Poetry Pause: Shane Neilson — Dead-Float

Poem Author: Shane Neilson Poem title: Dead-Float Poem:       Come, my friends,         'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.         Push off, and sitting well in order smite         The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds         To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths         Of all the western stars, until I die.            —Alfred, Lord Tennyson   Do not break the spell. Listen. Undoing  itself, it skies my children, wife, all that  I’d keep in life—yet cannot keep. Years ago,  I felt the earth as dirt, dust, ash—the body  dispersed. My heart-wrought master bellowed and set the song at fury pitch, as echo that resounds through life. You know it?  You must know it. Do not break the spell.    Exploration was not to be my one métier. My calling is exile—fleeing  the mournful sound. Still, banished now, I roar  homeward:                        Leave me alone!                                                  Think of fresh-turned  soil hardening in the sun, the gulls feasting  until land re-armours. But  listen, listen . . . the sound’s procedure is everywhere like so: take everything.  Take it all.    Why remember old dirt in my grasp,  that empire of false dream and sick  provenance, the sad childhood built  on all the other sad childhoods? Also:  why refuse? A child’s refusal to recall:  now there is empire! Skyward,  the heavens chew the fates of those I love.    I won’t sail as Ulysses would sail.  I’ll fail better and forgive pain’s empire.  Implacable as any gulf, and endless, I’ll dead-float to the heart-wrought masters  to sing them the lullabies they need, ones  they scream, night after night, to their spawn.  I’ll be the model of healing as song-mockery,  as a ship that sinks because it knows myth  requires doomed wrecks. The sky will die,  undoing itself, and the song’s words will alter. The bards will mark that.  The heart-wrought will be bards. Subtracted  from the old empire will be us, mere children  with the knowledge we have so little time together. Do not break the spell. Listen.    Dead-float. End of poem.  Credits: Copyright © Shane Neilson from New Brunswick (Biblioasis, 2019)  Shane Neilson is a disabled poet, physician, and critic. He lives in Oakville, Ontario. He completed his PhD in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in 2018. His previous book, Dysphoria (PQL, 2017) was awarded the Hamilton Literary Award for Poetry in 2018. He is currently completing a postdoctoral position at McMaster as part of the 'Talent' grant awarded by SSHRC in 2018. Other good things to happen to Shane include receiving the Governor General’s Gold Medal for his dissertation work in disability studies and the Regional Dean’s Award for Excellence in Medical Education which was also bestowed for Shane’s championing of disability in McMaster’s medical faculty. He is the festival director of the AbleHamilton Poetry Festival which just successfully completed its second run. Finally, he is also the Poetry Advisor for the Canadian Medical Association Journal where he actively works to include poems by disabled writers.