Thursday Jul 18

OwenCatherine Catherine Owen, from Vancouver, BC, is the author of nine collections of poetry, most recently Trobairitz (Anvil Press, 2012), Seeing Lessons (Wolsak & Wynn, 2010), Frenzy (Anvil Press, 2009), and the chapbook Steve Kulash & other Autopsies (Angelhousepress, 2012). Her collection of memoirs and essays is Catalysts: Confrontations With the Muse (Wolsak & Wynn, 2012). Frenzy won the Alberta Book Prize, and other collections have been nominated for the BC Book Prize, the Re-Lit Award, the CBC Prize, and the George Ryga Award. In 2011-2012, she wrote five songs for the eco-musical Awakening the Green Man, collaborated with multi-media artist Sydney Lancaster on Nest, served as an art model for photographer Paul Saturley, and started a blog called The Relentless Adventures of OCD Crow. Owen edits, tutors, works in film, plays bass in Medea, runs Above&Beyond Chapbook Productions, and lives by the Fraser River. In 2014, ECW will release her book of elegies, Designated Mourner. Her web home can be found here.


Just another loss of faith
Michuacan, Mexico
October 2011, The Day of the Dead tour

You’d been promised marigolds.
The brochures printed paradisiacal fields
Full of ruffled buttery-dense blooms & tourists
Beaming amid these myriad suns, white skin flushed
With all the glory of fulfilling the dream.

But the Morelian farms were stripped.
As the guide achingly explained, a frost
Had descended last week, white violator of travel
Agency visions and most of the flowers were seized,
Stalks flat on the thawing earth, only shriveled fists of harvest

& now how would the shrines be laden? How the debts paid?
The scent, so redolent it vanquishes decay, was
Decay itself & pale moths, the purported souls of the dead
Bewildered the barren acreage, having nowhere apropos
To land. Thus we strayed between the huts where crones

In rebosos bound radishes beneath icons of the Bleeding Heart
& there were no photo opportunities to speak of & none of us
Were prepared for the heat, donkey shit smearing our sandals,
Slashing off the failed itinerary, knowing for certain
There is no god.

Residual Lingerie
On the Amtrak from Portland to Vancouver

Cape Intrepid & the kite receding slam slam slam through the boxcar slits
Here we are hybrid; here we are indigent; traveling two to each side
With our packets of mayonnaise, our filched wine; the violence of incessant
Sandwiches. Ladies who go shopping most everywhere have unclear
Lexicons for the landscape.

The beach is indeed most “beachy” as they cluck and on the screen the Mina
Mounds, “evenly spaced lumps of dirt” located somewhere around Tukwila
Are gushed over as “joyous mysteries.” True it is all that and more yes
When the sun’s extreme veils surge down upon us & suddenly a whole
Fleet of tiny kin sailboats

Rear up like silver, pale sabres of isolate ships is the line inscribed
Tragic as ink in my mind, the human race in sum, so much
Glowing continuing apace while we subscribe to the impossible
Recollections of the lens, wanting hard to hold the keel &
Mast in us forever.

My parents are playing Scrabble on the deck

My parents are playing Scrabble on the deck on a warm
May evening and I know even if my father isn’t winning
He’s anticipating victory; that he has taken far too much
Time to place his latest word on the swiveling board, while
My mother, I know, is reading a Book Club novel, something
By Marquez or Moore and nibbling on a foil-bared square of dark
Chocolate amid quick sips of Rooibos as the collie clicks
Around the long wooden table and that when it’s my mother’s turn
She will take haste to piece her syllables, my father stealing this fast
Moment to carry in the tea tray, to give advice on the spelling of alluvial,
Or just to gaze over the ever-shifting yards that surround my parents’
Constant home.
O I know it is passing, that soon night will end the deep game again.

Construction Workers, Clarkson & Columbia Street

7 am and the regal-less procession towards the site begins.
Each day, the truck “Andy Ma” parks below with its decals
Of four hands holding tools: a screwdriver, a hammer, a drill,
A paintbrush, you see I do know something about the rational.
And a grimy rose Cadillac, a white van, a grey hatchback with Spanish
Praises to God banding each window shield: “Mo Llama Hoy de Jesus” is
All I can make out from here. And Carlos getting out, gut-fat & chill,
Beating his coveralls against the pylons by the tracks, until the chamois-
Orange suit puffs his shift into the sunrise. Then the reflectors. A hard hat:
Blue, white or green, slapped with stickers. Lunch in a plastic bag, cooler
Than kits. They limp past in twos or solo from the bus as the yellow
Gate draws back, the Jiffy John slams with morning stink, the crane guy
Mounts his sky-bucket, the tink tink tink on rebar starts while another
Highrise swells away the bridge, tree-line, limn of mountains and am I
Bitter, as the old man who watches by the alley may be or is this an act
Of desire, this staring, he more disengaged from time, posted by the hole
In the planks, fixed in muscle memory: Jim clambering the scaffold,
Terry nailing & nailing the renewable world together.