Populus tremuloides by Al Rempel

where forest meets meadow
there’s a stand of thin
trembling aspen
like a dowel shop
between city businesses
on the one hundred block
and run by a mustached man
who whispers to himself
on and off
at the cash register
and sometimes leans out
over the sidewalk
and says in your ear
this isn’t a service industry
I won’t give you anything
but you can take what you want
he stands up on tiptoe
whenever his tongue
touches his top teeth
at the back
or when a breeze blows in
from the east
his grayish tie
with dark crosshatches


his hands
full of nothing


Copyright © Al Rempel. Originally published in Heartwood: Poems for the Love of Trees (League of Canadian Poets, 2018).


Al Rempel’s books of poetry are Undiscovered Country, This Isn’t the Apocalypse We Hoped For, Understories and two chapbooks: Four Neat Holes and The Picket Fence Diaries. His poems have also appeared in various journals including The Malahat Review, GRAIN, CV2, and Event, as well as in anthologies such as Heartwood, The Best Canadian Poetry in English, and Rocksalt. Some of Rempel’s poems have been translated into Italian by the poet Sandro Pecchiari and published in a Milan journal. Rempel has also created a number of videopoems in collaboration with Prince George artists.

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