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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

When I Learnt About Love.; Rubber Gloves; The Monarchy

By: Alan Hill

When I Learnt About Love.  

Sunday, my son and I, cut the hedge. 

Just as my father once showed me how 

in those afternoons of silence, 

speechless summer days 

when I helped him in the yard.    

At one time he would cut by hand

the sharpened shears twisted, ripped,

his hands grew yeasty with blisters. 

Later, older, he used electric shears   

took concise, propellered, side swipes 

as I held the wire out behind him,

as his page boy, communication line

back into the world, 

my only job to keep the wire taut, 

him safe from himself. 

Rubber Gloves

Grandad lay dying in the country hospital.

Around us useless nurses ferried tea, inedible cookies.  

The drawn blade of a winter wind 

flashed itself at the window, was kept outside

as he pleaded to be let go;  

“let me die” he cried “just let me die”

Not knowing how to do their part, what that was 

how to console

my children took the hospital gloves,

the packet from the bedside cabinet  

inflated the skin thin, bright blue latex, 

made them into balloons 

No longer hand shape, able to fit us 

free from all rational purpose, what they were made for

these ribbed, ridged creatures 

with their new bodies 

slid themselves away over the bleached-out floors 

bobbled silently towards the exit. 

The Monarchy

It was is mid June, an early heatwave   

under a vast open alter of cloudless sky. 

My friend Ken and I 

drag ourselves home from elementary school.  

The streets empty, people indoors, sheltered 

making themselves invisible  

Parked cars tick, uncurl, soften in deep sun. 

By the junkyard, on the sidewalk, twenty Marlboro.  

My friend, who has older brothers, is keenest 

as he was when we found that porn magazine 

with those women with mummy sized breasts 

draped inexplicably over fashionable furniture

in unfeasibly clean, uncluttered, houses.   

We know that to deliver this stuff to the older ones, 

for a while, will give us credibility, status.   

In the bushes we try our first cigarette. 

We share one 

pass it around, choke, splutter, know we are alive. 

We are in a rush to leave ourselves behind. 

I attempt not to vomit, look up into the sky 

feel my stomach rising:

I watch a solitary black jet, soundless, too 

high to have features 

move itself swiftly over the horizon

going somewhere where there are no children, 

only kings.     


Alan Hill is the Poet Laureate of the City of New Westminster BC Canada. He came to live in North America after meeting his Vietnamese Canadian wife whilst living and working in Botswana.


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