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Shai Ben-Shalom

Lindsay Foran

Jerry Golland

Seymour Mayne

Christal Steck

Doreen Taylor-Claxton

Nicola Vulpe

Betty Warrington-Kearsley

Erwin Wiens

Erwin Wiens

Erwin Wiens was born in Edmonton, and was schooled in Beamsville Ontario, The University of Waterloo, and most recently, the University of Ottawa. “Dirty Pockets” is forthcoming in Queen’s Quarterly.



Dirty Pockets

It happens often, when you’re just a boy.
You forget what’s in them. Unthinking,
you plunge your hand down and feel
something.
Then you remember.
You pull your hand out. Sticky.
Ugh.

When you’re only four feet tall
your pockets are close to the ground, so
dirt gets in,
also cookie crumbs, peanut shells,
the wad of chewing gum you were saving
for later.
Not to mention other treasures, some of them
unmentionable.

Like the butt of a cigarette you found,
and might try to smoke
when no one’s looking,
the robin’s egg you stole from the nest
just to be cruel,
or the dead mouse you planned to hide
in your sister’s shoe.

Normally they’re not a hindrance,
dirty pockets.
They don’t weigh you down, don’t impair
your balance, and make you stumble.
But even for a boy there comes a day
when they
become a burden.
 
Time to clean house. Turn the pockets inside out,
and give ’em a good shake.
There. Gone.
Now the boy can start all over
with clean pockets.
When he’s a grown man it won’t be that easy.
 



Role Playing

Take my dog, an eighty-pound
sentimental mutt.
She’s been walked, pooped and peed,
she’s taken inventory of the new day’s smells
and conferred a patronizing lick
on harried commuters,
who stopped to rub her ears.
Now she lies, nose nestled on crossed paws, inches
from the window pane
beside the door.
 
And he’s right on time. Brazen, in his blue cap and shirt.
Marches up the walkway, fumbles in his pouch
and pulls out a sheaf of letters and fliers. 
A low rumbling growl
but he pays no heed.
A volley of louder barks,
and still he comes.
Charges
up three stone steps, right to the door,
and jams his packet through the clattering slot.
 
She bounces up and down, pirouettes
and comes around snarling,
teeth bared.
But he’s already in retreat down
the stone steps, down the walkway. She lets him have
three more barks
just to be sure.
He veers right, and ducks
behind a neighbour’s hedge.
Works every time.

She yawns, stretches, and ambles to her bowl
for a few glubby gulps, then click-clicks
across the kitchen floor and collapses
with a self-satisfied groan.
 



Heavy Lifting

They start
before the first graying of dawn,
the darkest hour.

Thrushes, then jays, gulls, warblers,
and all fourteen varieties of sparrows,
a cacophony
of chirps and caws and incoherent trills.
And it works.
A crack opens at the edge of the earth
and the dark begins to pale.

And yes, there it is! A thin, shimmering arc,
breaching a gap in the red horizon.
Now sing, you feathered fools, sing, sing,
and louder sing for every fibre in your puny breasts.
Yes, yes, here it comes, the whole flaming orb
buoyed upon a wave of weightless song.

Now they can relax, and turn their minds
to worms and fuzzy things with seeds.