Our home got stuck in a trash collector

Pull the spare mattress from under my parents’ bed
comforter under my arm. Leave it. Retrieve
my pillows and Can you try sleeping in your bed?

Could insist I have been, dreamt I died
everyone I love died, and I saw it all
from within the devourer’s maw.

Moments to convince them. Lie down.
Say nothing. They relent but I imagine
them and the trash collector dream of clear floors.

Our home got stuck in the head of a trash collector.
Dream-possible, we are ever up the road.
We march out with stuff and in and out again.

He raps on the truck to signal it forward.
We come with hardwood. We come with gift bags.
The cab necks ahead but the trailer extends as an angler’s jaw.

We shovel up from the cellar. Neighbours sneak more.
Junk mail carriers and paperboys are routed here.
Milkmen resurrect to soak it all.

Butcher pulls up and gestures, “Hey you
—I’m a kill you when you’re here.

~

This one was the product of two possible prompts: helplessness, and the coziest memory I have. Thanks as always to my parter Kate Maxfield for making me think.

Before the copycats [An incomplete poem]

Little Jew on my lap, I know Canada’s old Jew of letters
certainly did worse than hypnotize his sitter to undress.
Still, I will sing his verses and praise him
as an ancestor.

Little Jew on my lap, I do not know if it is worse
if the rabbi in the news vandalized her own home
or if some genuine Nazi did. The propagandists
offer apostates absolution.

Little Jew on my lap, do you know what it means
to be a Jewish in Canada in 2016? I assumed
we were immune from future culls.

Little Jew, us big Jews
do not know what to do.
Learn to speak, please, soon.

New poem, “Bystander,” by Jeff Blackman

I have a new poem up at Word and Colour, an online magazine dedicated to confronting oppression. Given a prompt with art, I spent a couple weeks trying to think of something to write that fulfills that mission. The best I could must is admit my own shortcomings. I’ve stood by and seen a lot of bad things happen, to strangers and people I know. I hope I can improve.

wordandcolour

stillnessTell her not to ask what I can do.
Tell her I wish someone else would help.
Tell her I’m not joining the defense.
Tell her something she already knew.

Tell her I read but I did not share her story.
Tell her I checked in & checked away from there.
Tell her she’s not in my thoughts or prayers.
Tell her, from here, I don’t see her territory.

Tell her, here, the fall has been so long.
Tell her, here, we had the Friday off.
Tell her, today, we took a thousand photographs.
We’re working through them. Tell her it’s a slog.

this poem by Jeff Blackman was inspired by the art of Dominique Normand

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Like magic

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Professor insists DEMOCRACIES DO NOT GO TO WAR.
Is it a genocide if everyone had a vote?

FOR THE GOOD OF MANKIND the Bikinians were relocated to a neighbouring atoll. Their Kind said, “We go believing everything is in the hands of God.” Fifteen atomic sunrises later

the place is safe enough for tourists to demystify, advertised alongside package tours to Chernobyl and Gettysburg and NAME A CONCENTRATION CAMP.

There are trees today on Bikini Atoll older than this green author. Large mammals thrive within the Cold War’s half-life. The blonde old President graces the battlefield, won’t be cowed by allegations—HE’LL SUE EVERY SINGLE ONE. Before free trips to Israel, Jewish pilgrims may pay to see a concentration camp.

An atoll is a coral tiara where a volcano was, or

an atoll is a stain where the Big Gulp was.

The benevolent general said, “In our country we have a saying: YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN.” The benevolent government said, “Have a half billion,” then skimped on stamps, closed the office, and the benevolent society loyalists said, “Cash for cheques and envelopes? Didn’t y’hear, we just promised the vicitms a half billion?”

“Didn’t y’know a lagoon’s a lake where there was a volcano? That pristine situation a by-product of primordial violence? The Jews got Israel, the slaves some Freedom. Imagine what beauty’s due for America again.”

~

The prompt was things you cannot see in their entirety, like atolls. The photo is from the Associated Press.

Intellectual piracy

New ideas showboat, take a shot, put up,
draw attention to their nethers. Old ideas
tremor, glower, dream of virginity, sip. No idea
worth its salt cowers below deck through weather.

Ideas drink. Ideas gorge. Ideas horde maps.
Ideas lash the truth from one another.
When one confesses, wash its wounds with seawater.
If it gives none, let the rogue fester.

Ideas ink conquests and trauma. Ideas lose limbs,
get hooks and pivot on canes. Some ideas prefer
the company of parrots. No ideas retire.
All ideas leather.

~

My most recent prompt was pirates, in part because I’m reading Gary Barwin’s Yiddish for Pirates. Expect Yiddish in future poems.

I’ll apologize now for not keeping up a new poem online per day. Some of the poems I’ve written so far have been just too raw to share just yet.

A recommendation, fellow WordPressers: follow Adam Sol’s How a Poem Moves. He updates once a week, giving a wise and considerate read of very good poems. Great resource for anyone looking to either hone their craft, or just deepen their appreciation of poetry.