Other People’s Poetry

For the Lord of the Caves

Looking for you light,
I went out:

it was like the sudden dawn
of a million suns,

a ganglion of lighnings
for my wonder.

O lord of caves
if you are light,
there can be no metaphor.

Allama Prabhu

Translation from Kannada by A.K. Ramanujan



On Turning 38

I’m very fond a line in a Sex And The City episode where the depressed male love interest of Carrie Bradshaw, in response to her encouraging him to get outside and meet up with some friends, stoically replies, “I’m a middle aged man, I don’t have friends.” It’s a line that I like to use every so often whenever I explain my social life, or lack of one.

Over the last year or so, the things I that have become my personal necessities – my books, my writing, my PS3 (weekends only!) – are all coincidentally things are very jealous regarding my attention.

But why have such things became priorities far and above that of meeting face to face with fellow human beings? The first reason that comes to mind is that I can partake in these activities without wearing pants. If you are puzzled by this reason, then I have to assume that you either a) have a roommate or b) live with your parents and therefore have no idea what it’s like to lounge around your kitchen and living room in just your undergarments. The ability to walk around pantless is the single biggest reason why people end up either buying or renting homes for themselves. Of course homeowners/renters will never publically admit to that, but there it is. Once you adopt the lifestyle of domestic pantlessness, the chances of you going out for anything other than work or Chicken Massala diminish greatly.

For those of you who still choose to wear constrictive legwear around the living room, going out is actually a reasonable and viable option. For you, all that is required is to simply pop on some deodorant and some make-up and march your tightly bound legs out the front door. For people like me, it’s a whole arduous process of putting down the book, finding my pants, putting on my pants, synching my belt, looking for the sock that came off when I took of my pants….even thinking about it makes me feel exasperated and completely unsocial.

I jokingly try to address this general unwillingness to get outside and converse with my fellow man. Yet this circumstance has diminished my greater circle of friends. I suppose if I were a younger man, this ever-shrinking list of social contacts would have worried me. But why not now, in my 38th year? Especially when I can count names of people who would pick me up from the airport or bale me out of jail on one hand. Of course, there are exceptions; those restless Saturday nights when I’m a little tipsy and sentimental, but overall, there is no great feeling of loss regarding the slow death of social events in my life.

Perhaps it’s the job that I have chosen teaching adults ESL students, where I exhaust my social energy managing conversations. It could also be the hours I spend writing poetry – straining to be introspective, wracking my brains for a sliver of profundity – which leave me spent, with no greater desire than to spend a night blowing away aliens in a first-person shooter video game. It could be that when I do venture out to social gathering, prior to at least three glasses of wine, I often find myself looking at other people deep in discussion, and wonder, a little enviously: What could they possibly have to say to one another? I read. I watch the news. And yet, how can they have so much to say?

Or – and think I’m getting close here – it could just very well be that I’ve reached a point where I have to save my verbal energy for practicalities. Discussions, debates and discourse take energy, but when we all end up walking away believing what we want to believe anyway, is there any point to me opening my mouth? In essence, we are ALL George W. Bush, cherry-picking the facts to fit our worldview and going with our gut on life decisions. Verbal pragmatism doesn’t fit into the equation.

Mind you, there are many things I’ll stand for. For instance I plan on making an appearance at the Counter-Rally against CLCY’s rally to De-Fund Abortion tomorrow at Queen’s Park. But for many things, I’ve learned that that simply living through a mistake is the best way – and usually the only way – to change one’s mind. Sometimes it’s just better to let the world outside come to its senses on its own. In the meantime, I’ll be here – a pantless curmudgeon with a dwindling number of friends – waiting to pick it up at the airport or, god forbid, bale it out of jail.

Other People’s Poetry

Language Event Two

Two Poets. Questions and answers are always independent.

(Suzanne Muzard, Andre Breton:)

What is a kiss?
A divagation, everything collapses.

What is daylight?
A naked woman bathing at nightfall.

What is exaltation?
It’s a blob of oil in a brook.

What are eyes?
The night watchman in a perfume factory.

What is hovering between Suzanne and me?
Great black threatening clouds.

What is a bed?
A fan quickly opened. The sound of a bird’s wing.



Translation from the French by Marcel Jean
From Poems of the Millenium, edited by
Jerome Rothenberge and Pierre Joris

Other People’s Poetry

The Dead In Frock Coats

In the corner of the living room was an album of unbearable photos,
many meters high and infinite minutes old,
over which everyone leaned
making fun of the dead in frock coats.

Then a worm began to chew the indifferent coats,
the pages, the inscriptions, and even the dust on the pictures.
The only thing it did not chew was the everlasting sob of life that broke
and broke from the pages.



Carlos Drummon de Andrade 1902 – 1988