Tuesday, May 12, 2015

kissing keeps us afloat - Laurie MacFayden (Frontenac House Poetry)

Today's book of poetry:
kissing keeps us afloat.  Laurie MacFayden.  Frontenac House Poetry.  Calgary, Alberta.  2014.

kissing keeps us afloat is a sustained torrent, a laughing rush, a relentless scream/yodel of passion.

This red boat has no oars as it crashes against the shores of love, breaks up on the rocks called desire.

And Laurie MacFayden could care less, she's laughing her ass off.

That's not really true.  She cares.  Like the rest of us MacFayden's humour usually comes at some powerful price.

But check this out, a list poems of sorts - and you know how much Today's book of poetry enjoys a good list poem.

to be honest, i lied (my country song)

to be honest, i lied when i said i never meant to hurt you
when i said every single word is true
when i said it was a wrong number
when i said that looks really good on you

to be honest, i lied when i said i can keep a secret
when i said the cheque is in the mail
when i said i wore this just for you, sweetheart
when i said i'd be happy to post your bail

to be honest, i lied when i said i wasn't flirting
when i said i'm ready for this
when i said it doesn't hurt
when i said i've never been kissed

to be honest, i lied when i said i have the answer
when i said i do not care
when i said i'll always love you
when i said i really like your hair

to be honest, i lied when i said you're perfect, angel
when i said i'm never doing that
when i said yes, this is my natural colour
and oh no, that doesn't make you look fat

to be honest, i lied when i said you were the first
when i said you'll be the last
when i said you're the only one for me, darling
when i told you the god's sacred truth about my past

to be honest, i lied when i swore i'd never drink again
when i said i could never be untrue
and baby, i told a big fat juicy whopper
when i said i could never lie to you


Fearless, charismatic, funny, elegant, eloquent and frequently so horny you'd think the sky was falling before her final possible hump.  Laurie MacFayden has done something wonderful in the dazzling kissing keeps us afloat.

And we love, love, love the joyous title.  Around the office it won the poll for best title this spring.

This collection is a "page-turner".  You really can't wait to hear what MacFayden is going to burn up and turn red next.

lying woman

once upon a time
i lay a rough canvas on my paint-spattered floor.
i lay down upon it
and traced an outline of myself.

this particular portrait was long overdue.
i used a black felt pen
which was surprisingly co-operative
fluid, even.

the result was not entirely fetal
nor was it a spread-eagle sprawl.
you see, i wanted to make a collage, a map,
an abstract expansionist island of myself,
my body's outline,
its linear essence and bulk; fully clothed
but without the usual armour.

i wanted to put the foothills on my chest,
unleash the prairies across my upper back.
the eyes, of course, would be paris.

i wanted to make little toe drips
at the ends of my feet for findhorn
and tofino and that lake in the muskokas.
i invited aotearoa fern to caress my cheeks
and salt spring orange to gloss my lip and tongue.

i intended to leave space between shoulder and ear
for the city that never sleeps, but perhaps that should be lower down.
i wanted the desert of ghost ranch in the small of my back
and i would place a bit of boreal forest under each arm,
maybe a malta temple on each buttock.

i wanted new orleans between my legs

the plan was to lie back and let fierce waters wash over me.
the wet colours would be random and delightful.
the tides would go maelstrom on me in brilliant psychotic precision
not so much wreaking havoc as quickening me to a familiar moon,
or 12 moons really, all of which would float and bob
around my laughing head
just behind my imperfect right ear.

i wanted my outline to be a lying woman.
never a nude but an honest woman simply lying
a self-seeded simple woman lying
in the truth colours of her own skin
stretched to the limit and varnished by sky and sea
and probably a bit of blood.

i wanted none of the words to need to make sense.
i wanted none of the words.
i wanted the hues to be primal, and selfish,
and unwilling to open the usual locks.

i wanted the abstract interventionism of it all
to spontaneously combust, leaving just my paris eyes twinkling
and my new orleans delta burning,
all glorious damp and jazzy.


What MacFayden has done over the course of kissing keeps us afloat is to romp ribald, I mean Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Erica Jong rutting - and like those excellent writers, reach so much more of the reader than simple erotica ever could.  In these poems love does not always win, passion is not always requited.

That's not the point.

It is the celebrations, the joy you remember that gets you through the dark.  The promise of joy that brings us to the threshold of another dawn.

All that jazz and more is in the keen, crisp kissing keeps us afloat.

Watch what she does in the last lines of "Liars' Motel".  Perfect.

liar's motel

we plotted for months
but now that we have arrived
at this unfamiliar place
packing cherries and beaujolais,
both of us are nervous,
she, tentative

rented sheets, pay-tv
mountain view
we have also brought
toothbrushes, hiking shoes
pears and honey for the morning
but no cellphones
or laptops
nothing to distract us from
each other

are we really going to do this?

it is just you and me
the weekend infidelity rate
and this awkward, scoundrel weight
heavy on both of our chests

so we fidget and stall
open the cheater's wine
sip across the room from each other
and discuss the drive

made good time
thought there'd be more traffic
...nice little town

nice. little. town.
and suddenly the curtains are on fire
your mouth is on mine
we forget how to speak
we forget how to breathe
neither of us remembers
how this got its start.



That Laurie MacFayden, she's a howler.  An Allen Ginsberg howler, celebrating hope and hard love.

Today's book of poetry thinks MacFayden's kissing keeps us afloat steps up and delivers big time.   Love isn't all sweetness and light, she knows everything.

Laurie MacFayden

Laurie MacFayden grew up in southern Ontario and has lived in Edmonton since 1984. Her debut book of poetry, White Shirt, won a Golden Crown Literary Society award and was shortlisted for the Lambda Literary awards. A painter, poet, photographer and avid traveler, she spent more than 30 years as a sports journalist. Her work has appeared in The New Quarterly literary journal, Queering The Way, and DailyHaiku I: A Daily Shot of Zen. When not wordsmithing or playing with light, she enjoys drinking strong coffee in faraway places. She blogs at spatherdab.com and her art lives at www.lauriemacfayden.com

“Swinging and searing verses, meditative narratives, honky-tonk tunes and catalogues of favoured things (including what lovers bring — or leave behind), all merge to make Kissing Keeps Us Afloat a book for tongues and lips to sing. MacFayden knows painting and music, and she loves words and women. The result is art without limit, craft without regret, and poetry that faces trauma and embraces the erotic. MacFayden’s poetry is both red-hot and cool-blue, white lies and film noir, memory and truth. In the supposed mundane, she shows us, transcendence awaits.”
     - George Elliott Clarke

“The colour red infuses Kissing Keeps Us Afloat as blood, anger, and love infiltrate our lives. Red flows as wondrous crayons shading in the shape of a life lived passionately. With flashes of humour and the occasional playful rhyme, MacFayden urges us to keep loving, losing, caring, and colouring. Not always with the red crayons, but these poems remind us to keep those ones — in their hues of crimson and lust — well-sharpened.”
     - Kimmy Beach

Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

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