Your Poisoned Life

You are beholden to petrochemicals:

your hiking sneakers that tramped through acid rain

deep down the East Coast Trail; the product

that keeps your hair from falling out, promising

volume and wig-like sheen; your kitchen gadgets

in various shades of plastic; pink cradles

of insulation, piled one on top of

the other in the attic; ball

of deodorant,

carcinogenic baby-powder scent.


The photograph of your 85-year-old

father riding the back of a jet ski’s roar,

a Seabright’s Bay spray of nitrogen, making

his bare feet appear lit from within.

You can’t stop consuming, covering the walls

of your cave with lists of things you’re sure to

start needing any minute now.


You shouldn’t have kissed the gussied corpse

in your mother’s coffin.

And your wife’s creamed flesh, be careful not to

devour her moisturized skin.

At your last birthday, you guzzled

margaritas the colour of napalm.


At the very least, you are a can of Raid,

a serotonin uptake inhibitor,

a sugar substitute.

Questions and Answers

What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?

This poem was motivated by caring deeply for the environment and often feeling that there’s so little I can do to make a difference. Poetry of empowerment, I’d call it. It was important to me that the poem not be just a rant or wear a permanent scowl, but that it have a bit of the absurd about it and a healthy dose of gallow’s humour

What poetic techniques did you use in this poem? How much attention do you pay to form and metre?

I tried to use a combination of old-fashioned language (“beholden” and “the walls of our cave”) and the shock of the new (“The photograph of your 85-year old/father riding the back of a jet ski’s roar,/a Seabright’s Bay spray of nitrogen”). I also spent a lot of time on sound echoes, line breaks, and similes, techniques that reminded the reader of form in the midst of madness.

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