Saturday, January 30, 2016

Pin Pricks - Phlip Arima (Quattro Books)

Today's book of poetry:
Pin Pricks.  Phlip Arima.  Quattro Books.  Toronto, Ontario.  2014.


Here's the thing.  Today's book of poetry is pretty sure you could walk the streets of any city in the world with a copy of Phlip Arima's Pin Pricks in your pocket and find the answers to almost any question you might be asked.  Not a direct answer, but a perfect response.

Pin Pricks is full of sharp and quick teasers, taunts, lamentations, celebrations and exclamations.   Sharp and quick but never terse.  Mr. Arima is a delight.

Pin Prick 3

I walk to the wall
count the cracks
that disappear
into the floor.

I hear a siren
screaming toward
a greater


Pin Prick 17

Two men of different skin
talking as they walk
down the street.

An obscenity is shot
from a passing car.

They pause, sigh
never stop holding hands.


Because Arima chooses such brevity in Pin Pricks Today's book of poetry has taken the unusual step of including three two-poem clusters instead our usual three poems.  Pin Pricks merits this by being constantly surprising and consistently right on the mark.  These poems are clusters of pearls.

Pin Prick 40

There's a crack in the floor
that lengthens each time
I step over it.

Its edge resemble
a cut on my hand
that will not heal.

Into it I've swept
the names I no longer
write on my calendar.


Pin Prick 51

The tortoise was fully evolved
before mankind existed.

There are trees that have outlived

Just prior to the Second World War
we split the atom.


At our office this morning all hell broke loose.  Everyone was in high spirits because we had guests show up for this morning's reading.  The ghosts of Vladimir Mayakovsky and Ezra Pound bounded into our offices around eight-thirty, they were arm in arm, Vladimir politely demanded vodka and Ezra demurely requested "strong tea".

Who knew that Milo spoke Russian?  Milo and Mayakovsky are now sitting in the corner, Milo talking a mile a minute, Vlad occasionally shaking his head, "nyet, nyet."  

The two giants joined in on this morning's read, each taking their turn in stride.  Hearing Phlip Arima read in Russian, Milo translating in Vlad's ear, was a gas.

The old poets are never wrong.  Not here at Today's book of poetry, and it might have been our best morning read yet.

Pin Prick 74

The elephant rolls over
and everyone applauds.

He stands on one leg
and everyone applauds.

He shits as he is leaving
and everyone pretends

not to notice.


Pin Prick 11

Abandoned trousers in the street
a young face at a window
someone waves an ancient flag
a glass of wine falls over.

A line of cars run out of gas
bets are placed on politicians
dogs are freed from a kennel.

A summer storm destroys a city
soldiers put their helmets on 
debates are staged for television.

Sticks of incense near an altar
lose their scent to time.




Today's book of poetry would be remiss if we didn't mention how much we liked the very striking cover of Phlip Arima's Pin Pricks.  Designed by Sarah Beaudin and using an electric image by Thomas Hendry, this book looks as great as it reads.  

Arima's aphorisms and poems are proof in the pudding that bigger is not always better.  Today's book of poetry had the ghosts of giants show up at our offices this morning to prove it.

Phlip Arima

Phlip Arima is a Toronto author of three previous poetry books:Breathe Now, Damaged, and Beneath the Beauty. Broken Accidents, a collection of short fiction, was short-listed for a 2003 Relit Award. His poetry has been adapted to video by Vision Television, and his fiction to stage by Newfoundland’s RCA Theatre.


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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