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 .
A MONCTON SONG
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.