Jason Freure is from Kitchener, ON. His poems have appeared in Vallum, The Hart House Review, The Maynard, and Show Thieves Anthology of Contemporary Montreal Poetry. He was the winner of the 2011 Irving Layton Award for Poetry.
Ocean roar of mechanical life, laughing over cocktails named for boroughs, you must be alone, by the useless radiator, a starfish painted on your cheek.
Winter is a motherfucker, a longshoreman
bellowing through the bottom of his rye.
Fritz, to-day against the past.
The lonely seem lonelier with chopsticks. I crave their hidden menus.
And Etobicoke will free you from history.
beer-soaked and socialist
summer in the city and bikini girls
by which I mean French.
The quick razor of desire.
I have written you a postcard and lost it. My envelopes are empty.
Less surgical maggots South cranking hideous
geometry dying bitumen shit-- Grand pushNeck
even in those fires Yankee of despair.
Moses the Bronx is burning gangs or FIRE
Jews from their shops Connect—commuters—cut
a pig to maggots kiss me.
Note: the Moses referred to in Manhattan is Robert Moses, chief urban planner in mid-century NYC, who was responsible for building the Cross-Bronx Expressway straight through East Tremont, a Jewish neighbourhood not very different from Richler's St-Urbain. The Cross-Bronx has a reputation for being one of the worst pieces of expressway on the continent: not only do people call the traffic "hell," but many blame it for economically devastating an already-struggling Bronx. "FIRE" is a reference to the fires that destroyed much of the Bronx in the 70s. Manhattan as a poem is an erased and much abbreviated version of a longer piece, and the last stanza comes from a longer poem on the Cross-Bronx that's more explicit about the expressway's history, and refers also to the Cross-Bronx as a festering wound (hence the maggots), and the Bronx as a sacrificial animal (the pig) in Moses' modernolatry.
507 Place D’Armes
507 Place D’Armes. Aldred Building. Our very own empire
state building. Nineteen thirty-one. Circa Dupressionic era.
Frozen fountaine founting into winter québécois sky frozen.
An intimation of New York City. Sky-scraping nearer height,
nearer fame. Fountaine of lesser gloire, lesser eterne and richesse.
Founting above the orisons founting from Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Utilitarians’ tower. Hydro tower powering use—
Bank usury. Alluming N’Yorkois insurance, Ecossic caishe.
Tower in sieclic-turn Place D’Armes at Montréal, Canada.
Constructure the elegant. Stream-lined Chrysler future iDesign.
Vegas Deco fountaine. Richesse of Québec moderne capital.
507 Place D’Armes. Our very own ziggurating empire.
hill-top tower over
so jewish not so
and trafficked. Tra’triffic
Rachel, iglesia d’espagne
and festiva-limos, streamer
streamline lights lit-tred/ratured
on the brick scroll,
rue signs at the stitches,
Rich/er ppl’s dwolliciles,
iglesia, Place D’Armes,
Aldred fntn lumed
Note: Autoroute St-Urbain is about how the neighbourhood has changed, gentrified, and become a neighbourhood with an empty history that exists in novels and placards, so the places you read about in Richler's novels have vanished.
Haight is so Bloorian
Haight is so Bloorian so mid-city chic
and everyone has more time than money
and it seems so happy to buy things
but you did not want to buy things blasé and reluctant
no no you were never a cunt
my hyacinth-girl hyacinth-eyed
your hair wet sopping a showed in a Santa Cruz motel
I guess you thought I came to see you and not California
winter is so boring and the city is so charming … come when the dogwoods blossom … o how I would love to fuck … come when the leaves are dying but never in the snow fall … Memory, being a phenomenon of emotion and magic, accommodates only those facts that suit it … everything is on the verge of disappearing …
I've seen so many places now and you are sunshine sprite-like in the northern fogs withering in that awful desert too
“A city is not a city unless it occludes the laws of its composition”
“a girl's not a tonic or a pill #! #! #!”
the ocean views and Market Street donut shops exist for you to despair in
as do the palm-lined highways at LAX, breaking down
“in authorial park / wake up, it's after dark”
dirty and bleeding “I am so happy” your nightmares have gone do they go away in his arms too or was that crying crying only a week of doldrums or were you thinking who is this awful person dragging me around who has lost us in the middle of Los Angeles
“If I could have just one hour in Istanbul...”
the hills sparkle along like waves of dead diatoms
behind the pyramids and Cuisinart dirigibles
I sit and read the paper sipping coffee
empty windows midnight shops and where can we get a drink?
scrimping and dying all summer
life can be so dull and concentrationnaire
coffee gone gruellish anxious for the clock to make me grovel boss polish
work and waiting to work
and you the flower of anomie
my Mariska hyacinth-girl in crooked fogs
in las Ramblas silent of their loves and secrets
I was a cunt too you are not a Cuban vacation
You leave a subsequence of notes at odd hours.
Yes, I will feed tunafish to the cats tomorrow morning
and sort out the socks. Do not put bras in the dryer.
Yes, I will feed Delissios to me in the morning,
we keep a pizzaiolo next to the ice tray.
Wake me up at x.05. Keep your neuroses to yourself.
These are mine. Now get rid of all the plastic in the cupboards.
The chopping blocks are divorced.
One is for soaking blood off the knife blades.
Can you grease the anvil, the still-borns needed syrup
and I used up all the castile. Wiggle your under-nothings.
Mr. Nosius barfed by the radiator.
I have nowhere to put my coffee or my coffee table
magazines. There will be no furniture in our
neuroses nest and then you will thank me for the chairs
I nailed together with my extra Penguins.
Remind me not to double juniper in the double glass
glasses again. And pick up limes. Remind yourself.
Then you peg the bathroom drain.
Plug the radiator. Black milk of December.
It spilled on the cat-barf.
I do not share tunasteaks Mr. Nosius.
Relax you nervous wreck. Dinner is scuttled.
I sleep on a bed of junipers.
Are we quinized yet, and does it work on West Nile?
Two drunken noodles, please. I'll poison you with chili powder
if you don't shut up and styrofuckit.
Pyongyang at Eight
“Without light there is no culture.”
Bent over lagers as guitars sing sadly to the falling snow,
TV and candlesicks, he wrote Twelfth Night in taverns.
Coin-slot jukes bang Delta blues, darkly murmured in the din.
Work all day to asphyxiate,
Pyongyang at eight
among monsters of the id, and seditious boredom.