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Alden Nowlan

Being a foreigner is not a disease.

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Offhand, the only North American writers I can think of who have come from a background of rural poverty and gone on to write about it have been Negroes.

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The Masks of Love

I come in from a walk
With you
And they ask me
If it is raining.

I didn’t notice
But I’ll have to give them
The right answer
Or they’ll think I’m crazy.

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The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect he becomes an adolescent the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult the day he forgives himself he becomes wise.

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The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.

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The Anatomy of Angels

Angels inhabit love songs. But they’re sprites
not seraphim. The angel that up-ended
Jacob had sturdy calves, moist hairy armpits,
stout loins to serve the god whom she befriended,

and was adept at wrestling. She wore
a cobra like a girdle. Yet his bone
mending he spent some several tedious weeks
marking the bed they’d shared, with a great stone.

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A Poem About Miracles

Why don't the records go blank
the instant the singer dies?
Oh, I know there are explanations
but they don't convince me
I'm still surprised
When I hear the dead singing
As for orchestra's
I expect the Instruments
To fall silent one by one
as the musicians succumb
to cancer and heart disease
so that toward the end
I turn on a disc
labelled Gotterdammerung
and all that comes out
is the sound of one sick old man
scraping a shaky bow
across an out-of-tune fiddle.

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A Certain Kind of Holy Men

Not every wino is a Holy Man.
Oh, but some of them are.
I love those who've learned
to sit comfortably
for long periods with their hams
pressed against their calves,
outdoors,
with a wall for a back-rest,
contentedly saying nothing.
These move about only when
necessary,
on foot, and almost always
in pairs.
I think of them as oblates.
Christ's blood is in their veins
or they thirst for it.
They have looked into the eyes
of God,
unprotected by smoked glass.

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A Mysterious Naked Man

A mysterious naked man has been reported
on Cranston Avenue. The police are performing
the usual ceremonies with coloured lights and sirens.
Almost everyone is outdoors and strangers are conversing
excitedly
as they do during disasters when their involvement is
peripheral.
'What did he look like? ' the lieutenant is asking.
'I don't know, ' says the witness. 'He was naked.'
There is talk of dogs-this is no ordinary case
of indecent exposure, the man has been seen
a dozen times since the milkman spotted him and now
the sky is turning purple and voices
carry a long way and the children
have gone a little crazy as they often do at dusk
and cars are arriving
from other sections of the city.
And the mysterious naked man
is kneeling behind a garbage can or lying on his belly
in somebody's garden

[...] Read more

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Broadcaster's Poem

I used to broadcast at night
alone in a radio station
but I was never good at it
partly because my voice wasn't right
but mostly because my peculiar
metaphysical stupidity
made it impossible
for me to keep believing
their was somebody listening
when it seemed I was talking
only to myself in a room no bigger
than an ordinary bathroom
I could believe it for a while
and then I'd get somewhat
the same feeling as when you
start to suspect you're the victim
of a practical joke
So one part of me
was afraid another part
might blurt out something

[...] Read more

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