Monday, 3 June 2019


This poem is one I've always liked. I wrote it in March and April of 1976, in Montreal, and remember well the Metro ride that inspired it. It really is typical of the kind of style I was working on, in tandem with something similar but more expansive, which would turn into my master's thesis at McGill. I also like the way it seems faith-based, even more so now than it did when I wrote it. It bounced around a bit. At one point I thought it might be paired with 'Basic Training' (which you can find here at IT) in New Poetry 4, the Arts Council of GB's anthology, but it wasn't. It wound up, confusingly enough, being published in issue 47 of New Poetry, a London-based magazine. Ten years later, slightly changed, it appeared in the US, in issue 5 of Brief, from Canyon, California. In 1991 I included it in my chapbook Chump Change, published by Northern Lights. I reckon none of you have it seen in any of those three incarnations.  The line breaks have their purpose: which might be clearer were I to read it out loud....


If there is a man
    there to judge

he will be ugly.

Wars will have been fought
on his face

                    he will be
the man you could never resist
      sneaking quick looks
         in the underground

& you will

                or be polite
& look
               the other way
before you shudder

& already you
      will be in

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