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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 
     Stockholm Syndrome. 
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. 



«Read the other shortlisted entries


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