From Penelope. Published by Gaspereau Press in 2017.

I wake confused. It’s noon somewhere, right?
I’m asked. The visitors? I reply. Just fell asleep,
I’m told. Are you really going to start a band?
I’m asked. My recall, initially, is dutiful.
Was it so terrible that I had sung? But then my ears
feel the first scalloping heat of chagrin. Its warmth
spreads as proclamations and boasts return to roost,
shrill and pleased with themselves. How had I got up
on the table and whose hat had I worn? Loss tends
to its fires patiently. The shame I feel burns like paper.

The weeks wake to months. Years. Can we get another table
in the beer tent? I’m asked. There’s a beer tent? I reply. I’m flustered.
And I’m drunk. The visitors are potent compliments. They’ve never seen
a better spoon, tasted better brew. Our harbour, according to them,
is the finest they’ve laid eyes on. Each stone in its proper
place, how had I come up with that? My cup is kept proficiently
filled. And my tongue rallies back. I banter, I cajole. I screech
the crooked logic women know when our hearts are aghast and silenced.
I tend to the visitors with appalling decorum. They cheer me on,
so I blow. I blow. Odysseus’s candle sputters then quits. I did that.

I wake to dread. I banish questions
so I can think. My dignity has been plucked.
My dignity, pink-puckered and overexposed. My mouth
lined in ash. The fire, started in revelry, has passed out.
If I had tarted up my loneliness, if I am to claim my dark ripeness,
I am now left craven to my own needs. The poison I taste
is personal. My mouth abhors me and I abhor
my mouth. If I had the energy to cut myself without mess,
without bother, I would. And if Odysseus is a candle, who is
the match? Not me. I am no longer to be trusted near open flame.



Susan Goyette is an award-winning poet who has published five collections of work. She lives in Halifax, NS.


Toby Sharpe


I don’t know where a person can go when they disappear, apart from underwater.


Young Earle Birney in Banff: September 1913¹

what a day!at the Basin2 dove from the tufa overhanginto the water, playing my trick ofseeming to drown, not coming up until I finish wrigglingthrough that underwater chimneyand burst into air. always startles the tourists.


Zamboni Driver’s Lament

i know hate, its line-mates. believe me. you kids have, i’m sure, wasted—all early morning anxious and weak-ankled—their first impatient shuffle-kicks and curses on me.