Staying Vertical by Mike Madill

Poem title: Staying Vertical Poet name: Mike Madill Poem: An early night would have been smart, but cards and Jack Daniels crept up on me. Now, it’s nearly nine and I’m staring down grogginess in the mirror, stubbled chin, jaw bracing for the echo of coffee and bagel to come, a couple of pills and a hefty Pepto slug. At the trailhead, I do my best to brave friends’ good-natured jeers: never having traipsed the Nokiidaa Trail before, the same sad stature as not keeping up with the latest Thai place, or visiting the McMichael Gallery since ‘09. Even a neglected throng of aspen chime in, or am I over-reacting? Staying vertical might very well be my only accomplishment today. Everyone else’s notebooks and pens poised for details make this poets’ walk seem insurmountable, as out of reach as the wild-apple dangle overhead. I’m unable to forget myself, nature too wild and deep to wade into. Harvest hues overwhelm, too vivid to bear; an ash leaf of freckled yellow glows like an overripe pear; a goldenrod’s leaf opts for burgundy. For one excruciating moment, a kestrel glides overhead, keening through leafless tree-tops, delivering a silence I had to hear. End of poem. Credits and bio: Copyright © Mike Madill Previously published in The Better Part of Some Time (Wet Ink Books, 2022) Mike Madill’s poetry has been published in literary journals across Canada, including in The Antigonish Review, The Dalhousie Review, Event, The Fiddlehead and The New Quarterly. He was shortlisted for Freefall Magazine’s 2020 Poetry Contest, and was one of four finalists in the inaugural 2021 Don Gutteridge Poetry Award Contest, which earned him publication of his debut, full-length collection, The Better Part of Some Time, (Wet Ink Books, 2022). This is his first time appearing in LCP’s Poetry Pause. He is a member of the League of Canadian Poets and the Ontario Poetry Society. When not writing, he pursues freelance editing, and has also taken turns over the years as a social worker, computer analyst and home contractor. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from York University and has a tendency to daydream out windows.