Big News Cafe

Corner of Granville Street and Broadway with Kaplan
Business College brick parapet, white neon letters scrawled
on blue revolving sign. Sand brick with stone moulding
and blue accents. Row of churchy pointed windows and
brick piers modernism condemned. Not structural, so no
right to appear with their peaked gables. Two enormous
churchy-pointed arches over main entrance. Stone crests on
either side, narrow twisted columns with scroll-top capitals
dreaming of quadrangles at Oxford. QAT, DAT, SAT,
PCAT, GMAT window signs. To Idle Ant in Big News Cafe.
Horoscope: by all means help someone in dire need. Rush
in like the knight in shining armour you’ve always wanted to
be. But don’t promise to bail them out unless you want them
ringing you up morning, noon and night.

Shining-armour Don Quixote Ant stares through cafe
glass for big news—some Polaris or Cassiopeia for dead
reckoning—haut shops on Lord Large-village street, Blenz
Coffee under Business College. All merged in a big dream.
Northeast corner, Royal Bank. Southwest corner, Chapters
Books. Big boxes selling little cartons of fancy. RSPs make
all your retirement dreams come true. The bank’s yellow
letters, black marble facing on concrete slabs and rows of
aluminum windows.

City’s a lot of going into—rooms—wombs. Non-city’s one
big space. In Shining-armour Ant-mind.

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Big News Cafe”?

“Big News Cafe” was written as part of the series of poems that became Nightmarker. It began as a journal entry that I wrote while in the Cafe, which is on the northwest corner of Granville Street and Broadway. I sat in the cafe and looked at the architecture of the buildings on the corner and thought about the way human societies unconsciously imitate earlier forms. A business school creates a facade for itself with stone and gothic arches linking itself to great university architecture at places like Oxford. Throughout the series I thought a lot about cities as anthills, hence the reference to ants.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Big News Cafe”?

The most important technique in “Big News Cafe” is its cross-cutting or splicing in the same way films splice together scenes and images. In the poem the crosscutting splices various texts: the architectural text, the texts of the signage, the text of the horoscope, the text of Don Quixote.

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