Friday, July 5, 2013

The Adultery Poems - Nancy Holmes

Today's book of poetry:  The Adultery Poems.  Nancy Holmes.  Ronsdale Press.  Vancouver, British Columbia.  2002.

The Adultery Poems by Nancy Holmes covers the emotional ground of infidelity in both desire and deed, Homes explores what it means to give in to guilty pleasure and tempts the readers to taste from forbidden fruit.

The Adulteress and the
Communicable Disease

This month
she is living on
coffee, lust,
and ruby red cough syrup.

Over and over again,
I tell her she shouldn't dream of it.

But she licks the spoon.
She loves it,
its stickiness,
how it jolts her awake.


There is ample comedy, wit, a good share of sadness and a pinch of exuberant joy in these stained sheets.  Holmes' verse sits on the knife's edge between glib and clever - but always cuts through the extraneous nonsense to get at the heart of the matter.

What Do I Want?

     Though Australia may offer the temptation of greater
     wages to female servants . . . rather bring them to
     Canada than form connexions with such characters as
     swarm the streets of Melbourne or Geelong.
                                                        - Catherine Parr Traill

Do I really want those everyday men?
The fine upstanding men of Canada?
The woodsman who hacks the forest off the mountain?
The cowboy who straps his guns and leather to the back of his
     pretty mare?
The coureur de bois who aims his fragile canoe down a bruising
     sluice of thunder?

It's the sweat they love,
the salty foam that makes them shine and smile.
The surface is all.
They do the male dance, just once,
and then they're tested.
For the rest of their lives,
they brag about the cheap whores of Spain
and the drunken brawls in the North.

Come on,
let's emigrate with dreams, girls.
We don't need mounties or lumberjacks,
or guys with skidoos on the backs of their trucks.

Let's look for the rogues, the rakes,
the heart stoppers:
the pale musicians in the Melbourne suburbs,
the Byronic accountants of Geelong.


Nancy Moore has published four other books of poetry. Valancy and the New World with Kalamalka Press, Down to the Golden Chersones:  Victorian Lady Travellers with Sono Nis Press, Mandorla appeared from Ronsdale Press in 2005 and The Flicker Tree:  Okanagan Poems published by Ronsdale in 2012.  (The Flicker Tree:  Okanagan Poems was reviewed on this site back in May of this year)

Insomnia Afterwards

     for Sue P.

there's no such misery out there
I just want to stay home
and unplug everything
but the kids track it in on the soles
of their shoes unawares
through their insouciance and clean hair
daily rinse the house inside and out
still it never ends
we have to drag shopping bags
and stupid junk and botched hearts
through doors and into our filthy cars
sawing keys back and forth over hundreds of key holes
until everyone is in bed

and we join the ranks of insomniacs
who I'm sure would not be bad company if we could see them
(except for the drunk who will soon wake someone up
and smack her face)
I mean the ones who do housework at two in the morning
and then sit and have a cup of milky tea
or even those who have herbal teas
I'd even allow a small scotch
those are the ones I mean,
who listen to the washing machine
thump thump thump thump
in the basement

finding this comforting
because it sounds like some other love-lost friend
pounding her pillow over and over again
she can't sleep
she can't sleep


Nancy Holmes now has the singular distinction of being the first poet I've written about twice.  Perhaps because I identify with the simplicity and straight forward line Holmes employs.  Whether it is to implore the reader to appreciate nature (The Flicker Poems), or speak to the dark heart of human nature, Holmes handles her pen with fierce alacrity.

1 comment:

  1. Typo on the name mid-way through (Nancy Holmes/Moore)


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