Mars Is For Poems. Aaron Bushkowsky. Oolichan Books. Lantzville, British Columbia. 2002.
Today Today's book of poetry is continuing with our tradition of stepping back in time, so to speak.
In our queries to publishers we always ask about older or back-catalogue titles. Our theory here is that until we see them -- they are all new books.
Mars Is For Poems was published thirteen years ago but it reads like it appeared yesterday, it reads like it has read today's newspaper.
Bushkowsky gets it all said lickety-split and with elan. These poems are sports cars when most people are driving trucks.
circling stories about children
dying in the middle east
which she clips and deposits
in her big book of secrets
i wait it out in the kitchen with the newspapers
she has stormed down
to the dark world of the basement
to feel safe again
then when she emerges
she stares past my head
where i think she has spotted a sniper in the garden
don't ask don't ask
in the after world of innocence where we quietly exist
above flowers painted on bed sheets
draped on the chocolate walls of the downstairs
it's nothing she says
it's nothing don't worry
Bushkowsky is masterful, I keep thinking I see the grinning face of Kurt Vonnegut/Richard Brautigan leaning over the shoulder of some of these poems but I strongly suspect that those are my biases more than Aaron's influences.
I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy of Bushkowsky's earlier book of poetry, Ed and Mabel Go To The Moon (Oolichan Books, 1994) but I'm looking - and I am going to gamble certain when I say I know I would love it.
It should come as no surprise, Aaron Bushkowsky is a multiple award winning playwrite. Here's a short list:
Farewell, My Lovely
Play With Monsters
Landscapes of the Dead
and so on...
Bushkowsky writes fiction and movies as well. I suspect, were he asked, he could write a spectacular grocery list. He is a pro and that is a big compliment. All my underlings here at TBOP know that if they want to butter me up - they should include a reference to my "pro-ness" in their request.
by the sea she said by
and by i'll be gone and then
nothing she looked at the clouds
and she looked down the shore
and the spray caught by sun was quick
a watery solar flare and she smiled
and said one has to admire that
my imagination running wild
rolling over and over
each flash another wave
catching light and burying it
with green so deep you're never quite sure
what you've seen now holding her hands
out across the waves
as if greeting them or quieting perhaps
she knew the poem already
rolling over in her mind washing up
the shore to brim in her own green eyes
now and then saying those words
by the sea by the sea
then closing them
as if to keep the sea in
Let's just say that TBOP wishes there was a lot more poetry like Bushkowky's Mars Is For Poems. Reading these poems - Guy Vanderhaeghe comes to mind. Why? HE IS A PRO.
I loved these excellent poems.
At this point my only complaint, request, is to Mr. Bushkowsky. We all know that poetry won't keep the fridge full or the lights on at night, but Aaron, you are so damned good at it...
i'm watching alien
with a friend on a windy friday night
who tells me during the commercial
she has slept with her ex-husband
to teach his current wife a lesson
yes i say
this is something we all dream of
only human to teach people important sexual lessons
during the next commercial
she tells me she has beat her neighbours' dog
because he trusted her too much
over the weekend
yes i say
this is something we all consider
only human to think
of ways to teach animals important lessons about trust
during the last commercial
she confesses she hates babies
and once slapped her sister's child
because it wouldn't stop crying
why was it crying
it was crying she said
because i wouldn't touch her hair
yes i say
there is something about hair
in all of us
and she smiles and kisses me on the cheek
you understand perfectly
she says thru her perfectly white teeth
and i do
when the show is over
we finish the popcorn
and she notices blood
at the bottom of the white bowl
that's strange she says
one of us has been bleeding all night
so, please publish more poetry. I know you've written it.
And we here at TBOP are equally certain that it is good.
Milo, our resident curmudgeon, loved the cover of Mars Is For Poems. He said that more books of poetry should look like science-fiction.
Photo: Emily Cooper
ABOUT THE AUTHORAaron writes and publishes in many genres: film, theatre, poetry, prose, and non-fiction. A prolific writer, Aaron has 8 published books and over a dozen professional play productions. Aaron teaches at Kwantlen University, Langara College, Studio 58, and Vancouver Film School and works independently as a film story editor and playwriting dramaturge. He is the artistic director of Solo Collective, a professional Vancouver theatre company.
Over the past 16 years, Aaron has been nominated for Jessie Theatre Awards for Outstanding Original Play nine times, more than any other playwright. He has won two Jessies. In 2012, Aaron's play "After Jerusalem" was nominated for the prestigious Carol Bolt Award -- Canada's national playing competition. He's also served as playwright-in-residence atTouchstone Theatre, The Playhouse, Rumble Theatre and as a resident film-writer at the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto.
Other nominations: Leo Award (Screenwriting -- Short), Sterling Theatre Award (Writing), Stephen Leacock Award (Curtains for Roy, 2015), Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (ed and mabel go to the moon, 1995).
Aaron completed his MFA in Creative Writing at UBC (2002) after receiving his BA and BEd from the University of Alberta. He is a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada. Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas member (LMDA).
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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