Shane Book: Two Poems from Congotronic


I lack full, clear proof of his skin a drum.
Have I always been under-sided, a quandary’s
viscous lowered aura, for example there is the fact
I’m inclined to disbelieve the violent vapours
of black bile
, a stab, a treason mounted. Am I
really seeking to assure the delegates assembled
in the cerebella what lies beyond the shadow
of the doubled shout. On Radio However—
whose throat I hesitate to sit by the fire attired
in a brocaded dressing gown: day, un-arisen day.
About which writhing dream do I curl. Pretend
you’re on Zeus, on Coltrane – yes, they are aural
truths and no, I do hesitate to hear the rusting killer
roses arriving. A key in, is a big reverse decay horse.
A killer is: spattered your life a dirt viola. Is there
a core ambiguity to the small un-armoured hand
bobbing near the beach. Your pen say, “On na floor
is da pride era. On lil’ roommate day whom can we
know?” What proves the head is not of a resilient
earthenware. Even me, in-country, on panting,
I’m unsure who or what delimits the third shift from
to sky to sky to sky. I’m inclined to disbelieve
the three-phased gesture of “complete” reading. Yo’,
send a bad onion, lacking glory, a day-glow hum and O
am I truly in a Potawatomi state of mind. Do I believe
in the will as hinge or tinged trilling. I am in doubt
about, “So be it, traveler,” undecided as to whether
pumpkin could be the initial building block. Quantities
sell. For example there is the fact that I am here.



I’m in the big stick and the big stick is in me. The walls are porous with mold and inactivity. The black-and-tans are foamy round the rim and cool and rich and short-haired and well-trained and on patrol. Flammable hydrocarbon. It is the fourth month in the French revolutionary calendar, always. No one knows what happened to the fifth. Flammable hydrocarbon jelly. I knew once but my hack became a habit and I coughed. In here they teach us how to move our hips, some dance called the Black Bottom and some dance called the Gimp. We like it. I am unsure if there is another bivalve in the joint. Just plain happy to have the help. Flammable hydrocarbon jelly as condiment. Funnily enough my rusted stenography has finally come in handy. Oooh, oooh the walls are ever so rounding. See? Dear big stick on me like a hurt. Sometimes I forget about adjusting my I-beam thinking cap and I have to move out and bivouac it in the open gummy terrain. There are seeds and roving packs of clouds—I stay out of their way and they leave me alone. Flammable hydrocarbon jelly as condiment as confinement. According to the knobs in the wall it is somewhere between Dec.21 and Jan.19. I don’t know which way South is, which is in a way a relief. Pleased to report haven’t been picking at what am still convinced is an intimate case of keratosis. O’ Icecap, I am icebound and there is a clunk somewhere in my lazier eye. I glanced away from my firing pin for one wobbly second (one!) and it kerplunked. Gone. Nada. Finito. How ya like me now. The cylindrical nature of days here does that to a body. I long for my firing pin, my fireside chats and a glass. Any type of glass will do, for any type of two-way chew. Flammable hydrocarbon jelly as condiment as confinement as document. Weird to be so intimate with the weather.


from Congotronic, Shane Book, Anansi 2014
Shane Book is the author of Ceiling of Sticks, winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award. He is also a filmmaker whose award-winning work has screened around the world. He was educated at the University of Western Ontario; the University of Victoria; the Iowa Writers’ Workshop; and Stanford University, where he was a Wallace Stegner Fellow. His writing has appeared in numerous journals and magazines and in more than twenty anthologies, including Breathing Fire 2: Canada’s New Poets and The Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry.