TOWARD AN IDEA OF CITIZENSHIP
I’m trying not to think of my country as a girl
drinking drinking coffee in a drizzle
after her boyfriend has gotten on the train.
drinking Her dyed-black hair
is piled on her head, this morning’s cobbling together
drinking of last night’s style and fire.
Her eyeliner is smudged, but not from crying.
drinking She sips from the cup,
thin shoulders folded under the boy’s windbreaker.
drinking She’s got work in an hour —
Saturday’s bleary-eyed afternoon shift better
drinking than jealous Friday night’s.
She’ll have time at the register to wonder
drinking if what she’s so sad about
is him going or just knowing what comes next.
There is always a girl saying goodbye
drinking to a boy who is leaving
the shitbin they call home. She is always
drinking wondering if he will return,
if he will send for her, if she will be stuck
drinking her whole life
while he goes on to become a partner in some firm
drinking and father brilliant children
with a woman from the city whose father
drinking did the same thing forty years ago.
There are always the women in the city
drinking who know the names of artists
and designers and have elaborate ambitions
drinking instead of impulses and regrets.
And there is always the boy,
drinking who is blank with the change,
whose only chance is to forget everything,
drinking who hates the town
for being so familiar, who hates the girl for staying
drinking and himself for leaving,
who hates the train, the sky, his oily face, the traces
drinking of kisses on his neck,
and most of all the insistent pulse that pushes him
drinking toward whatever it is
in this forsaken world he is going to become.
THE LAST MATADOR
It is good to be finished, finally.
I am relieved. The protesters
and politicians have their points,
and if a certain species of man
is allowed to fade into extinction
we should, perhaps, praise progress
and look for new sources of spectacle.
Man will have his bloody games.
Just not this one. It is a pity,
but only for those of us who believe it
to be a form of art.
My fellow killers have changed
their names and entered
the banking industry. We are too
decorous for soldiering, though
one or two have found a place
with the drug lords, who still
feel that death and style belong together.
I will miss the adulation, I won’t
deny it – the roses they threw. Blood
on the sand, sand on the roses. But mostly
I will miss my body’s lithe movement
alongside the beast, and his magnificent heat.
And the moment when he looks
at me, the banderillas draped
over his back like the feathers of an exotic bird,
when he looks at me with that
single-minded resigned ferocity
as if to say, So, it will be you.
Excerpted from Complicity. Copyright (c) 2014 Adam Sol. Published by McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
ADAM SOL’s fourth collection of poetry, Complicity, was published this year by McClelland & Stewart. His previous collections include Jeremiah, Ohio, a novel in poems which was shortlisted for Ontario’s Trillium Award for Poetry; and Crowd of Sounds, which won the award in 2004. He has published fiction, scholarly essays, and reviews for a variety of publications, including Pank, Lemonhound, and Joyland.com. He is an Associate Professor at Laurentian University’s campus in Barrie, Ontario, and lives in Toronto with his wife, Rabbi Yael Splansky, and their three sons.