Selected Poems of Patrick Lane

It has been a year or more since I last took a mobile device into the bathroom. Instead, I have been reading physical books: first Karen Connelly’s Touch the Dragon, then Rousseau’s The Social Contract, and finally settling on POETRY and other books of poems. Poems make for excellent toilet reading. They can be consumed in the time it takes to do your business and not trap you there until your feet fall asleep like tablets and cells phones can.

This book was a gift from last year’s poetry workshop professor, and I remember him telling me that I would enjoy it. I’m sorry it took me so long to get to it, Jay, and you were right: I did enjoy it.

Lane’s poetry is stark, dark, and distinctly Canadian. Not in the moose-hugging, toque-wearing, maple syrup-guzzling stereotypical way, but in a raw-knuckled, world-traveled and -weary way. Going from this book to the current (May) issue of POETRY was a night and day experience. I don’t know if I have a place in the modern landscape of poetry, where a poet’s sexual orientation, gender, race, and politics seem to draw more merit than their poetics, but at least there’s thousands of years of poems prior to the current age that I can spend the rest of my life absorbing.

Syllable of stone, the lizard lies prone
under the bright dome of the moon.
His patience lasts forever.
I know I am almost old and my bed is made of sand
but even among stones love is possible.
The lizard waits forever in the ruins.
Come to me.
I will wait for you at least one more night.

–Patrick Lane, Small Love Song


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