Blue Pyramids: New and Selected Poems

Blue Pyramids: New and Selected Poems

by Robert Priest

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781554902408
Publisher: ECW Press
Publication date: 09/01/2002
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 180
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

The late Libby Scheier accurately described Robert Priest as a poet in the ‘bardic’ tradition. Indeed he is one of the few Canadian artists who has been successful as both a writer and a musician. A fabulist in the tradition of Cortazar and Borges, a composer of lush love poems, and a widely quoted aphorist, he is the author of fourteen books and numerous recordings. His words have been debated in the legislature, posted in the transit system, quoted by politicians, and widely published in textbooks and anthologies all across the Americas. His aphorisms have found their way into The Farmer’s Almanac and Colombo’s Canadian Quotations while a song he wrote for rock diva Alannah Myles, “Song Instead of a Kiss,” was a number one hit. Robert is also a beloved children’s author. His songs and poems are widely played on Sesame Street. His play Minibugs & Microchips was the recipient of a Chalmer’s Award. As a songwriter he has worked with the likes of Alanis Morissette, Melanie Doane, and Tom Cochrane, and his own cd of songs and poems, Tongue’n Groove, is set to be re-released this spring on emi’s Heritage Artists. Robert travels widely in the service of poetry but always returns to Toronto where he continues to write his “passionate, cocky alternately adoring and insulting verse.”

Read an Excerpt

Blue Pyramids

New and Selected Poems

By Robert Priest, Michael Holmes


Copyright © 2002 Robert Priest
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-55490-240-8



    one crumb is a hook
    to another crumb

    and you can never go anywhere
    but to another crumb
    and there are advertisements on the way
    all for a "better" crumb

    and you can never have
    the whole loaf


    i put on a man mask
    and went among the people of earth
    in search of what

    many years the word had troubled
    me, as i listened
    over and over
    to some of the approximately
    four billion
    mouth sounds
    which these

    beauty i had come to understand
    in stars
    in eyes
    the silver lapping of the oceans there
    but ugly
    what did it mean?

    never speaking
    but always listening
    i walked their streets
    and cities
    i went into their starvations
    their working places
    deep in mines
    i climbed a mountain
    and looked into the writings

    and holy codes
    of their artists
    but it wasn't until
    i shared quarters with an actual family
    and watched in shock
    the upbringing of their young
    that i realized
    is what happens to something
    you don't love


    and in buildings huge enough
    to house dinosaurs
    they worship a creature so small
    that they have to get down on their knees
      to talk to him


    have a place for me
    a perfect fit
    make me one with my need
    pour the warm light liquid
    all down my naked body
    i have a genetic expectation
    a feeling for arrival
    i'm coming down
    like a thousand birds onto the black branch
    i'm coming down
    a zeppelin, a bag of blue air
    into the tree-shaped brains
    into the dendrite forest
    into the longing cell
    i have toes for my toes
    and nose for my nose
    i'm coming down into my liver
    descending into my lungs
    i am diving down into the cold
    black waters of the belly
    a million miles into my stomach
    and i still have not rung
    the bottom's deep belltone
    i am drifting down in mind's vines
    into clear blue bones
    into the orange skull, the blind gristle
    in pulses of pure black soul
    through a long rubber tube
    through a bronze body
    on a reel
    on an anchor long since sunk
    in the never-to-be-shaken bottom of me
    to the blackened tree
    mind cross
    joining place
    to the socket
    in the riverbed
    the pierced Cartesian crossroad
    with a stitch of uncuttable time
    i am coming down
    like the entire airforce
    onto the black ship
    i am coming down like the monarchs on Mexico

    the body is a vast tropic
    unreachable by foot
    i am lost between volcanoes
    there are a thousand miles of air
    above my head
    in a moment more
    a second more
    my feet will touch the ground
    and my feet
    are the ground
    my eyes are the light
    the air breathes me in
    and exhales me in a long fluttering flow
    i am down in my body
    like the liquid rains
    like the finally fallen peak
    the obese suspended Buddhas
    the plutonium Christs with their tears of heavy water
    i am down with my jade-grown bones
    my spirit legs bicycling
    and the earth touches me
    like a forever denied son
    like an exile returned illegally
    the earth touches me like a long lost mother
    and her name is terra
    her name is life


    nothing is ordained
      the infant stifling in the cot
      does not predict
      veins rising
      through an ancient hand
    the child upon the pendulum
      hooting for joy
      predicts nothing

    the past at least is certain

    i am face to face
      with my origin
      my mother's grim face
    her sweat upon the pillow
    the long-forgotten house of blood
    forever closed to me

    on this cold hearth
    writhing in the oracle of the scar
    i speak my first shrill prophecy


    when i was two
    a garbage man gave me a trumpet

    it was a small silver
    winding dirty trumpet

    and shrieking at my own thunder
    like any other prodigy mad with energy

    i bellowed down Thames Street
    levelling buildings, knocking down churches

    with my blasts, of course the neighbours
    complained, prodigy or no prodigy

    they were having no such slumbers
    as their very precious own

    disturbed by little manic urchins
    such as i was

    but my mother in her arrogant way
    defied them and sat severely on the porch

    watching with pride my short pants parade
    go boastfully by

    it was the police finally
    who had to silence me

    arriving on bicycles with bells
    and blowing whistles

    i was standing on a post
    in a circle of my peers

    and when the bobby said
    "eaaah ooze makin' oowl 'at noise 'en?"

    the circle opened magically before me
    and they all pointed and said

    "it's him —
    it's little Robert Priest."


    After he was shit
    The shit
    Went to shit school
    In order to learn
    How better
    To be shit
    For years and years he studied
    Coming closer and closer
    To his degree in shit —
    His doctorate in crap —
    Learning to be shit
    Learning to be shit
    One day you will be shit
    People will see you and call you shit
    They will call you turd
    Diarrhoetic eyeball, potty, poop
    Splatter mouth
    One day you will stand up tall
    And know that you are excrement —
    A fully trained faece
    One day you will have a slip of paper
    That tells you what you are —

    A complete piece of shit!


    you may remember me
    I was the great idealist
    I wandered all the world with a bag of filth
    and anyone I met I said — here
    take whatever you think is your rightful share
    well all I got for my troubles was a face full of spit
    so, disillusioned with the backward generosity of men
    I took to saying
    fuck fuck fuck
    over and over again as though it were a password
    that might make someone let me in somewhere
    so they threw me in a six foot cell
    with sixteen other guys all named Robert
    and after seventeen years
    I began to forget which one of them I was

    now whenever anyone gets uppity with me
    and in return i puff up majestically to say

    do you know who i am?
    when they say
    I get to say

    neither do I
    neither do I


    somewhere between old yeller
    and pythias you stand
    firm in my closest friendship

    the honesty comes from you in words
    while i push mine out
    with a typewriter
    hardly daring to touch the keys

    i see something of the earth in you
    the hardy peasant
    who does not dream of beanstalks
    as he tills the drying soil
    the calloused hand
    which will not chafe
    on fantasies

    i am such a flightier crow than you
    i ask to grow the dove's wings
    as you shake your head
    and look for another worm

    our friendship is
    that we know what friendship is
    that we have looked for gods
    but not in each other
    that we have battered the idols
    but not one another


    a tall man
      walking fast
      down Queen Street
    called out —

        "HEY UGLY!"

    and everybody
      turned around


Excerpted from Blue Pyramids by Robert Priest, Michael Holmes. Copyright © 2002 Robert Priest. Excerpted by permission of ECW PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


What Ugly Is,
On Genuflection,
Slight Exaggeration of a Childhood Incident,
Education of Shit,
An Advantage of the Identity Crisis,
A Tall Man Walking Fast,
Time Release Poems,
To His 20th Century Lover,
Like Two Branches,
What Dew Is,
Poem for Ursula in New York,
Poem of the Two Tongues,
The Change,
If I Have Become a Prison,
The Re-assembled Atom,
Target Practice,
Lesser Shadows,
Are There Children,
The Glasnost Iterations,
Dec. 8, 1980,
Concerning My Obsession with Blood,
A Poem About Water,
Vancouver from Mount Seymour,
Poem for the Ancient Trees,
Time Release Poems,
The Door Knob,
Ode to the Clitoris,
Post-modern Penis,
Ode to the Bum,
The Asshole,
Time Release Poems,
I Knew I Could Sing (Industrial Accident No. 1),
Why I Crushed My Hand,
Industrial Accident No. 2,
Poetry Is ...,
My Grandfather Lives,
The Hammer,
My Father's Hands,
My Mother's Hands,
Now There is Rain,
My Infected Rainbow,
Time Release Poems,
What Kind of Voodoo,
When My Faith Leaps,
Ghost Removal,
How to Pray to a Woman,
How to Pray to a Toilet,
Several Other Uses for a Halo,
Christ is the Kind of Guy,
Getting Close to God,
Testament of a New Faith,
Christ After Christ,
Time Release Poems,
Come to Me,
The Longer Bed,
The Clock Has Gone Mad,
Wedding Poem,
Poem for a Tall Woman,
On Hearing That Gandhi Tested His Brahmacharaya by Sleeping with Young Women,
The Child Came In,
Single Father,
Sperm Sperm Sperm,
Pregnant Woman in Bath,
The Origin of "Woman",
Sleep Poem,
Poem for My Unborn Child,
On the Birth of My Son,
New Father,
Your Cry,
Ode to the Mother,
Giant of the Cookie Crumbs,
My Son's Hand,
Prayer for My Son,
Daniel Age 3,
Parental Hymn,
Time Release Poems,
Resurrection in the Cartoon,
The Big Face Competition,
Parallelvis Universes,
You Call Me King,
Elvis/Bacchus Iterations,
Time Release Poems,
Three Devil Songs,
Time Release Poems,
Modified Famous Phrases,
Ten Reasons,
How Much Patience,
When You Call Someone Dickhead,
Meditation on a Ruler,
Go, Gather up the Love,
In the Next War,
Time Release Poems,
Poem for Reluctant Thread,
The New Opportunity,
To Be a Man,
In Memoriam: Ellen Priest,
Song Instead of a Kiss,
Some Very Good Reasons Why,
In Slow Apocalypse,
It Is the Indestructible,
Safe Rage with Mates,
It Is Not Love at First Sight,
Time Release Poems,
Love Anyway,
The Future of Prophecy,
Osiris Hydreis,
An Exhortation to Dance,
Blue Pyramids,
Meeting Place,
Poem Brought to You,
Notes on the Songs,

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