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From the archives

The Trust Spiral

Restoring faith in the media

Dear Prudence

A life of exuberance and eccentricity

Who’s Afraid of Alice Munro?

A long-awaited biography gives the facts, but not the mystery, behind this writer’s genius


3/ Sweet Transformation – after Whitman

The feeble/glorious arms of men,

handing burdens over,

passing on, away. Muscle is the

soul sprung to life, the

secret vice, the hard seed in the crux

of the sunflower.

I rest my cheek on a bicep: Jacob

and his stone pillow.

The cool crook of an elbow

cradles me like a womb, a room

where I can twist the sheets

and almost die.

It’s the last man who’ll

carry me the farthest, whose

flesh I leave my own flesh to.

Let us both burst into sweat,

let us rain flames on grief

and smoke ourselves a dark new

glory. A blindness jarring.

Just one more step, one

more embrace. When you leave

my body at the door, both skin

and bone become the painted wood,

the blue, the hinge, the knob

that revolves around the sun.

4/ Sweet Oblivion – after Sexton

It’s a red convertible, no doubt,

sleek chrome bumpers, whitewalls,

horn that wails like a woman

going down for the third time

in one luscious night. Skid marks

in the suburbs, tish, smoke rings

lapping at the rear view mirror.

30 miles to the gallon,

cruise control, a radio

that Nat King Cole lives in.

Watch how the curb crumbles

when you pull away. Look at red

blurring, like bleeding

internally from a dozen

different wounds. Feel the way

speed turns your heart inside out, pain

snapped up by the wind. Next stop

NYC, Broadway torn into

little glittery pieces.

Going so far and fast, the poem

can’t hold on to a single word,

naked as the road’s shoulder, as

those split white lines running down

the middle of every distance.

You could take a ride with God

in this, watch his head blow off

as you break the scream barrier.

Barry Dempster has published more than sixteen collections of poetry, among other books, and has twice been nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award.