Distressed Façade

A building not in time with its sign.
Sun-baked, wind-wiped, dirty-white

What weather won’t make money will—
on a dime.
Distressed façade—
brown brick (behind baked layers of old paint)
has a line—it’s good and hard.
Noon cuts me some sun but the heat doesn’t reach.
Not all that’s light warms.
Magnificent March
unscrupulous day—
ironic as Antarctica—
too human-cold for sex yet all ablaze.

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Distressed Façade”?

This poem fuses idea, emotion, and the physical in the tight way typical of many of my pieces. It’s inspired by an old weather-worn building across the street from a vegetarian restaurant in Toronto where I’ve been eating, reading, and writing for years. But the poem is more about intimacy and sex than the building. Here I use a number of standard poetic devices for sonic, mental, and affective effect: alliteration in “Magnificent March,” extended simile in “ironic as Antarctica-/ too human-cold for sex yet all ablaze,” and aphorism—”Not all that’s light warms”—to encapsulate a stand. I found it amusing that the editors at Canadian Literature chose this poem for the Travel Issue; I’ve never considered it a travel poem, though it does contain the word “Antarctica”!

This poem “Distressed Façade” originally appeared in Travel. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 174 (Autumn 2002): 12.

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