Five Poems by John K. Samson


Illustrated Bible Stories for Children

Morning bright, rise. Go over your lines. Iron your
carefully crafted disguise. We’d all like to sing. It’s easy
to sigh; to sprinkle a handful of plausible lies. Our
buildings will rise, poke out our own eyes. Publicly smile
and privately frown. A weeping reprise. Please hear my
cries; I’d like to pull just this one building down. So turn
off the sky. Head in my hands. Night keep me warm.
White window sill. Blinded by heart. Cut my hair short.
“Eyeless in Gaza with the slaves at the mill.”


Confessions of a Futon Revolutionist

Held like water in your shaking hands are all the small
defeats a day demands: 10 to 6 or 9 to 5, trying, dying
to survive. Never knowing what survival means. Leave
the apartment to buy alcohol. Hang our diplomas on
the bathroom wall. Pick at the plaster chipped away,
survey some stunning tooth decay, enlist the cat in the
impending class war. Let’s lay our bad day down here,
dear. Let’s make believe we’re strong, or hum some
protest song. Like maybe, “We Shall Overcome Someday.”
Overcome the stupid things we say. Say I needed more
than this. Say I needed one more kiss. You’ve left that
light on way too long now. Let’s plant a bomb at city hall.
Let’s kill an MLA, or talk the night away. You call in sick;
I’ll quit the word games that I play. I swear I more than
half-believe it when I say that somewhere love and justice
shine. Cynicism falls asleep. Tyranny talks to itself. Sappy
slogans all come true. We forget to feed our fear.


None of the Above

All night restaurant, North Kildonan. Lukewarm coffee
tastes like soap. I trace your outline in spilled sugar,
killing time and killing hope. This brand new strip mall
chews on farmland as we fish for someone to blame. But
we communicate in questions and all our answers sound
the same.

Under sputtering fluorescents, after refills are refilled,
negotiations at a standstill, spoon and rolling saucer
stilled. If you ask how I got so bitter, I’ll ask how you got
so vain. And all our questions blur together. The answers
always sound the same.

We can’t look at one another. I’ll say something
thoughtful soon, but I can’t listen to the quiet, so I hum
this mindless tune I stole from some dumb country
rockstar. I don’t even know his name. It’s like my stupid
little questions. The answers always sound the same.

Tell me why I have to miss you so. Tell me why we sound
so lame. Why we communicate in questions and all our
answers sound the same.


My Favourite Chords

They’re tearing up streets again, they’re building a new
hotel, the Mayor’s out killing kids to keep taxes down,
and me and my anger sit folding a paper bird, letting the
curtains turn to beating wings. Wish I had a socket set to
dismantle this morning, and just one pair of clean socks,
and a photo of you.

When you get off work tonight, meet me at the
construction site, and we’ll write some notes to tape to
the heavy machines, like, “We hope they treat you well.
Hope you don’t work too hard. We hope you get to be
happy sometimes.” Bring your swiss army knife, and a
bottle of something, and I’ll bring some spray paint and
a new deck of cards.

Hey I found the safest place to keep all our tenderness,
keep all our bad ideas, keep all our hope. It’s here in
the smallest bones, the feet and the inner ear—it’s such
an enormous thing to walk and to listen. I’d like to fall
asleep to the beat of you breathing in a room near a
truckstop on a highway somewhere.

You are a radio, you are an open door. I am a faulty string
of blue christmas lights. You swim through frequencies,
you let that stranger in, as I’m blinking off and on and off
again. We’ve got a lot of time, or maybe we don’t, but I’d
like to think so, so let me pretend.

These are my favourite chords. I know you like them
too. When I get a new guitar, you can have this one and
sing me a lullaby, sing me the alphabet. Sing me a story
I haven’t heard yet.


Elegy for Gump Worsley

He looked more like our fathers, not a goalie,
player, athlete period. Smoke, half ash,
stuck in that permanent smirk, tugging jersey
around the beergut, “I’m strictly a whiskey man”
was one of the sticks he taped up and gave
to a nation of pudgy boys in beverage rooms.

Favourites from Plimpton’s list of objects thrown
by Rangers fans: soup cans, a persimmon,
eggs, a folding chair and a dead rabbit.

The nervous breakdown of ’68-’69
after pant-crap flights from LA, the expansion,
“the shrink told me to change occupations.
I had to forget it.”

He swore he was never afraid of the puck.
We believe him. If anyone asks,
the inscription should read, “My face was my mask.”

From Lyrics and Poems, 1997-2012, by John K. Samson (Arbeiter Ring, 2012). Used with permission of the publisher.

Post a Comment

Your email address is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


John K. Samson

John K. Samson is the singer and songwriter for The Weakerthans. He lives in Winnipeg, where he’s also the managing editor and co-founder of a small publishing house, ARP (Arbeiter Ring Publishing). His song "Tournament of Hearts" was named one of the 40 best sports songs of all time by Sports Illustrated.