Photo by Kevin Schmidt, courtesy Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver.
A Sign in the Northwest Passage, 2010.
A series of poems, entitled "Arctic Graffiti," about untangled seal guts, elusive hares and Inuit sculptors in the Arctic tundra.
with the usual boys of summer shooting slapshots like rifles. Puck-scuffed Plexiglas rebounding off Paul’s gaze. The Somalian kid in the chopper crewman’s goggles grins at us. The top of another boy’s head’s been sliced open like an egg, his skull wiped clean inside by bullet fire. The infant’s head twists off its chest, topples from the bed to the warped wood floor. Sand is snow. Let’s go okay? This lighting’s for shit and these damn kids keep knocking my camera. How many hands you have? I have two, you have two but what happened to Paul? Oh well, he was born that way. Just like you were born Inuit and I was born with anxiety. Help him! Help him! Why won’t you help your friend? See that hole in the wall, Dan? Most people notice that and think someone’s been drilling. I see a bullet hole. How fucked is that? Fording flumes of snow indistinguishable from celestial dunes. Wondering who is that man following us? Why don’t we try to find a shaman, Paul? I’ve read the Inuit still believe that shamans can turn themselves into animals, seals and bears. Into other people too. All in the pursuit of exorcising ghosts. An Arctic hare like a newborn standing weirdly upright in the skidoo’s sweeping glare. When the light’s gone, hare’s gone also. Oh, which reminds me, Dan, I’m trying to set up a sled ride with these Inuit hunters. 500 dollars but I’ll pay it, or the Star will I mean. While flakes of snow drift down like dust off the high shelf. Wasted men in doorways let us pass. Graffiti warning, Arctic for life! Because the Internet’s calling for snow tonight, but we’ll try to have fun tomorrow if the weather’s any good. This is the second of three poems. Read the third one.