Brenda Schmidt lives in Creighton, a mining town in northern Saskatchewan, where she works as a writer, editor and visual artist and where she imparts her views and plays on her blog, Alone on a Boreal Stage. Her writing has appeared in publications across Canada.
Her first collection of poetry, A Haunting Sun (Thistledown Press, 2001) was a finalist for the Saskatchewan Book Awards for Poetry. Her book More Than Three Feet of Ice, winner of the 2003 Alfred G. Bailey Prize for Poetry and runner-up for the 2004 John V. Hicks Manuscript Award, was published by Thistledown Press in April 2005. These poems are from a new manuscript. Her next book will appear in 2008.
An Exercise in Perspective
Wired to eat the web that was spun
over time, spin another
just the same. Wait for vibration.
A spider darts back and forth
through the darkness
just a few feet from our heads, her
silvery path barely visible, quivering
like a lip. Like the first time
I said I hate you.
Hate just slipped. Its silk
stuck to a wall. It sticks to everything.
To the space that grew between
the argument, the war, whatever
it was about, and now
to a silence. A continuum. Later
it will stick to the sheets.
Under the stars
the orb weaver gives us
her daily web, forgives us
for watching. Being caught up. Maybe
she didn't care in the first place.
Fine. Never mind
rules of legitimate construction.
Relative positions. Just think.
Almost 400 million
years of silk draglines. Silk grids.
Crying at 8:15 a.m.
Terminal 3, Gate C37. Pre-boarding. A baby is crying.
These forty year old breasts point it out, the nipples
eartips no longer needing the rest of the stethoscope
to separate ambient noise from critical body sounds.
The mother, maybe twenty, eats a bagel. Cream cheese
squeezes through the hole like an egg, Humpty Dumpties
to her lap. Splats on the blue jean tarmac. She scrapes it up,
piles it on the remaining bite. Puts it together again.
The cry takes off, ascends, as the mother licks the cheese
off her fingers, eyes locked on the points my shirt makes
in the artificial light. Terrific. She lifts the bundled screaming
to her breast. Heads turn. Time dilates. A hundred pupils
fix to the sudden silence. A hundred nipples
sense the latch, the wide-eyed sucking, the flow
as the mother smiles my way, the bit of cheese on her lip
a blighted ovum. A bitter curd that keeps on rising.
Holy water in a Heinz baby food jar.
I hold it up to the light, see no impurities,
only the barely pink distortion of my coworker's face.
Throw it out, she says, turning back to the locker,
to the job of emptying, pulling out one by one every card,
every envelope, every letter
filed in the shoebox that contained the floral slippers
the patient had unwrapped three days before.
The staff had cooed about their quality
as the patient folded the foil wrap and put it in the drawer.
She'd mumbled about the postage, how it shouldn't cost
so much to send something so light from there to here,
how they should've waited,
brought the gift with them in the spring.
Slippers, ivory robe and family pictures
placed into a bag and labeled.
The squares of Aero and Kit Kat fingers,
wrapped in their respective foils, loose peppermints,
three nearly empty tubes of Vaseline,
a half box of Kleenex all hit the garbage.
My coworker takes the poinsettia to the desk
then returns to strip the bed. I toss out the red
and white carnations, dump out the fowl brown water.
A few leaves and petals stick to the sink.
I unscrew the lid from the jar,
use the blessed water to chase a petal down.
So, I'd like to start with a comment made near the end of your Late Nights with Wild Cowboys, in the poem "Jawbone." You express real fear and anxiety over the prospect of having your life and love be objectified, turned into summary, a bowdlerized rendering that "[leaves] nearly everything out." More than that, though, you are worried about how we ourselves are complicit in this sort of exclusionary act. I guess what I'd like to ask first, then, is: do you imagine poetry as a means of letting things in rather than keeping everything out? And what are you aiming to let in, exactly?
I really do think of poetry in that way, in terms of providing a space -- an opening -- in which it might be possible to say the things that are hard, and perhaps impossible, to say otherwise; in which to express that inarticulate feeling that you get sometimes...continue reading
Steve McOrmond's new collection of poems begins with a caution. In the style of TV content warnings, "Advisory" lists potential disturbing content to come: "themes which could threaten the viewer's sense of security," "Evidence of fatalism and irreligion," and the typical forewarnings about sexuality, violence and "language." Here McOrmond displays the dual cautionary and playful perspectives that interact throughout the book, switching from warnings about a drowning and an animal attack to the line, "The following program may contain scenes not suitable for language."
The poem raises the expected questions about what we censor and screen in popular media. What is considered objectionable, and why? Placed at the start of a collection whose title references Armageddon, "Advisory" leads the reader to expect a certain discomfort.
With that warning, the book moves to the title...continue reading