FRESH VOICES: NORMA KIRBY, MARIA FIGUEREDO, SUSAN ATKINSON, CHRISTOPHER MCCARTHY

Welcome to the fifth edition of Fresh Voices, a project from and for the League’s associate members. The League’s associate members are talented poets who are writing and publishing poetry on their way to becoming established professional poets in the Canadian literary community. We are excited to be taking this opportunity to showcase the work of our associate members in this new series!

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Sue McMaster, who helped curate the first four issues of FreshVoices. With this issue, we welcome Blaine Marchand as our new full member mentor. Thank you, Sue and Blaine!

“Tongue of silver” by Norma Kirby

 

you were always one for

.                                                                        words

.            they tumbled out of your mouth

.            like water over shallow rocks

.            bubbling and burbling in a rush to

.            to some distant conclusion

 

they were not sentences but pebbles tossed across sun warmed stones

what can you buy with words? you would say as we ate life together

.            good friends giggling through

.            outrageous plots

.            adjectives bumping into nouns

           your tongue twisting and flying

 

I think often of your stories

.                        stored in cupboards of baloney

.                        how effortlessly you would fling open the doors

.                        reach in and pull out one that made us chuckle

 

when I remember you

.            I remember the lilt of your voice

.                        rising to rise again

.                                                raconteur

                       buoyed by the heat of a room of laughter

 

yesterday I wrote down

.                        some of your words

                       sketches of fibs and worn out fables

.                        but the colour of the font was ebony

                                   and you always spoke in rainbows

 

“Future” by Maria Figeuredo

            while listening to Justin Bieber ft Khelani “Future”

 

youtube tiles, mosaic step ladder following Jacob up

and down

the rabbit hole

grounding gourds in checkmating

 

this now here arpeggio fire fingers burn like usher’s reckoning

 

how much space in this future? how long the wake of this wait?

 

Strength and temperance love’s flight and fire

over here

 

Future

Robe me white in velveteen in cashmere in

between the sheets the slips of trade the screen’s cool caress

 

Down the rabbit hole nesting with you black leather for my comfort

Blue blanket curving around me

 

Until the day breaks night’s fast

 

Until the future comes

Like opening a door

into this page.

 

“Counting Swans” by Susan Atkinson

On a recent trip to Toronto my child becomes

obsessed with counting swans.

 

Everywhere we walk along the Harbourfront

she counts them.

 

I tell her that they find a mate for life

and fall in love.

 

She wants to know if that is true

then why is there an odd number?

 

I can only think of one explanation

but it’s sad

 

and reminds me of a funeral

years before.

 

My friend had been the first to pass

in his family of twelve

 

and as the mother and father led the processional,

the father wheeling the mother in her chair

 

the children followed in pairs,

the youngest without his partner.

 

But today it is spring and I do not want to talk about death.

Count them again, I say.

 

“The Grammar Error” by Christopher McCarthy

 

‘We have a new President

and no seems happy about anything.’

 

No seems happy about everything

happy about falling oil prices

happy about building pipelines

& the burgeoning energy industry

happy about the price of a Big Mac in Venezuela

happy with the God of Jobs.

 

No seems happy about anything

sewering interest rates

skyrocketing property values

afternoon delighting in extremism,

Christians, Muslims, Israelites.

 

No seems happy about anything

cornstalk hairdos, fake news,

Bannon, Baldwin, McCarthyism.

 

No seems happy in the alt-right

No seems hatey in the alt-left

No doesn’t know what’s going on.

Christopher McCarthy is an Ontario-based poet & essayist. McCarthy runs and works at a quiet clerical job. He lives in Toronto.

Curated by Lesley Strutt and Blaine Marchand, these poems represent just a small portion of the great work being produced by our members, and we are excited to have this opportunity to share their poetry with you. If you are interested in contributing to Fresh Voices, please send 3-5 poems to lesley@lesleystrutt.ca. You may submit only once per month, but you may submit every month until your poetry is selected. This opportunity is open only to associate members of the League–if you are interested in joining the League, please visit our membership page!