David McGimpsey - Six Poems

by Shawna Lemay


For poetry's sake, let us consider 
iceberg lettuce a flower, much as I 
considered (for poetry's sake) college
a place where I would find value in life.

I can't say whether or not my whole year
was good for bouquets of iceberg lettuce,
blooming in beds of bacon and mayonnaise,
just that I remember their quiet, cold heads.

Stamen, anther, filament, I clammed up
for most of the summer. It wasn't so bad.
I missed the old provocations of rage,
moved on, and didn't gain too much weight.

Imagine the bride is holding her lettuce
and, then, tossing it to the bridal party.
For poetry's sake, I really have to say
I am happy for her among the crispy petals.


What I remember about the lichen
was how absolutely invasive.
It would cover Taco Bell franchises
if you didn't understand and kill it.

Dogwood blossoms were different, I think.
In April, in Georgia, I could smell them 
while looking up to the sky, calling 
any scramble of stars "Sagittarius".

From April came May and then other months
which also demonstrated my general facility
with the Gregorian calendar. By October,
I was puking all the cow grass I ate.

Lichen is a perfect combination 
of algae and fungus, whereas we were
the perfect combination of liver
and peaches. We sure were a freezer full.


Eventually, my critique was refined to
"I hope all you sickening snobs just die".
I ate blackberries every morning (once)
and held onto my earned, mature insight.

What people generally liked about me
was the thought they could do my job.
The quality my closest friends loved most
was that I was "a generous tipper".

I read on some site blackberries were good
for the lungs. I knew they tasted really weird.
Fruits that taste good have soda pops based on them. 
Isn't that right Diet Sierra Mist Kiwi? 

Did I mention all the blackberry smoothies
and drinking them in one gulp, imagining 
I was steadying myself on Jesus's shoulder?
Jesus, of course, would just have Diet Sprite.


In the Kingdom planeate, in the "You stink,
Ophelia" class, four-to-ten columbines
mark the spot where I finally decided 
to increase my social media profile.

O, Annie Facebook, Clarissa Twitter - 
we're going to the prom! I shed real tears
just because my poem for Beyonce
was rejected by The Malahat Review.

Could the columbines be mashed into scent,
giving me a resilient mountain freshness?
The answer, after that long flight to Paris,
was a resounding absolutement pas.

Still, I knew I was going to pluck and pluck
and I plucked until plucking became my life;
well beyond any interest in sewing
and its much-funner cousin reaping.


I took careful notes on the nasturtiums.
Ticking off each one I saw. Over the year -
year and a half? - I saw near six hundred.
The best and dumbest thing I ever did.

As long as it rains, nasturtiums will grow
and the cycle of life, from grassy spore
to Mars Incorporated's decision 
to make pina colada M&Ms, will go on.

Oh, through it all, nose after heady nose,
racking up scores, I started to lose heart;
it sounds fancy and fragrant, when, really,
I couldn't be bothered to kick a moose.

Bring LOL-primrose, the crazy-assed 
Jasmine, ballin' white pinks, and the pansy's 
black underwear; shine-on Violet swim top, 
hey no way! rose with musk instead of prim!


Itchier than than an itch begging outside
the Lanacane factory, lonely as a boner
working a disco in Gore-Tex pants,
I still had the patience for baseball.

I used to drive from Montreal to New York.
Past the red hots of the Adirondacks,
by the little hot dogs of the Mohawk Valley,
to the coney dogs around Yankee Stadium.

The aster on the roadside banks, wispy blurs,
could be squeezed one day from the roots up
to draw out at least three Canadian poems,
but until then I would just have baseball.

Ready as Reddi-Whip but unwilling
to do much but pray God helps the Yankees.
The lesson of American Literature,
after all, was just drive until you're alone.

David McGimpsey

David McGimpsey

David McGimpsey's most recent collection of poetry, Li'l Bastard (Coach House Books), was nominated for the Governor General's Award. David lives in Montreal where he teaches creative writing and literature at Concordia University. Twitter: @DaveMcGimpsey