the poetry that matters

Jason Philip Wierzba

Jason Philip Wierzba is a writer, musician, and recovering academic from the Canadian prairie.


Cutting the clairvoyant thought-stink w/ a knife
outlining a neural cut-and-paste
while speaking to life through flash of degraded circuits
over the board and under the boardwalk, a cut-up
snaking wires and gunpowder kegs beneath the trellis
through the sewers and under the patchwork news vans.

They were laughing, taking a shit bare-nak’d in the wood
wearing t-shirts as license plates, smiling orthodontic
I conjured a blunt instrument of wood
named it Lucile after BB King’s guitar
and downed a bottle of Lysol behind the Laundromat
to assure that
           returning from the savannah
              their many would be fallen
    above them now, under drink w/ the deathblow.

It was decided that I be remanded into state custodianship
and under the banners imperial sold fast
out back of the bowery and down in the details licentious
where the trading of judicians over Dutch drink
encounters the marketeers and their bandying shareholders
and though I am but a killer and a lying lover
              speaking not for the gutter nor the gutter for me
the undoing of this great body was born of its flesh
and the passage of this vessel doom’d to distress. 


Animal Crackers

When I was you and you were me
there was an agreement, détente, a partial shell;
when we shared we were shared
receiving much miscellaneous wisdom
and giving it back out in a loop.

But when you were you and I were I
we couldn’t touch heads
without singing our hair and brow
demonstrating the impossibility of the “collision-free intersection” –
we were so very little. Giants of submission.

But even then …

Melting together made us one piecemeal thing
defined, much later, by a cookie cutter.

There is a cinema of mothers and childhood friends
but the forceps of bad birth can’t touch you there. Nor school teachers neither.
If you bleed out you will not die. They will. The better news, though:
when they eat us – when they devour our one corpse – they will starve.

Their drinking of our blood a fed-back transmission of same;
we hold hands.

Jan. 2008. Calgary.
Meet My Junkie Ass at Tubby Dog, for God is the Seasons

The Con is Identity, the station ID comes hawking up like a loogie, reminding
     hilarious lovers canoodle at vast distances like mimes
     as college radio guy sweats buckets at the circuit board and breakers
     the sweat pants exposing a crack of ass to one of false sunlight
     as a phantom burrito microwaves behind him
back to practical particle maths of The New being demonstrated
with Styrofoam cups standing in for impossible double-helixes of fission
and New Mexico, flanged, corrugated cabins out in the dessert pre-blast;
it is so long since I’ve been high: I hope I don’t embarrass you guys and erupt.

Yes, I do believe the Mormon at the counter was looking at you quite funny indeed
although he was yr football coach after all, wasn’t he? and you were kinda slouching
one mustn’t let oneself grow too very disappointed in the end
when learning, like the false modesty whereby Santa pretends to be yr dad;
about people who sing Auld Lange Syne with you: don’t always take their words literal.

Next week, same place / same time, meet my junkie ass at Tubby Dog
we’ll build a raft out of tongue depressors and paste, eating Sumos and Cheetahs
watching Fleisher Bros. cartoons projected by the management
because friends are becoming important again;
we all want a piece of game, a cheesy beef percentage of the Porn Palace pie chart
like was promised in the back of the brochure mom brought back from Graceland –
stoned and currently inclimate in covert longsleaves with B.U.M. Equipment
it is hard to gauge how much of my (mis)understanding of systems and their subs
stems from my mom purposefully putting me in a compromising position;
if all our girlfriends have been any indication, the species does tend to think that way
looking at us together, now, though, we do sort of seem to court it: after all junkies!

Dec. 2006. Calgary
Of Infirmity

A certain kind of adaptability of bodies. Heavenly bodies, bodies of the depths
muddy depths, depths dark and impenetrable, where the real craters are;
the adaptability of bodies so much of the depths that they yield geological remnants
of their own future extinction.

A youthful gaze. A trespass upon a body that is salient in carrying out its action
blind to the scopohilia imprisoning it like a dead lab specimen
as I quaver in the brush, my dog Cameraman sweating from his pornographic tongue
a dead goose in my fallow hand, years gone by.

Uncertain body. Even the frame imposed upon it is weak w/ quantum irresolution
the hand, infirm, doesn’t trace the object but affirms its own mortality in its so striving
this body and this endless home we cannot escape, an overpowering guilt of families –
this lab, so lonely, w/ so many wanton specimens, a suffocating humidor.

And though the body weakens and condescending trumpets descend w/ the mosquitoes
the feeding remains restful.

May. 2008. Calgary.

Forensic Inevidence

The mouth opens – fingers stuck in up to the knuckles
powder creases lower lip – icing –  
and runs with blood
into the bathtub just filled and she tries to turn over
to confront the sapling with new winter
and expose her tail and fins.

Gills are bleeding and spitting blood too
the aromatic aerie and vest of fur
she’s having a baby and expects it to be deliver’d
right here and right now and all kidding aside
she dilates and bleeds in the bathwater.

What was thought to be a fish is now drowning
and on the inside the vault shudders expelling sinuous
the secrets from under water and air
everything razed by fog of bleach and the crème de the menthe
sideboard tray of pills splashed with water
and blood and other places.

Now, the glacial hairline receded, cleaning up with soap
and now tears – splashing the sideboards of the roberoom
and the hardwood floors caked in the bloodcrust
digging in with sponge and sychle and greased up
completely soaked through and taking
polaroid fingerprints of a bathtub
taking the black garbage bags
from down off the mirror – upended in the canal
and reaching red to the ceiling for breath –


Missing and Presum’d

Prismatic bay windows gainfully smash’d
in the hour of sleep and newshound avenger avengingly
snoring, gossip spills from him for free
creeping up the vines and aluminum domestic mud flaps
to steel still yr child from monsters of its own invention
and free it from whatever is in its closet;
brooms of automated phantom disposition.

Set down the phones and off a river front Amber Alert
off on a boyscout bountyhunt
through leaves of grass and fields of effluvium muck
tiptoeing around marital twigs that snap over nothing
and turning up the worm-pregnant soil;
but still no child is heard pounding from its grave
no telltale heart grinding  dead like the punchclock.

Investigators binge and purge on the polaroids and paper
of post-incarcerates, a steady stream
of profiled neighbors and gibbering pedophiles
aware that a lead is waiting to fit by force if need be
as they stare into the lenses and pose, teeth gnashing
lit from behind like a penetration;
the whole world collects around an absence, quivers in its glow.

Unheimlich Licht


Unheimlich licht. La nuit américaine.
We would throw things from this bridge – my cousins and some Hudarites and I.
Maybe some rocks, a car battery, or a stolen bike we’d immobilized.
Grandma gave us flashlights and a tarp. Later the dog returned to die in the fire pit.
Found her down there like a fallen yakuza.

A blinding off the storefront windowpane. Shirking in knickerbockers.

The schooling of us boys
prostrate before an un’erworld papacy.

The wonder in our eyes
standing outside the bakery.


Unheimlich licht. Sparks of Omega. Orion. Came to in the skatepark.
My head on the spacebar.
The same place. The same playground. My first covert tryst.
Tongues locked on the centrifugal ride.
We rode it again and shot Super-8. Had to pay for the camera we smashed.

Back in the two-by-four twilight.
A breeze crept through the bathroom door. ‘Twas not the sound what alerted us.

The strange light we saw that night
laughed out loud though never again would we ultimately laugh.

The adults gave me such a fright, alas
when they caught all three of us there in the bubblebath.

March. 2008. Calgary

Wiseacre Ho!
for ostriches


Instead of considering how you could have
gone about not arriving here
consider not being here
can you swim, friend?

Note: this poem is a movie dedicated to puppies as someday they will read this and one of them, Bill Franklin specifically, will say: Oh can we? can we please? please? Can we please? Can we publish it please? You know! as though the poem were a puppy and they were editors!

There is no Fifth Amendment in heaven. The boss says so. You saw what the boss did to the courier. (Either I am a genius or fucking exhausted … and there is the salt water
I’ve been drinking to consider after all (and incendiary sundry)).
    Reminds me: I better wise up. Consult w/ council. Those sandals yrs? can yr sister paddle on the left?

The water is clear as Gatorade. Oh, drown the midget! will you? Wait, shit, the jury is looking.

Egad! fortify the exigencies!
they are launching poor people at the castle w/ cantilever! and dogmeat!
put down the learning of the supper fork, Hollingshead!
Fuck! was that a Shetland pony hoof?
Just duck.

Damn. My primed lobster tail, my prime rib, a bog’s dog breakfast.

Now I guess it’s just me and the parakeet. I mean the parakeet and I. How you doin’ li’l fella? I know (pat, pat), I know.

March. 2007. Calgary

Our Litany
for Cory

‘When the cretinous prospect of yr arrival
is met w/ its real index
I shall shudder and perhaps weep.’

‘Not when
worry not, though
as even July has its Winters.’

We were blood in our desert town
invented in the very Winters of Spadina
air rushing into my pants
for a moment I thought my jockeys
were full of my own blood
then I read Lolita and slept on yr floor
drank us dry as Mexico of the Kentucky Turkey.

The last tour of duty, the last barrel spins into a lock
fear not my brother(s) in the vast tundra(s) of (a) Canadian garrison(s)
walk three days to post a Marconi
we don’t even bother holding one another’s suspenders up anymore;
fear of the avalanche … desire.

On the swings as kids, I mold memory w/ memory willing along
tidying portraits of our human mess
we were child Impressionists even then
carved something out of wood
beyond nationhood, weather, the very aether
came to understand that the hair between a woman’s legs
was thankfully only seaweed
and reached to the Africas w/ new caution.

 May. 2007. Calgary.

If You Want Our Body
for Patricia Highsmith


How it all became set in stone:
no way to stop a lover from starting what he or she is gonna stop
in hospital pajamas walking home
licking icecream off a ten-year-old’s scooter
drooling into yesterday’s newspapers … or “bed” as you call it
that matchbook will be yr theater program now
the shock treatment has metastasized.

You burned down all the houses. What are you doing? People are looking for you!

The romance is through.


It was a Wednesday or one of the other days
she unfolded a large picnic blanket
her eyes looked like maggots
he hesitated, became a monster.


All you have to do is ask. If you want anything from anybody. All you have to do is ask. You can charm someone into asking you to take them where they don’t wanna go. And shouldn’t. But they asked for it. And all you had to do was ask.

They put up a warning
watch out for rocks
no diving
that’s where they’ll find them bodies.

March. 2007. Calgary


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