Achilles Dreaming

January 25, 2018

how to love a mortal:

stay away from him. gods
do not love. you are a god.
do not love something
that will someday die.

small-boned, soft-hearted,
voice smooth as stones.
when he breaks his ankle
you think to yourself:
oh, how easily the world
wounds him. oh,
how easily he bleeds.

he kisses you first. he
is thirteen and human
and he will someday die.
do not kiss him back.

you say: mother, can
a god love a boy?
thetis sharpens her teeth.
she says: well, what good
has love ever done?

you were born a weapon
but you kiss him anyway.
you kiss him because
he is beautiful and temporary
and you do not yet understand
what it means to kill.

making love to him feels
like being remade, doesn’t it?
here, the knife in his mouth.
here, the starlight in his eyes.
here, his sweat on your tongue
like salt of the river Styx.

in this dream, you
kill Agamemnon.
in this dream,
there is no war.
in this dream,
he lives forever.

he puts your clothes on
and you forget he is mortal.
he puts your clothes on
and he forgets it, too.

when the world burned,
your mother whispered:
you knew, didn’t you?
i told you
not to love something
that will someday die.

you do not say:
i knew, but i was selfish.
i am a god.
it is my nature.

Natalie Wee

In a world where all the heroes
are pilots with voices like God
he brought her a strand of some woman’s

hair to wear on her wing.
She looked sideways at the ground
silent behind the cloudy film covering

her eyes knowing she would be his
forever. They cruised the city nights
each one spiralling away from the other

but always coming home to gather stories.
Dark streets bright tavern lights drunks
filled with beer in the gutters.

The flicker of stars shaped like a hunter’s
arrow bent stars that twinkled like babies’
eyes. No babies for them. She was an outcast.

He a loner. A perfect pair.
Winters had made him wise
and he avoided the single nests of summer.

He told her about things she could see.
How the dismal cover of clouds roils and explodes
and the ground aches like an old woman’s knee.

How wood rots against the tide
good for hunting grub.
How to fade and fall back into the wind.

He translated her pulse
into near-language. Their poetry so personal
even Peterson’s Field Guide could not tap it.

Only a stray hunter saw it.
Shook his head once thinking it a trick
of wind and wing then turned his eyes north

to search for the simple flight
of Brant or Canadian. Those patterns
he could easily understand.

That last night they drank from the river.
Sucked its delicate cusps of mould
sang anti social songs as if they were humans.

When he flicked his handsome head
to catch the drift of wind
she even managed a single tear.

She waited through days and nights
of grief. Circled the city less
then settled on the wires.

The metallic conductor captured her eyes.
She remembered how he proudly sang her name
as he pranced from pole-top to KV line.

One last fluff of feathers. One sigh
for all the unnested summers.
One single scratch

one electrical surge of power of love.
Then she fell smiling.
A trick he had taught her.

Colleen J McElroy

the night outside

January 25, 2018

Outside the trees sighed in the wind. For a moment I believed I felt and saw the night outside deep within me. Wind and wetness, autumn, bitter smell of foliage, scattered leaves of the elm tree. Autumn! Autumn!”

Hermann Hesse
A Dream Sequence
The Complete Fairy Tales


January 25, 2018

I shall be a clinger to the outsides of words all my life.

Virginia Woolf
The Waves

good-looking men

January 25, 2018

I don’t like good-looking men – one always thinks they’ll be dumb.
I spent my 30s having love affairs to make up for lost time and writing as a sort of sideline.

Alice Adams
Interview with Nancy Faber for People 3rd April 1978

tried my hand at a novel

January 25, 2018

an eternity

I can remember bothering my father to drive me down to Coles bookstore at Yonge and Charles in downtown Toronto when I was fourteen to buy a copy of the first paperback printing of From Here of Eternity with its famous black-and-red bugle cover. I knew that they would not have sold me, over the counter, this hesitating, skinny kid with brushcut and glasses, such a sizzling work, and my father had to go in to buy it for me. I can still to this day still inhale the smell of that fresh Signet pulp paper, like the scent of oil on leather. I remember the following summer when I first tried my hand at a novel, a fifteen-year-old’s version of Jones’s epic, sitting in our backyard on Rostrevor Raod, writing in longhand on long yellow sheets an army novel called The Boovermak Episode, which ran to three hundred pathetic pages and managed to recycle every relationship, incident and tragic nuance of the original. I remember that when I first went to Paris in 1962 I would gravitate regularly to the Ile St. Louis where Jones and his family lived in a remarkable apartment at 10 Quai d’Orleans overlooking the Seine; circling the area, I would sometimes linger in the narrow rue Budé in front of the heavy entrance doors wondering if I would ever muster the courage to push the buzzer and pay my respects. I never did, though Jones was known to be a notoriously easy touch and extraordinarily generous to people like myself, aspiring young writers without credentials. I became an habituté of Shakespeare and Company, an untidy little bookstore across the river because I knew that Jones sometimes dropped around to scour the shelves or attend cocktail parties in the upstairs quarters. George Whitman, an American, who still runs it, was equally generous to young people going for broke in the land of Hemingway; there was free coffee on a hot plate upstairs, chairs and sofas for reading, corners for down-and-outers to sleep in overnight; if you re-shelved a book with your bookmark still in place George wouldn’t sell it until you had finished. The sort of place Jones would’ve liked, unpretentious, fundamental, open-ended. I met him there one afternoon, at last, as he browsed along the narrow corridors of shelves. He was square-bodied, lantern-jawed, fierce-looking; not a big man but he gave the impression of compacted power that went all the way to his eyes. I managed to push out something, half-greeting, half-tribute, and he nodded, and that was it, sadly. And I remembered an hour’s conversation with Mary McCarthy in London, Ontario, a few years after his death, when she spoke of his problems as a writer and virtues as a man. I ought to have paid him a call in Paris, she said; he was good at that sort of thing. Strangers who buzzed him up from the rue Budé often stayed for dinner.

Lawrence Garber
Looking Back at James Jones