, which was shortlisted for the bpNichol Chapbook Award. Need Machine (Coach House Books, 2013) is his first full-length collection. He lives in Marmora, Ontario.