Saturday, December 13, 2014

Everyone Is Co2 - David James Brock (A Buckrider Book/Wolsak & Wynn)

Today's book of poetry:
Everyone Is CO2.  David James Brock.  A Buckrider Book.  Wolsak & Wynn Publishers.  Hamilton, Ontario.  2014.

Asshhole, Werewolf, Hangover

From the bed, the spin. The blinds are open.
The sun is a jerk. Last night a werewolf bit me.
I imagine cravings: the squirrels and mice,
the backyard bunny, the raccoon-bastard-dirty-
fighters. Their smell will scatter, then blind me,

and I will start weak, made rubber by the
mephitic. The smell of cut onion waft and no
kitchen fan. That stench of rotten egg scratching
the retina. That stench extending like a handful
of ninja metsubushi, so death to all raccoons.

Out of the shadows, the depressions, I search
for new spirit. I lose ambition. In a sepia photo,
I see fat Russian men wrestling vodka-fed bears.
I fight a bear. Then I chase a deer, like Nicholson
in Wolf, a how-to for my loneliness. Because

I cannot bear to watch An American Werewolf in London,
an uncanny valley reminds me of scenes too possible.
Last night, something clamped pharynx to larynx.
I spoke when I should have breathed. I pulled beating
hearts from their cavities. My big mouth gave fangs

their wiggle room. I spit all the secrets, and now
bar benches will be empty in my circumference.
A guilt-ridden platter of shots. Sorry. There is no
rebuilding after a devouring. The original substance
cannot refreeze, i.e., no take backs. You said what you

said when you said it, asshole. Identify my body
by the teeth. Remember me, friends, whispering
and mild. This morning, my future lies before me.
No excuses. Okay, a werewolf bit me, but forgive
the violence I've achieved. It attacked in self-defense.


"Asshole, Werewolf, Hangover" pretty much outlines and describes the modus operandi of David James Brock.  These poems leap from the page directly at your jugular.  That is, of course, only after he has sucker-punched your brain.  This is a master stage director plotting the audience and organizing their gasps.

Dude & Dude's Dog

Dude watched old Westerns and wondered when the horses died.
Dude's dog wears a sweater.

Dude believed in a fish species isolated and evolving with the wreck of the Titanic.
Dude's dog was born near a Philadelphia racetrack.

Dude thought ladies in mink coats looked like grizzly bear wannabees.
Dude's dog laps buttermilk from a plastic dish.

Dude thought dogs wearing sweaters was proof they were the ones in charge.
Dude's dog has paws that make music on the kitchen floor linoleum.

Dude mourned in ceremony for each death of a department store goldfish.
Dude's dog spent an entire nap with a butterfly on his back.

Dude could identify birds from the chirps out his window.
Dude's dog is afraid of television gunshots.

Dude watched old Westerns and wondered when the horse actors died.
Dude's dog misses Dude.

Dude's dog wears a sweater.


Brock shreds common sense as unnecessary as he rollicks all over the place with Shaman-like wisdom and an encyclopedic memory.

Jerry Reed and Elvis reunite and dirge around a Confederate flag, Greek gods puff their cheeks and the Doobie Brothers go head to head with the Lemonheads.  Brock has much going on without a scorecard, he is juggling more than one knife in the air, but with dexterity and much humour.

Tablet 1: Tyrant

They think I am more god than man,
I cannot change the minds of fools.

Brides believe I can steal them new,
a beaten groom accepts my grip

on his virgin. Warriors, battle strong,
have my hips and hands upon them.

Lives are imagined long. Time and time again,
weak souls implore lenient sunrise.

Let morning show mercy,
dusk is not a well-made shelter,

I am above plebeian rhythm, circadian pity,
this love is nightmare born:

men crave a god among them.
Restrain me, create my equal,

or cry and bow, kneel and bend -
conjure some solace

while the men among us laugh.


Tablet 11: Mortality

I could not conquer time and age.

If eyes never close, how can heart's rage cease?
I could not conquer sleep.

I could not swim deep
nor hold the magic at ocean's bottom,
nor protect the secret from the shedding snake.

The snake believes it can never die,
it forever feels so new.

I cannot live forever. I fight that savage,
grow to love that friend.

So love me now, friend.
We will see each other soon
or never again.


I thought Everyone is CO2 was whipsmart stuff from start to end.  Reading Brock is bit like a carnival you never expected to attend but enjoy thoroughly.  Good poetry should make you go places you've yet to travel, it should make you squirm once in a while.  Brock's intelligent dander has a take-no-prisoner appeal.

David James Brock
Photo credit: Amanda Lynne Ballard
David James Brock is a playwright, poet and librettist whose plays and operas have been performed in cities across Canada and the UK. His writing has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals including Event, The Hart House Review, The Malahat Review, Poetry is Dead and The Puritan. He was the winner of the 2011 Herman Voaden Canadian National Playwriting Award, and he is also co-creator of Breath Cycle, an opera developed for singers with cystic fibrosis ( He lives in Toronto and can be found on Twitter @davidjamesbrock.

"'The wind reveals itself by the dirt it moves,' In a collection that shifts seamlessly from Adam Yauch to Gilgamesh, from present-day Steubenville to the year 2039, David James Brock comes at us slant with an often-heartbreaking view of the world. With his chisel and blowtorch, Brock reveals to us what we always knew was the bedrock of our lives, but could never look, or stand on, for long."
     Dani Couture, author of Yaw and Algmoa

"Not long into David James Brock's snappy debut, the formication sets in. 'We are each exhibits in the human zoo,' he writes, and many of these poems zoom in gleefully on the wriggle and squelch of the corporeal. There's something of Jekyll in his poem-making, alchemic and unpredictable. And that gleam in his eye? Unmistakably Hyde. It's when Brock turns his attention to old friends and good tunes that you see how soulful he is.  Everyone is CO2 is a hair raiser."
     Matthew Tierney, winner of the Trillium Poetry Prize for Probably Inevitable

David James Brock reads "Adam Yauch (Eightfold)"
from Everyone is CO2


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