the poetry that matters

R. Kolewe

R. Kolewe lives in Toronto. He is a member of the editorial board for the online magazine InfluencySalon.ca. His photographs, which have been shown in various venues, are in many private collections.

You can see his photographic work at
http://r.kolewe.net, and read some of his writing at http://afterafter.net.


Inspecting Nostalgia


Told again, thinking this want and have
through odd particular remains, toss and turn
past, taped up, torn out, streetlamps throwing dusky half
lies. End quote. And today I was compelled to walk
the neighbourhood. A man
carrying an umbrella a black umbrella
was coming back from the park
with his dog a black dog.
I walked behind the two
and how the rain made the pavement
blacker. And trees
shielded and revealed the unlit lamps.
In the past the rain was cold.
Today I was tempted to recall
everyday the everyday
that I once thought would be.
Laundry in a wicker basket
an iron a bowl of miso soup.
I determined to list the colours
I remembered when I got home
my clothes soaked through by the rain.
I should have been cold.
In the past I would have been cold.
There are good words for this.
I know. I could write them down.
Chimera. Metastable. Sublation. Exposed.
Root. Device. Serene. Westerly.
There's no end to it, to them.


I know it's a good question.
Knives and forks in the dishwasher.
There was a river.
Running the icy streets in the dark at the end of the year.

I could make a list. Indexed.
Picture of our first meal. Spoons and plates.
I won't say a picture of our last.
All about preparing food, maybe.

I want to say failure. I want to say gasp.
La mise en abyme. The pluperfect tense. A tension.
Justified. I want to say that was, and yet.

These days I remember three days when
I didn't go outside. Couldn't. Winter, snowing,
and I talked to you on the phone, I think.


Yesterday was close to perfect.
I looked at old photographs and read.
I almost sent you a postcard. Stamp sized.

These streets are mine now. The white cat
I knew as a kitten curls through the fence.

"The suffering caused by the unappeased
yearning to return?" Say more, you said once.
But I like it here. If I'm suffering

it's for more reasons, if that can be.
Sure, this cafe is the kind of place you'd love.
Even a ghost is like a place. But I can't tell you

without describing how the white cat laps
the milk left for her in a cracked pale saucer,
how she turns, meets my gaze, and walks away.


If there are pictures
of the stitching
in the trees.
All repaired flowers.

If always cut.
If always seams.
If always tulips.
If always more

or left the picture rained on
there colour fades, leading to

If that kind of mourning.
Coffee and stitching. Breakfast right.
Not there. Not at all.


An avoidance of the avoidance of a word.
Erased love, dust is thick here, but
I really only see it at night.
Dulls presence and absence both.

I don't have a family album.
I don't have photographs
of unnamed uncles in uniform or impossible
young women with baby carriages.

I do have these forged letters on thin
transparent light. An alphabet history.
Some of which actually. I have to say.

Maybe you don't blame me after all.
Only get to solid black and real
after giving up this ghost of colour.


Quote beauty is no veil,
destroys with
the loyalty of a habit.
Wasted intensity!

Read too much.
Not enough out loud
nor to you now
the voiceless stars.

Want to be interrupted.
Night order of listening and lack
broken by a flashbulb.
Exposed anxious ghosts

found wanting. Found out.
Found wanting in.


Its nature fragments by its nature
endless and ending. That means
tomorrow I might wake up
in a hotel which is nothing like
where I met you. The cafe
full of dancers drinking Evian.
I'm wasting my time here.
We're all wasting our time here.

That shame diagnosis: lost time,
a misplaced ring to it, a wan interval
all proven ineffectual  — can never be, is always
more. Nothing other than that loss and the desire
it dances with, maybe spends the night.
Naïve? There it is, in plain view. Decide.

At this table with a glass of water.
That means I'm lost.
Ring between my thumb and forefinger
tapping it on the tabletop.
The sparkling stainless steel click
of repeated desire locking into place.
A solid memory waking up
then falling apart always in plain view.

Afterword and critique.


The transient catch the best catch
I can at impossible permanent.
Porcelain light full of dust.
Dust marking the visible real edge catch.
Broken pieces of seeing and remembering dust
and feeling clot a ruined field of view.
Who is time?


Those rusted bicycle frames you see locked
up, no wheels, no seat, chain drooping?

Did you promise something? Did I?


Even giving up I still think of myself
younger and taller than I am.
Secured. More whole. Disappointed.

I know it isn't there, but
I can't find it just now.


Affect can't be system.
Or coloured in. Or dusted, like graffiti.
Nothing extra. Ordinary
lyric repair: a memory wound,
a piercing, a decoration –
the catalogue of and other
late night reading.


It made sense.

Lambswool. Sprockets. Labeled drawers full of pills and bottlecaps.
The boarded-up consulate. Neptune. The devil. Portobello Road. Shade.
A colander. Brake pads. A watch battery. (Does anyone mend pots
anymore?) Nitroglycerin. Low light. Low life. Low pressure. Crane.
Ginger. A jar of cold cream. A jar of leftover moonlight. A jar of
tire scraps. A parabola. The entire life of Princess Marie von Thurn
und Taxis-Hohenlohe. A can opener. An allen wrench. A pretense.
Slipping into the dictionary like a curious dog, or my other ice.

I knew.


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