Gentlemen, say Alexander Mackenzie once netted an
Elephant by the jugular, a vein he blotted ashore, and
ashore he cajoled a catheter up its trunk, a trunk that
smelled of sea coal. Believe me, he never imagined his
mammoth-heir would become Nature’s Supreme Gift to
Industry and tender its body as Petroleum, Plastics,
Post Preserver, Pitch, Printer’s Ink, Proof Paint, Patent
Leather, Pressure Pipes, Primer, Power Pumps, and
Palliative Medicine for Poor Skin. We are Bitumen
Bloodmen, and sloop-borne we scud with the wide
plough, a plough leaving ragged furrow-waves in our
coulter’s wake. Wake, and never again will Virgil warn,
let the horns of the moon govern a Soiler’s work!
Copyright © David Martin. Originally published in Tar Swan (NeWest Press, 2018).
David Martin works as a literacy instructor in Calgary. His poetry has been awarded the CBC Poetry Prize and has appeared in journals such as The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, Grain, filling Station, CV2, and Alberta Views. Tar Swan (NeWest Press) is his first collection of poems. Find David on Twitter @tarswanpoems.
See the League’s 2019 Book Awards Shortlists here.