Friday, March 15, 2019

“poem” broadside #347 : “Four poems for my forty-ninth birthday” by rob mclennan


A seismic accumulation. Words as slow as paint.

This memory, pastoral. My father: a handrail,
new against the homestead,

his unsteady gait. A shoal
in his head.

If this a fixed point: I have felt this age
forever. Surroundings swirl, and shift.


The O-Train as it snakes, construction. Timetables,
walked and walking. Wherewithal.

They aim to build this

needlessly slow. I kid, of course. But then:
the concrete

does nothing to absorb the water. Floodplain,
streets. The carved precision

of caged liquid. But,

the clouds. The lightest rail.


Bang on: the texture of
an instant. Letters patent, by which

we mark such passing. Year
against idiot year. Simultaneous,

this miniature,

unpremeditated. How to defend
the little beasts of wear. Would rather

this than otherwise, long
in my death-bed.


Disorienting: just how large is forty-nine?

are numbers, really? What a year? I can’t
wrap my head around, mid-

century clatter. Resist! Old enough
to have a daughter

who marks her milestones. The pages
flip, flip back. A wooded terrain

of pineapples, sage. A hand-
carved dream.

We are all born free

of history, until. I set my age
to airplane mode. Hold on.

Four poems for my forty-ninth birthday
by rob mclennan
produced for the sake of the author’s forty-ninth
birthday, March 15, 2019. sigh.
above/ground press broadside #347

Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012 and 2017. His most recent titles include the poetry collection How the alphabet was made (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018) and the forthcoming Household items (Salmon Poetry, 2019) and A halt, which is empty (Mansfield Press, 2019). He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at

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