Sunday, March 12, 2017

rob mclennan - Five poems

Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012. In March, 2016, he was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour. His most recent titles include The Uncertainty Principle: stories, (Chaudiere Books, 2014) and the poetry collection A perimeter (New Star Books, 2016). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, Chaudiere Books (with Christine McNair), The Garneau Review (, seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics (, Touch the Donkey ( and the Ottawa poetry pdf annual ottawater ( He is “Interviews Editor” at Queen Mob’s Teahouse, a regular contributor to Open Book and both the Drunken Boat and Ploughshares blogs, and an editor/managing editor of many gendered mothers. He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at


Three lines, overheard:

I am attempting to determine where the sound goes.

Nature is strewn with metaphor.


2, Forty-seventh birthday

Your grammar is hostile. Legion, for I contain. This petrified forest. My organs harden, fossilize. What I am acquainted with. The angle of compass points. Arteries. Old photos, the rootbed of inquiry. Days and nights and spelling. Hand-stitched. History: a blanket of dead metaphor. Stumbles, over the brim. We are so close to midnight. All my years hold their breath.


3. It’s still winter

Molten core of resistance. To follow does not presume blindness. I wonder. Now that the elections over, someone offers, you should stop politicizing and return to poems. Does one exclude other? I want to live in the world. Words matter. My middle daughter’s wakeful rustle, cry. Syntactical. A life fully lived can’t compartment. Fields stretched into shadow. Electrical outlets. What held in the mouth. I can’t distinguish occasions from restlessness. Endings are also important.


4. My 1980

A flatness of tongue. The heart enters mythology. Memories, sparrow. The way a thought might give birth. Through my bedroom window: silence, cicadas, cows crunching grass. The full moon. From the distance, cool melodies of highway, a passenger train. I imagine. Sometimes, in stories, a father eats his children, and other times, a mother. Sometimes a witch. Sometimes none of the above. What happens then?


5. Remembering John Newlove

The arrangement is all.