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.

Friday, March 25, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Jaime Forsythe

I squeezed everything I could from you,
sand escaping your collar, miniature horses
circling your sternum. You swung me
to sleep, then hollered all night
with the crows and the faucets.
I forgot my second-last home
under a blue net, was rescued
by nets and trapped by nets,
wrestled with rope, lifted silk
hauls of fish. I opened my arms.
I curled into nothing until I turned
into a shell. People forgive
themselves for more than this.
They will descend on roads
that hug the markets, charms
trembling from rearview mirrors.
They will crack the husks.
Like me, they will take what they can.


Monday, February 14, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Evie Christie

Over there was a father, a father's things, here
thick folds of fresh cut hair, piss, the cool ceramic.
This a girl's thigh, that patchwork quilt, a bare breast.

There you'll find a keyhole, the violence
of oak, a bare eyeball (your own eye!). A mother's hard-
wired palm.

Where can you exist? Sure, there's the matter
of birthright: they planted your brother's brain in that plot,
lost your father around here somewhere--you might track
his glass eye with your molars
in an electrical storm.

Is there space for you? Finger the map, lose
yourself here: this is an eye, mid-blink, the first
pulse of blood in your hand cocked dick, and this, your boyhood
room. Get lost
with them: the breasts and eyes (made
up), the perfumed thighs.

What did they find in the walls
of that artery, the locket's autopsy,
the shotgun's lovestruck path?

In this ballpark, a wisdom tooth,
a brassy band, a vow and this
was your island. They will take my island, too.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Johanna Skibsrud

i. Chagos Archipelago

ii. Map: Christmas Island

iii. Floor plan: Imperial War Museum, London, UK.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Nancy Jo Cullen

Of course there was blood, that was a given
We told each other everything and
She ate my teeth
It was a metaphor so we laughed & etc. until
The children returned

We had to put on our clothes
The children wanted supper, or maybe they wanted wireless plans
After we left the grassland the children didn’t care
For naked desire abstractly expressed or
Mother’s milk

Take the text but not the poetry, not the struggle
To say something true in the wild blue yonder:
That we are servants to the crush of the vernacular
That the children are leaving
That this land is your land, Yours
And we are post-peripatetic, post-menopausal

Take your bit of rock
We will lace our fingers and float down the river
Plump and savage outside the realm of the sacred
A fox will track the progress of crones
Kissing in the water

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Stephen Rowe

            and gift it away in a flutter of progress:
fold it in coloured paper like an origami crane,
a creature of bluest possibilities stood wading
where waves once stroked the shore;

            it will satisfy their ends as only
the passive can: a coastal zoo complete with
animals, quaint inhabitants, seaside villas
toured with a view of tomorrow in the offing;

            a bird aimless in the sea with a wake
broad as a five hundred year history,
each day thoughts of its hatching misting over
in the thickening fog of the North Atlantic.

            And the heart’s continental shelf
with its depths of longing; that legacy demands I
fold a thousand origami cranes of my own,
a siege of paper swarming crests of white, of blue.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by David Seymour

I’ve grown obsessed with keeping things preserved,
folding bedsheets crisply as unread books, attending
churches built so sublimely Jesus would dismount
the cross and grab communion if he could. He believed
in eternity. If I shift my gaze with simplicity and without
aspiration to familiar souls and objects I can stare for
hours and none of them will change. That which moves
away from me isn’t necessarily afraid and that which
moves toward me is not always in love, I’ve learned
to say with a quieter honesty, surrounded as we are
by the cavalcade of powers and lights and agencies
some of which I’m for but also those of which
I am against, it being a happy coincidence I can be
both at once. Of happiness, I forget what I have done
and imagine other names for it. They have many
likenesses, are each alike, like most of what’s beyond
my grasp. They’re nameless as seconds. They’ve taken,
in their inane, fog-like disregard for details, the bulk
of what’s transpired. Once I could conjure, and no

They take it without prejudice. They’ve confiscated
my recklessness also, replaced it with refinement of taste.
They take their time. But they musn’t take
my island. Though I don’t live there anymore
it’s all I have left to remind myself. Of myself.
The weather today is exactly as I remember it
yesterday, and the week before. I’m convinced
that this is remarkable, that this light breeze is here
while the island remains, is theirs but wondrous,
because it is. It is a perfect day for a swim.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by David McGimpsey

They will take my island because they're young
and it was either that or listen to Stacey's story
about how Bill was, you know, all like that --
really, what else were they going to do?

They will take my island and rename it
in a few mumbles. The nomenklatura
of their pamphlets and updates will insist
I'm having sex with Sarah Palin.

Soon, I will not be able to do much
but type smh (shaking my head)
because my eyes will be the eyes of a termite
seeing only Dr. Oz's disapproving stare.

I'm still glad for all the good-lookingness.
Got ninety-nine problems but Amaryllis
ain't one. Through river marsh, then birch forest,
up a granite hill, is where I'll be buried.