2 Poems

Adèle Barclay

 

HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO CONFLICT

Like I’ve stumbled across a bear
I can’t imagine throwing things
By the river I make a fist
And water evaporates into stars
That shoot a sad missive against the current
I want a fixed spot around 
Which to tetherball my needs
Lions signal fidelity 
But trauma braces like a tiger’s dead stare
Last May in parc Laurier Klara 
And I made a caffeinated blood pact
To dedicate our lives to poetry
Chucked everything else 
Into the Saint Lawrence 
My stomach conducted electricity—
Either I found my limits
Or my cruelty 

 

BURN IT ALL DOWN WITH WATER

I’d like to float on okay
but then I read about 
the singer from Modest Mouse
I like to joke 
the upside of an abusive father
is it teaches one
about the absurd tethers of obligation 
love sometimes dwells
with violence
even though that isn’t really love
which is what Irene told me
when I was 26
a revelation
I haven’t fully internalized 
but I’ll live with it
a cell with a semi-permeable membrane 
inside an organism 
inside an ecosystem
I used to study biology 
because my father
forbade me 
from pursuing literature
moving to Montreal
being gay
eventually I accomplished 
all three
it’s okay 
now 
a lot 
of my poems
refer to salt
it’s the only residue

 

Adèle Barclay’s writing has appeared in The Fiddlehead, The Puritan, PRISM, The Literary Review of Canada, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2016 Lit POP Award for Poetry and the 2016 Walrus Readers’ Choice. Her debut poetry collection If I Were in a Cage I’d Reach Out for You (Nightwood, 2016) won the 2017 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. She is the Interviews Editor at The Rusty Toque, the 2017 Critic-in-Residence for Canadian Women In Literary Arts, and an editor at Rahila's Ghost Press.