Sunday, May 19, 2013

They Will Take My Island

by Nyla Matuk


Probably it was the last day of school.
A group of young girls, 9 or 10 years old,
walked toward me. They were all wearing
party dresses. The first of them started to run,

and then the others started to run behind her,
in their dresses, all yelling, "Don't run! Don't run!”
laughing and looking like they were having
the time of their lives. I noticed one girl

near the back of the group, laughing and yelling
with them, a bit taller, darker.
She had the innocence and the happiness
I remembered having too, at that age,

yelling with friends, in a kind of chaos,
being overjoyed, not aware of being overjoyed or
swept up by something for no other reason
than itself. Later that night, I brought the girl’s

image into my mind--the way she laughed,
as she ran, so preoccupied. In the morning, that image
was the first thing that I saw when I woke. Most of all,
the girl had shown me what had come to me once

and is now gone. I want to remember
her face every day, for the rest of my life.


after Annie Freud




Friday, July 13, 2012

They Will Take My Island

by Natalie Zina Walschots


1.
carve a petroglyth into my belly
jagged, angry
a key against a car door


2.
They are so much more than heads
            heavy lids
            brutal nose
            sharp plane and fat lip

buried to the shoulders
like a poor schmuck in debt
to the mafia
stoically facing the tide


3.
friend to pumice
compressed volcanic ash
barely strong enough to buff a callus
soon eroded featureless
puffy and pock-marked
cheekbones sinking


4.
my sweet red scoria
riddled with ellipsoidal vesicles
you're easy to chip as an enamelled fingernail

my fragmented ejecta
pretty glassy fragment
I so quickly forget you were forged from magma


5.
sure as quicksand
        as Venice
        as hopes

we're sinking





Thursday, May 24, 2012

They Will Take My Island

by Jesse Patrick Ferguson


My heart broke with the first ring-billed gull
I saw slice through rays of morning sun
above my head. So far from other land,
how could it be? He alighted
in the canopy of my shade tree,
and I thought I caught, clasped in his beak,
the paltry shimmer of a candy-bar wrapper.

Then the garbage came in earnest, drifting in
along my shores. Each morning with its crop
of tangled ropes, Dixie cups, hoses and water bottles,
beer cans, condoms and left sneakers.
Perhaps useful to one in my position,
but all unwanted trash to me, all presaging ill.

The sea, my sea, was changing its mind,
pulling away. Its moods gone perverse,
the vicissitudes of tide ruined my sleep.
My spirits dropped with the high-water marks
I weekly scratched on a cliff face by my camp.
My coastline was stretching,
my kingdom shrinking with it.

One morning I tried in vain to rub a vision
from my eyes: new, smaller islands appearing
not far offshore, an archipelago lurking
beneath the calm surface. My knees shook
as day by day I could walk further
along the sandbar to my fishing grounds.
My knife wavered as it hit plastic shards
in the stomachs of my catch.
By night I cringed at unearthly glow
on the horizon and, worse, distant taillights
like dark angels passing over
that far-off somewhere
that threatens to annex my here.

If I thought it could help, this would be
my message in a bottle: not find me here
by seeking the beach with a triangle of stones.
Not details of currents and stars, flora and fauna
at such-and-such a season. Not SOS,
as this soul needs no saving
and would be lost through their finding.
No, I’d scratch in blood on a blanched palm leaf
to stay away, steer clear of this barren rock
with its hidden reefs, its poisonous plants.
No one lives here, nor will any being ever
except inbred ship rats from some long-ago wreck.
I’d shove this warning down the throat
of my last wine bottle and hurl it with a curse
into this diminished rage of surf.

But it’s no use. Already I hear, faintly,
the uncouth shouting of brats laying siege
to sandcastles on their beaches. I hear car doors
slamming, dogs yelping, Jet Skis growling
across halcyon bays. I feel the shrewd gaze
of hotel developers ogling
my ocean-front property through binoculars.

Exposed, I hide my nakedness behind
an apron of thin leaves and wait,
listening for the distant drums,
for the revving engines and thoughtless laughter.
I wait, for they will take my island.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

They Will Take My Island

by David Brock



They will open my abdomen, decode my genus by liver tissue, intrude dark and click a stick that looks like a pen for
notes in sharp grey scrawl on plated silver tablets: 


/--/`/`-`//`        (We were wrong. These are not machines.)
/--\|\|=---         (We have incised the mass from its chest,)
-/\\ -|- //-         (and curious, its island beats.) 

They are years away from understanding the science in our parts.
I beg for tendons, my spleen, my lymph juice. It’s not too late. 

One grabs my tongue, examines that landscape. One sketches 
my shapes. Another, sadly it seems, records the misguided data: 

-||-- /// -|- ||      (... strange sounds escape from the ocean on its face...)
-- ||||__|           (...I wonder if it knows what we are.)
|\\\----_--\|       (If only we could reach it, we could know if this next procedure hurts.) 



Sunday, May 6, 2012

They Will Take My Island

by Jonathan Bennett


This afternoon, his Asperger's exploded
in the Forsythia bush, the rage against
the gold sprung unfairness of everyone else's
understanding of basics, like the discernment
of silliness, or hurt feelings, or language
that is used to mean both this and that.

He digs a hole in the garden, one deep
enough to climb in now, which he does,
the tightness of it just about right,
the top of his head poking out of the mulch.
He is larval. At one with his beloved insects,
murmuring, worrying about F3 tornadoes.   

At night the fear sweeps across the bow
of his sleep, pressed against his father, I am
ballast or maybe keel, until light comes again
to erase what goes on, horrors measured
in fathoms, or leagues, broken only by
the bioluminescence of an anglerfish.



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

They Will Take My Island

by Sam Cheuk


The vehicule of my youth, the ride I nostalge
a '97 Prelude. In our gangbang burba,
treatised by the geo proxim of our fathers,
we feign school by day, full moon by night,
when we become men in clubs should we find
one wrong staredown our way, Hulkic strength
in numbers, empath later the red-white mess
we left on some sidewalk raw as a fetus,

to remind us the human too in us.
Survival: the cuse we told ourselves, survival
is what our fathers survived. As for us?
Kali Our Heavenly Father, Kali the Reprooped,
"Dumbshits" or wev equiv our fathers' tongues,
 your new world we break us out and open into.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by James Lindsay



Weekdays since they switched the time change, so long
and beige-bright, so open
to wandering around, touching the electronics
to keep them awake.

They watch them blink on in bewilderment. Stacks
of unread books and a stove clock that strobes
the room when the curtains are closed.

And they are closed, and have been since it was
discovered that these windows work two ways.
In and out, like a light lock.

They get it now.

To get at it, first thing’s first: ban all basements
and basement living, where slashes of afternoon
compete with smoke and aerosol for outside
air and inside voices. Their calls like small
animals who get in between the walls for winter.

They will take my island. They will come at it
from the rediscovered crawlspaces that
they have just started to clean.

For years they were hidden in darkness
until they cut down the trees that hid the highway
and let the commuters constant radiance back in.


Friday, November 18, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Nick Thran

I love a plow more than anything else on a farm.
       —Arshile Gorky


Say in the painting, soldiers storm the field,
cradling their mothers’ sex
under their arms like gourds.
Say Freud, trying to flee the scene,

trips over the still hot coals
in Picasso’s Guernica,
and reignites an age’s fires.
Then Gorky’s mother’s limbs

do start to look like his.
And then his mother’s name
does start to sound the same as his
when it’s called out over the trembling field

for however long one person’s death can last,
which, including blockades in the aftermath,
is far too long a time. Say all of that’s there
for a while in the painting, and then

it isn’t there. And being certain that
it was conceived on Crooked Run Farm
in Virginia, some thirty years on—
say that I love the name of the farm

more than anything else on the farm;
that I’d bring that up to make this mine.


Friday, September 9, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Camille Martin


They will take my island
to ukulele seas where mist
coalesces into plump petals laced
with leftover dew. I imagine already
hearing their cantabile veering off
the chart into succulent winds. They make
me believe that, and that’s what I mean
by “they,” though we haven’t yet
been formally introduced. I try
to make contact by floating a corked bottle
of cockles and musty pages toward
a cartoon etched in my brain of a ragged
man marooned on a neighbouring
island poring over a treasure map.
They patiently acknowledge
my attempt. I’m hopelessly late
scanning the horizon, so here’s
where I have to dig. But what island?
In what sea? Which me pumps the treadle
that spins the gears that keep the stars
mentally wheeling across the big clock?

They’re already inside my head. And this
is what I know: I exaggerate
their finessed vision, their exploded view
of every grain of sand. Such compliant
metaphors, these grains on which I blindly
circle along the mundane fractals
of my shoreline toward shape-shifting
constellations. My island is trained
in the arts of prisoners dragging red herrings
to dead ends and splashing through the middle
of creeks to throw off the dogs that never
evolved here anyway. They know that.
I eavesdrop on their chatter fathoms
under distant fishing boats. By the light
of my remaining candles I carve
tools from native trees as wax puddles
on the volcanic rock that shaped
my island. They will take my island
to that melted wax.



Friday, September 2, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Gabe Foreman


Every ink blot on his flashy flash cards
is a perfect copy of my therapist (my nemesis)
playing the buccaneer, hoisting a cutlass on shore,
wrapped in a shawl of livid bees.

Those who talk as if they cradle honey on their tongues
are best avoided. Most likely their eloquence is bent
on divorcing me from my amulet of coconut and sand
on the cashmere cloak of the sea.

Those who speak as if their tongues had been stung—
as if the island of their solace had been captured—
mumble: Do yourself a favour, stranger.
Tell those pirates, sayonara.
They take more liberties than prisoners.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by rob mclennan


Most of the risks I take are voluntary
but I remember disasters I lived through
that still can't be understood.
—Ken Belford


They will take my island.
Damn the shore. See the boats.

Stars animate the morning with their bird-song
We are craving but stitches pull.

Small sloughs among horizon births.
Strange to a man, encounter

half-tobacco and comparative suburbs.
See the shore, damn the boats.

Hardscrabble lake. A terrible wonderment.
Witness the pleasures of darkness,

a sound of belief. Let measures come,
as they may. They will take my island. The war

hasn't even begun.

Dear Prime Minister: I fear
for my safety. Two inanimate, rearranged, lines.

The people acted cruel, and sweet.
See the boats. Damn the shore. Send in

armed forces, the coast guard. The Air Force
drawn belly-thin; glows red,

like a robin. Clear the paths, damn the boats.
I need you to listen. I want you to love me.

Colours are no boundary. Blue trades blue
and merges, black. Sky to line to line to water.

Damn the boats. My clothes are torn. Seagulls
pick at the distances.

Napoleon knew to keep to his castles,
an object in reverse. Everything you say

is possible. The clipper ships. Damn the boats.

Damn the boats. Tell me again, you saw.
The downside slogan, in these most

mundane of moments, matters. They
will take my island. I can see every single thing

in the whole of creation, standing. Here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Rosanne Carrara



for landlocked, a limitless expansion –
this brace of camouflage rigged up
as my own sterling contribution
to the national effort – the leaf-blood,
fabric revisos of a camp along the front –
I’ll take especial credit for the deities
hovering along the upper corners
of each screen – the squat, god’s-honest
likeness of a Moai, moss-headed, concrete.
He gets his rise grinning over the tall
fires, the scorched whole loaves of birds’
nests, all the abandoned knitting. And,
relishing the nearest internal struggle –
the long-expected row between a rampant
lion and a trinity of left hooks, supported,
well enough, respectively, by the only
obedient muscle in a person’s body, the tip
of an icicle, or a sleuth of leaden pyramids
couched between wrist and elbow – this idol,
he’ll say the lion’s casual, knows enough
to know they would have killed him
by now if they weren’t just practicing.

Then, the left-hand trace of that other god.
He’s mean, no, economical, about his face,
cocking and re-cocking his bird mask
to get it low enough to set some formal
distance between himself and any of our
earthy disappointments, as if the postponement
of hope, epitomized by a sudden flare-up
in one of the abandoned tents, was not
the source of jubilation he had longed for
all along. Still, still, he finds the human
predicament alluring. The long waltz-shadow
of the critic, sailing in a helmet and feathers,
swilling from a horn, swearing to his partner,
make the best of my farewells – although, to think
of it, his shadow never makes a faithful exit.
Or the critic, himself, squatting, clement
in the center of things, bent over his weather
map or the flag of no country he’s ever known –
Armenia, maybe – spinning a piece of chalk
so swiftly in his hand it blurs into a shield.
This god’s at least a little bit concerned. ’Suppose
he thinks this might just be the chalk I gave
to him, the critic, in my moment of triumph,
when I told him to produce some kind of master-
piece himself, urging him to work fast, too,
if he would be so kind – I’d need it back sooner
or later, so as to mount the box I took to standing
on and scratch a similarly strained goodbye
my loveds on its wooden sides, before I kicked
the box from under all of us, that is, and died. 



Saturday, June 18, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Mathew Henderson


You find an island in the way the wrench grips you back,
the heft in your hand like a man reaching up and out
from the current and finding only you, who are caught
in a current of your own. There are thirty of you here,
more away, all pretending you’ve found something solid
in the sexless hips beneath your boots, something
you might leap from. In the morning, sixty slow feet
fall into coveralls with the patience of men who’ve guessed,
already, the rain and dirt and burn of all the coming years.

Your lungs catch the barb of something unbreathable
in the air and every man on lease stops to watch his hands,
to test the ground with his feet: leaning back and forth,
the brim of his hardhat cutting a crescent from the world.
They say some of you will die this winter. They are always
saying things like that. Those who sleep through the night,
who have been the meagre villains of every story you’ve
ever been told. They who are always coming, they who rise up
like waves behind us. They who take our islands, in the end.



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Adam Sol


            You taught me language, and my profit on’t
            Is I know how to curse.


They will take my island
            if I don’t scorch it to the bones, though
                        to speak truly,

I did not know it was an island
            until they said so.
                        I thought it was the world.

The river-fish would drift
            into my clasp and I would gnaw
                        on their flesh while the gills still

gasped.  It had edges and pleasures
            and dangers.
                        What more is a world?

Then they arrived with their instruments.
            They taught me so much
                        about my home it became

strange as my body became strange
            when it bloomed.
                        They renamed

the birds after their own birds.
            They taught me to sing for them,
                        and to delight in singing for them.

I watched their plots evolve
            as a monkey watches
                        a jaguar wrestle a snake.

Then one day they gathered on the sand,
            and my princess held the hand
                        of a young god,

and I cursed myself for a fool,
            and the drunk bowed his head
                        and a pig was cooked,

and even I was given
            a piece of hoof to suck on.
                        And they sang a song

and climbed onto some felled trees
            and sailed away to heaven,
                        leaving me

to the wordless noises.  I returned
            to my caves and corners
                        but couldn’t remember
                      
what to hide from.  The jaguars
            had been slaughtered.
                        The fish tasted raw.
                      
I sat on a stone
            and tried to imagine
                        what to think of myself.

                        They will return.
            How can they not return
if they spoke of this place so enchantingly?

                        And how can I not try
            to prevent them, now that
I know it is mine?  How can I not resist them

                        with my very teeth,
            or with the perfection
of a purging fire?  Every sunset
                      
                        I ascend the heights
            of my puny kingdom,
and scan the sea for sails.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Jason Camlot


They will take my island
to the tip of Florida,
fix it between two flamingos,
and make a Ferris wheel.

They will take my island
to Mount Sinai. Then they will
carry my island back down again.
Then they will smash it to pieces.

They will take my island
to the top of Etna the volcano,
set it over the hole like Achilles’ shield,
and make Freudian repression.

They will take my island
to the coast of the Gaza strip,
near the Bay of Pigs,
in Wii Sports Resort.

They will take my island
to Trader Vic’s in Almaty,
Kazakhstan, and paint it blue
like the tops of mosques.

They will take my island,
they will take my island,
they will take my island,
the revolution will not be tweeted.

They will take my island,
please, baddum-bum,
and serve it as Vaudeville Pie
in Henny Youngman’s kitchen.

They will take my island from my head
and put it in my hands. They will knock it
from my hands and it will roll like an apple
in the schoolyard at recess.

They will take my island
to the Atlantic Ocean
and prepare it for Salt
Water Taffy production.

They will take my island
to Vermont for the weekend,
and when they return it untouched
they’ll call it aloof, cold, autistic.

They will take my island
to the tailor and attempt to measure
its waist and inseam. They will
make my island pants with cuffs.

They will take my island
to the top of the mountain
so that he can see what other
islands look like from above.

They will take my island
to the giant bus depot
and slip it into the giant
coin-op waiting-room television.

They will take my island
to the moon so it can
be the first island
to walk on the moon.

They will take my island
to its first concert at the Montreal
Forum and it will smoke hash
but not feel anything.

They will take my island
to Fantasy Island and it will
learn the folly of its fantasy
to be Fantasy Island.

They will take my island
where it cannot be found
and it shall be missed for a while
and then forgotten.

They will take my island.
Those ones are most inclined to snatch me reef.
Them guys shall enact the seizure of mine isle.
The authorities are going to effect the acquisition of my archipelago.

“They Will Take My Island,”
a Canadian song about love, death,
abandonment, emasculation,
pets, romantic poetry, and Italian food:

               They will take my island.
               They will shoot my dog.
               They will drop my snippies
               somewhere in Ottawa.

               They will take my island,
               from this sorry song,
               hide it in a teardrop
               from the socket of Don Juan.

               They will take my island,
               they will toss it high,
               they will slide it in the oven,
               make a pizza pie.

They will take my island
away from the children.
The children will cry,
“They have taken our island!”

They will take my island,
I will cling to it fast.
I will cling fast to my island.
They will take my island with me.

They will take my island
without good reason.
I will destroy them
with good reason.

They will take my island.
But who are they?
Rabbi Gamaliel says,
“They” in the line

“They will take my island”
refers to they who have not been refined
by an ethics of property, and, consequently,
take unlawfully. Rabbi José says,

“They will take my island”
refers to they who have not
and therefore must take to survive.
This is the true ethics of property.

They will take my island.
The “will” suggests inevitability,
A pre-determined event, unpreventable,
as in, The will of God.

They will take my island,
get it shined up for their price runs,
make a live cause of Mike Tyson
versus Foreman, never mind what.

They will take my island,
touch the sides up without license,
get their fight on, get their knives out,
strike a riot, slyly triumph.

They will take my island,
find a pilot with a lightbulb,
a nice fellow, join his flight club,
crash their plane into a Giant.

They will take my island
but they mightn’t,
had we tightened up the ropes
between the eyelets.

They will take my island
dress it up as NY’s finest,
slide it out of violent ovens so the
Brooklynites can buy it.

They will take my island
and it will become an absence
that has been recorded
in binary code.

They will take my island
and it shall be remembered so long
as there is poetry in the bacterial
cells of SpongeBob SquarePants.

They will take my island
and there is nothing this poem
can do about it, except delay,
or repeat one preordained atrocity.