Vancouver, British Columbia

30 May 2007

Five Poems

As if we moved to a new city
ice: conditions   
ice: substituion study
We don't like driving at night
Wind made us angry,

About Brook Houglum



As if we moved to a new city

arctic terns migrate 12,000 miles between arctic and Antarctic summers

arctic terns returning, we were outside, they were early, had come so far. spine of light on the skyline diagonal.  circumpolar knowing: you can still see an entrance, water you have left.  design routes from the pace of rain, wind speed.  for the first time something breaking.

which direction is north, provisionally. after so long, expanse without buildings: midnight, glacial.  said: how does he deal with grief.  if you soak a cracked plate in milk overnight. keeps busy and TV.  

lived at the edge then traveled in angles. entered from south-west, left at a juncture. we drove toward the mountains with no visibility.  rewrite motion, re-location. canal-like, geese streaming south block the sun.  this is fiction.

describe your city: ceramic, pale. drain-grates in drizzle.  pines in the tide zone, not flooded: rooted in water.  we move from room to room in the split-level, upstairs, down. there is a ledge.  you can go back anytime.  this is bread, tea.  this is personal.



Ice: conditions

if the ice starts cracking, lie horizontal
lie down quickly / with care

what is latent, what hovers:
I will describe it, it was evening
          we sat in the room of curtains / held
ice gentle as glass in mouth

if the grass starts icing
if the room starts weighing / humming
starts seething
          if the quiet



Ice: substitution study

          when we say ice, do we mean
          on the rocks (tonic, olive)
                    or compressed snow
          do we mean lake
                    or slow-forming glacier, its
                              crushing weight

when we say salt



We don’t like driving at night

roads are grey with salt, not ice

rock is grey of slate and light

roads are wet where slate and salt

roads sea salt wracked, lack light

rock salt, driving sleet, concrete



Wind made us angry,

erratic ridges on ice, unfit for skating

the morning after wind
unraveled, kept unraveling
impossible not to squint

it is midnight (so it seems)
not all the words can be retrieved
this is one version:
a flock of small dark birds at the edge of the pond curved into themselves
this is another:
we veered /     we corresponded /    the translation
is blindingly bright



Brook Houglum is working on a PhD on modernist poetics and co-coordinates a reading series, “participatory discrepancies,” at the University of British Columbia.  Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tinfish,, convolvulus, and Bellingham Review.