PIYP Day 2019: Eleonore Schönmaier


“it didn’t happen here”

by Eleonore Schönmaier


i‘m in the bus which is really just an old car 
and it‘s night and pouring rain and i‘m
thirteen and the car is jammed with
bodies and we‘re about to head
down the long dirt road out to
my settlement and the driver
shouts, don’t let the drunk
indian inshouts to close 
the door and i slam the
door shut and blood
runs down the 
window and a man is out there alone in the
night with a smashed hand but we all 
drive off into the dark and i slammed
the door shut on a man’s hand and
we drove off into the night
and you tell me how you
held a little girl’s hand
and you tell me how she was your first
indigenous friend and i‘m not saying
its not true but if this was the only
truth we would not have the
stories we have 
where the drunk man-next-door has a
smashed hand (and i too would have
bottle in my pocket if i lived in
steady fearblood running
down the window and there
is a man alone in the night
left to walk to the places
he needs to go when
walking is too far
for any man to
have to go 
in all that


Winner of the League of Canadian Poets’ 2019 National Broadsheet Contest.

Download the League’s 2019 Poem in Your Pocket Day Booklet here.
Download this poem as a postcard, designed by Megan Fildes, here.

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Eleonore Schönmaier’s most recent poetry book is Dust Blown Side of the Journey  from McGill-Queen’s University Press. Her other collections are the critically acclaimed Wavelengths of Your Song(2013) and Treading Fast Rivers (1999). Her poetry has won the Alfred G. Bailey Prize, the Earle Birney Prize, and is widely anthologized including publication in Best Canadian Poetry.