Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tuesday poem #198 : Alexandra Oliver : Hollywood. North.

Enter the actors. They’re rich in credential.
Their agency pages exhibit their charm:
They’ve triumphed in golf on an Afterschool Special
and shielded the crew of a shuttle from harm.
They’ve featured as coppers and strippers and spies,
a walk-on appearance as lawyer or doctor,
a dangerous alien in the disguise
of a different alien driving a tractor
through sad fields of lettuce on somebody’s farm.

Enter the actors. The locals, the specials.
The coastal celebrities, gusseted, glossed.
They’ve worked in the wilderness, hiding their bushels
under their lights, or wait (am I lost?),
the other way round. They’ve slaved for their dinners;
they’ve seated the lofty at sushi emporia,
wheeled on their sunniest teeth-flashing manners
while peddling fake leather pants at Aritzia,
striving for starlight, whatever the cost.

Enter the actors. They come to the party
in plummeting garments and collars of feathers
and wonder if thirty still means that they’re pretty
and should they keep trying if nobody bothers.
They’ve never known seagulls or longing for Moscow
or poked at a manuscript eaten by flames,
or scrubbed off the blood from their fingers in sorrow,
but look into our faces repeating their names:
their own, their own, not the others’, the others’.

Alexandra Oliver [photo credit: Dave Walker] was born in Vancouver, BC. Her 2013 collection Meeting the Tormentors in Safeway (Biblioasis) received the 2014 Pat Lowther Award and was named a Poetry Book of the Year by The National Post. Her latest collection, Let the Empire Down (also Biblioasis)  was released this past March. A contributing editor for ARC Poetry and Partisan, as well as the former co-editor of Canadian formalist journal The Rotary Dial, Oliver is currently working towards a PhD in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

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