Dec 182010

Darryl Whetter is a poet, story writer, essayist, novelist, scholar and book reviewer—a man of letters. He’s also a politician—ran as a Green Party candidate in the last Canadian federal election. He has published a story collection, A Sharp Tooth in the Fur, and a novel, The Push & the Pull, of which dg wrote: “Darryl Whetter’s The Push & the Pull is a brash, vibrant, melancholy, sexy, and finally uplifting book about a mesmerizing father, the son who can’t tear himself away, and the women who make them grow up. Whetter is intoxicated with language. He writes like a dream in a quick, urbane, and witty style. His women are gorgeous independent creatures; his men are large and infuriating; and when love happens it’s explosive, passionate, and grand. A lovely first novel.” These poems are from a new manuscript (others have been published, see links at the bottom) that orbits around the grand themes of evolution, plate tectonics, the slow rhythms of geological change, and the vast throw of history from the beginning of things.



Spiral Jetty


art lost, fed
into the land,
a basalt fiddlehead
curled into Utah’s ruddy
Great Salt Lake.
a whirlpool of rock stopped
in salt water so algae-dense,
the colour of blood one year,
rosé the next

a 1500’ coil of entropy,
nearly 7000 tons
of indifferent rock
laid in a drought.
loaders and dump trucks
the size of (brief) dinosaurs

then water levels rose again,
reclaimed your boiling
curve, made it a briny Brigadoon,
unseen Atlantis of the salts.
an intentional fossil

or John Cage’s
Organ2/ASLSP (as slow as possible)
a constant drone
half hum half
squeal in patient
German air. art
slid into the time capsule
now Joggins. with the wide
stage of your rock
beach and mud flats, the wet
curtain of your twice daily tides
you can offer
intertidal art to the world,
make a fossil
among the found

Privileged Young Men Who Hate Creativity

why take The Creative Process
(CRWR 2000: full year)
if they despise art, literature,
thought and hard work

yuksters in dialled baseball caps
with their TSN, bright sneakers and cheap
pens twirled over stubby fingers.
an aversion to cunnilingus
so total they don’t
even notice Saturday night Jenn
rolling her pelvis up,
her ribs, breasts, shoulders
and expectations back

frat boys and date rapists,
hockey fans in designer jeans
paid for by distant parents
who call their slim
and feature-rich cell phones
to be grunted at,
whined to,

as campuses approach
their 2:1 ratio of women to men
the Karens and Rachels seek
permit and enable
these replay barbarians
and future fathers,
tugging off his team T-shirt
before undoing her own
fresh lace

Boss Point Grindstones

an industrial grind found
yet also made. records,
poems on LP,
cut by Paleozoic strikes
and nineteenth-century hands.
heavy discs of sandstone,
dials of time and distance,
hand-hewn between the tides.
each day’s (carless) chiselling shift
arriving a damp hour later

this eternal burred grit
sifted by continents
carried to Joggins, pressed
and birthing at Boss Point.
the resistant washout
from Pangaea’s sprouting
smash. Asia, Africa, European
technology then New England demand

the largest stones too heavy
for the heave of men or lever
but not the incremental
float of the Fundy tide.
six-foot water stones lashed
to wooden boats for tomorrow’s
wet trickle and inching palm,
grey lids pried on high water

grit imported over the millennia
then exported in decades,
one-hundred millstones a day
floated away

The Cottage

architectural and geographic bigamy,
the second draft or spouse,
a little more wilderness
around (and under) your roof

you carry a different passport
for each province and still
busy mice find you
sniffing under your
noms de guerre:
cabin out west
cottage for the Ontario coin
chalet in la belle province
camp in the Maritimes

a different county
you have the feel
of a different country.
chipped furniture and chairs
freckled with orphaned paint.
Spartan cupboards house
food of alarming longevity.
the dusty and otherwise unthinkable
instant coffee of emergencies, Armageddon,
and forgotten fishing plans.
clothes so dated
fashion is a soft museum

custom also shifts.
alcohol emerges earlier,
the lunch beer,
Sunday afternoon wine at midweek
and that most elastic of drinks,
the lovable tonic and gin,
cleansing and bright at any hour.
here books get taken
to the mat for hours

a second home
and a second marriage
are usually cheaper
pensions get halved
but not quartered
a little derelict
but comfortable,
soul enriching, the air
cleaner the sleep more pure
for the fiction
of home and
home again

The God Delusion

The question ‘What is man?’ is probably the most profound that can be asked by man. It has always been central to any system of philosophy or of theology …. The point I want to make now is that all attempts to answer that question before 1859 are worthless and that we will be better off if we ignore them completely.

—G.G. Simpson in Science magazine

They fuck you up, your father priest and dad.
They surely mean to and they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
and add some extra just for you.

until nineteenth-century geologists
read the tectonic plates,
unfolded the imbricated
mantles of rock,
each fossil a signature
in a petition against God

chance, change and luck
etched in fossils,
those sandstone photographs
basalt negatives.
dragonflies the size of crows

Richard Dawkins rings a lonely bell.
not just atheism
(the religion that dare not
speak its name)
but godless human pride,
a dance more beautiful
for its solitude and brevity
he too cuts a lasting message
into unforgiving rock,
reaching for the bright star of clarity,
scorched by honesty,
calling religion child abuse
saying here
not imaginary there,
now not when,
or then

The Corrections

humans and our windows.
more than the rabbit’s warren
or the den of wolves,
houses resemble their inhabitants.
the combed hair of the shingles,
orifice doors front and back,
each eavestrough has its lowered
gurgling downspout

in two or more decades
the peeled eyes of windows
won’t recognize the shocks
rising outside and in

when the glacial lakes and rivers
(each an inheritance, not an income)
run dry, the pipes of communities
and houses, those veins,
will sputter and groan
moan in the chorus of hunger
from climate refugees

today’s permafrost will be the gas jet
in tomorrow’s global oven.
a few degrees hotter and
rice, wheat and corn,
those siblings of grain,
won’t be allowed out to play.
cooked past germination

in the beginning
accountants were the writers,
bean counters became scribes
scratching out the grain stocks.
the crowning glory of the species,
that meme etched into tablets,
commenced in accounts
and worries. last year’s crop
compared to this

—Darryl Whetter


  3 Responses to “Six Poems — Darryl Whetter”

  1. “Privileged Young Men…” –O rich unholy joy, when number done upon meets desert of number done upon. so much nasty deja vu (shadowed by inklings of deja been?) transmuted to cathartic delight. in a satisfying meal, “milked” particularly tasty. what about a version for their opposite female numbers: The Blank Angels? or…?

  2. An excellent set of poems. The Phillip Larkin allusion is both amusing and cunningly wielded. His images (Paleozoic records, shingle hair, permafrost gas jets) are stunningly accurate and richly layered metaphors. Thanks for these, dw and dg.

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