Thursday Apr 19

DaltonMarycreditPaulDaly Mary Dalton was born at Lake View, in Conception Bay, Newfoundland. She is Professor of English in the Department of English Language and Literature at Memorial University in St. John’s. Dalton’s poems, reviews, essays and interviews have been published in journals and anthologies in Canada, Ireland, England, Belgium, and the United States. She is a former editor of the literary journal TickleAce and of the interdisciplinary journal Newfoundland Studies. She has reviewed poetry and other genres for a variety of journals, among them TickleAce, Newfoundland Studies, Books in Canada, The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, The Journal of Canadian Poetry, The Irish Literary Supplement. She has published four volumes of poetry, The Time of Icicles (Breakwater, 1989; 1991 pbk edition), Allowing the Light (Breakwater, 1993), Merrybegot (Véhicule Press, Signal Editions, 2003), and Red Ledger (Véhicule Press, Signal Editions, 2006), as well as a  letterpress chapbook of poems also entitled Merrybegot (Running the Goat Books and Broadsides, 2002). Merrybegot was released as an audiobook by Rattling Books in  2005. She has received various awards for her poetry, among them the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Awards for Poetry in 1997 and again in 2002 and 2006, as well as the inaugural TickleAce/Cabot Award for Poetry in 1998. Merrybegot won the 2005 E.J. Pratt Poetry Award.  Her latest book, Red Ledger, was shortlisted for the Atlantic Poetry Prize and the E.J. Pratt Poetry Award for 2007 and named as one of The Globe and Mail’s Top 100 Books of the Year.  Her next book, Hooking, is being released in 2013.
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SignalApril01090431creditChrisHammond In the Cracks of the City: St. John’s Collage
 
 
1.
The Developer
 
So they comes down with their big
cans of that old orange spray paint.
Plants one of their cursed circles
smack in the middle of Mrs. Daley’s back gate—
thinks they’ll stick a pole up right in front of it.
Mickey goes out to talk to the developer;
the developer cuts him off
soon as he opens his mouth:
“Nothing to do with me,” he says;
“They got to give me power,” he says,
the little chest on him puffing
up like a bantam cock,
the jowly cheeks, the piggy eyes
shining pink with self-regard.
“I’m not going to stand here and argue with you,” he says.
“I’m not arguing,” Mickey says.
“I just had a few questions—"
“Nothing to be done,” says the developer.
“They got to give me power.”
 
They got to give him power—
nothing to be done—
no, not likely. Him pinching
and squeezing every inch of ground
out of the place for himself—
for his glue and sawdust mansions and his concrete—
no room for poles on his land—
and the city men in cahoots—
and everyone else here on the street
expected to lie down nice and play dead.
 
News for him: there’s more than
a dance in the old dame yet.
Oh yes, come the elections
we’ll soon put a stop to his gallop.
 
****
 
 
 
2.
The Medb Shillelagh
i.m. Eamon Rosato, carver
 
Inside Devon House
(stolid matron of  brick,
plying her lares, penates)
the Medb Shillelagh
hangs by a filament—
beaked crone, eagle,
war in the very swirls and loops of her;
is she ready to swoop,
or rendered innocuous—
fit to hook a mat
or pat a grandchild—
by her suspension in air,
by the gallery’s white peace, its
huge windows giving onto
flat blue of the harbour, the
stalwart Narrows beyond?
 
When the wind churns in
and ghosts ride wild on the fog
(the maid hung for a loaf of bread,
the captain hauled up
on his own grapnel,
the boy who went over the cliff)
the twist of her face resolves
into a grin.
 
******
 
 
3.
Freedom; Merrymeeting Road
 
On the old St. Pat’s ground
the big Sobey’s sits. Its slogan:
New Food Ideas.
Piled in a barrel,
the pitahayas, the dragon fruit,
just down from the persimmons and ugli fruit.
Six ninety-nine and you can bring home the tropics,
home to your table.
 
In Sobey’s today it’s colder than cold,
a meat-locker zone.
Outside it’s the same.
No adjustment possible:
the air-system’s run from Halifax.
They turn the lights on and off, too,
says the clerk who has to think twice
about buying bananas, even in season,
on her non-unionized wage.
 
The pitahaya has a pale beet
skin with flanges like an armadillo.
A shape like a big pear.
When you cut into the gorgeous pink-red skin:
watery white flesh, pitted with
small black seeds. The flesh
tastes like nothing,
but for some reason you feel an unease, the way you
did when once you ate shark meat.
 
Maybe it will taste better chilled.
 
***
 
 
4.
Horns
 
The horns are blowing—
someone got married—
or is it just
a car alarm?
 
***
 
 
5.
St. John’s haiku
 
a bronze-lettered plaque,
oil tanks ice-rimed—
headland dragons sleep
 
round the bowl of the harbour
ships’ horns ricochet—
a skein of gulls shifts.

cars bumper to bumper,
headed for the cove:
beached caplin roiling.
 
fissured concrete step,
dock unfurls its frills in cracks—
ship clears the Narrows.
 
***
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author photo credit—Paul Daly
St. Johns,NB photo credit—Chris Hammond