Fruitfly Geographic

Fruitfly Geographic

by Stephen Brockwell


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781550226478
Publisher: ECW Press
Publication date: 03/19/2004
Pages: 74
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Stephen Brockwell is the author of The Wire in Fences and Cometology and is the coeditor of the online journal He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Read an Excerpt

Fruitfly Geographic

By Stephen Brockwell


Copyright © 2015 ECW Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-55490-252-1



    I've spent half my life
      learning to play darts
    in the dark. To find
      the sharp point without
    bleeding was the first
      lesson. To measure
    distances by the dart's
      thud in the wood
    paneling downstairs
      or by the skitter
    of feathers on the
      linoleum floor
    was the second.
      If I could see the target
    I'd toss three triple
      twenties with such ease
    the tournaments of England
      would invite me.
    But I confess-and this
      darkness has been
    a long forestalling
      of confession—
    there never was a target
      I could see
    but a tree of targets
      for a single dart.
    Or was the target a
      Baffin Island hut
    abandoned, say,
      two hundred years ago?



    The taxi driver
    smokes. Minus 30. His bare
    hand carries my bags.


    One hundred thousand hours of paper,
    printer's ink and penciled estimates
    have shaped his hands,
    fingers sturdy as walking sticks.
    On weekends they became instruments
    for tying knots he could not name:
    a clove-hitch supported the fences
    when pasture thinned and cattle
    stretched the page wire; a bowline
    steadied the TV antenna in gusts
    that crossed the field; twin cat's paws
    pulled his car doors together.

    Their ancestry lies
    in the hands of his father,
    a merchant seaman who lies
    in Bermuda, the charitable dairyman
    of the great depression,
    a bankrupt who left for sea
    when his son was eight years old, whose hands
    are a memory from a photograph.

    To secure a calf for branding,
    my father tied a random knot
    of endless loops and bends,
    a mystery neither sailor
    nor mathematician could unravel.
    This was his knot of knots:
    a victory for the hands of the father

    who holds his shining
    radiated head, right hand
    stroking his scalp for warmth, left hand
    releasing comforting drops
    until he says he has to go.

    Sixty-four years of heat
    dissipate through his hands.
    They are laid to rest in his lap.


    Bird song, cinnamon, fatigue, the flight
    memorable for its lack of sleep.
    Daiquiris in the Honolulu lounge
    in transit, biting stalks
    of celery. Breakfast
    at the hotel—a feast of peppers,
    turmeric and chicken.
    Start the day with a tongue of fire,
    a final presentation to deaf
    but fluent-in-English ears.
    Decline an invitation to a Kuala Lumpur
    dance hall; take, full of sleep, the short
    flight to Penang.
    Three nights of night markets:
    masks, batik shirts, gamelan,
    open fires, German and English
    tourists, a red and yellow sarong
    brought home in the hope
    that my wife will wear it. The last day:
    a walk in Georgetown where a rickshaw
    driver sits with the back of his head
    in the clasped palms of his hands,
    wearing a pair of shorts, smiling
    in front of his shack where the chickens
    surround him, well fed from the open
    sewers. A clay pot of squid, star
    anise and long beans. A torrent of rain
    the chef washes her hands in.


    Does a mare
    pummel the turf
    with her hooves
    or is her gait—
    the counter-weight
    canter of the sulky
    the full-throttle
    gallop of the flailed
    furlong—a strategy?

    Go from
    gate to ribbon;
    limit the whip.

    My grandfather's moist hand
    Where to place his last $2 bill—
    on Bohemian Sapphire
    in the 10th,
    or Bombay Sapphire
    in the Schweppes?


    Watch the growing
      heat of the summer fields:
    clasped by the grass,
      listen for its pink pink.

    If not for bees and crickets,
      in its absence
    you would find
      a paradise of silence.

    Scan the crop in this
      disregarded field:
    the purple clusters
      of loose-strife

    subdue the violet
      heads of dry clover.
    If the rumour is true,
      the black widow

    has discovered
      southern Ontario.
    In an abandoned field
      north of The Pas
    the bobolink bends
      a stem of scrub grass.


    for Peter Van Toom

    carnadine cryptographer!
    disenchanted char chanter!
    rhyme receipt, recipe for riot!
    alphabet elf supreme!
    small-framed fame chaser!
    barrel-chested behemoth tasting chimes!
    imagiste intellect!
    titan tobacco toker! Tone toddler!
    saxophone sarcasmaddict!
    tabernac bard, time out for word snack!
    whale talker, tailor of tun!
    surefooted looter of the word horde!
    phrase ferret stuck on phlegm!
    unlicensed limner locked up!
    grass grazing foal bolus!
    tin man! Timbre tinker!
    poetry pastry! Pam! Pam! Pam!
    bawdy mind in organized song!
    tanka zen Tarzan!
    temporal Poe, tempus fidgeter!
    pure cure of descant disease!
    marked maker moniker monger!
    zenith of pizzazz and schmaltz!
    mustang maker maxing out!
    That being said,
    his nibs' nose's pressed to the grass
    for old time's sake,
    maybe trying to
    trip out
    on maple root
    or shoot a foot in the door
    of that old school.
    Large lungs,
    cavities for smoke and wind—
    more than blows across an Adirondack peak!—
    no telling what prize the wind
    hides for those of you who ride her back
    most recklessly.
    He's dropped a line or two
    to remember him by.
    An inventive father,
    fathered by an inventor,
    father of poets in every corner of the city,
    strung out on
    nothing that couldn't be shaken down
    riding the mind like the wind
    with open ears,
    unsaddled, bridle-
    just a book of dreams to climb on
    and look out
    like Cézanne
    that mountain man.
    Still, no tears for peers.
    Let my daughter's days be filled with crayons
    and paper enough to draw her days out
    with a word of praise.
    A rumour that starts in the earth
    comes home,
    stays in tune like a stone harp.
    The wind pulls up
    from time to time
    just as it pushes out.
    It pushes me as it pulls you
    and rises like a daughter
    every morning
    somewhere back of all these pines.


Excerpted from Fruitfly Geographic by Stephen Brockwell. Copyright © 2015 ECW Press. 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.

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