Satie’s Sad Piano
- Shortlisted for the QWF A.M. Klein Poetry Award
- Shortlisted for the Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher
- Shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Award
Canadians tuned into radio get the official word sometime after 3 PM —former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau is dead at 80. And while the country busies itself dealing with the aftershock, the news topples Venus, a 50-something woman who suddenly, unexpectedly, embarks on a painful downward spiral through memories of a past relationship, including an extended flashback to 1968, the height of Trudeaumania and an incendiary time for passion and the imagination. Montreal, still pumped and aglow from Expo ’67, is the Paris of North America and an exhilarating backdrop for new love. But Venus isn’t the only one with memories to share...
Satie's Sad Piano is a long poem charting the convergent deaths of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a love affair, and a fetus through the intersecting voices of an unlikely cast of characters—among them Radio, Mont-Royal, a series of old love letters, and a modern-day apostle.
Here, in the guise of poetry, is Quebec society freed from the tyranny of religion. Enter the mind of the emancipated woman and discover what happens when someone comes along out of nowhere and shakes up the mix.
It is about the world—a little less grey, a little less safe. It is about putting all your eggs in one basket and going for broke, about risking everything for your one chance at living. It is about living...
Mont Royal (a mountain with a view)
Even in death, he looms
larger than life,
with the sodium clouds
& the gun-slung cold.
Rinsing back down over the city.
She trudges. Vectors, they all trudge
home to their davenports
& dour TVs.
Would she could wield
her ponderous thoughts,
pull souvenir swatches
from the aquarelle sky.
Venus (the heroine)
everything points to your
dimmed tail-lights of cars & outgoing geese
the grim, subtracted leaves
a bristled, Andean chill to the air
you on exotic soil
in the long, wan shade
metaphors not of sadness, really
but of the enormity
of unneeding you
this late in the afternoon
Rose (a fetus)
Beyond the instant, there is history,
loss, rooted in the gene-pool of a city,
rusted into its ancestry.
You smell it in the air.
The elusive Northwest Passage, a scarcity
of tea. Greenish, stegosaural hulks nailed
over the river: the Navigators.
Jacques Cartier, Champlain.
Les filles who set sail, uncanonized.
Oxidizing on infant soil.
This is what lushes life,
fleshes it out.
Each moment, part of a greater genealogy.
Branch after branch twigging backwards
to the ghost nugget.
Gentrify the industrial park, but in its heart
of hearts, a condo is still an abbatoir.
Take a moment like this.
You are alone, driving recklessly.
The radio is on, and you are all ears.
There is talk:
Trudeau has died.
Your sadness, shock shatters the singularity.
Suddenly, unexpectedly, we are two
careening down the highway.
You and I in the same humidity,
at opposite ends of living.
Your solid mind yielding
to the shards: a weak, past-tense
rose minnowing in the morgue.
The crashed histories piling up.
You lurch to a stop, your heart impounded,
the car coughing its way to the side of the road.
You wonder what might have been,
given another moment,
a different set of circumstances.
A softer, leafier stretch.
Hands clasped, communing,
we might have hunkered down
with a cup of chai and a cinnamon bun,
and watched the house where he lay dying,
the interred, half-mast sun