Let me tell you a lie I tell myself.
Suppose two men sit by one another
in a bar, empties fill the table. The old man asks,
“Do you hate me?” The young man looks away,
“No.” The old man insists, “Did you?”
Suppose the young man answers “Yes”
and orders another round.
Suppose the answer is no.
The old man creeps below the speed limit,
too drunk to be driving.
Beside him the young man examines
the old man’s face. He sees his wrist
gripped in his father’s hand,
the other a butcher knife. He looks
in the side view mirror, sees a dog
paralyzed on the floor, teeth bitten
through tongue, a note the child left his father.
Suppose there was a lesson,
or a game worth playing:
the young man reclines, lifts his feet to the dash,
unbuckles his seatbelt. The old man looks over
and says nothing. Suppose words are incised into the lip.
Suppose we can reinvent these scenes.
Suppose it will be my hand on the cleaver,
your grandson pleading to your face in mine.
Suppose each word is a parcel of forgiveness
I can give. Will you take them from me,
will you say something?
This is me, your child. Pallbearer of our name.
—from Rattle #35, Summer 2011
Tribute to Canadian Poets
Sam Cheuk: “The last thing that I read that was really great was Durs Grunbein’s Ashes for Breakfast.”