Saturday, May 6, 2017

Weathervane - Mark Sampson (Palimpsest Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Weathervane.  Mark Sampson.  Palimpsest Press.  Windsor, Ontario.  2016.


Weathervane is a dipping of the proverbial toes into the cosmos.  Mark Sampson writes from a contemplative and amused perch.  These poems are trump cards from a honest poker player with a dead-pan draw.

Choosing A Mattress

is about more than just the selfishness of sleep,
that blessed oblivion
resting between today's
half-failure and tomorrow's vague promise

Consider your future lovers
Choose a mattress wide enough
to accommodate their desire for you
and one soft enough
for the afterplay of all your gentle words

You must also make your pick
with lovelessness in mind--
a mattress broad enough to give room to wars,
to withstand fifty years
of loneliness

When choosing a mattress
pick one worthy of the children
you will conceive on it
This will be their launching pad
This will be where they judge you

Pick one equal to your anxieties,
the unnamed worries
that loop around endlessly,
like a ceiling fan

A mattress must be able to hold
the regrets that keep you from sleep
the wrongs you have done to others
and yourself

These are your true weight
A mattress must be forgiving
but firm enough to bear it


Today's book of poetry's morning read was full of charm and humour ala Mark Sampson.  Milo, our head tech, has taken on my proclivity for list poems and turned Mr. Sampson's "We Took The City"
into a considerable poetry monster.  That poem took over our reckless insides as Milo marched it around the room and out into the universe.

We Took The City

We took the city
We took it like barbarians
We took its high-rise hammocked balconies
and Swing Slow Sleep Aid colonies
We took its slamming doors,
Its elevators' metronomic forages
We took its whores
We took its rules to heart
             No gambling
             No littering
             No loud sex after 10. (Quiet sex is fine)

We took its pain clinics
and its chartered accountants
We took its dentists' chairs and its cynics
We took its citadel
We took its harbour islands
We took it dancing

We took it seriously
We took it straight
We took it on the rocks
We took a cheap shot

We took a glance over the cubicle wall
at the summer's badgering sun through the window
We took a life we didn't want
We took a cold, hard look at ourselves
We took a bus downtown
We took a mortgage uptown
We took a breath

We took another breath

We took a chance
We took a phone call
We took a date
We took a second date

We took a walk
We took a hike
We took a swim
We took a dinner on the quay

We took your mother to palliative care

We took what the city had to offer
and what it didn't
We took ourselves too lightly
We took a hit
We took a loss
We took a punch

We took it all in stride
We took each other where we needed to go.


Today's book of poetry apologizes to Mark Sampson for our truncated coverage of Weathervane.  We wanted to get Weathervane out there because as much as we enjoyed reading it - and we did - we have a higher offering of praise.  K, Today's book of poetry's almost perfect and long suffering better-half, made a point of telling us how much she liked Weathervane.  K is a tough nut to crack and does not give poetry praise easily or often.  She made a point of telling me in no uncertain terms how smart she thought Sampson's poems were.

There is no doubt about who is the sharpest tack in the Today's book of poetry household and when K likes poems we listen.

Blue Fog

The rain makes generous donations
in the scooter women's hats.
This neighbourhood has had sirens
every night for forty nights

and the gulls bob and weave above
the crimson fire trucks pooling
like blood in the grim cavities
of St. James Town. This April's

fog is thick, a lavender tongue lolling
in a strangled throat.
Last year, a prostitute offered
to sell me a shopping bag full of batteries.

This year, she threw herself off her Bleeker St. balcony
while her daughter practiced the cello.


Not sure if P.E.I. native Mark Sampson will want to know this curious detail about Today's book of poetry.  We apprenticed at Wizard Business Products in Charlottetown.  At the time our mailing address was ______ _______, Guarding the Stanhope/Grand Tracadie Border, P.E.I.

But everyone always thought of us as come from away.

Today's book of poetry loved living close to the ocean and loved the poetry.  We felt right at home with this marvelous first collection of poetry.  Like we feel at home listening to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds sing "Mermaids."  

Image result for mark sampson poet photo
Mark Sampson

Mark Sampson is the author of the novels Off Book and Sad Peninsula, as well as the short story collection The Secrets Men Keep. His fiction, poetry and reviews have appeared in many journals across Canada, including The New Quarterly, The Antigonish Review, PRISM international, This magazine, QWERTY and FreeFall. Palimpsest Press released Weathervane in 2016. Originally from Prince Edward Island, he now lives and writes in Toronto.

“A taut, confident debut from an already accomplished author.” 
     — Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press

“Sampson has the ability…to wax profanely about things we would all take for granted or overlook. He notes thoughts we all consider yet we never speak aloud. And he points out what we consider mundane and makes us ask why we think that.”



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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