the poetry that matters

Marcus McCann

Marcus McCann is the author of one trade collection, Soft Where (2009, Chaudiere Books), as well as six chapbooks, including The Tech/tonic Suite (2008, Rubicon), Force Quit (2008, Emergency Response Unit) and petty illness leaflet (2008, Onion Union). His work has appeared in The Antigonish Review, Matrix, dANDelion, and other fine Canadian literary periodicals. He’s a host of CKCU’s Literary Landscapes and organizer of the Transgress Festival and the Naughty Thoughts Book Club. He lives in Ottawa, where he a member of the Ampers& writing group. He was awarded the 2009 John Newlove Award at the Ottawa International Writers Festival.

from:  Finely Wrought Chapbook Set in an Exquisitely Beautiful Font


A bird with a bum wing, it limps
like limping had valour. Pigeon

coloured crook
puts air in a headlock,

waits for air to pass out.

Wrench of the racketeer,
the revolutionary—

you haven’t been this scared of paper
since Valentine’s Day.

Pilates of the page,
a puppet

echoing its author:
talk, talk, talk.

Then applauding itself.

And always inserting

it mimes: carot, less than,
L, V, greater than, seven

and in French, accent circumflex.


The font

The font rocking
on its heels and toes.

The font
grooming itself
with its tongues.

The font stretching
its serifs like a piano player’s
pinkies and thumbs.

The font collecting
carving knives.

The font

The font hauling
chains off a flatbed.


The bookcase’s
chapbook section:
you throw a party
and it throws confetti.

Did a geranium’s autistic
kid put down roots?

When you’re asleep,
you might be that guy with the flyers.

You watch the algae gather on
the world’s smallest college
dormitory, a manic
depressive, exuberant
day-after mess that wakes up
with cake on its face.


the insolent, needy, genteel

poem yearns for,
margin wide
as a two-beat line,
tall as a stanza,
thick as a penis.

China cabinet,
thirty-second TV spot,

searching interview
pursued from somewhere plush.

Poem retreating inward,
like a pinched face.

Where would the poem be
without the margin to set up
three-point lighting?

In a rented apartment,
there is a poem who
can’t afford margins. He looks

Elsewhere, there are skids and skids
of margins in packages,

saying nothing, nothing,
coo, coo, coo.


If spine is sheep, a fold
is a fold.

If spine is a wallet, fold
is a billfold.

If spine is gimme one good reason, fold
is twofold.

If spine is a puzzle, fold
is baffled.

If spine is smothering grandma with a pillow, fold
is her, muffled.

If spine is a whip and harness, fold
is a blindfold.

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Photo Credit: Charles Earl