City of Regina Writing Award
These are the poems read by Tracy Hamon, the winner of this year's City of Regina Writing Award at the Award Winner's Reception and Reading, held in the Blue Room, Hotel Saskatchewan, Regina, on Wednesday, 04 May 2005.
A wise man once said
Let me tell you my secrets—
I read what he had to say anyway.
You said you wanted to get to know me.
I’m not the easiest person to live with— I need
three quarters of the bed, three pillows and I snore.
I like rich food and red wine, not necessarily
in that order. I like dark haired men,
firm abs and I’ve only been unfaithful
four times in the last month. Sure, it’s easy
to see I’m difficult, a bit of a pain
in the ass, stubborn and usually right
but my telling you won’t make it less
real, won’t ease the finger of your brain
trying to learn its way around the curve
of my life as if it was a simple hip
under your palm, your hand gliding its way
round to the Brazilian wax I had last week
for only thirty-five dollars, a steal when you think
how long its been since anyone’s read
close enough to see.
Eyeing the prospects
The moment you wake is this
stark realization of light
filtering into your mind and you see
perspective as the dried red
wine in a glass, leftover
like a lover from last night
a dark shade you didn’t really
notice until the sun
bared the stain on the empty
edge of glass. There
clarity is precision, the point
you placed and held your lips
drinking down a poison, strong
as a kiss, a partner
you wake next to for years.
needed prairie wind, something
more faithful than hand hewn forms,
echoic motion, the yawing way
a quest climbs trails
furrowed and weathered by hands
innocent of anything but desire to still
an obsession that flies
into the arms of those
keening for this dirt filled place,
of broken earth carried thick
as wax on the back of feather-stained air,
a full prairie swoon landing on seeded soil,
the best place to settle and ease
before it rises as confidence, crow
from a branch, black arc of each wing,
an eyelid opening and closing
until each wake of movement
in this barren field is flight
This morning panic arrives
in the form of a post card
naming me as occupant
of a house with no address
no numbers dedicated
to a space on the end
only a hint on the corner
Sinton and Rae but even these
are not the same kind of road.
Yet it arrives
from Italy, scratched out blue
of an ink like an abstract appeal
a message so stark in its reality
that I am animated and flip
to the detail, Rainerbub
on the reverse, the red robe of
a boy engraved, the fixed
scar of a journey.
The heart takes a plunge
Night moves over mudflats as rain
floods a desert horizon. Here
fish swim in forests, wetland
bellies and ribcages
of gum trees
mesh-finned bodies, brushing
wet skin like the dark
wool of a coat against
an autumn arm
driftwood shoulder, narrow
beach of neck, and how to say
what is already submerged
what is slipping
from one to another.
Monochromatic press of lips
to lips and liquid holds reflection
silver moonlit eyes, a place
where the intimate bend of body
becomes something secret, gills
opening and closing, the pull
of life in, breath of the heart
How falling is a formality
It is here
in the knee, the way it collapses
smooth crushed against rough cold
concrete, the thick weight of bone
connecting with a quick fist
of gravity. It is here I understand
for the first time the sharpness
as letting go, the unfolding
green and blue bruise
of time, a soft, fleshy
surrender, how the body turns
ever so slowly in its darkening
away from the living.
My belly in the bath tonight. Indigo.
As if blue-jean colour dipped its hue
into the life-point of me. Absorbing
the slight well of flesh. How I wish
this blue would pass, detach like a cord
and release its way beyond the flat,
wheat-field of myself, lather a swath clean
through layers thick as honey baled straw.
I tell myself there is nothing to it.
It will wash. But sureness is a bruise,
its hold the tight grip of a child
fear-sticky palm linked to mine.
I have searched for one
whole week or more, you
like the moon, disappear
set behind strawberry sun
while my white feet chant
their porcelain run through
brome, sedge, fescue. Falling
earth bails out into dark
and I find stars clever, their five
point paths isolate a bloom
clear bulb of electric
night once more coupled
with space and closed old clouds
and I am sleeping with the light on
so much it easier to see
why I can’t find you.
Annals of January
1. A large stocky sky. Cooked the roast.
2. Sleep. Snow.
4. Frost. The window is blind.
5. The day before returned. Rime. Hard.
6. Wine. An expansion. Bread.
8. Snow. I dream in white.
9. Sleep is uneasy frost. Goldfish died.
10. The sun acts as June. Charms the window.
13. Wine. Red lessening. Gold.
14. Loneliness is an owl. Up all night.
16. I sleep in white. Dream in wine.
17. Read a book. Growth.
20. An inch of hair. Language.
21. Bought a fish. Something and nothing.
23. Unexpected delivery. Sunset at six.
25. The sun. Two minutes later.
27. An end. I dreamed.
28. Light is horizontal. A beginning.
30. Rain washes the car. Found money.
31. Snow. Loneliness in inches.
What is Overheard
In line at the checkout of the grocery store
on a Tuesday afternoon in February. In a city
small enough that disaster never falls
without flattening at least two people.
It’s what you hear while balancing seven
odd items, not enough for a basket, or even a cart,
not enough to stop or to let go. Each finger
carefully bent on something, like the fragment
of conversation, when the young girl
beside you tells her friend that she was standing
right beside him and she didn’t even know.
Standing with her arm touching, every hair
anxious in the intimate space between, a space
she experienced as contained, as if catastrophe
is his heart, an echo breathing through pores
and into her arm. She said she felt him
stir then, the slight friction of skin
on material, small sigh of cotton, the roughness
of his voice in apology, sound like an open palm,
calloused hand, a hand you imagine
holding the curved span of concealed skin,
holding the sound of a jungle, an orchestra,
after-rain mist as he conducts
her forward, the lean of her lips, a note
slanting next to his mouth, treble of harmony
missing and settling for his cheek, the embrace
as expansion that one mark just above his chin
staggering. You listen to how they held each other
this way too long and you understand how, too long
you have learned to hold yourself in line.
The girl I used to be
It’s about the weeds run wild, like hope
stains, saffron against blue jeans-- the time
I played among tall stalks of grasses
green and thin, seed heads closed tight
to a curious eye-- built a shelter in bush
from tumbled branches, supple and light
sloping one against the other, furrow
of poplar, saskatoon and chokecherry.
I concealed an earth floor with straw
rescued from an old barn, eased
grass onto the wooden shell, gathered
wild chamomile, black-eyed susans
and dandelions, yellow animate
spirits to fill the raw holes of home.
Today I flood the weeds
with vinegar, tomorrow the wild
blossoms will be brown
casualties in the green.
In the absence of conversation
i. Eat a snowman.
Pretend to be the sun. Find a snowman. A small one wearing a brown, funny hat. One who looks at the world with orange unfocussed eyes and a dark, plastic nose. Make sure he doesn’t see you. Let him believe the cold will hold him, let him believe the hardness underneath is the cool sheet of your affection. Then rise on him, thrust your tongue gently into the pocket of his ear, hold that place as a valley, reminder of home, and breathe. Slide appetite down the length of his spine like a hand; curve the fern shape of butt to your flatness. Place your lips next to the down of air and sound. Be one with the snow and melt.
ii. Eat disappointment.
Stare at it like a cat. Hold its gaze and wonder what it’s thinking. Don’t blink. Watch the narrow way it rolls off the eyes of someone in front of you when he looks down. Lick it. Stomach the saltiness until your tongue is boiling. Balance it as something burnt sticking to each hair in your nose all afternoon. Blow it out as a pink bubble. Chew.
iii. Eat a play.
Act I. Ingest the lead character in a tragedy.
Act II. Ingest the minor character in a tragedy.
Act III. Rip apart other characters as green lettuce and toss. Sprinkle liberally with croutons.
Act IV. Taste someone else’s words as fresh. Perspective digests a spectrum, a specter. A rainbow of saliva flutters at your lips-- words as gourmet, the choice in line, after line, after line. One long noodle of time.
Act V. Swallow. And die.
iv. Eat rice.
Engrave your name on a grain of rice. Tiny. So small no one will see it. Wear it around your neck. Engrave your name on thousands, maybe millions of grains of rice. It’s not good cooked. Save them, sometimes for years. Throw them as confetti into the eyes of the one who has left you.
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