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Cover of issue #220

Current Issue: #220 Tracking CanLit (Spring 2014)

Canadian Literature’s Issue 220 (Spring 2014) is now available. The issue features a wide range of articles and book reviews as well as a selection of new Canadian poetry.

Hornbook #15

by Robert Kroetsch

I am one nervous poem. Can a poem be nervous?
Well of course a poem can be nervous. Just think about it.
First things first. How am I to view the end of the millennium?
Who the fuck wouldn’t be nervous? Things change.

It’s my nerves. Consider, for instance, the annihilation of species.
My habitat is on the way out. The forests are burning.
Recycle, recycle they tell us. The humans, I mean.
It’s my frayed assumptions. I don’t know where to begin.

Language, apparently, changes. Then where does the ego hang its hat?
Listen, I’m not telling you. I’m asking a simple, obvious question.
And the oceans are rising. The ozone layer is full of holes.
I’m not asking for pity. Pity up your royal rectum.

I’m trying to make adjustments. So off with my end rhymes.
When does the end justify the moans? Ha, funny.
It’s my wrecked nerves. I suppose the eternal would be even worse.
Once upon a time, and later, and later again. Holy shit.

More poems by Robert Kroetsch:


"Hornbook #15" originally appeared in Canadian Literature #158: New Directions (Autumn 1998)

MLA: Kroetsch, Robert. CanLit Poets: "Hornbook #15" by Robert Kroetsch. canlit.ca. Canadian Literature, 12 Mar. 2009. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.

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