Carter Vance is a student and aspiring poet originally from Cobourg, Ontario, currently studying in the Social Work program at Algoma University in Sault Ste Marie. His work has appeared in such publications as The Baird's Tale, (parenthetical) and F(r)iction. He received an Honourable Mention from Contemporary Verse 2's Young Buck Poetry Awards in 2015. His work also appears on his personal blog Comment is Welcome (commentiswelcome.blogspot.com).
I have felt the sun in shades,
crossing creep from lawns shorn in
humming of summer passes, in
pitter-patter of misplaced hair strands,
perfectly-figured dress cuts.
Bathing in the milk-sewn pools of
August starlight, lipstick glint
bright as boyhood's blood, deep
as bar glass port, you dance
as light as breeze-blown cotton, as humid air.
You're the kind of person I
want to share 4AM under halogen with.
You're the type to leave deep echoes
where dreams had taken up their comfort.
Leaving but the memory, but the notion.
A muddy patch on Greyhound windows,
scraping clean in claret bath lacquer
mulling heat rash ruddy amongst
the stomach pain swirls inky acidic
markers as testament to what gets
left as unburned kindle, as untested steel,
as chalkboard theory, as textbook framework.
Embrace of asphalt arms, the model
sparkling monuments to welfare states past
which guide as gilded wire to weary dawns
forward in militia march of white faced
hours, leaking pavement shades in buckets
for trenchant timing up is the strongest
suit of cardstock to have handed.
Plastic cups, plates of precious silver,
like a mismatch of Wigilia and milk bar,
wash against each as sandshore rocks
the barring remove of aparting ocean;
as still as life mural painting, stand
up personable, but it’s not the
sort of supper you have until you’re
older, able to make sense.
I was watching a World Bank lecture video
on public-private financing for railways and ports,
distracted by the speaker's gaudy bowtie,
shining of reflective red, dotted with WASP
anchors, nautically-themed and silently
running through everything but the benefits
of lower-run interest rates for finance
by governments due to the security of return;
rather than the history of roadways built
to last the rainy seasons of Thailand,
the way the slightly-sickly man's dress
shirt hung at the oddest of angles from side to hip,
as if he had not taken proper care in tucking,
as if he had simply rushed out the door
before fluttering in a mad rush of dot matrix
printer paper to the elegance of roomy,
wood-paneled bookshelves he stood astride
distracted me from my own, equal dressing
faux-pas: the colour clash of belt and
shoes, mainly, or was it merely a lazy
lamppost trick I played to claim some
other cause for what I could call,
some unfunded mandate, some New Labour
private financing initiative gone awry,
some lack of water in Argentina's remote regions,
though it would be altogether silly to compare.
Children's backpacks flood the city centre as Friday's
makeshift parade begins in pinwheel swirl the same
I'm sure it always has, but do not know.
Pondered by the stone arches, Cheshire waterways,
smiling sundown clouds above Ferris revolving
lights, peak air breath drawn from Inverness down,
how I could have been the pinwheel spinning sharp.
I could have grown up here,
and cheered for Celtic over Rangers,
and learned to wince at tourist camera clicks,
and ate kebabs with wooden fish shop forks,
and walked the Royal Mile to school and back home.
But I grew up amongst the maple keys falling,
and slipped down the ice-slick hills in Winter,
and scoffed at the American accents of summer beach travelers,
and picked strawberries in August at the farm five miles out
and rapped on suburban fences with replanted oak branches.
Reprise in Blue
The victims of history speak not
to their plight, they speak not
through arrows and gunshots,
through shirt factory fires,
through schoolhouse stands and
rural church steeple bombings.
They do not speak, for they are
gone: no labour law reform, no signed bill
of housing redress, no so-called progress
shall make them whole.
No signal can cut through the
white noise cloth down draping
post-to-post in passage rites,
warnings unheeded by the number-crunching clan,
except in their moments of unearned regret.
Except in their mirrored lenses making
new liberal order of darker voids,
starring deep not long into the cold maw
depths of the thing, but to some
construction of tabulated script, some
monument made in ignorance of due
cost on plains of gold where greater
men than they shall ever hope to be
starved for lack of compass to guide
to berry bush and water spring.
They stare not into grim meaning of
coin collections, nor into spindled red
lines on FHA maps, nor into the
thin ice-water stew they ladle-heap
upon the cups and plates of sickly figures.
They stare not; they cannot face the victims,
the bombings, the fires, the bullets, the arrows,
they cannot face the calm wake of them
all the more.
They cannot stare too deep to history's gaze,
it is too disorderly.
Still, voices emerge from riot smoke,
casting arms and rising as a last
held note of Coltrane, of Shorter, held
in blue midnight shade of strung
They go unheeded as ever, but
It makes nothing the better,
but has some conscience