ditch,

the poetry that matters

Jeremy Stewart

Jeremy Stewart is the author of (flood basement (Caitlin Press), a poetic memoir of growing up in Prince George, BC, the manuscript of which was shortlisted for the 2008 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. His poems have appeared in online journals such as Treeline and stonestone, and in the Forestry Diversification Project anthology (UNBC Press). Stewart is a prolific producer of chapbooks and broadsides; he was the 2007 winner of the Barry McKinnon Chapbook Award. He is currently finishing his creative thesis MA project under the supervision of Rob Budde—a novelistic long poem entitled “In Singing, He Composed a Song”—at the University of Northern British Columbia.

theory of The North
 
premises:
 
The North will not be accounted for by a theory of The North.
 
The North does not exist.
 
The North is there, waiting, when colonialism stumbles over that last ridge, parched and starving, continuing only because it cannot choose to die.
 
The North will fuck you over.
 
Yes, The North is more beautiful than other places, but maybe you can’t see it.
 
The North isn’t for or against you.
 
You may be from The North. How’s it going.
 
Sometimes, in the gutter, I can’t tell the ice from the broken glass.
 
Don’t hitchhike in The North.
 
Yes, I have hitchhiked in The North.
 
You will try to confront the North, but when you go to find it, it will have paid your bill and left. No, it’s not in the bathroom.
 
The North is sometimes a Greyhound experience: uncomfortable, expensive, sleepless, and surrounded by wolves.
 
Polyrhythmic music, tie-dyed sarongs, mud.
 
You have fucked over The North.
 
He met her just North of where you lost sight of him.
 
Once The North becomes your home, it is in your body, like an accumulation of very small particulates.
 
No, I’m sorry, I don’t have any change.
 
This is a mosquito bite; this is a blackfly bite; this is a no-see-um bite; this is a horsefly bite;
 
The North says it doesn’t care, but you better believe it cares.
 
Mom tried to drive us to school. We got about halfway there when the car got stuck in the snow for the second time. “No, this is nuts,” she said. “School just isn’t that important.”
 
The North comes with 2 fried eggs any style, 3 hotcakes, your choice of toast, and your choice of bacon or sausage, with a little piece of orange as a garnish, but usually only before 11 am.
 
You will start to tell stories about The North, but you will end up telling stories about yourself.
 
The North is a place of smoke—every kind of smoke.
 
You came to The North for a job, but the contract is over.
 
No, the hat doesn’t suit you.
 
Don’t put The North to the test.
 
Don’t believe everything people say about The North.
 
Once you’ve been in The North for a long time, you can say you’re from The North if you want to.
 
The North is sometimes a Wal-Mart experience: empty and claustrophobic at the same time, nothing you want but something you’re going to pay for.
 
Last gas for 200 clicks.
 
There is not much you can do to help The North; better just get out of the way.
 
Cold enough for ya?
 
When they found her, they said the cause of death was The North, but they were only half right (as usual).
 
The North is sometimes a Denny’s experience: it’s gonna take all night, but that’s okay, ‘cause you’ve got all night, ‘cause you’re in The North.
 
You and all your friends grew up with Peasant Vision in The North.
 
Bureaucracy in The North is like other bureaucracy, but more so.
 
The North is better than you expected, and you will probably end up staying.
 
The North has a hard time retaining management talent.
 
The North is not as straightforward as it may appear.
 
The Northern hangover: much philosophy has occurred, and much will follow.
 
I hear The North is a great place to raise kids.
 
A shovel will come in handy in The North.
 
You are somebody else’s problem in The North.
 
If I ever own a hotel, I will call it The Great Northern, like the hotel in Twin Peaks.
 
The North is sometimes an RCMP experience: they will have taken the tape out of the security camera, contradictory testimony from the partner will avail nothing, and you will have always been the one trying to do something violent to the uninjured officer when you yourself are dead.
 
Fall off the trampoline backwards in The North, land in the Saskatoon bushes.
 
What is it about The North and these oddballs?
 
The North is what happens when you’ve already blown your other options.
 
I had a dream about The North: there was a terrible dark mountain silhouetted against the blue night; I could see inside the mountain—there was an underground maze or shopping mall, where sad, dead-eyed fish resembling sodium-light orange coelacanths floated in the air near the end of the narrowing tunnels.
 
The North has changed from the way you remembered it.
 
The North and lack of consumer choice.
 
You and me in The North, drinking that church coffee out of Styrofoam cups, real early in the morning.
 
In case we don’t make it back, I just wanted to tell you...never mind.
 
Tell me again about how you lost your thumb.
 
The North in the way so much water clings to the Fireweed.
 
The North does not try to explain itself, but people are always trying to explain The North.
 
They said they weren’t hippies but I just laughed.
 
The North and its large administrative areas.
 
He goes out walking on the lake most days. Literally on the lake.
 
The North as an obstacle to self-actualization, apparently.
 
Carolyn Mark in The North telling me she wanted to become “a Moose whisperer.”
 
The North and its anecdotes.
 
People have been bored in The North. Well, fuck ‘em.
 
The North—stolen—and yet, tragically, yours, mine, and ours.
 
The North and everything you give up for The North.
 
“The North moves North” —Ken Belford


 

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