CBC Poetry Prize
"Sit How You Want, Dear; No One's Looking" by Robin Richardson
This week we're publishing the five works on the shortlist for the CBC Poetry Prize.
Love, sex and death converge in poet Robin Richardson's most personal collection to date.
*Please note: the final poem contains mature content.
Sit How You Want, Dear; No One's Looking
There's nothing worse than wishing that you had.
You've slipped into a skinny jean and gleamed up
at the hard face of a man with natural disasters
on his mind. It's time to hang out naked in your kitchen,
cook the landlord his beloved dog — the one who barks
before the roosters even sniff the sun.
You're free, baby. You hold your own against the gods
who thrashed you as a kid, the ones who didn't.
Choosing to believe they've thrown you here to hone
the craft of living. No one knows a thing. The demon
scans the platform for a child: chaste, unbreakable —
the sort he likes to break. The cockroaches
are prepped for post-apocalypse, crabs quarrying
the sand for your abandoned cigarettes.
This is as pleasant as it gets.
Now a bomb goes off outside the theater and you're spared.
The concierge and ticket boy blown lobby-wise
in pieces big enough to pocket. You'll outlive this heat,
but it won't be the ozone going, it'll be the fervor glowing
through the faded cotton of your cardigan.
Earthquakes Are My Favourite Way To Make Islands
We ignored the cries of the carbon monoxide detector —
we knew better. Coitused in a pose like Pompeii corpses
while the cabbies grew irate outside. This is the last day
of our lives, until tomorrow. When I say I'm fine
I mean the sky has opened like an old wound under scurvy,
shown me all its cogs, I can't go back to normal thought.
We're pretty when we sleep. We're singing old Bon Jovi
so loud all our bones are shaking — makes me want
to break him in my mouth. Another thrill, another man
to walk with through the flood-lit film sets of Central Park.
It starts off like a cyst — this partnership, gets supersized
until it's visible to strangers, just as dangerous.
A voice comes on the platform in the subway, warns
against cavorting with abandoned baggage, say something,
it orders. So I tell an armed guard how we squeeze
each other's words like triggers: tongue to cheek,
to weekends spent accruing welcome bruises.
We could quit it if we choose. His moonshine
on my breath the next day — staving off advances
from an old friend in a dead cafe.
I Always End Up Trusting Cary Grant
- North by Northwest
The unwanted hand on her shoulder
is the pivot of this motion picture.
I'll admit her neck — stretched
as if before the ax, invites
one's inner sadist, but it's not the same.
Hitchcock's made his cameo,
has gone and left his cattle to imprint
their dispositions on this overzealous
voyeur. I'm addicted to discomfort.
There's a certain gurgled laugh,
a slant of calve raised light
against suspense, that gets me going.
There's the gun as well, the sulking,
smoke-filled mouth, great sex
that comes with shock,
and with the early onset of one's
In a theater on the Eastside
I jerked off while watching
cityscapes get owned by frames
and fancy camera work.
Can't believe I didn't cum.
A dead sun in the gangster's eyes,
a smiling premonition
of untimely coming to your grave.
You give you're all until
you're all used up and then
you get to say at least
that you survived.