From the Vault: ‘TRENCH SHOW’

Once again, a little late, but here it is: the fourth in this series of ‘revisited  poems’.

As noted in the first three 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 (from a series of WWI-inspired poems) that first appeared in a number of the early manuscript versions of   A Ruckus of Awkward Stacking  (Insomniac Press, 2000), but which was excised from the final version of the published collection.  That’s all to say it’s perhaps been published in a lit journal at some point, but may also be completely unpublished, aside from an appearance (in a quite different form) in my UNB thesis.

The re-writing here included major alternations of both content and rhythm, not to mention substantiallty different line breaks. Truthfully, it’s a completely re-designed piece on the same theme, with the same title.

Read away:


it’s all a rough magic, this

rifleman’s trick. this cool stepping

down behind curtained clay, shoulders

coated in folds, momentarily. it’s a false

ducking, of course; a coarse

duck-boarded crouch. a dank, tailored

mess; a consumption, for show.

so: close up: camera one…

cue the lights, hold your breath :

appearing now at stage centre, or right,

and/or left: the overhead antics of

near-human confetti that’s utterly

peerless. (save the ticker-taped encores

they’ll stand for at home, while

we houdinis lie khakied – plank still, all

decked out – and wait to out-do ourselves,

once more, yet again; to shed these,

our boxes. to emerge, wholly men.)


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