From the Vault: ‘A MONCTON SONG ‘

A little late, but here it is: number 3 in this series of revisited  poems from previous collections.

As noted in the first two of these ‘From the Vault’ posts, I’ve always been a compulsive revisor of poems. Lately, I’ve been consciously re-visiting (and subsequently revising) a number of older poems.

In some cases, the revisions are as minor as a punctuation change; others involve different physical presentations like a new breaking of lines or an overhauled stanzaic pattern / approach. There are also pieces that underwent more substantial renovation.

Below is an updated version of a poem that first appeared in  how we play at it: a list  (ECW Press, 2002).  In this case, the edits reflect major stanzaic alternations (a move from a somewhat rigidly imposed couplet format to a single stanza), some line break changes, some substantial excisions / word changes, as well as a tweak of the title .



                what gradually becomes a duck is curled underneath and into

itself, neck a fat fibril plumbing that sees fit to acquaint its beak

not ineffectually with chin, the soft shadow of its own

crook; would, it seems, whisper – hush itself into the dark vault

of its own ear. it is a staticky party secret, nearly overheard,

save for the interruption of that chair across the parqueted wooden

floor or someone’s drunken sigh or cough: one that we’re sure we’d love –

we need – to know, but one we acknowledge, at that

self-same instant, is one bit of gossip we’d be better off without.

                the duck is dead, something has killed it

and left it here: abandoned it in the grass to the side of the sidewalk; left

it, unassuming as a wet stone.                             but for us it sits,

in fact, almost as monument – a finely-tooled dark granite – and that is why

we might, if only in passing, for a second, wish its secrets organ-splayed

flamboyantly beyond any and all recognition in the bustling

midst of this noon hour’s traffic; wish it less this seeming

stolid and wholly calm repose, and instead a more colourfully raucous,

frenetic indecipherability. wish it an exotic presentation, a party

platter of spectacular hors-d’doeuvres that we’d simply shuffle past:

something, anything, we wouldn’t know for what it was, for what it is.


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