Half Way


Shunt-creak side-track, clump-rumble forward
squeak, murmur, backslide. Slouch
toward Winnipeg three hours late
for Colin Smith Carbonated Bippies!
laugh-in.

Midnight wheel-gleam Union Station
thirty minutes till reboarding.
Rembarquement en trente minutes
this going somewhereness
roadless dark inside outerspace.

Car aides at their boxes
hand sleepy-eyed idea riders
to ‘Grand Central’ police-glare.
The mind’s a monkey, Colin sez,
and poetry its best chimp

chasing the goose round Union dome
circle of brass maple leaves,
four stories up white space shimmers,
think domicide. Poetry gets zero
for conduct, always,
and doesn’t care, sez Colin.

Strain retractable leash
through Roman arches
black wind-sniff watery murk
glass aluminum ghostlit tower
gives night the finger.

Snap. Neck-yank
back to basement fug.
Rembarquement en dix minutes
train of thought departs
seedy light on station pillar.


Questions and Answers

A.

Being around poets such as Robin Blaser, Daphne Marlatt, and Lisa Robertson has been immensely inspiring. Attending poetry readings is very important for both beginning and established poets. Your poems are part of a conversation with all poets that crosses centuries. I also actively collect things seen and heard as I walk around the city or travel. The dictionary with its histories and roots of words is another place I research. Be a word scientist: break up words and grammar and recombine them in wild unusual ways.

B.

I wrote “Half Way” as part of a series of poems reflecting on Canada, as I crossed it by train. I was supposed to meet the poet Colin Smith in Winnipeg, but the train was so late he could not wait up. The poem went through many edits and revisions, as I searched for the best way to capture the train noises, and my wandering around Union Station, yet hearing Colin’s poetry as part of the conversation. Although the poem is open-form, rhythm and line-breaks are crucial to its mood and pacing. Revising these to maximize vividness and suggestiveness was the biggest challenge.

 


This poem “Half Way” originally appeared in 60th Anniversary Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 239 (2020): 48-49.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.