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.
T’aint easy, he said, replacing meaning,
But sure as hell, it beats raking the leaves.
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’.
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,
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.
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.
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
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 ]
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.
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
“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.
They first appeared 350 million years ago.
Today there are about 2,100 species of adulterers worldwide,
including 550 species in North America.