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 international
Spring, ig6y $1.25 The editors of PRISM international welcome another fine magazine
to British Columbia and wish it success:
THE MALAHAT REVIEW
AN INTERNATIONAL QUARTERLY OF LIFE AND LETTERS
Edited by John Peter and Robin Skelton
It is part of the Review's policy to publish literary documents of special
importance to scholars as well as fiction, drama, poetry, and memoirs
from countries throughout the world. Thus in an early issue we shall
print a number of previously unpublished letters by D. H. Lawrence, a
selection of previously uncollected poems by John Clare edited for us
by Eric Robinson and Geoffrey Summerfield, and a searching article
on Metaphor and Suggestion by Krishna Rayan which compares and
relates Sanskrit to Anglo-American theory on this subject. Other contributions to the first year's issues include: the first English translations
of a play by Strindberg and of an important essay on Cervantes by
Unamuno, a new translation by Austin Clarke of a Cervantes Interlude, exclusive photographs of Henry Moore's most recent sculpture, a
translation by Michael Hamburger of a Radio Play by Giinter Eich,
reproductions of work-sheets by Thomas Kinsella and John Betjeman,
an illustrated memoir of Miro and his printmaking by Ruthven Todd,
sections of a Central African journal by Paul Theroux, an unpublished
one-act play by the late George Fitzmaurice, poetry by Laurence Lerner,
Glyn Hughes (U.K.), D. J. Enright (Singapore), Richard Weber
(Eire), Robert Fitzgerald (U.S.A.), James K. Baxter (New Zealand),
David Summers (Canada), translations of poetry from Germany,
Mexico and the Philippines, short stories by Andrew Fetler, Fred
Rebsamen (U.S.A.), Barbara Jump (U.K.), Heinz Piontek (Germany), Veljko Petrovik (Yugoslavia), and essays by Frank Kermode,
William Plomer, G. Wilson Knight, and Bonamy Dobree.
The Malahat Review measures 6 by 9 inches, contains a minimum of
twelve full page illustrations in each issue and is set in Baskerville and
printed on Rolland Zephyr Book paper by the Morriss Printing Company of Victoria.
The annual subscription to The Malahat Review
is $5.00
Subscriptions should be sent to
THE MALAHAT REVIEW
UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA, VICTORIA, B.C., CANADA STAFF
editor-in-chief Jacob Zilber
acting editor-in-chief /. Michael Yates
associate editors Robert Harlow
Prose
Douglas Bankson
Poetry
Drama
ART EDITOR   Clive Cope
advisory editor Jan de Bruyn
subscriptions   Cherie Smith
distribution Andreas Schroeder
cover photo Jon Webb
illustrations   by Vancouver School
of Art students:
Judi Andrews
Jean Loggie
Darylene Haggarty
PRINTED BY MORRISS PRINTING COMPANY LTD., VICTORIA, B.C.
PRISM international is a journal of contemporary writing, published three times
a year by the University of British Columbia. Annual subscriptions are $3.50,
single copies $1.25, obtainable by writing to PRISM, c/o Creative Writing,
U.B.C., Vancouver 8, B.C.
MSS should be sent to the Editors at the same address and must be accompanied by a self-addressed envelope and Canadian or unattached U.S. stamps,
or commonwealth or international reply coupons. PRISM
international
VOLUME SIX    NUMBER THREE
CONTENTS
PROSE
Athens
gabrtel gersh
5
The Family
JUDITH SCHWARZ
13
You Can't Come Back
CLYDE BARNEBEY
75
POETRY
Six Poems
LUIGI BARTOLINI
(translated from the Italian
by DORA pettinella)
25
There Is That In You Which
Won't Be Fooled, Johnson ...
ELI SIEGEL
32
Two Poems
JOHN ROBERTS
36
Three Poems
MARGARET ATWOOD
38
Two Poems
PIERRE COUPEY
41
Two Poems
EARLE BIRNEY
42
The Seminar
CHARLES BUKOWSKI
44
Two Poems
JOSEPH MARGOLIS
5i
Our Lady of the Hemlock
OLIVER EVERETTE
52
You are the Revolution
ROBERTO FERNANDEZ RETAMAR
(translated from the Spanish
by ROGER prentice)
54
An Unknown Friend
RICHARD EMIL BRAUN
55
In Calgary, These Things
IAN ADAM
57
Epitaph for a Small Circle
STANLEY COOPERMAN
2
59 Two Poems    frank davey 6i
Two Poems    romanus egidu 68
A New Day     m. k. hameed 70
Two Poems    assia werfel-lachin 71
(translated from the French
by chris johnson)
Two Poems    miriam waddington 82
Two Poems    peter van toorn 84
Three Poems    edward yeomans 88
Five Poems    ken belford 90
Books and Periodicals Received 93
notes on contributors appear beside their work  Gabriel Gersh teaches English at Long Island University and Hunter College.
He is a regular contributor to The New York Times, The Christian Science
Monitor, The Nation, The Kenyon Review, Commonweal, New Leader, The
Montrealer, Queen's Quarterly, Saturday Review, and The Dalhousie Review.
He comments: "When the Mediterranean travel writer watches the dusk bringing its own peculiar southern sadness to a small fishing village, or perhaps feels
himself unjustly excluded from the tinkling gaiety of a wine shop in a back-
street, he is at such moments not only re-establishing contact with the past,
but also discovering or rediscovering the sources of his own identity and worth."
ATHENI
GABRIEL GERSH
No city requires more urgently than Athens an open mind in
the visitor. In no city, probably, are the realities more remote from
the fancies in the head of the stranger — at any rate the literary
stranger. Athens the serene, the well-proportioned, the notably
balanced: home of the philosophers — there it floats in the imagination, a dream of marble columns and marble phrases; soaring
pacific above the dream, an inviolable Parthenon. And then the
visitor arrives to find itinerant photographers on the slopes of the
Acropolis; below, the concrete canyons of a modern capital:
brakes squealing, and pedestrians, on the crossings of the wide,
roaring boulevards, offering the sporting car driver a sporting target — playing, you might say, Athenian roulette.
For Greece is changing every year; especially Athens is changing;
it is no longer the romantically distant, engagingly ramshackle city
of the twenties and the thirties. The donkey standing every spring
at a street corner, his panniers a cloud of white tulips, anemones,
almond blossom humming with bees; the swim in the warm, deserted
dark from the rocks, where, just beyond Phaleron, a taverna had
set out a few iron tables — that Athens is gone; the heat itself, some
Greeks say, has changed, grown windless, stifling in the crevices
between the tall new buildings. Easy to say that Athens, that Greece is being spoiled: easy and
not even new. Many years ago strangers were already expressing
their disappointment; I remember a distinguished pre-historian looking out from the Acropolis and grumbling about the setdements —
desperate shacks contrived from stones and gas cans and stretching
out towards Hymettos — in which the refugees from Asia Minor
had shown the bad taste to house themselves. The country is always
being spoiled by somebody or other. Students of ancient Greece
complain that the Romans ruined the place by superimposing Latin
monuments on the wreckage of the Hellenic. Classicists are chilly
towards Byzantine Greece, and classical archaeologists, when some
Byzantine fragment appears in their excavations, would like to
throw it away. When the American School of Classical Studies
began, on the site of the Agora, the vast work which was to result in
the uncovering (and reconstruction) of the Stoa of Attalos, many of
my acquaintances felt the enterprise was a crime if it meant levelling
the Turkish houses at the foot of the Acropolis.
Today one of the most admired districts is still the Plaka, the old
quarter with narrow streets where the city slopes down to the southwest buttress of the Acropolis. The Athenians write songs about
it and view it with sentimental eyes: it is their Montmartre. But
the Plaka belongs to history. Around it the city soars and shouts. In
the middle twenties Athens was only just exchanging the horsecab
for the taxi cab. Today, with transatiantic help, it swarms with
what are surely the most luxuriantly elongated taxis in Europe.
Buses have long replaced the overloaded trams to which passengers
used to cling in dense, frenzied clusters. There are seductive dresses
and shoes in women's stores. In the years before the war a rich, elegant society, an aristocratic society speaking French or English as
willingly as Greek, existed behind the facades of the nineteenth-
century houses and the gardens of fashionable streets. Today the
smartness —■ like the money — has emerged. But it is a middle-class
smartness emerging to meet, in the new restaurants and the new
hotels, the cosmopolitanism of the foreign colony and the visitors.
And yet Athens so far has none of the mercenary harshness which
affronts the foreigner in many of the cities of Western Europe. Or
perhaps I am affected in my view by old experiences and long friendships. At any rate, I still find the city beautiful: not grand, not
elegant, not architecturally interesting except for its ancient monuments, but beautiful in its energy, in its ceaseless movement, and
in the planes of light and shadow into which the steely summer sun
cuts the uncompromising concrete blocks of the new Athens. If you try to conjure up an image of Paris or New York or London, I believe that what comes first to mind is a view, celebrated
or hackneyed (or both), of, say, the Place de la Concorde, or the
Manhattan skyline, or the Houses of Parliament. To me this is not so
of Athens — oddly, perhaps, when in the Acropolis Athens has a
"sight" as familiar as any of these and far lovelier. Partly, I suppose,
this is because there is so little else in Athens that is architecturally
distinctive — but still more because there is about Athens so much
that is diverting and human and idiosyncratic. My mind's eye recalls
with difficulty the prospect of this or the view from that; but it
presents me instead, and without the smallest effort or hesitation,
with a dozen snapshots which could have come from nowhere else
in the world. Their subjects are trivial, there is no possible justification for remembering them — and yet they retain their sharp outlines where so much else that would be held more important (except perhaps by an Athenian) has faded into a half-remembered
obscurity.
Hot pavements of dusty white marble flinging the sunlight back
into your eyes. Desiccated oranges hanging listless in the afternoon
torpor of the Zappeion Gardens. The yaourt seller, whose sad cry,
like that of the screech owl, used to announce to me the end of the
long Athenian siesta. (As he made his way up the steep streets, his
tray of yaourt on his head and the dust settling equably into each
open pot as he climbed, the balconies above him would fill with
striped pyjama jackets, which opened, as their owners stretched and
yawned, on to hairy chests.) A corner of my terrace, with an old-
fashioned ice box and a potted plant, shadowy now against the
improbably violet flank of Mount Hymettus in the distance, at the
grateful hour of sunset. And, at all hours, all over the city, the
arguing heads close-grouped over the coffee cups, with the ceaseless
hum of conversation rising to swell the broad flood of noise that
sweeps through the city from before daylight and far, far into the
night...
First impressions of places, as of people, which you know well by
repute, are often unexpected. I recall that when I saw Athens for
the first time years ago, I found these impressions bewildering.
These must be equally bewildering for anyone who sees Athens
today, though for different reasons. Here is a city where you expect
the spirit of the past to permeate the air you breathe — yet all
around you are the less attractive incidentals of modern life, all of
them operated with an engaging inefficiency but all striving to be
modern at all costs. So unerring is the Greek instinct for adopting what is least suitable of the Western (and especially the transatlantic) way of life that the seediest taverna in a back street under
the Acropolis will boast strip lighting, which has been incompetendy
installed and flickers restlessly through the long hot evenings. You
look expectantly for signs of that divine sense of proportion which,
above all, distinguished ancient Greece, and you observe with dismay that while those dazzling pavements are of the same pentelic
marble which was the glory of ancient Athens, from them today
sprout functional blocks of apartments in cubist stucco.
Not that it seems to matter. I remember that when I recentiy
arrived in Athens, at the end of the long haul from Paris, in the
Orient Express, darkness had fallen. It was in March, and when
I came out next morning into the bright Athenian sunshine, I found
myself looking up a long, dull straight street — to see at the end of
it the Acropolis and the pale columns of the Parthenon outlined
against a clear sky.
I wonder if there are those who dislike the Parthenon, who find
it disappointing in some way. I knew an American girl once who
was disappointed by the Pyramids; she said she had expected them
to be bigger. And then there was a Swiss friend of mine who visited
me in New York. When I took him to see St. Patrick's Cathedral,
his disillusionment was beyond disguise. I asked him what was
wrong with it and he searched his mind for an answer. Finally, he
said sorrowfully:  "It is not at all like the Minster in Basle."
In the same way there are those who have visualized the Parthenon as somehow other than it is, and who are affronted when reality
asserts itself and proves to be unlike a Victorian post-office erected
by a myopic Philhellene at the height of the classical revival. For such
as these Athens must be a disappointment, for apart from the buildings on the Acropolis, some exquisite little Byzantine churches hidden away in side streets, the newly excavated agora and a handful
of columns scattered here and there, the city has little claim to
beauty or antiquity. But whether you drive in over the westward
hills from Eleusis (following the sacred way of the ancient "mysteries"), or up what the British troops in Athens after the war knew
as the "mad mile" of asphalt on the way in from Piraeus, or down
from Hymettus in the east, always the Parthenon engages your
attention to the exclusion of all else, seeming, with its deceptive air
of simplicity, to float between earth and heaven — and you forget
to notice the second rate architectural cliches of the city below.
When the Parthenon was built, Greece was a world in itself;
today it is a little country pulled into two different directions. In
8 Macedonia, in the Epirus, among mountains which are the continuation of ranges running northwards into Yugoslavia and Albania,
you feel yourself connected, albeit remotely, to the Balkan extremity
of Europe. In Athens, on the contrary, the pull is southward and
eastward; it comes as no surprise to hear an Athenian talk of "going
to Europe," for his world is that of the eastern Mediterranean, which
once shared a common Greek civilization and where Greek influence
is still strong in the field of commerce. Athens belongs to this world,
but by no means dominates it. To Greek, and even to Athenian
ears, "the City," without further qualification, means not Athens
but Constantinople, towards which the Greeks have more than
once cast longing glances since they overthrew Turkish rule in the
nineteenth century.
Had Constantinople been available in 1830, Athens would never
have established its claim to become the capital of the liberated
Greek kingdom. At that time Athens was a decrepit and insalubrious
village at the foot of the Acropolis, a fact which helps to explain its
curious appearance today. Its early development as a capital city
was dominated by ideas of German town planners, who entered
Greece in the baggage train of its first king. The German element,
so incongruous in this Mediterranean environment, is still much in
evidence in castellated villas and embassies; but for the most part
it has given way to a sophisticated kind of modernism which is not
specifically Greek (though it is reasonably well-suited to the climate
and the atmosphere of Athens) but not specifically anything else
either. And the cosmopolitan air which this gives to Athens sets the
capital still farther apart from the rest of the country, so tumbledown
and traditional, so resolutely and uncompromisingly provincial.
In this sense, Macedonia is farther from Athens than, say, Alexandria or Beirut. And then the climate of Athens, and the habit of
centuries, give it more of kinship with the rest of the eastern Mediterranean littoral, with Istanbul and the shores of Israel and Syria,
than with the uplands of Macedonia or the mountain valleys on
either side of the Pindus range. The siesta, the open air cafes and
restaurants — and the food and drink served in them — and a
markedly insouciant attitude toward time and appointments — all
these emphasize the connection between Athens and the Near East,
a connection which has been forged by climate and history working
together.
The characteristic of Athens is restlessness. Under a blinding
sun, in whose light every outline is razor-sharp, a ceaseless murmur
of excitement, of intrigue, of passionate controversy and burning resentment, fills the clear air. Every cafe is a centre of faction, from
every kiosk the newspaper headlines thunder recrimination and
threaten revolt. Barmen and bellboys, shoeshine boys, concierges,
taxi-drivers — all are equally likely to buttonhole you with tales of
scandals in high places, and to hint gloatingly at the judgements in
store when a political upset brings the malefactors to account.
Esponionage and gun running are the "silly season" topics for a
press chronically preoccupied with the unmasking of sinister plots,
in which the leading roles are by tradition alloted to Bulgarian
agents.
The cloak and dagger atmosphere has a clear, if now somewhat
anachronistic relationship to the facts of Balkan life. The guerrilla
mentality, as we have seen in Cyprus, still flourishes in the Greek
world, where it has been endemic since the days of the struggle for
liberation from the Turks a century and a half ago. But so does the
Athenian talent for histrionics, which — coupled with his addiction
to slanderous gossip — can transform the merest peccadillo into a
consumate souffle of innuendo. In gossip, whether domestic or political, even more than in bargaining, the Athenian finds artistic fulfilment, as he sits with a group of friends under the pepper trees drinking ouzo, arguing, gesticulating, until all hours of the hot summer
night.
It's all very un-Anglo-Saxon, and therefore disturbing or refreshing, according to taste — but always stimulating. We certainly do
not know what has happened to those Greek ideals we learned
about in school; "moderation in all things" would strike a modern
Athenian as a very insipid formula for living and Thackeray was
quite right when he wrote (in 1844): "I swear solemnly that I
would rather have two hundred a year in Fleet Street than be King
of the Greeks ..."
When Thackeray saw it, Athens had been only 14 years a capital.
Things have changed (though not entirely for the better) since he
dismissed it as "little better than a rickety agglomeration of larger
and smaller huts, tricked out here and there with the most absurd
cracked ornaments and cheap attempts at elegance." What has not
changed is the city's incomparable setting, which silenced even
Thackeray's contempt, causing him to write that all around it "there
rises, as it were, a sort of chorus of the most beautiful mountains;
the most elegant, gracious, and noble the eye ever looked on."
Here indeed is what chiefly distinguishes Athens, which, without
its attendant mountains, would in truth be a dull enough place to
the eye, though unceasingly engaging for the warmth and variety of
10 its human comedy. The mountains lend it a vicarious grandeur;
they seem to treasure the secret of its antique serenity. On them,
when the senses are wearied by noise and heat and the excess of
southern exuberance, the eye rests with grateful relief. How different
New York would be if an hour's walk from Broadway could transport one on the broad back of Mount Hymettus, to lie in springtime
on a hillside whose distant colouring proves at close range to be composed by the blending of 20 different varieties of wild flowers; or if
one could drive as quickly to the top of a mountain in New Jersey,
to find, on the hottest days of summer, cool shade under the pine
trees and a prospect which takes in Salamis in one direction and
the rocky coastline of Euboea in the other.
The mountains, and of course the nearby sea — washing gently
into beaches and rocky inlets all the way to the Cape of Sunion,
the southeastern extremity of Attica — these are the lungs of Athens.
And Athens, more than most cities, needs their refreshing presence,
because of its climate and that all-pervasive restlessness which at
once stimulates and exhausts the visitor. With them, and with its
own queer, jaunty, unpretentious kind of sophistication, Athens is
fortunate enough to combine the best of a great many worlds. Above
all, and however hard it strains towards conformity as a modern
capital, it remains one of the surviving individualists among modern
cities.
11  Judith Schwarz's "The Family" won the MacMillan Short Story Award for
the past year. She lives in Vancouver.
The
Family
JUDITH SCHWARZ
The mountains looked so cool and far away. From where she
was sitting they looked pale blue, but they really looked like mountains and that was a relief. They were something she could anchor
her thoughts on, for she felt very strange and disconnected even
though everything seemed to be natural and properly ordered. She
didn't know why she should feel suspended this way. It was an
ordinary thing to do — to sit in a deck chair and talk to her sister,
to look around. For a moment the people walking slowly across the
lawn deceived her into thinking she was viewing an early Manet
painting. The air, the sunlight, the whole scene gave that feeling
of ease and leisure so apparent in the Impressionist pictures. But
she was deceived for only a moment. She knew that most of them
13 walked slowly because they were incapable of going any faster.
Except for the visitors like herself and her sister, they all wore
maroon dressing gowns and striped pyjamas. Yet even these patients
were the more fortunate ones. At least they were well enough to be
outside during the summer so they might forget their sickness — if
only for an afternoon. The apparent ease could not last, because she
knew that somewhere behind her deck chair the Shaughnessy Hospital was dominating the scene, imposing its presence, glaring and
inevitable in the sunlight.
Inside it would be cool and sleepy during the afternoon lull. Even
the occasional ringing of bells or the starched uniforms of the nurses
would not be enough to dispel the feeling of apathy, of timelessness.
It would exist like a smell in the hallways and offices, but it originated in the rooms of the patients where they lay or sat, dull and
motionless. It existed in her father's room where he sat in the wheelchair staring into space. It would make littie difference to him
whether he was in his room or out on the lawn. He was beyond the
point of forgetting about his sickness. He was beyond knowing he
was sick, beyond memory almost. There were only his eyes, vague,
distant, and waiting.
And if he couldn't speak, they said, it was nothing to worry
about. It was merely the drugs and then too the radium treatments.
Cancer was, after all, a serious disease, not easily cured, especially
when it was left so late.
"What we have to face is that someone is going to have to take
care of Mother after Father dies. Joyce and I talked it over and we
figured it out. But of course we didn't want to come to a decision
without talking it over with you first. Catherine, are you listening?"
Her sister's voice, insistent and clear, forced itself on her consciousness and exploded the feeling of unreality.
"Really Cathy," she continued, "I wish you wouldn't day-dream
so much. You're going to be in fourth year university next fall and
just look at you. I wish you would quit biting your nails — and why
don't you buy some clothes? Where did you get those ugly shoes with
square toes and buckles? No wonder people stare."
Oh no, Catherine thought, here we go 'round again. It was very
difficult to explain to her sisters that within her own group of friends
she was considered quite pretty, in fact, quite fashionable. University
students simply did not dress like downtown secretaries. It was hard
to make Myra realize this. Catherine thought that perhaps she had
trouble in explaining it to her sister because she always felt a bit
bohemian, a bit extravagant and strange when she was in her com-
14 pany. And then too her sisters, even though they dressed like secretaries — for in fact that was what they were -— always managed to
look extremely beautiful. They were not at all dull even though
they were products of a conservative middle-class upbringing.
Catherine knew she would have developed into exactly the same
kind of person if she had not been the youngest and thus the one
who was able to go to university. It was amazing how a little bit of
education could cut you off from so many people. She realized that
her sisters would probably never understand her different values or
attitude towards life. There was just lack of communication. Sometimes Catherine thought that communication and understanding
had to be given up in favour of acceptance. It would have been
pleasant, at any rate, if her sisters accepted her as she was, accept
the fact that she was different and was likely to be that way forever.
"Anyway," Myra said, continuing her former line of thought, "we
can't let Mother stay with Uncle Hans much longer. She's bad
enough as it is, but now that he's started talking salvation and
resurrection to her I hate to think what might happen. Besides,
Aunt Irene doesn't want her there anymore. She's complained to me
already about how Mother interferes in the way she runs the house.
Then I have Mother complaining about how they make her do all
the housework and how they borrow money without paying her
back. It's really horrible the way they quibble. I'll just be glad when
it's all over."
Catherine watched her light a cigarette and waited for her to go
on. There wasn't much use in asking her to come to the point immediately because Myra would merely ignore her. She knew that
her sisters had not only talked the problem over but had made a
decision. The idea of consulting her was merely a formality. Still
it made Catherine uneasy because Myra was going to great lengths
to explain the situation. Neither of her sisters ever bothered to do
that unless they had made plans which involved Catherine's cooperation. She wondered what they had in mind. She hoped it
wouldn't involve too much change because she knew beforehand
that there would be no choice. Although she often presented good
arguments for not doing what they told her to do, she eventually
"came 'round," as Joyce would say.
Myra was smoking slowly, not looking at her but at the mountains, when she said quietly, "We thought — since Mother isn't
very stable as you know —■ that you and I could find an apartment
and the three of us could live together for awhile. At least until
Mother got back on her feet. . . Don't say anything yet, let me finish.
15 If Joyce wasn't married she would be glad to live with Mother, but
it isn't really fair to her. She has Raymond to think about. Even if
they had room for Mother I don't think Raymond would want her
around. Of course he wouldn't say anything — he's too good for
that — but I don't think it would be very comfortable for anyone."
She leaned forward then and looked at Catherine shaking her head
slowly. "And we just can't leave Mother alone. She might commit
suicide, you know. So it looks like it's up to us."
Catherine felt she couldn't sit there any longer listening to these
distorted opinions. If only her sisters could see once and for all
the truth of the situation. "It isn't true, Myra," she interrupted.
"Mother is a hell of a lot stronger than either you or Joyce realize.
She isn't going to commit suicide or anything else. She's been
threatening to jump off Granville bridge for the last eight years. All
she's got to say for herself is, 'You'll be sorry when I'm gone'. Well
for heaven's sake, you know as well as I do that she's just acting.
We always said she would outlive us all and it's probably true. Look
at Father. Who ever expected him to get sick? He never even complained of a headache as far as I can remember, until one day he
just keeled over. Look Myra," and now it was Catherine's turn to
lean forward insistently, "Mother is a clever person and she'll manipulate all three of us if we're not careful."
Her sister leaned back in the gaudy deck chair without answering
for a moment. She looked so immaculate and fresh. It seemed as
though she should be a very self-contained and self-assured woman.
The expensive leather shoes and purse, the pale silk blouse under
the camel hair suit, the thin gold bracelet that fell gracefully along
her wrist, all seemed to point to a luxurious and easy existence.
Catherine noticed that even the way Myra smelled suggested warmth
and security. And yet the expression on the face of her elegant
sister was enough to bring back the earlier feeling of unreality and
suspension Catherine had had. It was a tired, resigned look which
was echoed in the listless attitude of her body as she sat and stared
vaguely at the visitors on the lawn. When she spoke it was also in a
tired resigned voice.
"You know," she said, "I have a feeling that you're right. But
the question is, can we afford to take the chance? I mean suppose
something did go wrong if we left Mother on her own. She is strong
in a way, but in another way she isn't. My God, we have to tell her
when to get her hair done and when to do her nails and when to
put on a clean dress. You'd think she'd be able to keep herself halfway presentable, if not for us at least for Father. If we didn't keep
16 after her she'd come up here looking like a hag. Do you think that
would make Father happy?" She leaned forward again and rubbed
her hands across her forehead as if she could wipe away everything
that was unpleasant. "Oh I hate her. She's so dirty. I can't stand it.
But there's nothing else we can do, absolutely nothing."
"I don't think it's a good idea, Myra. You dislike Mother as
much as I do. And then even you and I don't get along well when
we have to live together. Can you imagine three incompatible
women in the same apartment? It would be fierce."
"No, no," Myra said, "we'll get an apartment big enough for
three —■ with separate bedrooms ..."
And what difference would that make, Catherine wondered. She
knew that when the three of them were not engaged in some kind
of quarrel the only stimulating thing around would be the television
set. Their spare time would be divided into keeping the place clean
and eating in front of the TV. The conversation would be limited
to who did the most housework. Studying would be impossible and
Mother would go on constantly about sweepstake tickets. She was
just like a parrot reiterating phrases over and over again until they
had lost all meaning. "Just wait until I win," she would say, "I'll
buy you a car." And when Catherine told her she wasn't going to
win she'd say, "Oh yes I am. Just wait until I do. I'll buy a house."
If it wasn't sweepstake tickets it was TV Bingo or cigarette coupons.
".. . and you'll be able to fix up your room in any way you want.
You can make collages all over the walls and the ceilings too if you
want. And you can keep your dirty old collection of wine bottles.
There'll be a desk to study at and if you put down papers on the
floor you can paint all day and all night for all I care." Myra was
rambling on now, much more cheerful than she had been a few
minutes before. "And we'll make mother cook meals every day and
we'll eat them at the dinner table with placemats and napkins —
no more eating toast and peaches in front of the TV for supper.
And we'll make her keep the place clean and she'll have to keep
herself clean too. It'll give her a sense of responsibility. We'll make
her a real home."
Myra looked happy now as though she was dreaming, and
Catherine felt it was too bad that she wasn't married because she
certainly wanted to be badly enough. It was funny how things
worked out. Joyce was probably the least domestic of the three girls,
and yet she had been married twice. But then she was something of
a femme fatale. She could manipulate men in the most amazing
manner. It was really exciting to watch her in action. Catherine
17 supposed she got married both times because the men offered her a
better standard of living. Of course it wasn't just that she wanted
to get away from home. She liked the men she married. But she
certainly wasn't the type to stay in the kitchen and slave over a stove.
She was almost thirty now and she didn't have any children. She
didn't plan to have any either. "They are much too expensive and
bothersome," she would say. "Raymond and I are saving our money
for a car right now." And then there was poor Myra. She was a
lovely girl but she couldn't manipulate men. She wasn't cold enough.
She would make the best wife and mother of the three — her sense
of duty alone was overwhelming. But Catherine supposed it wasn't
easy to meet stimulating men when working as a secretary for a
travel agency. Vancouver was really a boring place to live for some
people, although it was a good place for family life. But as far as
supplying a great social life for the free and unattached, it had
its drawbacks. Catherine was grateful she was returning to university
in the fall. You didn't get many proposals there either, but at least
you could find yourself a half-decent lover and that was a beginning.
"By the way, Myra," she said, "I don't like to bring this up, but it's
quite important. If we must live together, I want to be able to come
and go as I please. You know I can't really give up my way of life
now-—-not when I've just got used to it. I like my freedom. So
when I want to stay away for a few nights I will." She didn't like to
bring up this point at all, because it was inevitable that they would
quarrel. But she thought it was a good idea to assert some kind of
independence, although she really didn't feel it would do any good.
"You want to stay with those horrible boys you go out with,
don't you?" Myra said coldly. "Well it's impossible, utterly impossible. I don't know how you can stand them in the first place.
They all look like they need a good bath and a hot meal. Why
do you bother with that kind of people?"
"You're exaggerating as usual," Catherine answered. "I don't
know why I ever bothered to introduce you to them. I guess I
thought your middle-class values weren't so strongly rooted. It may
come as a surprise to you Myra, but some people are able to stay
alive even though they don't take a bath every day. In fact they even
manage to be quite happy, quite content with themselves. Just take
a look at Mother. Anyhow, I think you'd better be careful. That
downtown job is getting to you. Pretty soon you will be reading your horoscope every morning and throwing rocks at peace
marchers."
"I couldn't be bothered," she said with contempt. "As for going off every weekend it's just impossible. What are we supposed to
tell Mother? And even if we could He to her and say you were
going to visit a girl friend what kind of home life would that be?
We can't make a home if we don't act like it's a home. We have to
live together to make it that and not run about all over the countryside."
Slowly Catherine felt herself being drawn in. She was getting
involved without being able to do anything, because Myra was
becoming emotional. Once she started to distort reality to conform
to her desires there was no reasoning with her. It would be impossible to tell her that the idea of making a home after all this time
was wishful thinking. When had they ever had a home really? The
five of them living together had never been a family. They had been
more a collection of individuals sharing the same bathroom or television set than a group or a unit. And now that they were scattered
over the city, living in their separate worlds of resentment, there
seemed to be less communication than ever. In fact the only time
she saw any of them was at the hospital. The only thing they seemed
to have in common any longer, the only thing they seemed to share,
was death.
It was very strange the way fate had worked, Catherine thought.
There had been none of those bitter awful battles with her parents
to get away from the household. She didn't have to do anything.
The family dissolved and disappeared before her very eyes. Both her
sisters had grown up and moved away from home. And then her
parents sold their house and moved to one of the suburbs. She had
had no choice but to stay behind, close to the university. That had
been last summer. A month before Christmas her father had what
they thought was a stroke but which had turned out to be a malignant tumor growing in the brain. It was quite amazing that it had
been there for years and years and Father didn't even feel it until
finally one day it had grown so big it damaged the nerve cells and
he had become dizzy and had lost control of his right side and fallen
down. There had been a series of tests then and finally when they
knew what it was, the cold formal phrases had come. "We're sorry.
These things can't always be detected in time. There's no way of
knowing ..., ... been there for years." And now they wanted her
to go back, to live with Myra and Mother and play pretend. She
knew it wouldn't work. But she wouldn't tell her sister that. It
would be no use. Then let her find out for herself because that was
the only way Myra was going to learn. However, Catherine knew
that no matter what her sisters had decided, she wouldn't struggle.
19 argue or complain. She only knew she would not do what they
wanted. She could not, because life was not a pretence or a game.
Thinking that, Catherine felt very strong and somehow very
independent and she smiled at Myra very pleasantly even though
her sister, observing her with a cold and disgusted look said, "You're
not even listening to me. You're day-dreaming again, aren't you?"
The funeral was held in the last week of August on a day that
seemed to have rained especially for the occasion. Catherine waited
at the corner of Granville and Broadway for her brother-in-law to
pick her up. She had carefully remembered to wear a hat as her
mother had told her to do and not to wear patterned nylons as her
sisters had told her not to do. She hoped that everything was all
right. She hadn't heard from any of them since the day Father had
died. Although that was only three days ago, it seemed much longer.
For some reason she had expected she would be required to do
things or make arrangements when he died. But it hadn't been that
way at all. Joyce had told her when the funeral was to be and
Mother had told her to wear a hat. Otherwise nothing more. It
was almost as if he hadn't died. There seemed to be no radical
change in her life, except of course she felt relieved like the rest of
them.
She saw the car Raymond had rented for the day was very red,
sleek, and new as it pulled up and halted at the curb. Inside, it was
very dark, the upholstery covered in black leather. Her sisters in the
back seat blended in well as they sat immobile, darkly dressed in
expensive suits.
"Why didn't you wear your other coat?" Joyce said from the
darkness behind Catherine.
"Well I thought this one was the most appropriate because it's
sort of sombre. And anyhow it's the cleanest." She twisted around
to look at Joyce. Her sister was still beautiful. Both of them were.
And they smelt so feminine, their odours mixing and floating inside
the car.
"Well I think it's too sporty for a funeral. You should have worn
the other one." The voice was petulant, but in a way also indifferent,
and Catherine faced the front again without saying anything more.
It was quiet in the car until they picked up Mother at Uncle
Hans' house. Raymond parked in the alley and honked the horn.
For a moment they couldn't decide whether or not they should go
20 in to say hello. None of them wanted to be bothered. Besides,
Catherine had had an argument with her aunt over the idea of
buying a plot for Father. Aunt Irene just couldn't understand that
a square of earth didn't mean anything. "What could it possibly
represent?" Catherine had asked her.
"Well, you remember him," Aunt Irene had said. "You need
some place to take flowers. I think that's awful what you want to do.
Imagine throwing his ashes away. Don't you care about him?"
There had been no giving in on either side, and Catherine had
left the house, not even staying for dinner although she had been
invited for that purpose.
That had been a month ago. Looking at the house now, waiting
for Mother to come out, she felt rather sorry. It wasn't that she had
changed her mind. She still believed that whatever remembering
was to be done would be done in her head and not at some cemetery. Still, it was a kind of loss to be unable to go back to her aunt's
house. Not that she would have, but after all, if one could, it was
best to maintain good feelings with relatives. They were, she reflected, just about all that was certain in the world. At least, even
if there was nothing else there was the knowledge that part of your
blood, of your family's blood, still flowed somewhere. But then
perhaps that was merely a bit of romanticizing . ..
Her mother appeared on the kitchen steps and waved, indicating
she would be out in a few moments. "She's looking well," Catherine
said. "In fact she seems to be taking everything quite calmly. Did
you help her pick out the suit Joyce?"
"Yes. She looks pretty good in it too. But she should lose some
weight. And I wish she wouldn't wear brown gloves with a black
suit," she added as Mother descended the steps and came out the
back gate. It was quite obvious that she was excited. They could
tell by the way she walked and by her gestures as she got into the
car. "I'm glad you wore a hat," she said to Catherine. "I wish you
could have made Joyce wear one. It isn't right to go to a funeral
without a hat."
"I don't look good in hats," Joyce said irritably. "Anyhow, I
brought one along just in case. But I'm not going to put it on unless
I have to."
The words, the tone of voice, the irritation seemed to surround
and envelop them until slowly the excitement Mother had brought
into the car turned to tension. They all felt the strain. They were
rather tired. It had been a long time between Christmas and the
present. Joyce and Mother were sitting mutely, their hands folded.
21 Myra was looking out the window, but Catherine knew she was
crying by the inconspicuous but frequent movement of her hand
to her averted face. It was unfortunate, Catherine thought, but it
seemed as though Myra felt things more than the rest of the family.
She always did take things more seriously. Catherine felt herself to
be quite sensitive but she had a built-in defence mechanism. She had
learned at a very early age not to become involved, to be objective.
In that way it was so much easier to be understanding, to know
what to do, how to cope. Myra wasn't able to cope with anything.
Even when the plan of finding an apartment and making a home
had had to be revised she was in a bitter fury. At least that is how
Joyce had reported it. And then too, when Myra had finally phoned
Catherine after weeks of silence her first sentence had been, "Well
you've got your own way as usual." Her voice had come terrible
and thin over the telephone. "Joyce and I looked for a place for a
month. We couldn't even find an apartment with two bedrooms that
we could afford, let alone one with three. You'll have to stay where
you are. We've arranged to move into an apartment at the beginning
of September. It won't be finished until then."
"Has it got two bedrooms?"
"No. It's only got one. I'll have to sleep with Mother." There
was a silence while Myra took a deep breath. That was another
one of her quirks. Whenever she was upset or nervous she seemed
unable to breathe. She had been to see several doctors about it but
they had said nothing was wrong with her. Joyce had told her once
that it was merely her imagination, and Myra had nearly had a
tantrum. Neither was there any use in telling her not to pay attention to it. For her, it was obviously quite real and quite uncomfortable.
"I don't know why you always get off so easily," she had said at
last. Catherine had almost felt the tears, the bitterness travelling
along the wire. What could she have said? Could she have said,
"Don't feel, Myra. Don't be naive. Don't be a victim of your conscience."? "I'm sorry," she had said, although she was not and
Myra knew she was not.
But now, sitting in the car, somehow absorbing that grief,
Catherine did feel sorry. She felt sorry for being cold, objective; in
fact, for not being sorry.
"We're almost there," Raymond said as he turned the car off the
main road. Even though it was a side street the traffic was very
heavy. It became more crowded as he drove closer to the chapel
and they weren't going any faster than four miles an hour. Mother
22 was becoming nervous because she didn't want to be late and Joyce
told her to calm down. As they got up to the main door a man in a
grey suit came by and asked which funeral party they belonged to.
Raymond told him it was the one for two-thirty. The man asked
him to drive around the block while they got the cars from the last
funeral out of the way. It was rather difficult to do even then,
because there was a mass of confused people walking across the
road and stepping between cars. Of course her mother didn't help
things much. She kept craning her neck, leaning over the back
seat to peer out the front window. As she did so, she kept insisting
that Raymond let her out because she didn't want to be late. Joyce
told her to sit still and be quiet. "We all go in together or we don't
go in at all. Now which is it to be?" was her ultimatum to Mother,
who sat quietiy then. But a moment later she said, "Well I better go
in now. It's almost two-thirty." This time it was Myra who told her
to shut up.
As the traffic cleared, Raymond drove the car around the block
and up to the main doors again. The man in the grey suit leaned
forward and looked in the car. "Are you guests or part of the deceased's family?"
Mother leaned forward and said, "I'm the widow. Yes," with a
grieved, pained expression on her face. No one else said anything.
"Oh well, you don't go in this way. Go around the corner to
your right and you'll find a garage door on the left side of the
building. Drive straight in. There'll be someone there to direct you."
"You see? Now what if you hadn't waited?" Joyce said as Raymond started the car and drove around the corner.
The garage was more like a long extended cement hallway
painted a dull pinky-grey. As they drove in they saw other cars
there, and when Catherine got out she saw her Uncle Hans. There
were other uncles and aunts too with various children. The garage
or hallway was connected directly to the Family Room, as the man
called it. He looked something like the other man in the grey suit
but he wasn't the same one. "This way please," he said, directing
her mother by the elbow. Everyone followed them quietiy, exchanging muted hellos.
As Catherine entered she thought it looked like a living room,
except there were more chesterfields and they were all facing in the
same direction. They faced a white semi-transparent curtain that
seemed to move occasionally from some mysterious breath of air.
Because it was not a large room and there were quite a few relatives,
a very serious young man — also in a grey suit — kept tip-toeing
23 in and out bringing extra hard-backed chairs on which to sit.
Catherine was sure there must be more people in the Family Room
than in the Chapel itself.
They were finally settied with everyone facing the curtain. The
minister entered the Chapel and the sermon began, but the curtain
did not go up. The service itself was not memorable, Catherine
decided. It was nondescript. Besides that the minister could not sing
although he persisted in making loud noises. When he talked about
Father it was as though he was talking about someone else. She
didn't listen to him but only to Myra crying in front of her, and to
her mother crying beside her, and to her cousin crying behind her.
There seemed to be long silences in which all she could hear was
people crying. The curtain kept moving faintiy. Through it she
could see the minister standing with his head bowed. He was standing among flowers. There seemed to be flowers everywhere and
rows of candles with little points of flame and something shiny
which reflected the light. Something shiny... she couldn't quite
make it out. Surely it wasn't a collection plate. She concentrated
on tracing the shape until with a dull shock she recognized it. Of
course, it was the handle on the coffin. She had forgotten. Or somehow death, dying, the passing of life, had been lost for her somewhere among the confusion of cars and hats. It had been lost before
today. It had disappeared during the summer as they quarreled and
feuded among themselves. It had been pushed aside in favour of
mock suicides and the arrangement of family affairs. And yet what
was the use of families unless they were a source of support? In the
end it was only the family that grieved no matter where the separate
individuals were scattered. But now — even if she couldn't see it
under the flowers — she knew the coffin was there. He was really
dead.
She sat very still, frozen, during the rest of the service, holding
herself in, refusing to think, refusing to cry. But of course she had
expected beforehand that it would be difficult to sit emotionless
through the organ music. She had always loved church music because it was dignified. It seemed to contain centuries of ritual; tradition ; the essence of humility and worship. She seemed to see people
of all ages passing and kneeling with their own private grief at the
altar. So she could not help the slow watery swelling, the curtain
and candles being distorted and fused into one wet shape, or the
thin cold streaks on her face. And they still insisted on falling down
her cheeks even when, the music stopped and the service over, they
had to rise; to leave.
24 Six Poems by Luigi Bartolini
PEACE BRIEFLY AND ONLY IN EYES OF GIRLS
From the Italian "Pace per poco e solo in occhi di ragazze."
Translated by Dora Pettinella.
Peace, briefly; and only in eyes of girls,
(not those used to the ways of the world)
peace, briefly; and only in eyes of girls.
Anna Stickler, her Adige, her Passirio!
Anna Stickler, the only happiness I have ever known!
(To the rest of the world I half-belonged.
They said too many things for me to believe.
All around me were liars and thieves.)
Peace, briefly; and only in eyes of girls.
Later, very slowly, walking along the Passirio,
All alone, very slowly, along the Passirio; then the woods,
alone, slowly, slowly, pausing now and then,
watching the transient trout swim in calm waters,
tails avoiding stalks of marsh grass.
But, son, life flays, bones, stuns;
I have had enough; but, far from everyone,
under a glass shade, the poet with Anna, Anna with the poet,
well, under a glass shade, leave me with Anna!
PACE PER POCO E SOLO IN OCCHI DI RAGAZZE
Pace per poco e solo in occhi di ragazze,
(non quelle che sono al mondo accostumate)
pace, per poco; e solo in occhi di ragazze.
L'Anna Stickler, la sua Malga, i suoi fiumi!
L'Anna Stickler, il suo Adige, il suo Passirio!
L'Anna Stickler: ecco cio' che di solo bene io conobbi!
(A tutto il resto del mondo io appartenni si' o no.
Dicevano troppe cose perche' io credessi ad alcuna.
Tutti, intorno a me, mentivano o rubavano).
25 Pace, per poco; e solo in occhi di ragazze.
Poi, lentamente lentemante, camminando per il Passirio,
io, solo, lentamente, per il Passirio; eppoi in boschi,
io lentamente, lentamente, soffermandomi,
delle trote che transitavano lungo le dolci acque
vedevo le code scansare gli steli di erbe palustri.
Ma, o ragazzo, la vita scortica, disossa, intontisce;
ne' sono gia' a tanto; ma, sotto campana di vetro,
lontano da tutti, il poeta con Anna, Anna con il poeta
deh, sotto campana di vetro con Anna rinchiudetemi!
RHYME OF THE CONFINE
From the Italian "Rima del confino."
Translated by Dora Pettinella.
All night I ran along the river
hoping for the quick break of dawn
and that no one would come with me
(only my silence and my tears);
I prayed, that all anger spent,
my shadow during the night might vanish
and the guards seeking me as blood and prey
would go elsewhere instead.
RIMA DEL CONFINO
Corso avevo, pel fiume intiera notte
sospirando che l'alba a ogni ora fosse
e nessuno venisse insieme a me
(soltanto il mio silenzio e le mie lacrime);
o pregavo che spentasi ogni ira
l'ombra di me per notte si perdesse
e cercassero altrove e sangue e vittima
sgherri che, invece, cercavano me.
26 LIKE THE BIRDS
From the Italian "Come gli uccelli."
Translated by Dora Pettinella.
We did like the birds, Anna and I;
we built our nest in April,
no, it was May, the first or the second,
when like the birds, we began
to pile dry twigs the woodsmen cut.
I went to the noisy machine shop
and cut the wood myself
measuring the boards three by two meters.
And now a charming little hut has risen in the field
where we both worry, Anna and I,
watching what the dismal world does
and what the birds are doing instead.
COME GLI UCCELLI
Abbiamo fatto, con l'Anna, come gli uccelli;
abbiamo fatto il nido in aprile
anzi, no, era di maggio al primo, al due,
quando ci siamo messi a fare come gli uccelli,
ad ammassare stecchi tagliati da borzacchini.
Io sono andato dove strepono le macchine,
ho tagliato i legni con le mie mani
ho misurato tre metri per due.
E un baracchino tenero s'e' rizzato pei campi
dove stiamo in pensiero, io e la Anna,
a vedere cosa fa il lugubre mondo
e cosa fanno, invece, gli uccelli.
27 PRAYING MANTIS
From the Italian "La Mantide."
Translated by Dora Pettinella.
Every lover,
believes
himself
innocent,
as a lizard
whose color,
resembles
the oval shaped
leaves
of acacia,
along sunny
parkways outside
the Suburb,
where, quietly,
it hides.
In fact,
Anita, too,
believes,
she is like the praying mantis,
that screens itself
among the plants
from the sudden
look
of a passerby.
LA MANTIDA
Colori
delle foglie,
eguali
ed ovali,
delle acacie
dei viali,
oltre il Suburbio,
al sole; e' cosi'
28 che, di se'
ogni amante
crede
d'essere la lucertola
innocente,
che si nasconde
silenziosa.
Infatti
crede,
anche Anita,
d'essere la mantide religiosa
che fra le piante
si nasconde
ad improwiso
sguardo
di passante.
THE RETURN
From the Italian "II Ritorno."
Translated by Dora Pettinella.
To be there again (I almost died of joy) to return
once more among the boughs and leaves of the Osimo fields;
not in the village, but farther out, along country roads
where now and then we came across the house of a happy
contadino;
in the Bosco of Santo Pietro everything was the same.
Around the houses of the lonely contadini
chickens cackled laying eggs.
Oh, prolific noisy chickens,
not unacquainted with the ways of clouds!
I embraced the well-known tree trunks
remembering the years I had passed in these woods
(who lived in this or that house)
nature's radiant love consoling me;
(the grasses and intoxicated dragon flies
plunging headlong into each other).
And my joy was great as it had been before.
29 RITORNO
Esserci (era di morire di gioia) tornati
di bel nuovo fra i rami e le foglie dei campi Osimo;
non in paese, ma piu' lontano, per strade campestre
dove ogni tanto s'incontra la casa d'un contadino felice;
tutto era al suo posto, nel Bosco di Santo Pietro.
Per le case dei contadini solitari
le galline coccodeggiavano a far l'uovo.
O feconde galline schiamazzanti,
non ignare delle leggi delle nuvole!
Io abbracciavo le forme a me gia' note degli alberi
e rammentavo, nella memoria, gli anni trascorsi in tali boschi
(e chi fosse stato ad abitare nell'uno e nell'altro casolare)
il festoso amore defl'ampia natura mi consolava;
(delle erbe e delle libellule, che volavano intrecciate
ebbre, a capofitto, l'una verso l'altra).
E m'era di grande consolazione come al tempo d'una volta.
TO MY MOTHER
From the Italian "A Mia Madre."
Translated by Dora Pettinella.
I am almost finished, having enjoyed so little,
suffered much, fought
even too much, even more than what
my friends know!
They do not know how I wept
broken hearted, inside me.
If outwardly, little could be seen,
it does not mean much;
one must see the depths,
know what there was
in my flask, now almost empty.
I have well said: "in my flask"
Since it was my fate
that no one approached me;
and that no one loved me,
only you, and Anita.
30 A MIA MADRE
Morto, che quasi sono, goduto ho poco;
molto sofferto, ho combattuto
anche troppo e anche di piu / di quanta
i miei amici sappiano!
Essi non sanno che io ho pianto
dentro di me, a crepacuore.
Se visto s'e poco di fuori,
questo non vuol dir molto;
occorre conoscere il fondo
e sapere cose c'era
nel mio fiasco ormai vuoto.
Ho detto bene: "nel fiasco!'!'
Giacche di me, era destino
che nessuno mi s'accostasse;
e che nessuno m'amasse,
fuori di te, e Anita.
Luigi Bartolini was the outstanding Italian poet, polemicist, and painter who
died in 1963. Exiled by the fascists because of his ideas, he returned to Rome
after the end of World War II. Dora Pettinella's translations have appeared
frequently in many journals, including Prism international.
31 THERE IS THAT IN YOU WHICH WON'T BE
FOOLED, JOHNSON; AND IT IS LIKED
BY THE WORLD
I
There is some opinion one has of oneself,
However little known it is.
What one sees as to oneself may, sadly, be far off.
And not a part of afternoon doings.
Even so, this opinion of ourselves
Cannot be fooled,
For it is the same as the world's opinion of ourselves,
The world of all time, of anywhere, of any moment, any possibility.
II
As we go to bed, the world goes with us,
And is in us, considering.
It is the world as ourselves that goes with us to sleep
of a night,
And lies with us on a pillow;
And may make us frown,
Without our seeing a frown;
And may make us sigh,
Without our knowing anything about a sigh.
Ill
Whatever it is,
Whatever you name it:
Conscience or the world in us as ourselves,
The still small voice or Sweat,
God or outraged public opinion —
Whatever, whatever you name it,
It can't be fooled,
For it is the world;
And the world, though changeable,
And relative and all and all,
Is what it is — nevertheless —
And won't be fooled,
And can't be.
32 IV
There is something of the world in you, Johnson,
Which can't be fooled.
The world hovers about a President's brow
As much as about any brow.
The world gets under a President's eyelids
As much as under any eyelids whatsoever.
And the world is present in the intricate withinness
Of a President with weight;
And in the intricate withinness often accompanying fife.
This intricate withinness
Has poetic corporeality
And somatic immeasurability
Even while it
Is included in an armchair.
V
Conscience and the somatic are friends.
Conscience and politics are friends.
Conscience and a Texas county are friends.
Conscience and a Minnesota township are friends.
VI
What is it, Oh Johnson, you are trying to fool, though
you may not know it?
It is conscience saying:
Thousands of people in Asia are not enemies of Americans
living between San Diego and Portland, Maine.
Thousands of people are not evil that much they should be
aimed at by American machines.
What people in Vietnam are after is not so much against
the Constitution and the Book of Common Prayer
They should become casualties announced in newspapers.
VII
There has to be good reason for the killing of anybody.
A good reason has to exist for the giving of any one pain.
Do you care enough for the death of a person, the pain a
person gets, a person with a corporeal withinness
like yours?
Let's quit the grandiose as politics and international,
symmetrical statement.
33 — Are people now dying who shouldn't,
And have not done evil,
And may be, even, in their way, on the side of good?
VIII
This is where you are trying to fool yourself, Johnson.
There is something in you that knows people are dying
who don't have to.
The religion you are a member of doesn't go with this.
Alexander Campbell, who founded your particular mode of
worship, would not have stood for it.
He argued with other Christians, with other Protestants,
with Atheists, Deists, and so on,
But he would not have them die,
Or be in any way the cause of their dying.
Perhaps, after they died — these opponents — God would not
deal with them sweetiy,
But that would be after their fives here.
Their lives could go on, and would not be stopped by
Campbell's strength.
And Alexander Campbell wrote a treatise called Remission
of Sin.
That concerns you, President, occupier of so much space
in bed and no more.
IX
Take Alexander Campbell as a guide.
Rather than Moyers, Rusk, Stennis, McNamara, Lodge,
Taylor, Nixon.
They have the same trouble you have.
Their conscience — as the world in themselves — is too far
off in them, too disdained, too faint, too frail.
Listen to one Vietnam boy of 18, as you once listened to
a Texas boy of 18,
And listen better.
Because you are angry that you are not pleased enough with
your life,
Even as you are wealthy, financially ever so select,
fiscally lofty,
Politically chosen for continental distinction and might,
National uniqueness —
Just because, with all this, you don't feel so at ease deeply —
34 Is no reason bodies should become still in jungles,
Arms should leave their bodies,
Napalm should take skin off bodies, and have bodies change
to a burned congeries and scorched welter,
Growing things should be changed into brown,
And bodies sent hither and thither by strategic bombing.
X
There is something in you that won't be fooled, Johnson.
It used to be called the still small voice — can be called
that now.
The still small voice is also voices you know about in
streets.
Manila has joined these voices.
This voice with many voices has been heard in West Berlin.
It has been heard in places with many books in California.
You can hear it in Quebec.
From ground in New Zealand it has risen.
God, how frequent it is in New York.
Your ugly counselor and servant, called technically vice-
president, has heard it in Australia.
XI
Hear, Oh Johnson, Oh President! —
There under your chin,
Is a demonstration in you;
There is a picketing in you,
There is a clamor in you,
There is a criticism of your foreign policy in your very
being,
There is the world's silent, constant walk-around.
Tell this, exuberantly, to Rusk, McNamara, Lodge.
It will help them.
There is a demonstration in you as on the streets of a
capital in Europe, or Africa, or Asia, or Wisconsin.
The world's silent, constant walk-around is good also for
Rusk, McNamara, Lodge.
Tell them of it as if it were a victory, fine for them also.
For it is that.
This demonstration —■ how wonderful — is the same
As that which won't be fooled in you, Johnson.
35 XII
Resuming (with a thought of Lookout Mountain, 1863, now
in geographical wisdom):
There is that which won't be fooled in you, Johnson.
It is lovely and immortal.
It is liked by the world.
ELI  SIEGEL
Eli Siegel became famous as a poet at the age of twenty-two when his poem
"Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana" won the yearly poetry prize of
The Nation. In the years that followed, Siegel continued to publish poetry and
prose and to develop the philosophy of Aesthetic Realism, which he began to
teach in 1940. His collection, Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems,
appeared in 1957. Karl Shapiro calls the title poem "one of the few American
masterpieces." Among Siegel's other works are The Aesthetic Method in Self-
Conflict, Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites?, Shakespeare's Hamlet: Revisited, and Williams' Poetry Talked About and William Carlos Williams Present.
Siegel comments: "There was never a moment when Canada could more usefully teach perspective to the United States."
Two Poems by John Roberts
THERE'S A MEANING
I grew low on a tree where the shadow fell, and the sun,
And they picked me and took me a long way over cart-tracks
A long journey I had of it, and a conveyor-belt after the lorry,
And they canned me and stuck a label on me saying who I was
And where I came from.
The can was okay, curving and flat at the ends —
One end for my back and the other to press my feet on.
They had to fillet me first, but then what's a bone or two between
friends?
Canning wasn't the end of it though — I mean,
They don't just do it for fun. There's a meaning in everything
If only we knew where to look. So me and the others, each one snug
In his can, they packed us off in a crate — nothing
Special, a crate like another, splintered,
Stencilled in creosote, dumped upside down on docksides.
Not cosy, but lots of companions. And the ship
Hooting over our heads and reaching out and swallowing us.
And the journey rising and falling, rising and falling,
Rising and falling.
36 And the arrival. A sale, a piercing and the light
The terrible light.
CONSCIENCEKLATSCH
I sit drinking coffee feeling sorry for myself
In a pleasant, Sundayish, semi-detached self-pity.
Am I not bright? A writer of sorts?
Am I not slimmish, modestiy unsquare and unugly?
Do I not deserve oddments like a sports car,
A breathtaking woman,
Release from the brakes of cowardice and conscience?
Why can't I live either purely (though acceptably) selfish or purely
unselfish —
Or act at least from unambiguous motives?
I sit drinking coffee, trying to work up a sense of personal drama —
A sense of a moral climate in which lightning is jagged and sun has
the power to burn.
I am fretted by a certain sense of uncertainty;
Am I a peccant Buddha dropping cigarette ash in my navel
Or a monkey alert for a metaphysical flea?
I scratch my mind's pimples with unanswerable questions.
I sit drinking coffee having given a beggar a penny.
Now I am worried on a subtler score: did I bribe him to vanish?
Is my shudder a mark of compassion as I order another coffee
Or do I feel suffering valid provided it's in the next street?
I wait for my coffee in a world full of horrors.
When I read that they castrated Balewa and buried three in the
Mississippi mud
And that a little way south from here they blaspheme God and insult
Man's intelligence
With talk of Christian civilization (requiescant Albigenses o.w.b.p.)
I preen myself at the strength of my unexceptionable reactions.
The Sudanese soldiers have butchered without awareness
The Anyanya have butchered without awareness
The Romans and the men in winged helmets and those of my own
tradition have butchered
The goodies and the baddies have butchered
37 And the grass grows thicker where the blood has fallen.
I have suffered for the world with a quite unselfish emotion
And gone home in suffering for the lost and tormented and made
my wife cry
And pushed both of us to despair for a motive I cannot explain.
In a world of betrayal and burning and gutted, crucified bodies
Where it seems that the trees exist only to be struck by fire
I order yet another coffee and wind the wool of my obsessions.
Men die in the streets where the sun shines. I chop logic.
John Roberts is presently working as a sub-editor on the East African Standard in Kenya. He is editing a selection of East African Poetry which will
appear in a later number of Prism international. He approves more of "White
Hunters Who White Hunt to their utmost than poets who goof off. Which
does not necessarily mean that I like White Hunters, but I value tolerance and
failure seems to be one of its biggest enemies."
Three Poems by Margaret Atwood
AN ICON
You are
the lines I draw around you;
with this cleaver of a pencil
I hack off your aureole.
I can make you aimless, legless;
I deny
your goldrimmed visions
by scratching through your eyes.
I prune the ferns from your hair;
I cut you down to size,
crayon clever
footnotes on your forehead
so I can seize you.
But you are
slipperier than clumsy colour.
But you evade me,
38 break the cages
of black circumferences
by which I would surround you
and whistling and destructive, and
carefree as a hurricane
you take my fourcornered
measure, scroll me
up like a map.
CHRONOLOGY
I was born senile and gigantic
my wrinkles charting
in pink the heights and ruts, events
of all possible experience.
At 6 I was sly as a weasel,
adroit at smiling and hiding,
slippery-fingered, greasy with guile.
At 12, instructed
by the comicbooks already
latent in my head, I was bored with horror.
At 16 I was pragmatic,
armoured with wry lipstick;
I was invulnerable.
I wore my hair like a helmet.
But by 20 I had begun
to shed knowledge like petals
or scales; and today I discovered
that I have been living backwards.
Time wears me down like water.
The engraved lines of my features
are being slowly expunged.
I will have to pretend:
the snail knows
39 thin skin is no protection;
though I can't go on
indefinitely. At 50 they will peel
my face away like a nylon stocking
uncovering such incredible blank
innocence, that even mirrors
accustomed to grotesques
will be astounded.
I will be unshelled, I will be
of no use to that city
and like a horse with a broken back
I will have to be taken out and shot.
PROVISIONS
What should we have taken
with us? We never could decide
on that; or what to wear,
or at what time of
year we should make this journey
so here we are, in thin
raincoats and rubber boots
on the disastrous ice, the wind rising,
nothing in our pockets
but a pencil stub, two oranges
four toronto streetcar tickets
and an elastic band, holding a bundle
of small white filing-cards
printed with important facts.
Margaret Atwood won the President's Medal of the University of Western
Ontario for her poem, "The Settlers" which appeared in our Summer 1965
issue. Contact Press has published her book The Circle Game. Presently she
lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
40 Two Poems by Pierre Coupey
DEATH DOES REVEAL
the horizontal tree concealed by snow
the cars pass over
over the night
the snow f ailing in designs of desire
reveals the sentence of the tree in night
acquiring structure as
structure grows
each night day
turns
by itself to the tree to
see the word of moment in
passing&
turning
to discover the streets reveal
the snow beneath the wheels of the car
burns in slow motion as breath does:
does death?
TITLE
these trees let
no light through: you
within, looking,
cast the shadow I
walk through, no
surprise in your
eyes
Pierre Coupey won the Macmillan Poetry Award at the University of British
Columbia, 1965-66. His work has appeared in Deltas, Potlatch, and others.
41 Two Poems by Earle Birney
BUILDINGS
1.     Lines
Buildings  are m    r
0   f
a
s
d
e
e
r
a
i  n
s   q u
g
n
i
1
P
e
e
t
s
e
Buildings         a
r ve
d    e               c u             s
a               j n
m                    1
r
f  °
0
P                              p
G
1
e
In
Earle Birney, now writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto, was for
many years at the University of British Columbia, where he instituted and
championed the programme in Creative Writing, and edited Prism international.
Teacher,   scholar,   critic,   playwright,   novelist,   and  poet,  he  has  won  many
awards for his fiction and verse. His Selected Poems was published in  1966
by McClelland & Stewart.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
42 Walls
ceilings
up
hold
Some walls are said to
when perhaps they only
hold
down
floors
^4-u        i   view
Others reveal a
s
o
m
e
o
n
1    but
or
bland-
ly
hide
it
a Is
r o 1
e g     1
y d
h
i
d
e
w a
h  a
o     n
1 d
s
43 THE SEMINAR
(Dedicated to my betters)
Wednesday, 24th. July, 196....; Morning Session (Robert Hansen
and Allen Truport)
discussed sure discussed
WORK HABITS.    Bob ingests, ingests, ingests, so we get those
wonderfully turned —
Allen keeps large notebooks
wherein
he told us
he notes down EVERYTHING,    a kind of spatial flowing
viewPOINT.
Allen says
he writes all the time as much as possible;
it's like hanging a coat in a closet: you've
got to get in there,    reasonableness may not be
enchanting, but said Allen, it is REWARDING.
a big notebook, he said, by God that's the
THING!
like Genet on the sand
blowing cock!
Bob said:
what the primary interest is and should be is ingesting,
ingesting, a kind of pulmonary percuss indrawn, tightened and
then placed upon the paper, the marble in tight order of grip,
allowing the function to be the (possible) anguish rather than
any
MESSAGE or a)  art-order
b)  audience-relationship.
Allen: I want to write
ENOUGH POEMS
so that when I die
all the shit will be out of me, I mean the guff, the nonsense,
the turds yes, ah, I mean — that I have expressed enough
ENOUGH you see to
free me.
44 R.H. — I realize the standard essence of all your POETRY;
I say content is an extension of form,    we must barter
for a firmer divinity,    the conduct of children,
for instance, is fairly free but
UNFORMED
and in the final
multiplication ...    useless.
I would say that the difference between
Hansen and Truport is that Hansen KNOWS
what he is
doing.
Evening Session (R.H. and AT.)
Boy says priests should stick to their robes and leave
POETRY
to him.
I agree
with this.
Allen says political poetry or poetry dealing with immediate
causes and reflections is
interesting, and interesting
goes well, badly written
or not, it appears IMPORTANT, it appears sympathetic
and the ONE THING I do not want to do is lose
my AUDIENCE.
Thursday, July 25th.; no classes:
a dozen of us had gone over to Buchanan 106
for the hell of
it
to use the lecture room
anyhow
but we found some WOMEN in there
and they appeared HOSTILE when we walked in and
even MORE hostile when we began talking about
POETRY.
their hostility is perhaps understandable because we
45 DON'T
tend to them.
they'll just have to WAIT until workshop
CLASSES to get a portion of our
attention.
But it was really something, all of us there together,
talking, TALKING, —■ Hansen, Truport, Missions, De Costro,
Sevadov, and Starwort, all all
together
here in ONE room was
the heart of American POETRY
talking, my
god.
Friday, July 26th., Morning Session:
De Costro dominated the whole damned meeting,    he has
big hands and many
IDEAS.    Truport appears to be afraid
of De Costro.    Hansen cools it.    nobody gets along,
yet there is no
YELLING,    these are not only poets.
De Costro says the root of the thing is transferred to the tree
and the tree dies and
becomes HISTORY
and that
generally
history is pretty
disappointing,    it's easier to chop down a
tree than a poem, he says,    history chops
YOU down.
FUCK ALL MEANING!    Bob suddenly screams,
then, in softer voice:
we ought to discard.
we all agree that feeling is everything and
we go out for coffee
leaving three girls sitting
46 there with their dresses hiked-up around their
HIPS.
Monday, July 29th.; Morning Session:
I saw all FIVE OF THEM!!!
around a desk
TOGETHER:
Hansen, Truport,
De Costro,
Starwort and
Philip Maxwell.
Phillip didn't ARGUE didn't say much
and left before the meeting was OVER
but explained he'd wait
OUTSIDE for the free lunch,    his books haven't been
GOING weU.
Starwort read his MAN ON A STREETCAR RUNNING
BACKWARDS
from BENT LILY #8.
I couldn't really understand his
READING
but will have to see
the work in print before I make a
JUDGMENT.
Maybe Allie Denby
will send me a
copy of the issue, tho, alas, I understand it is
now a RARE ITEM
going for 20 dollars out of Fort Lauderdale,
the past can only take place in the PRESENT, if you
know what I mean, said
De Costro.
we all
nodded.
Truport said he was afraid of being BROKE,    he was
lined up for one more session at the
U. of K.
47 but hadn't heard much
more,    of course, he'd been moving
around quite a bit    in TOUCH AND
OUT OF TOUCH:
Paris, Cuba, the Congo, India, Moscow and Denver, Colorado.
we spoke of THE CANTOS.
Pound continually tries to find space
AREAS, ARENAS OF CONTOUR for his extra-cerebral power-
poetic
uningrained . .. uncontrived soul-mind . . . like a . ..    like a
whip lashing against the sides of an old
BARN.
we want a COMPLETE EMERGENCE, said De Costro.
nothing half        nothing wilted
we want the poetic Christ-thing walking out of
the barn
and TEACHING — not from the TOP-down
but through and through and
THROUGH.
god damn it to hell, said Starwort.    suddenly.
in taking my notes I could not fit it into
the
conversation.
First Workshop session with R.H.
he seemed to say a lot that I didn't understand but
the others seemed to understand
and the session went well.
Bob looked well.    I had a
HANGOVER.
Wednesday, July 31st., Morning Session (most of us there.)
there was again the old argument about Caryl Chessman,
Sacco and Van., all of which, I am afraid, I no longer
understand
48 I am AFRAID
I am getting tired
although the others appear very
energetic.
I need SECURITY, said Hansen.    I need a perpetual FATHER
and with a GOOD JOB or my work is
HINDERED.
Allen read some of his early stuff.    I understood some of it
but FRANKLY, I think he tends to
hoUer and OVERSTAGE.
I left with a
HEADACHE.
Friday, August 2nd.; Morning Session:
Allen spoke of some of the poetry he had seen in
the campus shithouses and said it was pretty
GOOD.
then Wm. Burroughs was discussed
his USE of timely and pertinent
news material that RELATED .. .
by clipping out words in the paper
and pasting them in DIFFERENT ORDER
A NEW ORDER
was established
and a neutralization of time and event
WAS
established.
THIS WAs imporTANT.    YeS.    I'll sAY sO.
we all admitted that we often read TIME and
PRAVDA.
then Allen read
AGAIN
this time from UNpubliSHeD
WoRk
dlrEcTlY FrOM The JOuRnAls
there were 250 people attending
49 and he read LOUDLY and I had another
HANGOVER.
he screamed for FOURTYFIVE MINUTES!    then became
TERRIBLY
exhausted, you couldn't hear him, his voice BECAME
a monotonous drone and he asked the audience:
may I stop now?
they applauded LOUDLY.
Sunday, August 4th.:
the janitor had locked all the doors on the campus so
we met at Hansen's room and drank port wine.    Denise and
Margaret came up but they were SAFE.
although everyone appeared a little sullen.
I think it was being LOCKED-OUT like that.
later in the night Allen grew angry and slapped
Bob.    then Allen read his poetry again,    it was
good        being there        altogether        all of us.
I have tried to take the notes and hope you have
APPRECIATED THEM,
next Summer I am sure we will be
INVITED BACK
and I look forward
EAGERLY
to these great American poets
and their DISCUSSION of what makes POETRY GO, what it
iS!M
AnD To hAVe tHeM rEaD ThEiR OWN WORKS OnCe
AgAiN.
—Clyde Tompkins, campus University of L., August 5, 196-
Charles Bukowski, who has published six books of verse and a prose confessional, is among the best of contemporary American poets. "I can hardly
think of a writer who gives me much to go on, either a living writer or a dead
writer or any kind of writer. The walls are very much walls; this typewriter is
like trying to ride a drunk lion through the streets." Mr. Bukowski lives in
Los Angeles.
5° Two Poems by Joseph Margolis
CATABOLISM
Surrogates of what? small dry pellets,
thin streams.
On the other hand, the sun's no dimmer in
a lifetime,
Is now, in fact, quite pointlessly brilliant.
Speckled backs of hands, powdering pate,
Those marvellous residual longings marooned
in bone
(Portions of which laugh separately),
Remind themselves in mirrors.
Gather proximities, prospects, forever
future futures.
Clutch, in short, your bunch of asymptotic
blooms, astonished.
Scruples too tired for new conversions
inquire:
Have we the wit to be bewildered?
Have we the slow force to be inert?
THEATRICAL CUCKOLD
(Believe me)
I love your good looks and grief.
But sooner or later the music hurts,
the gin is bruised, ashtrays
filled.
Good sense grows cold.
Too much theatre's implied,
No power to heal.
Temple and tomb, this cottage palace
robs me of remorse.
5i Lately, I watch myself sour into
omniscience.
Pale men with painful power bristie
their blood,
Harden and halt before a phantom flood.
Joseph Margolis is Professor and Head, Department of Philosophy, University
of Western Ontario. His poems have appeared in Queen's Quarterly and In the
Late, Gnat Light (ed. by Dallas Wiebe, Cincinnati, 1965). He has also written
books on art and morality, and edited Philosophy Looks at the Arts (Scribner's,
1962), and Contemporary Ethical Theory (Random House, 1966). "It is my
conviction that it is possible (and important—increasingly) to present a
poetry of force and dignity and human concern altogether free of mythologizing
tendencies such as in the work of Eliot, Pound, Stevens, Yeats."
OUR LADY OF HEMLOCK
1
He came to commune
but the lady was withdrawn
behind the veil.
Though he could have forced
the door so poorly kept,
he turned away to the turbid fires
where the bluebird wept.
Let the lady seek
but she shall not find
the moth that fluttered at her door;
he is gone
into the olive wood;
he will return no more.
2
He came on bleeding feet
over the sterile floor,
lifting the dish of bread
52 and multiplying fish:
"Woman, take of this."
Into the dark wood she turned
to keep her solemn fast,
her gaunt children
moving on restless feet
over the needle floor.
She is withdrawn, withdrawn!
her last children
waiting for the flood!
How shall the sword pass over
where there is no blood?
3
He has been here before,
under her door, restiess and ill;
the banner over her is love,
but he is waiting still.
Dew settles on the timeless hair
and through the night
the thorn trees hew
a crimson path on whitened brow
and dye with red the drops of dew.
The children that he gave to her
she dotes upon, as well she should.
Their sire is unheeded now;
he weeps beneath an olive wood.
4
Our corpulent lady
with the blue lace and white hem
disdained the donkey faces;
she was none of them!
Confident of her grace,
she turned to go.
A sudden wind whipped out her gown,
revealed a tasseled tail.
53 Hard hooves clattered on the stone
of coming dawn. Swirling away
before the sun appeared,
where has our lady gone?
OLIVER EVERETTE
Oliver Everette has published several books of verse. He is poet laureate of
Alaska, and teaches at the University of Alaska. A pastor for thirty years, he
says, "I sometimes wonder whether I am a preacher who writes poetry or a poet
who preaches. The religious press considers my poems too secular; the secular
press often considers me too religious." Theodore Roethke was his mentor.
TU, LA REVOLUCION
Es para cada uno la Revolucion la flor violenta de su vida:
El pan al miserable, la vivienda al oscuro laborioso,
La justicia y el coraje, el honor y la sangre,
La inmensa Uamarada que recorre al pais, que incendia al pueblo
Como un bosque de terribles catedrales azules,
El bramido del aire, el coro de los hombres reconquistados,
La belleza de una nueva constelacion centelleando en la noche.
Y cuando mi corazon busca la figura
de este momenta fragante, de esta primavera,
Sin vacilar va hacia ti, te senala y te acerca,
Mujer clara como el diamante, dura como el diamante,
Que eres para mi el simbolo sencillo y misterioso de la Revolucion
En cuyo fragor he encontrado el arma de tu vida.
YOU ARE THE REVOLUTION
Translated by Roger Prentice.
The Revolution
is to everyone
his life's wild-violent flower:
bread to the poor man,
a dwelling for the nameless worker,
justice and courage,
honour and blood.
54 An enormous flame
sweeps over the country,
ignites the people
like a forest of terrible blue cathedrals —
The roar of the air,
the chorus of men set free,
the beauty of a new constellation flashing in the night.
And when my heart seeks an image
for this fragrant moment,
this spring-time,
without hesitating it goes to you,
it points to you and brings you close,
woman bright as a diamond,
hard as a diamond,
you are to me
the simple and mysterious symbol of the Revolution
in whose thunder I have found you, my weapon.
ROBERTO FERNANDEZ RETAMAR
Roberto Fernandez Retamar, secretary of the Cuban Union of Writers and
Artists, has published books of criticism and verse, helped compile Poetry of
Cuban Youth, and edited Cuban poetry. His collection Patrias received the
national prize for poetry. The poem here is from his book Con Las Mismas
Manos. Roger Prentice, who lives in Vancouver, visited Cuba for some time
and is now working on translations of work from that country.
AN UNKNOWN FRIEND
'I wonder, do you think there is something unnatural
about my boy, the way he dreams
alone in the yard? He ought to be glad
to play with the other children.
You have a little girl. What is your opinion?'
"Figure it's just a stage," the second
lady says — she an American. "They go
through periods, but they quickly pass."
55 (A birdbath with a bambino nuzzling a porpoise
stands nearby; beyond it peonies
bloom, red — 'as red cabbage' the foreign lady
described them — and white; and over
the highest, in its wheel web with azure signature,
a great golden-garden-spider waits.)
'I had believed,' the first says, 'that by that age,
past four, a boy would mould the whole world
with his hands to make the world a thing which a child
can use — the way you squeeze a lump
of clay until it fits to your fingers.'
And the other woman says "I asked
our pediatrician. He thought if it doesn't last
too long it's normal if they dream.
They model themselves a mental world before
they can handle the actual one.
When your boy learns more English he'll have lots more fun.
Oh dear! Look at that big spider."
(This is an early-vernal noon, too warm:
a fantasy pause we have between
rains and that final muddy freeze of Michigan
that clenches summer blissfully —
as though there had never been any snowfall
in May, or disillusionment.)
The first says 'Yes. A spider waits; web with slight movement
like what I fear. My boy will shiver
in the yard and watch the fence but doesn't
see the fence. He sees beyond it,
he says, where his friend is hiding. I ask him what
his friend is. He pretends not to know.
But where the sweetpea-vine and honeysuckle
join, he says he sees a swishing wall,
as of strings, and just past that, just sometimes there will
be a kind of magic playmate
56 whom he can see a tiny bit by moving
from side to side without moving
his eyes. I am afraid. There may be really something
that wants him. I wish my man were here.'
"I don't know," the second says, "how I could
manage it, alone, in your shoes ...
Look how those flowers are opening. Figure they'll freeze ...
You shouldn't worry. I think a girl
gets to be a girl quicker and simpler
than a boy a boy." 'Yes. I think too,
each year,' the first says, 'that they will die. They seldom do ...
Look at that boy with the fish! Today
I asked my boy if he'd like a dog. I thought
he would refuse. He said yes instead.
Then I told him, Someday you will wish to be married.
You should have a girl-friend already.
I have. I asked Where? Where I was when I was
still dead before I was born, he said.'
RICHARD EMIL BRAUN
Richard Emil Braun's collection of poems, Children Passing, was published
in 1962 by the University of Texas Press, and has been reprinted. His poem
"Niagara" {Prism international 4:2) received the President's Medal of the
University of Western Ontario for the year 1964. He teaches Classics at the
University of Alberta at Edmonton.
IN CALGARY THESE THINGS
a collapsing house in Chinatown
western style with verandah
and very fine around 1920.
now the quack grass in the lawn,
a '57 Buick parked in front.
young orientals, three of them,
stare at me.
57 the Queen's Hotel beer parlor,
Indian prostitutes
shabby, squat, staring
into half-filled glasses,
flat beer, driftwood of city.
on Crescent Road, that
ribbon of speedway on top
of the unstable north escarpment
of the shallow Bow river
a pheasant, scurrying across to
shelter of the last few trees
on the bank.
last winter they found ten lynx,
three bobcats
many coyotes
and one moose
wandered within city limits,
on the campus you still may see
fat grouse and chicks following like a tail,
rabbits.
my next door neighbour is a janitor
who has bought an $ 18000 house.
he is not an oriental
he is not an Indian
he has stuck some plaster bunnies on his lawn.
IAN ADAM
Ian Adam has published poems and articles in various Canadian journals. He
teaches in the English Department at the University of Alberta, Calgary. He
ran as N.D.P. candidate in the last Federal election and says: "judging by
the current state of parliament, am glad I lost."
58 EPITAPH FOR A SMALL CIRCLE
There it is, a circle
of idiot
space
bulging
with its own
nothing,
with Professors
wearing
Charles Olson's underwear;
There it is, round
as a Mexican
sun
filled
with broken wind,
a feather
popped from the bombulations
of knock-
kneed unicorns;
It is, of course, a shape:
a man
with red
balloons
between his legs,
blowing      up
flat
tires everytime he sits....
Circles: they
hang
from heavy lips
like lolly-
pops
59 or poems
bounced
against sticky mirrors,
a jelly of
disciples and
members.
Circles are:
Campus
Missionaries, waiting
under trees with bits
of paper
in their gullets,
coughing excommunications at each other.
If you see them oozing
over the horizon
or under
your rug, remember
how they
explode
into pieces of old rubber
at the poke of any
single
finger, or the stomp
of an untied
foot.
STANLEY COOPERMAN
Stanley Cooperman's collection of poems, The Day of the Parrot, will appear
in University of Nebraska Press toward the end of 1967. Another collection,
The Owl Behind The Door, is scheduled for release by McClelland and Stewart
in March 1968. His World War I and the American Novel (Johns Hopkins
University) will be released this April. He teaches at Simon Fraser University.
60 Two Poems by Frank Dauey
DUTY AND VALOR
The girl is slender
and sixteen
and sits in a bus depot
near Seattle:
has just run away from home.
Everyone knows the reasons
a girl can have
for running away from home
and these do not matter:
only that she has taken
her father's revolver.
She would I suppose
rather not return.
So I encounter
the story in the newspaper
make my entrance
even as she draws the unloaded weapon
and the policeman comes toward her
blocking the door.
He will move
she thinks
walking closer
innocent
incredulous of
that other gun
the slam of death.
61 IN STEREO
Stay
rio
or
stee
rio —
one hears it
two:
ways,
an old form of
fidelity,
justice,
plaintiff and defendant every case has
two sides,
oiled walnut
or mahogany,
two sides,
two
"mouthpieces"
like a marriage:
two
mouths:
the channels must remain
divided
until the air
to make music,
like a marriage
there are
two sides to every story:
his and hers,
often marked on towels
sides of beds
and closets
water and other,
water taps and
stayrio sets
AM
and/or FM
62 rock
n' jazz
not necessarily compatible
stay
rio.
The channel flow
seeks balance,
the volumes compete
thru matched
speakers in the best sets —
matched,
paired off together,
against,
together,
the subtle counterpoint
of counter moods
of counter feelings:
Sonny meets Hawk,
man meets wife:
to jazz and to love —
nothing old
nothing new
two sides
stay
rio.
II
As Descartes
academic
intellectual
saw the problem:
mind and body.
As Descartes
man
feeling as well as thinking
et sentire et cogitare
solved the problem
— the channels
mixing sounds in the air
before the ear —
the pineal gland
63 bi and bi
mixing functions in the head
before the heart.
Stay
rio.
Air
is not
imaginary.
We must keep our channels
divided
thot Descartes,
mind and body:
God would not let him
be deceived:
Descartes
trusting God and
innocent
pineal gland
rudimentary organ of sight,
pineal gland
that must mix as the air:
poor
deceived Frenchman
trusting God and
pineal gland.
Ill
Coming
together:
whether good
whether bad
the channels must
come together
before the ear.
"Enriched"
listening,
the two
points of view
establish
"real perspective",
the two sides
eliminate
64 "the single point-source"
bias.
Cliches
for us,
cliches
when I don't care
is the sound,
je m'en fous
for Canada,
we hear it
both ways
et tout est foutu
or screwed
for the more vulgar tongue
of the majority.
Coming together:
French-fathered girl
and
English-fathered boy
is of
no matter.
Je m'en foutisme:
"The Greeks would
have said
idiocy."
Foutues betes
the damn fools must
come together
before the sound,
before the sound
strikes the ear.
Stay
rio,
the channels must
be divided
as they are
divided,
bi-separatism
bi-separatisme
at the source,
65 and must
come together
in the room,
produce
the three-dimension world
of stay
rio
an old form of
fidelity,
justice,
citizen and citizen every case has
two sides,
compatible
compatible
stay
rio.
IV
Rimes
surround us
the rimes of the seasons
or the heart
give us keys
for the mind;
the rime of this tree
with that,
the riming of tides
or of people;
good rimes:
the tension of handsome
similarity
in unlike women,
bad rimes:
"she reminds me of someone,"
"Doesn't he
look like Jim?"
as if the resemblance
were important,
as if Jim
wished to be double,
as if
to be like
66 someone
something
were important,
were
more important.
Non-conformists would
remove all
rimes, uniqueness is
paramount,
Dollard des Ormeaux
particular
•— I cannot say —
"person"
particular
Dollard des Ormeaux,
they would forget he was
a man.
Conformists don't
even wish to be stay
rio,
would have all
covered under one flag
from birth,
smother every chance
of mother
and of difference.
Stay
rio.
Identicality is crime
not rime;
je le trouve assez con;
deconnez.
Even the words
we all have
connote
differently.
Frank Davey, the first editor of Tish, now edits The Open Letter and teaches
at Royal Roads in Victoria. His books of poetry are D-Day and After and
City of Gulls.
67 Two Poems by Romanus Egidu
IN THE SHRINEHOUSE
Spirit of my father,
give me not such a son
as has a mouth covered with
hide like the muzzled goat
to be killed for the dull drum
already surfeited with blood.
We beat the drum
and it drones 'life and death
and death for life;' but what
can we do with a mouth
sealed dumb?
Is the cock too evil
for its blood to touch the ground
of your shrinehouse?
or did it pray to an enemy-god
to steal the tongue from
this mute son of mine
and yours
lest he should betray
the cock,
That he held for you
but is now seven wildernesses
away from here?
Give me the son that
can talk with his tongue,
not the one
who muses with his mind;
Or who does both!
68 THE FIRST YAM OF THE YEAR
I have dug it fresh,
this boneless flesh
of air, earth, warmth
and water, this
life out of the heart
of death;
its cap of fibre
will mail the elder's
head against grey rain,
and its body proof his
to spite time's arrows.
For he is the rope
tied at the foot
of our past hooking
its fingers round our waist,
and reaching for the sable
gourd on the forked stump
where the unfeathered chick
chirps a sacrificial song.
He will eat this log-root
of earth, and after spread
my skin under the Red-Sun
to collect his rays
for washing my blood,
and plant the ageless
sun-tree into my heart.
Romanus Egidu, a young Nigerian writer, completed his doctorate recently at
Michigan State University. He has appeared in two London anthologies of
Commonwealth poetry; this is his first publication in North America.
69 A NEW DAY
From the dark taciturn clouds the sunlight
Slapped the sleeping city
Full on the upturned cheek,
And it awoke with a flourish of ancient grace,
Grey in years and long worn out
With humid enervation of the bones.
Having overcome the first shock
Of consciousness about the beginning
Of another long dull day,
It automatically adjusts itself
To a slow motion rhythm
Of wanton monotonous activity.
Then the people:
They emerge perspiring and defiant
Tired but diligent, basically designed
As conquerors of this fruitful earth;
Great men all with swords of morning
Freshness rusting in sloppy sheaths:
Mighty men armed with arrows of assurance
And shields made to resist
The jabs and sallies of ruthless endeavour;
They come wearily stooping
Under the weight of their armour
In search of bread and bones.
M. K. HAMEED
M.  K.   Hameed  is  a  Pakistani  author whose work has  appeared  in  Young
Commonwealth Poets: '65 and New Voices from the Commonwealth.
70 Two Poems by Assia Werfel-Lachin
VOGUE VOILIER
Buzzing, humming, dull.
Ebb and flow of fall
calms my summer-sharpened soul.
The wave blurs a northern tide,
drugs me, backwash inside.
Startling seascape, grey, gold, wide.
The many dead, killed by currents.
The many captives, held by reefs.
From my bench I see the sea
and a lonely yawl
white wings free
to tremble in the breeze.
On a beautiful trip my Sunday ships
circle the world on a circular sea.
From my bench I see the sea
and a wandering bird,
white wings free,
chasing the edge of the sea,
the sailboat rocked by the breeze.
Lured by the sea, both of them, wrong.
Alone, I dream on my bench.
Sail, sail, sailboat!
Soar, lovely white bird!
VOGUE VOILIER
Le ronronnement monotone
Des flux et reflux de l'automne
7i Calme mes sens exaltes par fete.
L'onde floue des flots du Nord
Endort les remous de mon corps.
II m'etonne, ce decor gris et or.
Tant d'hommes morts par ses courroux,
Tant de captifs dans ses recifs.
De mon banc, je vois l'ocean.
Vogue un voilier solitaire
Aux longues voiles blanches,
Secouees par le vent.
Qu'ils sont beaux mes bateaux du dimanche
Qui font le tour du monde sur la mer ronde.
De mon banc, je vois l'ocean
Et l'oiseau volontaire
Aux longues ailes blanches
Poursuivre a l'horizon
Le voilier berce par le vent.
Attires par la mer, tous deux, ils errent.
Solitaire, je reve sur mon banc.
Vogue, vogue, voilier!
Vole, bel oiseau blanc!
I AM ILL
I am ill.
The living sicken me.
The dead sicken me and I am afraid.
In my extreme innocence
I demanded happiness.
Now, here is bad luck
tracing its circle, bent
72 around our bodies
around our hearts.
I am ill.
I think of tombs.
The dead frighten me
but the living terrify me
and I am sick
unto
death.
J'AI MAL
J'ai mal.
Les vivants me font mal.
Les morts me font mal et j'ai peur.
Dans ma candeur profonde
J'exigeais le bonheur.
Or voici le malheur
Qui vient f aire sa ronde
Autour de nos corps,
Autour de nos coeurs.
J'ai mal.
Je pense a la tombe.
Les morts me font peur
Mais les vivants me font pluspeur encore
Et j'ai mal.
Translations by Chris Johnson.
Chris Johnson, who is a candidate for the M.A. in Creative Writing and
Theatre at the University of British Columbia, won the MCA and CBC awards
for playwriting. His work has appeared variously, including Canadian Forum,
Potlatch, and Ledphartte's, which he helped edit. "My translations depart
noticeably from the literal meaning of the French because I have tried to
recognize another level of meaning in the original. Assia Werfel-Lachin's poems
are almost orally-oriented in their concern with sound, which could not be
duplicated in English.  I have tried to set up parallel effects."
73  Clyde Barnebey has never published previously. He lives in North Pole, Alaska
and has "great respect for the timber wolf and the D9 Cat."
you
can't
come
back
CLYDE BARNEBEY
"Five eights is forty," says Gilligan, examining his watch. "Plus
nine minus thirteen is thirty-six, times twenty-one is seven-fifty-six,
chopped by two-fifty-two are three. She'll be here in three minutes."
A small semi-circle of boys, untucked shirts billowing out and
undulating through a variety of sizes in round, rolling waves originating at the waist in roly-poly potbellies and lapping vertically
upward into the solid shoulder-pads of teenhood, huddle close about
him, nodding. Their quick eyes dart from Gilligan's face, tumble
down the overhanging cliff in leaps and bounds, then, falling onto
the narrow-gauge track, ride the rails for almost three-hundred
yards straight south, derailing suddenly, into the river below, as the
track veers around the mountain to the east.
"How you figger?" says the smallest boy, hair blown flat on his
forehead.
"Well," says Gilligan, patting the large boulder beside him, "it's
like this." Smiling to the semi-circle of sun-burnt faces, he draws a
huge compass slowly out of his right-hand pocket with a long,
75 leather thong, places it on his palm, leans backward against the
boulder for balance, and carefully pries open the lid, cleaning the
glass with his fifth finger.
"Hell, Mike," says the biggest onlooker, "it doesn't matter none.
We only got three minutes."
"Two minutes, twenty-five seconds," says Gilligan, checking his
watch.
"Right," says the biggest.
"How you figger?" says the smallest, eyes shifting back and forth
between the two, brows raised in perplexity.
"Look," says Gilligan, pointing down to the bend in the tracks.
"In two minutes and twenty seconds she'll come chugging around
the hill, building up steam to make it up here." His pointed finger
leads the train through its uphill course at several hundred miles an
hour, stopping it abruptly on the tracks below them. "Then, when
she's going nice and slow right under our noses, right along here,
we'll plop a couple middlin pebbles on her." He snaps the compass
lid shut hastily, smiles, tucks the black instrument into his pocket
again and, scratching his tanned stomach with one arm, leans back
against the boulder with the other, drumming his fingers suggestively
on the stone.
Alternating weight from foot to foot, a fat, crew-cutted boy
snickers, then silence falls on the group, broken only by the whisti-
ing of wind, the flapping of clothing, and the noise of the river as,
flowing speedily downstream, it widens, crashing into a shallow,
rock-filled rapids many hundreds of yards below.
"Aw, come on," says the fat boy, throwing a glance down the
tracks. "Let's get hopping. Bunch of stallers. I gotta take a whiz."
"Ain't no one stopping you," says Gilligan.
"That're true," says the fat boy with a squinch, stepping out of the
semi-circle, rubbing his crotch ceremoniously. "I'll christen her." He
stumbles on a rock, catches his balance, then, breathing heavily,
advances to the boulder, motioning Gilligan out of the way.
"Hell," says the biggest. "That finishes it. He'll never be done
in time."
Eyes on the bend, Gilligan walks over to join the other two boys,
stopping beside the smallest who is inspecting the rabbit-ear hands
of his watch, brows still raised in perplexity.
"Like's been said," says Gilligan. "It don't matter none. Let's get
cracking."
Turning, their six, small-pupiled eyes scan the sunny terrain,
rapidly sweeping, with frequent halts, from right to left in a large,
76 oscillatory arc, seeking out levers, flipping over rocks and boulders.
On the right, next to where the cliff drops off to the tracks below,
they find rocks, many-sized and -shaped, strewn at random over the
dusty, stone surface. Many are flat and uniformly thick. Some are
jagged and unworn by the weather, as though caused by an explosion. Then, swinging left in the arc, the rocks lessen, growing
smaller and more jagged, gradually petering out, in the centre section, to a vast expanse of bald rock, high and round, carved in spots
by erratic, dry rivulets and backdropped behind by the pale blue of
a robin's-egg sky.
"Get two flat rocks," says Gilligan, pointing to the right with a
crooked finger. "Pretty good sized. Flat, so they'll stack."
The smallest boy takes off at a run, limping in new tennis shoes.
Head high, he sprints briskly, covering the ground in short bursts.
Four eyes continue the arc, swinging farther left, zigzagging over
the ground with increased speed, working their way haltingly, capriciously from the dusty foreground to the lowering blue of the horizon. They glide down the bald rock of the centre section, shooting
directiy for the blue of the skyline which, as it recedes into the
distance, is dotted with scraggy trees along an edge straight enough
to have been slashed with a palette knife, straight, that is, for only
a short space before it runs into rough ground, rolling like a roller
coaster over a series of rocky hills and plateaus. Four eyes, two hazel,
one blue, one green, skim over the territory, working their way left
toward the river again, running into boulders and trees, descending
with the altitude to the comparatively lush quagmire of lower
ground.
"Pry-bar," says the biggest, nodding to a point about a hundred
yards away.
"Your eyes are brown," says Gilligan.
The two watch each other momentarily, turning their heads sideways. Gilligan's hooked nose casts a long shadow across his face.
The biggest's left eye twitches in the corner.
"They are not," he says cautiously, "they're green."
"All right, fine," says Gilligan, smiling, exposing two holes in his
upper row of teeth. "They're green. They still watch each other."
Squinting, both look into the sun again, working left, scanning the
remaining distance to where the cliff, with a similar contour, drops
twice, first onto the railroad tracks, then, falling into a breathtaking
plunge, to the rock-filled rapids many hundreds of yards below.
"There we go," says Gilligan, mismatched eyes glinting in the
sun, "right along the edge. Grab that mother."
77 The biggest begins to trot, eyes still casing the terrain, and Gilligan turns, walking toward the boulder, chin elevated, boots raising
the dust. His long, russet hair stands straight up in the wind. His
arms swing lankly at his sides, running the brown gamut from
shoulder to finger in a slender yet knotty line, bending, almost imperceptibly, only as the right sways forward simultaneously with
the left leg, to break, subtly, slightly above his narrow and immobile
hips. Though walking in an undeviating line, he favours his right
side, left arm unbent, head turned a little right of centre. His face
is relaxed and expressionless, descending, slowly, from a high forehead through a succession of absurdly small features: tiny, deep-set
eyes separated by the canary-like beak of his delicate hook nose and
perpendicular to a set of gnarled, virtually round ears that, despite
being well-tanned, young, and hairless, might be found on a middle-
aged dwarf; thin, turned-in lips played upon by the wavy whisp
of a smile; and a flat chin, spotted with white scars, that descends
over taut rolls of flesh like a carpetted staircase, ending brusquely
between clavicles, as the white scars continue downward across his
ribby body, disappearing under an alligator belt supporting paint-
stained blue jeans.
"God damn," yells the fat boy. "There she blow." He turns from
the boulder, clumsily zipping his pants, and, arms flying, begins to
run in circles, bouncing high on the balls of his feet. His paunchy
stomach shimmies up and down as he leaps, appearing and disappearing between the tails of his shirt and the top of his low-slung
pants. A canteen hops on his hip.
Gilligan slows, looking over his shoulder. The biggest, now
running, has almost reached the lever, shirttails flitting out multiply
behind him: once on his arched back, and once on the trailing
shadow that weaves and bobs over the rugged terrain behind him,
constantly exchanging owners, when the contour flattens, from a
short body to a tall one.
"Jesus Christ," yells the fat boy, cupping his hands to his mouth.
"Hustle your ass. There she blow."
Turning his neck somewhat, Gilligan sees the smallest running
toward them with arms clutching two rocks tight against his chest,
still covering the ground in short bursts, then he spins, looking down
the tracks, and crouches on one knee. "Keep low," he says. "And
shove something in that trap."
The fat boy, beginning to jump, changes his mind a fraction too
late, falling forward with his feet several inches off the ground.
Though fighting to regain his balance, he trips when, feet striking
78 rock again, a shoelace is pinned under a rubber sole. He falls flat,
skidding a few inches on the stone with a ripping sound. The empty
canteen bounces off his hip and clatters across the cliff.
"Only pack rat I ever seen with his own flask," says Gilligan,
watching the train smoke as he crawls forward. "You all right?"
"Leave me alone," says the fat boy, voice strident. He rocks back
and forth, hugging his right side with both arms, then turns his
head away, blinking sporadically to dry his eyes. The colour has fled
his face, leaving it as pale as his stomach.
"Fine," says Gilligan. He crawls around him, threading his way
to a vantage-point behind the boulder which perches, solidly, in a
small crevice an arm's length from the edge. Lunging, he moves
quickly, using more fingertip than hand, and stops, doubled-up,
just behind the boulder. He twists his neck instantaneously, surveying the ground and his running companions with squinted eyes, then
rises on his knees, peering over the cliff to where the tracks crowd
the second edge about thirty feet below.
Puffing smoke, the train comes forward up the grade, following its
cowcatcher that juts out, just over the rails, like a pointed chin.
The caboose swings free of the bend, taking its place in the queue
of eight isosceles trapezoids which grow, as the engine draws the
visible side of the cars closer, higher and longer in two practically
straight lines pointing toward the horizon, each trapezoidal coach
enlarging with distance, bases growing steadily wider all the way
forward. A white cloud, ash-coloured in appearance, billows from
the smokestack of the coal-black engine and is immediately carried
off with the wind.
Eyes narrowing, Gilligan pivots on his knees, waiting, one hand
beating against his thigh and the other, fingers falling in cadence,
on the dry part of the boulder. The fat boy has sat up, rubbing his
skinned side through a large rip in his checkered shirt. His face is
red once again, perhaps even a shade darker than before. "Shit," he
says. "How much time?"
"Bout thirty-five seconds," Gilligan says.
Frowning twice while receiving the answer, the fat boy, with the
infinite care and clumsiness of a height-fearer, rises, walking toward
the edge to retrieve his canteen, then stops halfway, eyes transfixed
on the drop-off. "Thought we were going to nail her with a couple
big ones," he says, turning his head carefully.
"Ain't got time," says Gilligan.
As they watch, the smallest runs straight toward the boulder,
head high, still moving in short spurts. Vaulting, he hurdles a small
79 crag, and comes racing to a sharp stop in his tennis shoes. He
crouches beside Gilligan, a rock in each hand, face turned upward.
His rope-like biceps stand out on his arms.
Whirling, both look over their shoulders while the rocks change
hands fumblingly. The biggest boy draws closer, strides lengthening,
his face glum with the seriousness of a marathon runner. Under his
right arm, riding smoothly as he lopes over the rock, is a fence post
that, being long and fairly thick, half resembles a lance and half a
battering ram. He carries it loosely, left hand cupping the underside
of the front, right arm tickling the diameter with a circle of a noose
that extends, fingers bent, almost to his armpit. He glides over the
ground, post seeming almost part of his body, strides as graceful and
sure as slow motion.
"Yeah, yeah," says the smallest, panting, slight fist clenched tight
in a knot of empathy.
Frowning, Gilligan piles the rocks about a foot back from the
boulder, then inches left, peeking around the curved stone and over
the cliff again. His eyes roll down the narrow-gauge track, checking
the second cliff's contour, until, running quickly onto the train, he
studies the cab and the three drive wheels of the small steam engine,
whispering, over the roar of the rapids, the whole time: "Well. Well.
Folk and kids come ride our narrow-gauge train. Just three dollars.
Kids half fare. See the scenic sights." He stops whispering, and
scowls, tasting the esses on his tongue. The train keeps coming, slowing noticeably on the grade, now less than fifty yards away. A single
headlight points out from the engine, tapering like a snout. A whistle
cuts the air for the first time, and a steam cloud, casting a light
shadow as it drifts, emerges from the topside of the shiny, black
boiler. The cowcatcher rides on its own set of small wheels. A head
is visible in the cab. The steam and smoke are redolent of breath in
a cold wind. A polished brass bell, situated just behind the smokestack, begins ringing its miniature toll. "Clickety clack," says Gilligan, spinning again, "clickety clack. You can't come back; no, you
can't come back no more."
The tallest starts bringing himself to a stop, post pointing downward. Gilligan and the smallest jump to their feet, one on each side
of the boulder, then, arms extended, grab the post like a baton,
easing it to rest between the boulder and the two piled rocks. It
leans firmly, weight pressing against the curve of the stone and the
fulcrum formed by the rocks. Knees bending, the biggest couples
his pale hands over the high end of the wood, and lets his weight
fall, hanging for a moment in the air. The smallest throws himself
80 across the post, and the fat boy comes running, canteen bouncing
on his hip.
"Goddamn wait," says Gilligan. He takes several steps sideways,
looking around the boulder which, towering to a domed peak, rises
about six feet off the ground.
They watch him, waiting, hands ready on the wood. The smallest
consults his watch.
"Three-shay," yells Gilligan, charging the post.
The tallest rises on his tip-toes, bounces once, then drops, fingers
coupled white; the smallest falls forward, hands flat against his
chest; jumping high over the wood, Gilligan comes down with his
arms locked straight, hands spread like the claws of an eagle; and
the fat boy, grimacing, dives onto the post with his stomach, feet
hardly leaving the ground.
The post bows, making a cracking sound, yet the boulder rolls,
ka-klunk, ka-klunk, moving and then hesitating on its unround
surface. It travels to the edge and totters, pending only a little encouragement which arrives as, stepping back, the fat boy digs his
feet in, and charges, smashing low into the rock with his shoulder.
It clears the cliff and falls, silent for almost a second. Then it
strikes a slope at the bottom, and ricochets, flying low toward the
tracks. It hits once, skipping like a rock, and catches the engine
squarely between the first drive wheel and the pilot. The engine
jumps, abruptly leaving the rails. It runs parallel to the track for
perhaps fifteen feet, whereupon, striking a large pile of railroad ties,
it lurches high in the air, and, tipping on its side, plunges over the
second cliff, pursued immediately by its tender.
The rest of the train continues up the hill, all cars remaining on
the rails. It slows nearly to a dead halt on the top. Faces and cameras
fine the open windows of the coaches, yet no one seems to notice
the boys who stand on the cliff and stare down, three shirts billowing
out with the wind.
The train begins rolling again, slowly gathering speed. Two cars
pass underneath, followed by the bright, red caboose upon which,
standing on its back platform, two men lean against the railing,
waving and raising their beers in salute.
The boys wave back, watching the engineless train start down the
eleven mile grade back into town.
"Well, that's finished," says Gilligan over the echoing crash from
the gorge below, eyeing the fat boy appreciatively. "Now we can't
go back. Nope, we can't go back no more." Two Poems by Miriam Waddington
COMMITTEE WORK
Adult education
I think about it
driving home for lunch
preoccupied I see
the department of highways men
in blazing helmets
burning the brush beside the road
and further on
the red and blue houses
of Don Mills shining
in the bare and merciless fight
while josephcolored
hudsonbay blankets
are airing on clotheslines
And still further on
the kindergarten children
weightless
as scattered leaves
blown here and there on the streets
are homeward bound holding
their drawings in front of them
like colored flags
Proud creators workmen
who burn brush
mothers
who air blankets
children
who make pictures dance
the sun is spilling you
in helter skelter procession
all over my thoughts
and setting up tents
for a carnival
a whole country
82 a huge canvas
a riotous celebration
of a new school
order airiness joy
LOSING MERRYGOROUNDS TWICE
IN ONE LIFETIME
My longago childpark
my everwas merrygoround
twicelost are you
in circuses and suburbs
lost now my teetertotters
thin tensioners
over the crushed grasses,
my broken mintstems lost
and silkgreen ferns lost
Where my hands first
foraged in where my
footsteps stirred light
dappled under trees that
sheltered me like fathers
where my eyelids were
touched kissed long ago
by sun's parentfingers
now dry now hermited
parchmented bookstacked
And exiled now from
my longago merrygoround
my talltreed childpark
twice lost are they
once
left behind in the
shadowcity of my child
years and after long
wandering lost lost again
in my own outpacing
children
83 Outpaced by them
the spring has blinked
me open, first watercarried
then almost flowered me:
but a dry bud I am un-
dappled now and pitiless
neverblooming but wise
I supposed in the how
of losing merrygorounds
and the careful prose
of growing up
Miriam Waddington, one of Canada's best-known poets, teaches at York
University in Toronto. Her work has been published extensively, including
Prism international.
Two Poems by Peter Van Toorn
WOMAN WHOSE ANKLES DIP EXQUISITELY
Woman whose ankles dip exquisitely,
Whose skin is like Delft porcelain,
Your flaws are your perfections.
Of your flawed ring finger,
Once blemished by glass,
You have left a piece in me.
With heels doubly boned back
You have sprung spurs,
Golden ones, through my ways.
Patched from a skin graft,
Your belly has given symmetry
To the frenzy of my rolling eyes.
Woman whose ankles dip exquisitely,
84 Whose skin is like Delft porcelain,
Your perfections are not flawless.
Staring delicately into blue beyond,
Your ice glazed fingers
Thaw, ah, the fever on my lips.
From your eyes issues no light;
Your look prongs me with gleams
Of distance and moist coldness.
Eyeless you offer me your mouth,
But the stream of your kisses
Is swollen with frost.
Woman whose ankles dip exquisitely,
Whose skin is like Delft porcelain,
Your flaws are less than stillness.
Your forehead is cold marble slab
Of temple floor, dumb to my devotions,
Dumb to the prayers of my kisses.
Through the refractory perspectives
Of your eyes altar fires burn darkly,
Burning for another, an ancestor.
Woman whose ankles dip exquisitely,
Whose skin is like Delft porcelain,
Your stillness is your perfect flaw.
Your body a grave, your breasts
Two headstones where in vain
I have murmurred fierce prayers.
Woman scarred of belly within,
Daily I place on you a wreath
For the death of your wombed child.
Woman whose ankles dip exquisitely,
Whose skin is like Delft porcelain,
Your flaws are still your perfections.
85 NATIONAL ANTHEM
from: National Anthem
X.    Metaphor
a people's genius
emerges
from a rude black hat
upside down
not when a rack is placed
for its hanging
but when a violence of
metaphor
a soil's flower dragged
up by the root
sits mergingly on the lapel
of an imposter
whose unique sleight to
yank more than
mere barbarities from the
hat
gives him unprecedented right
to wear that hat
a people's genius
emerges
when an elegant imposter can
wear a primal hat
ably yanking from it
an endless
86 chain of mysteries that
grow on them
as flowers grow on a
woman's breast
or as pollen rubs off
on the bee's leg.
XL    Metaphor's Stamp
a metaphor is the sign of
a people's genius
when tested indelible
as the sun
a metaphor so violent
that when
men rise up blindly
to seize
it in their bare hands
trying to
wring its flames out
as
water from a wet rag
the task
eludes them and their
hands
are burned violently in
their spatial gyrations
for that metaphor is a
child fire
87 crying in the sun its
parent fire
a metaphor in league of
such violence
is forever
inextinguishable.
Peter Van Toorn is a young Montreal poet whose work has appeared in
various Canadian journals, including Prism international.
Three Poems by Edward Yeomans
OLD LAST GASP
At night he shuffles over my head in the room over mine,
His cane keeping a death-dance beat.
And always, thud, what seems to be his last gasp
Is always, thud, the one before the last.
In my sleep he walks, thud, through my ceiling,
And, thud, down to my bed,
Crawls softly over my pillow and, thud, steals into my head.
In, into my universe goes Last Gasp,
A teetering, tattered old man,
In, in, through city streets
To the Trans-Continental Highway
And begins to gather speed.
In, in, a blurred, abstract velocity,
He streaks to a rocket base,
Where,
A shadow against the night sky,
He sits high on a guided missile
And waits for a ride. TO MALCOLM LOWRY
Suffering from an almighty hangover,
He saw the world turn weird
Through windows of amber glass.
He was one of those who had drunk deeply,
Not of whisky,
But of memories of lost childhood,
And knew too well the loss.
Such a one can look through the smoke of our breathing
And see ashes in our eyes,
For such a one knows that, under the volcano,
Our green world returns
Only after the red one dies.
THE NEW POETRY
the best way
they say
to write the new poetry
is
to dig it from the balls
of both feet up
and lay it out
naked and clean
But they forget
That a man is a man,
Not only from heel to crown,
But all the way from the worms of Hellsgate
To the birds of Paradise.
Edward Yeomans teaches English at the University of British Columbia.
89 Five Poems by Ken Belford
1
me        an th odd
horses
by th edge
f something
donna
she rides       them
an thinks      if
she cant
get near
a new horse
there s something wrong
with it
does she know
those odd horses
are just
like my friends
lookit
i dont expect you
tbe
th same way
if you dont drink
th same stuff
ive come       face
t face
with a black emptiness
at th edges
f my face
90 sweet time        then
we loved        each other
for all the other
people
were running
away too
3
but th way
things
are now
i cannot say love
t any one
an things r gettin
worse all th       time
she says
shes
afraid f me
an i cannot understand
why
people r this way
i am
be       coming
aware
f a real boat
in th black
water f me
two men in it
cast       their lines
but th green living things
hv gone
because       th lake
s dead
9i 5
there s
a bale f hay
beside th road
n rain
drops
on th window
i en think
f th time
i came down
from the prairies
on this road
me in th back seat
wearin a straw hat
n beaded belt
thinkin       how hi
th buildins
r gonna be
th radio comes in
fr th first time
in one hundred an fifty miles
an its playin
th rollin home show
but im goin       out
on th same road
only
its been since paved
there s a bale
f hay
beside th road
an no turnin
sideways now
Ken Belford is a young British Columbia poet. His poems have appeared
previously in Talon. His first book of poems, Reduction, will appear in Very
Stone House Press this spring.
92 BOOKS AND PERIODICALS RECEIVED
allwood, martin s., Collected English Poems 194.0-1965, published by Anglo-
American Center, $2.90.
avidan, david, Megaovertone, published by The Thirtieth Century, London-
Tel-Aviv, 11, Shimshon Street, Tel-Aviv, Israel. Collected poems by the
author translated from the Hebrew, $2.50. 96 pages.
bullock, michael, World Without Beginning Amen! The Favil Press Ltd.,
48 pp. $2.00. Collected poems.
cohen, Leonard, Let Us Compare Mythologies, McClelland & Stewart, $2.60.
Collected poems.
cohen, Leonard, Parasites of Heaven, McClelland & Stewart, $2.50. Collected
poems.
giffin, david A., The Pride of Life, collection of poems. 30 pages.
green, h. Gordon, The Faith of Our Father, an autobiography, McClelland &
Stewart, 218 pp. $4.50.
gustafson,  ralph,  Sift  in  an  Hourglass,  McClelland  &  Stewart,  collected
poems, 94 pp. $2.50.
Johnston,   george,  Home  Free,  collected  poems.   Oxford  University  Press.
$4.25.
procope,   mervyn,   Energy   =   Mercy   Squared,   collected   poems.   Toussaint
Publications, $1.00.
rice, william j., Poems, 99 South 6th Street, Brooklyn 11, New York.
ubc literary gild, New Wine, poems taken from a poetry contest.
waddington, miriam, The Glass Trumpet, collected poems. Oxford University
Press. $4.50.
The Bucknell Review, Bucknell University Press, Lewisburg, Penn. Ed.: Harry R.
Garvin, "A scholarly journal of letters, arts and science." 80^
Cormoran  Y Delfin, Ed.:  Ariel Canzani D., International poetry review from
Argentina.
Drama Survey, Bolinbroke Society Inc., Ed.: John D. Hurrell. $2.50 a year (3
issues). A review of dramatic literature and the theatrical arts.
The   Human   Voice,   literary  magazine,   Olivant   Press,   POD   1409   Homstead,
Fla. 33030. Eds.: D. V. Smith and J. H. Frederick, quarterly, $1.50 copy.
Special issue on Canadian poets.
Laurel  Leaves,  magazine  of international  poetry,   124  Mayon,  Quezon City,
Philippines.
Modern Poetry In Translation, 10b Arkwright Road, London N.W. 3, England.
Eds.: Ted Hughes and Daniel Wessbort, 50^.
New: American and Canadian Poetry, R.D. 4, Trumansburg, New York, Ed.:
John Gill. $1.50 a year (3 copies).
Northeast, Box 353, Temple, Maine. $1.00. Eds.: John Judson and John Iorio.
International literary annual.
Prism Sixty-Six, ed.:   Wes Magee. Literary magazine for Goldsmith's College,
Oxford, U.K.
yates, j. michael, Canticle For Electronic Music. Collection of poems. $4.00.
Available from Morriss Printing Co. Ltd., 1745 Blanshard Street, Victoria,
B.C.
yates, j. michael, Hunt In An Unmapped Interior, and Spiral of Mirrors.
Two books of poems in one binding. $4.50. Golden Quill Press, Frances-
town, New Hampshire.
93 west
coast
Review
A TRI-ANNUAL MAGAZINE OF THE ARTS
edited by Frederick Candelaria
welcomes contributions and subscriptions. West Coast Review publishes
English and French poetry, fiction, drama, music and art, as well as
essays and reviews of books dealing with the arts and creativity, and a
continuing bibliography of avant-garde artists. Subscriptions $4.00 (one
year), $6.00 (two years). Address: The Editor, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby 2, B.C.
Vol. 1/1 published Earle Birney, William Stafford, David Ray, Francis Spar-
shott, Ralph Salisbury, Padraig O Broin, others, and a Bibliography of Critical
Writings on Samuel Beckett.
In 1/2, Gaston Bart-Williams, Cecile Cloutier, Ronald Bayes, Robert Huff,
Michael Yates, Tom McAfee, Burns Raushenbush, Henry Beissel, Albert Drake,
and a William Carlos Williams bibliography.
In 1/3, R. Murray Schafer, Gerald Butler, James B. Hall, John Tagliabue,
Brigitte Dombrovski, Raymond Federman, James Dodge.
Coming in II/l an essay by Wayne Burns, George Butterick's bibliography,
A Critical Checklist on Charles Olson, poetry by Jean Royer, and others,
fiction and reviews.
94 YOU SHOULD ORDER NOW
to get largest and most up-to-date
coverage of little magazines
and smaller presses
with late data on new writings, film, etc.
in
TRACE No. 62/3
a double-barreled issue
(two complete quarterlies in one binding)
a fat book in limited edition
now available    $2.50
comprising new works of over
eighty writers and artists (colored papers)
two complete "Creative Windows"
.. . comprehensive annual address list
completely indexed.
May also be purchased as part of annual subscription:
$4.00 for Nos. 62-65, inclusive
VILLIERS PUBLICATIONS
P.O. Box 1068
Hollywood, Calif. - 90028
95 THE
TAMARACK
REVIEW
is now in its eleventh year of publication.
To celebrate our first decade,
Tamarack 41 is an extra-large
Anniversary Issue featuring stories,
poems and articles by such well-known
Canadian writers as Irving Layton,
Hugh Hood, Kildare Dobbs,
Earle Birney, Eli Mandel, Brian Moore,
A. J. M. Smith, Raymond Souster,
Alfred Purdy, Robert Fulford
and Mordecai Richler. The issue also
offers an address by Morley Callaghan,
and unpublished poems by E. J. Pratt
and Anne Wilkinson.
The cost of the Anniversary Issue
is $1.25; a year's subscription to
the quarterly is only $4.00. Here is what
William French wrote in The Globe
and Mail: "Canada's most professional
and artistically successful literary
magazine is The Tamarack Review."
Here is what Munro Beattie said in
The Ottawa Citizen: "If an
acquaintance in England or the United
States — or even in Canada — has
been pestering you with the question,
'Who are the good Canadian writers
of today?'. .. enter his name for a
subscription to The Tamarack Review."
BOX 159
POSTAL STATION K
TORONTO 12
96 BOOKS
for almost every
taste and purpose
can be found,
easily, at
DUTHIE
BOOKS
and PAPERBACK CELLAR
901 Robson (at Hornby)
Also 4560 W. 10th Avenue
MUtual 4-2718
CAstle 4-7012
University of British Columbia
Bookstore
TEXTBOOKS
REFERENCE BOOKS
PAPERBACKS
STATIONERY
Hours: Weekdays 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Coming issues of
international
PROSE   THE DREAM HOUSE
by Ugo Betti
THE PILGRIMAGE
by Jack Mathews
TWO GIRLS AND A MAN
COMING AND GOING
by Michael Bullock
WILL YOU GO HUNT, MY LORD
by Brian Schein
OH COME ALL YE FAITHFULL
by Wallace Graves
POETRY Selection of East African Poetry edited
and introduced by John Roberts.
A selection of Pacific coast poetry
edited and introduced by Jack Gilbert.
POEMS by Rainer Schulte, Irving Layton,
Walter Bauer, David Helwig,
Ingrid Tedford, Paul Valery,
Gottfried Benn, Caesare Pavese,
Michael Bullock, George Amabile,
Philip Queneau, Manual Pacheco,
Lionel Kearns, Peter Stevens,
Ralph Gustafson, Michael Ondaatje,
Eli Siegel, Peter Huchel.
To subscribe for one year (three issues), complete and return the
following.
PRISM international
DEPARTMENT OF CREATIVE WRITING
UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
VANCOUVER 8, CANADA
I enclose $3.50 for a one-year subscription to PRISM international,
beginning with issue 7:1
NAME	
ADDRESS.

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