ditch,

the poetry that matters

Gabe Foreman

Gabe Foreman is a part-time tree planter living in Montreal. He is originally from the north shore of Lake Superior. His work has appeared in dANDelion, The Fiddlehead, Prism International, and Grain.

Transplant Survivors

 

T’aint easy, he said, replacing meaning,

But sure as hell, it beats raking the leaves.

                                                —Trotsky

 

The good girl with a pair of pickled eyes

gets fresh ones, filling Ramona’s with tears

when her bandaged child is seen to sit,

eat a pittance of grey Jell-O, and grope

a path to the toilet without a nurse.

But napping after lunch (with Mother

dozing in a chair) the girl spots her

donor’s hearse.  And hopping in the socket

of his steep and open grave, two gulls

pluck blistered crickets from the neck

of a headless crow.  She screams. 

The attendant nurse simply must

page the doctor, who reassures Ramona

such fabulous dreams (“a common side-effect

to morphine”) shall pass as Kim recovers.

Pillow-propped, crowded by animals,

the patient swings her gauzy

gaze from parking lot to doctor.

Her throat pops, and her paper head

rolls between her knees onto the bed. 

Your curiosity,’ says the neck, ‘has been so general

and your pursuit of knowledge so vigorous,

that novelties are not now very easily to be found:

but what you can no longer procure from the living,

may be given by the dead’.

 

 

 

 

Organ Donors

 

The haiku have rejected their host.

Now evening crickets scatter through the chronic care facility

chirping under bedpans, climbing the folds of privacy curtains. 

A woman in a grey sweater grips the metal

bedrail of the dying man still whispering

stony creekbed, morning mist,

autumn pond.

 

But he goes.

The space between heartbeats

filling with stars.

 

A doctor in white

touches his patient’s wrist and neck,

shuts both cooling eyes, and says

what she knows he will:

 

The winter cedars lean;

I gather a basket of mushrooms

under unseen crows.

 

 

 

 

Relatives

 

It’s hard to say who is moving

furthest away, or at a greater rate from the plausible core

of what our true positions were, in the beginning.

 

It’s hard to keep still I need to keep

pinning the spastic contour of a Gray Line

onto the flashing prairie-scrub roadside.

To me, the relative fixity of distant trees

is both personal and romantic.

 

Profound and crooked, ragweedy,

the stakes avuncular surveyors dipped in orange

blur against our speed to suggest we let

the mercury drain from our actions.

Names being mere sticks, after all.

Rock staying rock.

                                          Arjuna,

I know what you mean.

My family picnic is your apocalypse

then the bullshit really begins.

 

 

 

 

The Young & The Restless

 

It’s time to decide how much white wheat flour

should be added to the batter, said the bride’s mother.

 

Bright, undecided flowers lose sheen

to the afternoon lake, but a sacrificial haze between sky

and shore is what the tight-lipped Oracle claims to be

waiting for.  The old, blank flowers drank all afternoon

and by the time they had chosen what to wear,

the purple wedding night’d collapsed

through birch and poplar branches.

 

Speech!  Speech!  Speech!               

 

A red-faced virgin dings her own wineglass

and clambers onto the table, rising to her feet beside a cake

half as big as Cinderella’s castle.  She addresses

her guests with a smile:

 

These are parallel times.  Me and my masculine pal

have doled out powerful vows.  Colonel, it is time.

 

The rising Colonel draws the groom’s attention

to our planet’s distant sister-planet, Venus, known to Men

as both the Morning and the Evening Star:

 

There is one kind of man

inside every woman;

and four different women

in each man.

 

One of my ladies

a captive of animals, required

pronto rescue.

 

On the road from the airport to here

we encountered few bears.

There were ten.

 

The time is NOW, said the Oracle (her head filling with bees).

 

I couldn’t agree more, said the bear.

 

                                                                                                [ curtain ]

 

 

 

 

Lexicographers

 

Your curiosity, said the sage, has been so general and your pursuit

of knowledge so vigorous, that novelties are not now very easily

to be found: but what you can no longer procure from the living

may be given by the dead.

                        —Samuel Johnson,

                              The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia

 

Long ago a spool of wool would allow you

to follow a ghoul to its Temple. A boy could

spend a day shaking strands off the spool

as his ghoul staggered through old-school

passages to pray.

 

My ghoul walked among aquatic elements

then along a lawn, until an iron gate swung to reveal

the Temple’s inner sanctum.

 

     “O corpus ghouli, wangle for me.” I whispered

 

As I watched my ghoul falter at his priestess

every word he’d uttered echoed—

stamping my flesh with text

until I was language itself

and lost.

 

     “Lady of the Temple, wangle for me.”

 

That was long ago.  Now I roam vast lawns alone

and wander soft aquatic elements, forever seeking the tunnel

that will lead me to the Temple.  If ever fools unspooled

to follow, their wool has long-since rotted, long-since fallen.

 

 

 

 

Adulterers

 

They first appeared 350 million years ago. 

Today there are about 2,100 species of adulterers worldwide,

including 550 species in North America.

Bookmark and Share