Cub by Ben Ladouceur

September 6, 2018, Byward Market, Ottawa


Yes, my friend, a tree is a great place for a beast.
But here we have a tree with a city at its feet.

In the woods I got good at laying roaring
fires and lying down, despite the damp, to sleep. To throw

your brethren off the scent, I hung the food I didn’t eat
in the crown of a sturdy maple. A sun-tough oak trunk

told me I belonged, its heartwood a coaster slipped
under my coffee. Then it mildewed, bark to pith:

I did not belong belong. Last night, of all elements, neon
gave you a headache, gave you a shadow, gave you

an in. Yes, my friend, where there is light there
is verdure. But not tonight, and not this light. Enter

a tree there is fencing around and a dart there is a kick to
enters you. The officers unrolled a net to break

your fall and take you off, six pallbearers in their tooth-proof
best, blocking all sightlines. The photos were

nonetheless taken and fawned over, so good a boy
were you, asleep in your drum and unwelcome.


Copyright © Ben Ladouceur. Originally published in Mad Long Emotion (Coach House Books, 2019).


Ben Ladouceur is the author of Mad Long Emotion, a poetry collection published by Coach House Books. His first collection, Otter, was selected as a best book of 2015 by the N

ational Post, nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, and awarded the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for best debut collection in Canada. In 2018, he received the Writers’ Trust Dayne Ogilvie Prize for emerging LGBT writers. He lives in Ottawa.

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A festival 30 years in the making—The Word On The Street Toronto has championed literacy and excellent Canadian writing since 1989, delighting audiences of all ages with author readings and featured programming alongside Canada’s largest open-air book fair.

On Sunday, September 22, 2019, the WOTS returns to the Harbourfront Centre to celebrate the past and beckon in the future of Canadian literature with an exciting lineup of debut authors alongside perennial favourites.

Catch Ben Ladouceur at Word on the Street Toronto on the Vibrant Voices of Ontario stage for The Intricate Art of the ‘Sonnet,’ 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM.