Warner, Patrick

Ireland/Canada, (b. 1963)

The Bacon Company of Ireland

  1. Ramps, double-decked trucks, stink, lights,
  2. shouts, kicks, electric prods, coconuts,
  3. the workmen’s high calypso as pigs run,
  4. speed croquet over piss-shellacked,
  5. shit-plastered floors, gully and drain scored.
  6.  
  7. Inside, no messing in mess, the point
  8. driven home, mallet or stun guns sets
  9. each one staggering, a modern dance
  10. to the skull’s high pitch—don’t we know
  11. that they are as intelligent as us?
  12.  
  13. Orchestral machinery kicks in. The
  14. conveyor belt’s dangling clefs, a score
  15. into which their hoofs are hooked.
  16. Hoisted, they perform one leg
  17. inverted ballet that turns to opera
  18. that turns again into modern dance
  19. (the classical forms will not contain)
  20. as they flex, wriggle, twist, gyrate
  21. all the way to the conductor,
  22. whose shiny baton slashes.
  23.  
  24. Plashing then like sustained applause
  25. each is conveyed to the fiery furnace
  26. (think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
  27. without a collective agreement)
  28. to have golden bristles singed away.
  29.  
  30. Think of mother starting up a fry,
  31. while at the same time trying to style her hair,
  32. while trying to get the kids out of bed—
  33. now the children, passing slit-eyed
  34. along the hallway, their lips curled in a smile,
  35. their bodies limp as if they are still
  36. in the deepest sleep, untroubled by
  37. the shrieks that come from far away
  38. (and that have always lived in dreams),
  39. as they pass one-by-one into a room
  40. of stainless steel and shining white tile.

© Patrick Warner. There, There. Montreal: Signal Editions (2005).

The Pig Narrative

  1. How could he remember; how could he forget,
  2. his stock that had fattened on little but lies,
  3. his stock that would never make it to market.
  4.  
  5. And how they might have, had he heeded advice,
  6. had he listened to sense: to be both drawer
  7. and drawee, they said, will earn only disgrace.
  8.  
  9. Who should he blame; should he blame his mother
  10. who could not only conceive and bring
  11. a child to term but raise it without a father?
  12.  
  13. What a mess, and now all his scheming
  14. would not bring oysters, would not bring bacon.
  15. But then, wasn’t that the nature of dreaming.
  16.  
  17. The thing must be bought without inspection;
  18. you must be one caught in the middle
  19. between ironical disbelief and pious devotion,
  20.  
  21. conniving with mantras of please the pigs:
  22. Oh Lord, abrade my will to finest sand,
  23. search out my pride, blast my parts to slag,
  24.  
  25. send me as ballast to Van Diemen’s Land;
  26. en route let me double as litter for dogs
  27. they are shipping to hunt the great wild
  28.  
  29. boar, first brought by Captain Cook. Mr. Boggs,
  30. the First Mate, spends the whole time shaving
  31. and rubbing oil into his muscled legs,
  32.  
  33. or leaning over the starboard railing fishing
  34. for long snouted fish he calls wrasses and grunts;
  35. these he barbecues on deck before washing
  36.  
  37. them down with home-brew lager. He wants,
  38. he says, only to retire and grow pig face–
  39. as if saying this makes him seem less ignorant.
  40.  
  41. I would have read his ignorance as disguise
  42. had I known the morning we ran aground
  43. that we were not lost but in the right place
  44.  
  45. and that there was nothing sinister or underhand
  46. about it. Imagination is not navigation,
  47. and Pig Island will serve as Van Diemen’s Land;
  48.  
  49. a place between disbelief and devotion;
  50. a place where we carve out a language
  51. some will call nonsense, a devolution;
  52.  
  53. a place whose modus operandi is as much
  54. to confound as enlighten; a place where
  55. there is no poverty at all in being rich;
  56.  
  57. a curious place where it’s winter in summer;
  58. where horses gallop and jump, without
  59. ever bringing their four legs together.
  60.  
  61. Mother, before when I blamed without doubt,
  62. I now can only doubt why I blamed
  63. and by this curious path walk into the light
  64.  
  65. of your presence again, the frightful calm
  66. that trailed about you like the fragrance
  67. of the arum lily. To remember this is a balm,
  68.  
  69. which is a curse, because I remember that once
  70. to cure a melancholy, on which I had fed
  71. to bursting– my belly blue white as a louse–
  72.  
  73. you laid your hand on the top of my head.
  74. It was August; you wore a summer dress
  75. the colour of a hog, or hickory nut,
  76.  
  77. which afterwards bore the imprint of my face.
  78. There, there you said. There, there, my pet.
  79. Never repeat yourself. That’s my advice.
  80.  
  81. Remember there’s virtue in learning to forget.

© Patrick Warner. There, There. Montreal: Signal Editions (2005).

Pig Lyric

  1. The news made him bleed like a stuck pig.
  2. He had thought himself in pig,
  3. about to drive his pigs to market,
  4. from which he’d return on the pig’s back,
  5. nibbling pig in a blanket.
  6.  
  7. But he had made a pig’s ear of it
  8. by drawing pig on pork,
  9. and now it was back to pig in the middle,
  10. between please the pigs
  11. and pigs might fly,
  12. between pig in a poke
  13. and in a pig’s eye.

© Patrick Warner. There, There. Montreal: Signal Editions (2005).

About the Poet:

Patrick Warner (b. 1963) is a Canadian poet who emigrated from Claremorris in County Mayo, Ireland to Newfoundland in 1980.

Warner has published three collections of poetry: All Manner of Misunderstanding (2001), There, There (2005) and Mole (2009). He has twice won the E.J. Pratt Poetry Prize. In 2011 Warner published a novel, Double Talk.

Warner currently makes his living as the Rare Books, Archives and Special Collections Librarian for at the Queen Elizabeth II Library, Memorial University of Newfoundland. He is married to Rochelle Baker, an artist and children’s book illustrator and lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland. [DES-07/14]

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