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The Parliamentary Poet Laureate - Poems of the Month Program

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Poems of the Month Program

Poems Selected by John Steffler


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How Things Look in a Losing Streak

By: Randall  Maggs

That voice as we leave the ice. “Go home ya bums.
Get a shower ya need one. ” We look at the one fat guy
still up in the gallery. “Who gets to kill him?”
someone behind me muttered.

The greaseball on TV over the bar, so pleased
with his wit and his marvellous chin, “Folks, this has gotta be
the day’s big surprise, those Detroit Dead Things
lose again.”

Then the creep in the morning paper,
“The Wings blow another one, fans, but Terrible Terry
seems more himself, cursing yours truly and heaving a skate
at my head. Hey, maybe things are looking up.”

Gadsby came over after the game from a table
of Rangers. I noticed the others lean their heads together,
and one, a new kid who’d picked up a couple under his eye,
glanced over, grinning. “Sitting by yourself Terry?”
said Gadsby. “That’s quite a lip you got there.”
Whose face is worse, I was thinking,
looking at his battered nose.
The talk as always, who’s up, who’s down,
how do you know when to go, nobody’s got a clue.
“Ukey,” he bent to look me straight in the eye,
“You know I never said what they said
in the Times. Tweet Tweet?
Jesus Christ. Would I make fun of a guy like that?”

His look the same as he gave me late in the game,
trying to pull me over against the post.

Another short night by the time I got home.
I tossed and turned for a couple of hours then came out
behind the house to try to sleep. The morning sun feels good
on my bones and I’m watching the one bee in autumn’s
tough last flowers, when around the house she comes
waltzing, golden-brown from the sun, saying how do you do,
she only just moved in and heard that a hockey player
lived on the street. Well, here I am, not a stitch on
and my lip swollen up from last night. I shift the newspaper
over myself and we talk from a suitable distance—how warm
for late in the year, how dull it is here after living downtown,
her husband who leaves in the dark and comes home in the dark.
I find myself watching that bee as he labours from flower to flower,
his legs and back end hanging down, how aerodynamic
can that be? Awkwardly, he hauls himself
into the coarse yellow petals and struggles toward
the sweet centre. Stopped, he untangles himself and tries
another way, flipping his wings in frustration, and I’m pulling
for him though you’d think by now, the end of October,
he’d have this down better.

When I turn to look she’s gone, the blades of grass
unbending where she walked away.
That’s when it hits me my days are numbered.
Long after she’s gone, I glance at the paper still flat on my lap
with all its freight of another day’s unfolding.
A breeze flips a page and, Jesus,
wouldn’t you know,
there’s Gadsby’s ugly face grinning back at me.

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