Hey! I won a Canadian National Magazine Award . . .
For a POEM no less. Isn't it amazing that we still HAVE NMA's for poetry? I was also nominated for a personal essay called Washing The Body, which I will also post here in the coming months.
Thank you therefore to the wonderful strange eclectic GEIST magazine for publishing the poem, The Speed of Rust; Mr. Geist also bought me my ticket to the fabulous glamourous cocktail party and (diet) dinner. I would not have gone if Mary S and Stephen O of Geist hadn't sprung for the ticket. Thanks, too, to Michal Kozlowsky, assistant publisher at Geist and dinner companion (who put up with some curmudgeonly behaviour, alluded to below.)
At the glitzy NMA ceremony, I wore a red and grey flapper dress, red heels, and so much attitude that I actually went up a second time to collect an absent friend's award--until the Reader Digest lady hip-checked me as I ran for the stage. (She was late getting up there, what can I say? Who could miss posing for a picture with Zaib Shaikh twice? He's handsome; I demanded he embrace me; he complied. You know, he was the imam on Little Mosque on the Prairie.) Anyway, I actually HATE award ceremonies (she said, ungraciously). The more hype, the more irritated I become. Then of course I revised my position briefly upon winning.
I was very inspired by richness of the articles, illustrations, essays, photo spreads that were nominated and that won for their various (more than 30) categories. For an industry that is struggling mightily against all kinds of nasty funding and techno/media monsters, the breadth of ideas and talent and energy in our magazine industry is really dazzling.
Let's read more Canadian magazines!
And even a poem here and there . .. I spent 20 minutes trying to get the extra space out from btn the lines, but hey. I just gave up.
The Speed of Rust
My heart disintegrates for other reasons
while the bald eagle gazes at me
from the lifeguard’s chair.
His head is not white but scuffed, dirty.
He may look like a bird of prey but in fact
he is a fifty-two-year-old man
who has just crawled out of bed
with a hangover and a wife
he rarely loved well.
was fine weather
in his life has turned
into the swamp-sky of March,
rain in April, through June,
and tomorrow is the first of July
though it’s hard to consider
celebrating Canada Day
with anything but a scream.
Which the bald eagle does:
the serrated thrust of his voice
shreds the grey light as he opens
his wings and lifts, lifts,
heaves himself into the heavy air.
There he goes, flapping over our stunned heads
toward the jungle that stalks Vancouver
like a panther, the same jungle
I fought in cold blood this morning,
so much fierce bamboo.
You and I walk the wide sand flats,
slick pewter acres of seaweed,
cracked shells, crabs scuttling sideways
like our desire. We are so close
to the barges that we see
a modern galley slave moving
(no stanza break)
feverishly about on the long deck.
He is silent in labour, I am silent
in sympathy, listening to you tell
how you think maybe you can’t marry her.
I suddenly remember my hedge clippers
lying on the grass in the back garden.
Tools rust if you leave them out
in this rain. They teach us, every year,
not to do it again.
Why it's all wrong takes so long to explain
that the tide begins to embrace our cold feet.
You could save yourself by drowning
but do not: we walk back to the stony shore
littered with condoms and weddings,
one of which will take place in exactly
forty days. You ask, a tear in your eye,
How much longer will it rain?
I reply, You’re lucky enough
to have choices. Old lover,
surprise yourself and make one.
Useless advice, like all advice
must be at this moment. You wring
your heart on the beach while on the far shore
landmines explode, men labour on
prison ships, children drown in wet sand
similar in weight to this wet sand
but lethal, marbled with blood,
impossible to walk away from.
You say you cannot walk away.
I say I know, I know, and think again
of my clippers in the grass,
the speed of rust. I say,
You are a good man
and she is a good woman.
Kissing you goodbye, I wonder if
that is how bad marriages are made:
the hungry shovel of the heart
wants to break the clean surface of goodness,
get to the rich filth underneath.
I like how mistakes wait in our hands
like the orchids we crave for their beauty.
And because we don’t know how to grow them.
I like that we want to learn.
I love how we fail.