Alden Nowlan

I’d forgotten how deeply I was influenced by the poetry of Alden Nowlan until I bought a copy of his collected poems for myself a year or so ago. My shelf is so extensive it’s taken me until this year to start reading it. It is a doorstopper. When asked what Canadian poets influenced me early on I would say Margaret Atwood, Susan Musgrave. 

Nowlan’s writing is conversational I guess I didn’t think of him as someone to mention. He didn’t write capital P poetry. I’d read others like Milton Acorn, Al Purdy but they didn’t stick to me the way Nowlan did.

In reading this collection I recognize that my usually conversational style come directly from him. He wrote about ordinary things, cows in a field, the smell of a hospital bed and fashion them into powerful moments. He was also a master of the end line, as I tend to be, that turns what one has just read, on its head to reframe everything.

 

I also have his CBC recording Alden Nowlan’s Maritimes – in which he reads some of his poetry one one side, the other side is a radio play based on one his short stories. I did meet him once when I was at the University of New Brunswick summer writing workshop. He didn’t lead any workshops but some of us were invited to his home to talk about our poetry. He was most encouraging.

 

Next to Dylan Thomas there is no greater influence I can think of on my poetic vision.

Arachnologic Romance

what’s that word

you know the one

that you call a kiss

that feels like walking 

into a dew jewelled spider web

on a sunny day

while looking in the basement 

for that lost sock

you know that word

 

that kiss 

that slip of the tongue

that tip of the tail

wagging excitedly

yet with a vague damp unease

at the same time

wanting to give in

yet feeling it’s all too sudden

too stuck on your face

while one hand reaches up 

to brush the spider web off

the other wants to fondle the spider

 

what is that word

I have to get the right word

for that sensational sensation

also a word for that rapidly

elusive need for the right word

I have to tell you all this

in exactly the right tone of voice 

if I don’t

it may never happen again

I may never find that sock

I’ll have to go with one foot bare

on this chilled concrete floor

while other in snug in a sock

trying to balance that tightrope

of grit under one foot

and comfy protection on the other

 

when did I lose that sock

when did I do laundry last 

don’t I have another pair

upstairs in a safe room

in neat rows in a drawer

no it has to be these socks

the ones you like to pull off my feet

with your teeth

 

you like to undress me

kiss each bared part

my outline in your silver silva

draws me into that web

the bad at the centre

where we devour each other

without a second thought

what about the the other sock

 

the word has escape me

I thought I had it trapped

like your tongue

held firmly in my grasp

as it slips slides

elusive fleshy fragments

tender mysteries

and all I can think about

is the tender shock of 

cobweb on my face

don’t want it to get into my eyes

bad enough 

it has caressed my lips

it has a dusty sooty taste

is it hygienic 

can I catch insect infection

eating a cobweb

one hand darts up to brush it away

but stops when I see 

the spider scuttle away

back into the dark

shocked by the size of this catch

not ready to crawl across my shoulders

the way you do so well

not ready to take the seed

and play it into new shapes 

along my stomach

each breath slithering cool trails

laughing at the moment

 

turning over in the bed

looking for our clothe

time for clean socks

the other must be in the laundry

I’ll be right back

only I’m stuck here

caught in a loss for words

looking for a definition

that will wind you around me forever

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.