Sentinel Poetry (Online) #47, October 2006. ISSN 1479 425X

The Internationl Journal of Poetry & Graphics…since 2002

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Stephen Brockwell


Mark Bradley’s Plasma TV


This is the best, the most advanced, plasma

TV you can get for under 10K.

Look at it. You wouldn’t see brighter red

if you fell in a five acre rose bush

and survived. It might as well be hanging

at a gallery; it’s so flat it could pass

for a picture if it weren’t moving.

Duck! The golf ball’s coming out of the screen!

But I guess they don’t watch the PGA

at the National Gallery, do they?

Have a look. What do you want to watch?

I have that channel locked because my son’s

a curious kid like all of them and he’s

got time to find out what that’s all about.

Something artsy-fartsy? Guys like you watch

sports too, I’m sure, or other regular stuff.

This monitor will last me—what did he say?—

forty thousand hours. How many years is that?

It has to be a lifetime of TV.

Hey, bottle boy, fetch us some frosty ones!

There’s my son, now. Hey, Philip, don’t be shy,

come say hello to the historian.



Mark Bradley’s SUV


Come on outside and have a look at her.

She has a big block V8 with four hundred

horses ready to rip a rubber mile

down 407. And talk about towing.

She’d tow the Titanic from the ocean.

I don’t have much of a boat—a 20 foot

lake cruiser with a pair of Evinrudes.

I’d like to get Phillip on water skis

again this summer. Last summer I pushed

too hard. He took a couple of rough tumbles.

But plenty of him wasn’t black and blue.

And I think it made him a stronger swimmer.

Well, of course he had a life jacket on!

[The chirp of keyless remote entry.]

Have a look at the leather in this thing.

I have to tell you, I could fool around

with Terri in these seats. They’re heated too.

You feel so high up in the driver’s seat,

if anybody gives you a hard time,

you can just drive over them and crush them.



Dr. Plaza’s Idea


How did the Earth make a spider? How did

it make our children who sleep in soft beds?

These questions are serious and should not

be brushed off without a moment’s thought.

Think of the havoc a spider wreaks on

the dreams of sleeping children. Imagine,

without spiders, the evolution of flies.

I think that it’s safe to say some ideas

prey upon other ideas. That is

the issue here: not that human beings

prey upon other human beings; no,

embraced by an idea, the mind tries to

exterminate by terror and by fear

an idea in the mind of another.

The ideas are the predators here.

And perhaps there are beautiful, fertile

ideas that are the prey. For example,

the idea of peace, embodied by

Christ, is perhaps the ultimate beauty.

It is easy to conceive of evil

and political acts of social control

as parasitic ideologies on

gentler ideas that have a Christian

nobility or purity to them.

But I think, if one were to examine

the links between our civilization

and the church, one could make the case, or one

might well assert, that evangelical

Christianity and Islamic radical

theology are predator thoughts in hosts

whose original meaning has been lost.

These two ideas are in competition,

not for us, really, but for space and time.

We do not think of them; we are their home.

This may seem an outrageous hypothesis

but other people have thought about this.

And the irony is not lost to me.

As I observe human behaviour closely—

and when I learned of this incident—

I began to fear that, you know, it wasn’t

wise to love ideas of humanism.

Such thoughts are terribly misguided. I’m

afraid they may even be dangerous.

I must say, it was never my intent

to provide you the details. Not because

they are gruesome—they are; that is not why.

I feel you have perhaps not been listening

to what I have had to say. After all,

I am sharing with you an idea,

an insight that I feel is important.

Some ideas deserve to die. To kill

an idea you must never speak it.

Well, you know, they were inventing new terms

to cope with what happened after Peron.

A rebellious teenager, if overheard

by the wrong ears, could “be disappeared.”

My cousin was disappeared. Soon after,

she was reappeared at the door step, a

travesty of an abandoned baby,

without a blanket or a basket.

No, enough. Listen to me. Your fetish

for the base does not become your project.

If you must seek out the gory details,

I suggest you watch a documentary

or search the internet for nunca mas.

But you’ll have learned nothing from what I’ve said.





You want to tell the cane-swinging codger

to get off the plywood in your back yard 

and find trash of his own to fall down on

but in this neighbourhood the arteries

clog with identical mansard-roofed red

brick houses, identical driveways cracked

by the relentless crush and stretch of freeze and thaw,

carbon copy red hydrants on the south

side of the street, street lights that perfect eyes

could not distinguish. You stoop to lift him

while his daughter apologizes with

such humility you’d think falling on

someone else’s trash was a kind of theft.

And your thoughts turn, like a crow in flight,

to his surprising weight, say, four twenty-

kilo sacks of P.E.I. potatoes

stitched with enormous skill into the shape

of an old man, a monument for some

forgotten autumn festival, or prop

for the Halloween play at an abandoned school.

It’s at that moment you begin to wish,

‘May this be me in another forty years,

wetting my pants in someone else’s yard,

failing to grip with my cane the discarded

plywood from a neighbour’s renovations,

unable to recall my daughter’s name,

flailing for my woollen cap to cover

the white relics of my remaining hairs,

groping for glasses that could never fall

from my broad fat nose, wondering why

a stranger holds me under the armpits,

blessed with a sense of humour and the wit

to curse the taxi driver and the barman.’



Se Transformer en M. Busbib


What is that in the mirror? A hair

in the ear, tragedy of the tragus,

sprung like a spruce in a Glengarry field

from the Laurentian Shield’s


inexhaustible supply of conifers.

I’ve become my high school French teacher,

who pruned his ears like old growth vines,

not to cultivate: to control.


Pouvait-il regarder les cils

forêt sapins, lèvres mûres

d’Anne-Marie sans réfléchir,


<< J’ai mal élu mes couleurs ce matin.

Ma ceinture brune et mes bas blancs me gênent

dans ces pantalons bleus et ces souliers noirs>> ?



Karikura’s Fiddle


When Karikura played fiddle and sang,

you thought the day would end in sunrise.

We loved to hear one Karikura song:

  Bee lem ah la

  Ee nay gó la

  Bee lem ah la

  Ee nay gó la

  Hamari o no la ma

  No goro o h’mo Allah

I asked Karikura the meaning of the words.

Karikura said, ‘The first verse means,

“My goats are gone.” The second verse,

“There is no grass left.” These are repeated.

The third verse means, “I too may have to go.”

And the final verse, “Thank God for my fiddle.”’



Three Short Poems by Karikura


River Reeds


These reeds conceal a crocodile.

They are so sharp they slice your legs.

Listen to them: the wind has turned them

into harps. Perhaps they were cranes

who practiced stillness so long

they recall only how to stand and sing.


Mantella Frog


The bright red mantella on the wet leaf

is like saffron, but only to the eyes.  

Whoever disturbs this small toxic frog

deserves every dreaming moment

of his long visit to the infirmary.


Beautiful Things


Some seek it in the body of a lover;

others, in the handiwork of artisans.

Too many look into the mirror at it.

But it can be found in the voices and footfalls

of children who have had little time

to think about it. They run after it

with a net, gleefully, in the square.

They sing a song they learned at school

or from their grandmother. No matter;

they do not know that they are singing.




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