six poems about the process of writing

Partial submission

I thought of mailing you a paper-clip
then thought again
for surely you must have some
in a similar small green tray
or palm-sized round jar (on its lid
a scene of camels, desert, sun)
or in a drawer, a chain
of collected shining metal wealth.

So I removed the strangely precious thing
and mailed these poems
in a brown envelope of pain.
When you receive them,
you can add your own.

The light alive

I will go
and write my poems
and they will be

You know
what that means
alive with light
light alive

you taught me
(though I often drop
the candle into water

or bury the campfire
under clay) that sunset
signals another dawn coming

and another after that
if not for you or me
then for some others
the light borrowed

When you can’t write, write

When you can’t write, write.
When you can’t love, love.

The dew soaks your cuffs and your ankles shiver.
Insect life slows.
The fly drops when you flick it.
The spider leaves the web’s centre, shelters under the nearest leaf.
Beginning with your body, there are so many tasks to be done.

The wheel turns reluctantly you think.
You ascribe emotion to an abstract idea-word-picture.
You felt it turn once before on New Year’s Eve
and it was two great cogs, grinding stones that turned together.
A mixture of smooth and rough sanded away
seconds months hours centuries
and just this once for you
one millenium.

You looked doubtfully at the people you were with.
They blew away like spent leaves.
The place where the stones grind opened
and you saw something larger than you could understand,
a place where everything alive slowed
and then rushed forward and you lost and gained
a bit more of this impermanence
before it closed.

Monroe reads Joyce

Sweet lady sits enthralled in a book that curls her toes.
She’s subtle, smooth, subdued: the opposite of
the packaged thing we’ve come to expect.

In the playground, as she nears the voyage’s end,
she teeters
close to the edge of the world.

à la Dickinson

These are the blessings of my house –
The silver thread, the maw –
And these are the blessings in my head –
Curled bud, uncurling claw.

Encaustic show – a steady drip –
The heat cannot retard it –
The paint is gone – was never there –
The wax refused to guard it.

Who look for me, statistics find –
My former lives engendered –
Unnecessary reasons, rhymes –
Imperfectly pretended.


Half a page each poem’s allotted:
for each there’s half a page.

And when one comes out rather shorter,
a pithy porter,

shouldering bits of love or rage,
ten lines or less of sensitivity, grief;

admit, dear reader,
your relief.

Louise Carson's work has recently appeared in Montreal Serai, Other Voices, Vallum, subTerrain, Geist, Prairie Fire, CV2 and The Montreal Review, with work upcoming in Carousel, The Montreal Review, Event and Cahoots. Her book Rope: A Tale Told in Prose and Verse was published by Broken Rules Press (Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue) in 2011 while Mermaid Road will be available from the same press in 2013.