Thursday, October 16, 2014

new from above/ground press: Abject Lessons, by Jennifer Baker

Abject Lessons
Jennifer Baker



barn swallow barrel rolls
and phonemic slippages

chase cloud-shadow yokelisms
back to the bush


until I was 15
I believed a crick was different
from a creek

stretched thinner
scraping itself under roads
through aluminum tunnels
populated with turtles
a crick snapped


olfactory archeology
of sawdust, oil and earth
reveals a sitting-room with wood panelling
and that John Wayne clock
his legs tick-tocking

Whaddayasay Pilgrim


the ghost I never met, but imagined
wading among the bones of drowned horses
down by the crick

is missing half his face

he reaches out to me
through his brother's ruined life
& my mother's anxious vigilance

he once followed me to Montreal
and came back to life

he still grips me by the diaphragm
and mocks my unshakeable belief
that I can be ready for anything 


since 10th grade
Del Jordan has been whispering in my ear
forget the lurking idyll
it all comes out gothic

no unicorns but horse bones
swallowed by the quick sand
at the edge of the field


my grandfather's accounts of this
are unconfirmed but by the fact
that I sank thigh-deep in sewage
in the recently harvested field
on Thanksgiving Day when I was 7

my older brother
like so many times since
pulled that screaming child
from the stinking earth
that threatened to swallow her

this is a photograph of me


don't tell my mother

it all comes out gothic
despite the lurking idyll

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
October 2014
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Jennifer Baker
was raised in Exeter, Ontario, where she divided her time between town and her grandparents’ farm. She is currently a part-time professor and PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa.

[Jennifer Baker launches Abject Lessons as part of the pre-ottawa small press book fair reading on November 7, 2014 at The Carleton Tavern, alongside Dave Currie, Frances Boyle, Anita Dolman and Stuart Ross]

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; outside Canada, add $2) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9 or paypal at

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