From: The Present

Today, that phatic day, presses upon the present
a feeling that goes past its possible experience.
a knowledge that outstrips
the damage done. And the damage to come.

Today optimism is
to take over the building
you have lived in and then
got evicted from.
Occupation, the turn over
and not the disposition.
The ships are always in the harbour—they are a network
we are a network and I’d like
to differentiate, to make different—against the tide
the world made smoother

Centre and periphery, finally abolished
by the same violence that made
them both, “subjected to force by police”
now, or the army or the invading forces, then.
and that can be, must of been wrong place
wrong body, wrong technology, wrong continent.
Is there ever a right time?

Even the sea
is on fire when you cross it
out of necessity.

Today, a coup or a stunt coup, or a media coup
made the present appear
as history and not a screwing down
onto itself, double down against the others.
“I know a place, ain’t no smiling faces.”
The economic draws the cultural in,
then the cultural leads at one point, justifying not love
dusting disdain, revenge, some form
of cruelty we have become accustomed to.
The point, where they cross, the economic
and our lives, is the point to place the explosives.
Is that what work is.

Today, was a day to get things done
where things get done
as acts that replenish themselves.
Working, I did not
see it this way, day reproduces itself.

Today is not going to happen
like de-schooling Adorno or having the state
apologize through a networked software
the joy, the pure joy
the workers jumped up
all having finished their tasks.

Today, not even here yet and already
there’s been pleas like Little Willie John’s
“Talk to Me” at midnight, at midnight
America again.

Today, the present has compressed
autonomy. In 1934, when the miners
in Asturias took it for ten hours
the fascists scouted with an autogyro
what we might
now call a drone. And the present
compresses into a form
of foreboding that never arrives.

What can make this break.

Today, Calais.
Today, Charlotte.
Today Aleppo.
Today Tulsa.
Yesterday L.A.
and not so long ago Baghdad.

Questions and Answers

Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?

Not a moment, but Pat Lowther’s social contradiction and sincerity poetry.

Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful?

SFU literary archives

As a published writer, what are your tips or words of motivation for the aspiring poet?

Organize your own community.

What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?

Issues of work, labour, environment, and class, and Chile 1973.

How did your writing process unfold around this poem? How did you write, edit, and refine it?

Generally, I edit a poem in thirty to fifty drafts; this one is still in process.

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