Friday, December 21, 2012

Paul Vermeersch


The new sports set up again in Gaul,
After victory in the Insubrian campaign:
Mountains of Hesperia, the great ones tied and trussed up:
Romania and Spain to tremble with fear.

— Nostradamus

That the layoff notice would come
on a Friday. That the palpitations
would be caused by coffee. The inventor
of a childhood protected by monsters
would die of an acute case of ghosts.
There was no warning at all, no signs
in the flight of birds, no dreams
to caution us: the eggs would all be broken,
the Internet slow. ESPN has announced
the new sports set up again in Gaul,

and from the world of Gauloise sport, one
would arise to become Captain
of the Humiliated. But the prophecy
offered no caveat, no hint. The chocolaty
sandwich-spread favoured by European
children would consign the orangutan
to scorch in the sunlight like a vampire.
That automakers on the verge of ruin
would wage a PR war against sculpture.
After victory in the Insubrian campaign,

billboards for Subaru dominated
the Milanese skyline. Boccioni’s Unique
Forms of Continuity in Space went missing.
But the prophecy was useless in foretelling
how populations with compromised immune
systems would be regulated with weaponized
peanut butter. How the survivors would be fed
on the dry breast meat of colossal, genetically
modified turkeys from factory farms in the
Mountains of Hesperia; the great ones tied and trussed up,

wings the size of parasols, drumsticks
like punching bags, cooking in volcanic ovens.
No voice in the wilderness could have prepared us
for the statue of a boy that pisses blood
when the people are afraid. No prophecy could
give us the insectoid courage of a single champion
whose own bones will quake in the museums
of Louisville forever. Even now, the mere mention
of his name would cause his old opponents from
Romania and Spain to tremble with fear.

Paul Vermeersch holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph for which he was awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal. He is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently The Reinvention of the Human Hand (M&S, 2010), a finalist for the Trillium Book Award. He lives in Toronto.

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