the poetry that matters

Catherine Owen

Catherine Owen writes from New Westminster, BC. She has published 9 trade collections of poetry and one of prose essays/memoirs. Her new book is Designated Mourner (ECW 2014). She also works on the TV show Arrow and plays metal bass. Visit her website at http://www.catherineowen.org/


Museum of Ruins










Artifact 1: Riparian




Parous banks. I never promised you Parisian ones. Ripe seepings. Rich fonds. But of this &


That, bits & pieces, Flintstone & Jetson. Avian middens in sum. Case studies of OCD crow


And its habits. What lines the river is no longer Elysium but ecosystemic struggling up from -


Pant, pant – drink boxes, chip bags, one old boot & a million nails ripped from salient buildings.


The patent fact is deciduous grasses heft themselves; the sand piper hesitates inelegantly.


What do you expect on an edge partly ridged with tires, oil cans, fluorescent bulls-eyes in


The obsidian soil marking where they are planning their kingdom. Yes, again.




Artifact 2: Estuary




Es tu the steward of salt?  Chary place; a stopping point or would it be starting.


No established zone of transfer. Out there may be estival courage, esteemed relocation.


But right at the mouth, an area that estimates. So vary your stupid wry tools. The salt shifts.


Without stuttering, it still proves elusive. An essential summit of leaders meeting in the stuck


Back rooms of your head. You could cry. Stumble. Or say this instead, Mary, mother of consternations.


Tulameen Tulameen. Now that is the sound of a river.




Artifact 3: Tributary




But for the grace of tarrying go I. A ribbed being, trailing off. Smell of tar above me so ta ta


I say to it. Tribute to resistance, ribald incorporation of wary substances. Butter wouldn’t melt


In my icy trickles, no sirree, a tribulation utterly foreign to these tralala trills trying always to


Leave you. Abutting, then arching away. Another kind of feeding, trippy if you will, how


I rip the ache for linearity from you, diverge from the main arch risibly. Tally ho, I call


Out, riffing past your sorry butane, your tabulation of tragedies.




Artifact 4: Effluent




Eff you of course I’m going to begin with, you fluid criminal, ludic contribution. Fled from the intestinal tracts, sent up the flue, it’s evident we don’t care where it goes. All those town homes aflush flush flushing. The once-luminous river afforded little but our lumps, our flatulence, flocks of it bent on efflorescing those ludicrous bouquets. How can it sue? Thus the sewage flattens out habitat, flags disaster & still who gives a fig. Who’ll flip a cent to wager the lucky eftsoons? A nil brainer right. Hefty cemeteries of water; a turgid hue; the renting out of purity, forever.




Artifact 5: Delta




Tablature of silt on certain deltoid mornings. Delicate flex & ta da! Elevated belt elongating to a mouth delvable & tantalizing. Deadly only if tasting is your aim, your desire. Otherwise the pelt of water tap dances with devilish light, says deep, deeper, o yeah, nothing taciturn there. Sweltering, never, but neither, elegant, this elder demimonde. Tangentially, it all detours here, dwells. Lips & tongue of the welter, deluged, taken by dirt, elephantine depths.




Artifact 6: Brackish




Pure-ish, you might bray. Backed-up, all of it, rag-tag, not entirely raw but lacking Eden, definitely. Wish you were here, says the card, bright, sparkling river racked up behind me. Kin to that image, yes, but bring yourself closer – brown, rancid, mucky – no dish even for a dog. Sluggish. Rampant with tracked-in braggadocio. Though fish of course hack it, the icky brine & the ragged fresh alike. They have the knack of not expecting brand new. They race swishily in silt, rah rah rah, almost missable beneath the branded, intractable waters. 




Artifact 7: Corrasion




Scion of the flood line or courageous path of most resistance, erasure siphoning out, then over.


Oracle of mud, deneplane created, spreading. Cope with it. The river won’t reassure you regarding simple, straight lines. It rambles, sidles, cons us. Nothing correct here, only ordure, slid away rip-rap, a rage for disorder. Never moribund are you, rascally felon of water, corporal of meander.


How you sit with us a second, or rarer, then coast, erodingly, on.



                                                                                                       January 14, 2014