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Lelsey Choyce

Lesley Choyce is the author of over ninety books of literary fiction, short stories, poetry, creative nonfiction and young adult novels. He runs Pottersfield Press and has worked as editor with a wide range of Canadian authors. He has edited a number of literary anthologies and hosted several television shows over the years. Choyce has taught creative writing at Dalhousie and other universities for over thirty years and has acted as mentor to many emerging writers during that time. He has won The Dartmouth Book Award, The Atlantic Poetry Prize and The Ann Connor Brimer Award. He has also been shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Medal, The White Pine Award, The Hackmatack Award, The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Award and The Governor General’s Award. He was a founding member of the 1990s spoken word rock band, The SurfPoets. He surfs year round in the North Atlantic.

Fragmentary Notions

Perhaps there is nothing but
small, independent chunks of
Our foolish determined brain is always
to put the pieces together
into something
something meaningful
something whole.

So when my fragments
shuffle together with your
a new pattern emerges
and we want to know
what it means.
I offer up a sunset in Finestere
and you add a drive to Trout Lake.
Then there is dew on the lawn
in bare feet at first light
an afternoon hurricane
a whisper in a church
the swerving of the car to avoid the rabbit
a head on an old pillow
a kind thing said for no reason
a song stuck in your head at bedtime
an old shovel rusting in a shed
opening the door into spring
removing the screen door of summer
first frost
last wet snow
muddy roads
clean floors
the sometimes electric smell of the cold Atlantic
and promises
that keep us tethered
and in tune
and stop us from spinning off
into empty infinity.

Four Lost Poems

I lost them while sleeping.
They had wandered in
from the wilderness of my ragged thoughts
into my dreams
like feral children
in tattered clothes
and no shoes.

I begged them to stay the night
and I would cook them breakfast
in the morning
but the oldest one
said no
they were meant to be lost poems
and had been that way for centuries
visiting one sleeping poet after another
just reminding us
they are out there
and there are many, many more
just like them.

They whispered their names to me
but I have forgotten them.

And when I woke
almost everything about them
was lost to memory
except the fact
that the older one told me
if any of us ever truly remembered
the four lost poems
and if the pen was brazen enough
to write them down

(or worse yet
if the poet was foolish enough to publish them)
all the wandering children would cease to exist
and all would be lost
for generations of dreamers to come.

My Father Farming, My Mother Cooking

My father grew the corn
and my mother boiled and scraped
and froze the kernels
then saved summer
in the freezer
for a cold winter day.

Growing and cooking were the predominant
verbs of my childhood family
but also preserving
freezing in bags
or capping into boiled glass.

As they reached into their seventies
then eighties
the garden became a little smaller.
Each year
the weeds grew taller
and rows of glistening empty Mason jars
filled closets in the cellar.

One freezer would suffice
while the other was unplugged
its door propped open by a 2 x 4
and finally
my father reduced his field
to a small plot
of beans and corn and tomatoes.
My mother ceased her parboiling
her preservation, her craft.
Each time I arrived home
I could taste that the end was near.

Three years after the final crop
the corn, the peas were saved
for special occasions
when I came home
to savour my past
until one cold November day
arriving home weary of flight
they only had apologies to offer
and parental love of course
to nourish my wandering soul.


From Climbing Knocknarea
by Lesley Choyce
© 2017 Lesley Choyce
Published by Ekstasis Editions