Rob McLennan Poems



Version three:


             Your aesthetics won’t help you now.

               Natalie Simpson, Thrum


Shale and shank. A sentence, lined. This isolated attention. Crosscut. Bang the kettle, drum. A mess of clean pots, pans. For example: verse, oh verse. A wooden spoon. Mouth flickers. Tell me. Light. The luxury to outsource, poems. A logic I am cut away, excised. A what state. Baby sleeps, she cries, she laughs. Oh baby, baby. Marked by borders, boundaries. Eyelids, slow. Imposed. Slow down. Stuffed animals in corners. We see the singularity, so different. I am attracted to a secret.






Standing on a beach in South Florida, February


Then our eyes clear and the emptiness within is the same as the emptiness without, and the glass is transparent.

                Rosmarie Waldrop, Driven to abstraction


             We woke one morning and the ocean was gone. Some of us

             were relieved. Who can blame it if it had been our audience?

                Sue Goyette, Ocean





Recreate, a place of comfort. Return. Aware of all the possibilities. Distract, an ecosystem. An emptiness of sugar. Pop tarts. This was once all swamp.




As far as the eye can see. But eyes can’t see so far. We imagine: Portugal, the Ivory Coast. We imagine Key West. Next table coos, proclaims: what a beautiful baby. Monsoon, a snow globe shape.




I am drainage. Strip-mine. Inlays, handicap. Tear away the flesh. Do they know how to make beautiful.




I imagine the water. A measure of silence. Revolved, oversimplified. A celebration, branded. The heart is an index of first lines. Christine presses the palm of her foot into wet sand.




Expresses only the plural: water. Measures sound, a figure. Cut into swaths, sand. Triangulate airspace, the cover of night. The pith and the pitch of full moon. A beachy front.




Mortar. Waves, across humidity. A house made of driftwood. Turkey vulture. You frame the artificial lake. The grounds. A Spanish galleon. History remembers, nothing.




The cool air, a lament. Key West. February, the cruellest month. Suffocating letters home. The 1840 massacre, an elegy of disparate material. A question of solitude. The sun also rises.




Precision: made of sand, not snow. Electrical storms, companion grasses. Close attention to silence, which is not nothing; it is, in fact, silence. How we navigate ourselves from the north. A land of snowbirds.




A language, we don’t recognize. A backdrop for determining. Biceps, transparent glass. Bikini wear. The shapely curve of calf.




Atlantic coast, the empty house. Each day agrees with my step. Misreads. Some handmade books, a slowness. Coastal greens. Such shades of blue. Subtropical, unfastened. We wish you.




Mis-translate: Raton to “mouse,” not “rat.” A different meaning altogether.




If zero marks the beginning of counting, how far apart is here. Language, neither quantity, nor resemblance. If pared down to nothing. One foot in the sand, half-visible.




Cruise ships meander, paths worn so deep they groove. Jetliners: meridian, mean. In Florida, where you only charged if you don’t shoot to kill.




Unpasteurized pretense: clear, sandy stretch. Sustained artifice, and fruity drinks. No postcards: no reason to think of any place but here.




A statement of water. South Florida sun, erodes. The rotation of earth. Stutter: I stagger out facts. Counterpoint, ocean. We are clear, and transparent. Akin to numbers, counting. Inarticulations.




Goodnight, doctor moon. Fire alarm tests: unflinching accuracy. Rose, adrift. Barely registers.








Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa. The author of nearly thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012. His most recent titles include notes and dispatches: essays (Insomniac press, 2014) and The Uncertainty Principle: stories, (Chaudiere Books, 2014), as well as the forthcoming poetry collection If suppose we are a fragment (BuschekBooks, 2014). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, Chaudiere Books, The Garneau Review, seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics, Touch the Donkey, and the Ottawa poetry pdf annual ottawater. He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at



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