The Rusty Toque | Issue 12 | Poetry | June 30, 2017
It's hard to get published in The Journal of Irreproducible Results
The chemist’s unexpected death blooms black lab coats: whole
lab in mourning. What to do with fifteen grad students gone
rogue with smart polymers? Farm them out to
other labs, distract them with talk about pathogens and bone
anomalies, with fellowship applications. What people will do
for a year’s funding. Don’t cheat the font: insert buzzword here.
Rain pounds the floor-to-ceiling windows and we are drowned
rats in a maze – until the physicist snorts, that’s for biologists
and the biologists counter with evidence of staphylococci hooking
onto our skin and dragging across it. I’m trying to stay away
from chemicals says the economist and everyone yells You are chemicals!
We’re off to the infection races. There’s monkey business in joint
articulation and prophylactics to ward off hamburger
disease. Darwin Awards all around then; it’s always fun until
someone loses an eye, or a husband, or the remote control.
Zebrafish are the hot organisms for testing kidneys. We’re done
and heading out into the rain when the novelist wonders how long
it’ll be before science blames it all on women like her, like me. This fall
I’ve thought I don’t know so many times I’m sprouting. I would
not hazard a dress. I have no ideation. Research me.
The chemist’s elegy is the simplest of molecules
with a repeating unit.
Ticket to Brussels
No matter where you are/ you are alone /and in danger – well/ to hell /with it.
– Lorine Niedecker
All your socks will be penetrated by the black sludge of air travel.
You may look forward to re-opening a dialogue with unreason.
You will speak the language, and ruin it.
Let no day pass without discussing train schedules.
Buy chocolate and do not bring up Jean-Claude Van Damme.
The local satire will be brutal and bracing but you must keep it to yourself.
The only news from Canada will be the discovery of a beaver dam
so big it can be seen from outer space.
Everything has a jargon; martyrdom has its vanities.
Psalmists rain down advice on the bent necks of painters.
Clouds palpitate in the sky; paintings flicker in the heat.
The docent growls at your raincoat.
Doves grin and owls spring hostile from the bare rocks.
The amnesiac recalls a sensible ecstasy.
A passport photo with closed eyes will admit the bearer into a blind country.
Your soul is a common object not as radiant as a doorknob.
The day you are the best French speaker at the table, no one else will think it’s funny.
When you go to Bruges, you must not speak French.
In Armenian, the word for book and the word for passion are the same.
In Brussels, no one speaks Armenian.
Jane: an introduction
When we walk, the night adds up to shadow and fur. We lurk, they lurk: good lurk to us
all. A coelacanth crowbar is lodged between worlds, lashing its tail, weakening the lath. A
sasquatch roots through the garbage cans. He smells like rot, but he’ll take our old
keyboards and re-wire them to please our Jane: her bundle, her lip pointing, streets where
space is curved and time is stippled. We pocket people in late-capitalist limbo: dark age pop.
We wake with hunger spiking from our brows. She cooks Fibonacci pancakes for free
radicals, she breaks the scribbled eggs of Nekhbet. We burst our blisters and apply
moleskin. The vulture goddess speaks symmetry, but a dragon sandwich has geological
scales. Our jawbones are tattooed with the chemical formula for decomposition but Jane
does not care. She’ll take her time like any well-read storm.
TANIS MACDONALD is a poet, editor, reviewer, and creative non-fiction writer. She has won the national Bliss Carman Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the Gabrielle Roy Prize in 2013 for her book The Daughter’s Way. Her next poetry book, Mobile, is coming out with BookThug in Fall 2019, and her book of essays, The Art You Make, with Wolsak and Wynn in Spring 2018. New work has appeared or is appearing in The New Quarterly, Rhubarb, The Fourth River, Room, Poetry is Dead, Contemporary Verse 2, FreeFall and The Mondegreen. She lives in Waterloo, Ontario, where she teaches Canadian literature and creative writing at Wilfrid Laurier University.