the poetry that matters

Ryan Thom

Ryan Thom is an Asian-Canadian, queer-identified student, spoken word artist, and amateur burlesque performer who lives in Montreal. His creative work has been published in What if? magazine and Intersections: The McGill Women's Studies Journal. He is also a member of the Montreal Poetry Slam Team.

so they asked me, what will you be

when you grow up?

and i said,

the dogs of war, bent to feast on carrion flesh,

the call of dragons from a distant sunlit shore, taste of

sun on my skin and the ice cream of a forgotten childhood, someone’s

stolen my doll and where were

you when it was happening, it was your hand

that slapped my mouth as i

tried to bite you and it tingled through my spine like a thousand

little electric fish wriggling through my core and

the silence and the sound, and

i was, i had to be, and it


and i laughed.

and they said, that’s not an answer.

and i said, there wasn’t

a question



freudian this

and yes, there was once a time

when the only man i could have loved

was a pianist without hands;

sometimes i still dream about it:

his silent sonata, swelling to fill me, and

the straining violence

in his wrists.

yes, sometimes i still

dream about it.




How young is too young to wish for unknowing? One earns the right to cynicism at what, fifteen, twenty-seven, thirty-five? At which certain age does one realize that the senses are no longer elegantly graven doors, and that the mind is not the opalescent sanctuary it used to be? The old are shaking their heads and wagging their fingers and speaking from the places deep within that were invaded in their youth, violated, spent, dried up: “when I was your age, the earth was tender still. Yes, and grass still yearned to touch the sky, because the bodies of our beloved raised them up from under the soil. And the trees would wrap their leafy tongues around the wind, and our fragile bodies trembled with the vibrations of that song. We were young once. Be young for us again.” Eve, speaking admonitions from her long-barren womb. Odin All-Father, now impotent, weeping from his empty eye socket. But we are turning from their gaze. We are closing our eyes and shuttering the windows of our hearts, because the newly adolescent have always known the secret that the old willfully forget: the world was ever an assault upon the soul. The necessity of self ever was inescapable bondage; can you even remember a time when love did not resemble an occupation? We are fleeing to new worlds. The internet’s a refuge, the four foot by five office cubicle’s a shrine, close my eyes, close your eyes, we send our prayers out for silence. But it’s too late. Sunlight falling through the windows touches glass and makes it scream out pure tones for the fact of illumination. Fish are swirling from out the speakers we’ve so carefully set up to drown out communication, and they glow like tiny coals, leaving spider-web patterns of luminescence burning against the walls of our eyes. Elephants are thundering, invisible, through the monitors, and suddenly we’re naked, thrown against each other and thrashing. Sex rears its warhorse head, thunders down, explosions of liquid and judgment. Oh, god, I know you’re there, I was only pretending all this time, if I clap my hands then I know that you will live. Lift from me the burden of this crimson joy, let the world be dark and still. I can’t stop screaming the hymns of your praise.


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                                                                                                                                            August 2011