Monday, September 9, 2013

been shed bore - Pearl Pirie

Today's book of poetry:  been shed bore.  Pearl Pirie.  Chaudiere Books.  Ottawa, Ontario.  2010.

crossing the shallow acreage

A snake rail fence had been zigging long before
holes filled in with the river that drank the posts as dunked donuts.  Drought-lift
shifted moss up for air.  The punky wood titled to fern-dry, greyed as Dorian.  A shake
of wind drops cedar fans over its lank frame.  The bark rose
around it all.  The unfelled trees shifted their lucky lottery weights in wind.  Light
of river winked, said something inarticulate.  Sun answered in crude same.  Pickle-
warted planks where branches had been shed bore no choice but bear.  Pickle-
thick posts with knots and nubs, strung wire after auger set up other sidelines.  Before
electric fence's zap, before chain link factory imports, there was that stack -- light
work, so far as farm grunt can be -- No shoulder to shovel and stone to lift.

5-rails is normally high enough to keep any old Bessie on your rocky ground.  A rose
hedge?  she'd nose through, scratches or not.  Some say there's a shake
a wobble, once you take it over 10 rails high;  you'll need a joint or wire.  A cedar shake
roof sort of fuss-pot use -- to get all aligned right.  Now, there's a why for you.  A pickle
of a bother to try that.  Think of how the fence first rose:

Split into rails, without nails or saws, lengths like fingers folded before
prayer, but mind that rails like prayers are best kept at home.  It would lift
a stink to stick that panel, ambiguous light
weight width of boundary, kinked against neighbour who might light
into you over the inches that are his, never mind that the benefit is common.


This excerpt is from one of the many poems I really enjoyed reading in Pearl Pirie's been shed bore.  It suits all my traditional narrative poetry desires and then some.  But this is just a sampling of what is to come, for Pirie offers a fun house of animated choices as she tries out styles at disparate ends of the spectrum.

desire's first ojala

I wish I were close/ To you as the wet skirt of/ A salt girl to her body.
   -Kenneth Rexroth

desire's first ojala broke
from Arabic to Spanish to her
the word     the wild travel of etymology of hunger
no food can state
              the distances flash   continents
                        centuries    classes
bedroom eyes to blinked
eyes that third time 'round   recognize
understand these things
                       as Mary did
            marveling in her secret heart
the dry lips of the Angel

we must not look at these
not hear the anguish foretold
             press joy against the losses
       cast your mind from the stones
the child who is still the twinkle
will be the pillar on which religions
& fevered night sweats & lives will
thrash around, crumble


Stylistically been shed bore offers a plethora of choices and the unendingly exuberant imagination of Pirie who comfortably stakes out her space as she explores a wide range of poetic forms.  The choices I'm offering here reflect my biases, but Pirie has far more to offer than just these narrative driven poems.

just kiss me then

a tangle, a lip of the tongue
some flaw in the ointment
the flu in the augment?  more/less
the fly in the argyleness,
the flay in the target.  bite some
sorry for that sleep of the tonne
er, that slip of the tone, of the done
a tangle, a
aaas they say, lewd lisp sinks shits, um,
moose lips split hips, waits makes hates.  come
on mouse, mouth!  sooner started is
fast done, mere fish in the pen.  bless!
a flesh in the pan, no, wait one -
a tangle, a


This fine first book shows the dexterity Pearl Pirie brings to the page with confidence gained from the wide publication of many of these poems in journals, periodicals and anthologies.

we are each other's backgrounds

a life timed in apologies
a stone house

against the dementia incoming
back of hand raised

to punish guff the arm swings
forgets itself at elbow

what isn't never happens, again
and again remembering

when now is 30 years ago
when I scraped professions of

regret?  I was forepaying this


What I have been clumsily trying to express is my admiration for those poems I loved in this collection, and there were many.  But equally, my awe at Pearl Pirie's comfortable range, this book is so much thicker than it appears.

Pearl Pirie @ Pulpfiction Books, Vancouver.

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