Rodeo Love

A century of rodeo—and love,
Plenty-of-fish and park-bench love,
latrines-on-14th love and e-Harmony love,
fresh-figs-on-provolone style love—
and hard-to-find is
easiest for chumps.
And rodeo love, on the night of the 100th year of Stampede is
about as nervous as Nosferatu at a blood bank quilting drive.
The white-hatted streets are thick with
slick wannabe frolic. The streets are thick
between what’s missed, and what’s hoped for.
Half the loves I’ve had
were abandoned through attrition.
My fangs were high-performance depth-charges
that leapt like Bic lighters into
circus-tent dilation after say,
a performance on Human Remains at One Yellow Rabbit ends,
the doors swing open, and you walk out swinked, zombified,
and wild-eyed to a new way of thinking—
brains!! My God,
there is theatre happening in Calgary!
And I’m not just talking theatre here, but snap and jive,
City of differences, of rebar glass
built on sandstone built on wood: new begets newer.
is abandoned by attrition and
kissed with a wrecking ball for old times’ sake.
So the talk, snap and jive on the street is about
Calgary weather, you sure do change, but I don’t.
High on effortless solitude,
I soar,
tonight’s windstorm brought to you by
black curtains over the ozone, and,
just wait for it:
a brief, crazy downpour, just before the fireworks at Victoria Park.
The cauldron on top of Calgary Tower is no Alexandrian Lighthouse;
in fact, this summer has been a dry one regardless of
groundwater, scented by eau de Frack or Feedlot.
Oil and gas lines puff quietly like baby timebombs.
To a city, young, still whispering, still talking snap tap jive to itself,
energy commodities trade like Tijuana Bibles.
After a Velvet Fog or Hefeweizen,
my friends get kinda gropey at the Bear and Kilt on Stephen Ave.
My teeth, loose and slippery as an ornery cayuse.
But what I miss is—not macaroni cat fusion stir-fry or
fava beans with chianti, what I miss is
a library to call my own. For just as Borges
imagined paradise to be a kind of library,
I’m craving a library to end all libraries, with pearled gates bigger than Persepolis,
open all hours like 7-11, located downtown
like McNally Robinson used to be,
before the sub-prime bubble thing.
Our economy is still an equities rodeo, riding futures
and seeing red.
Our busker,
a pork-barreling clown, spinning the occasional chuckwagon crash
as a barometer of dog food prices, optimist to
my inner Bean Counter—
supply must equal demand, and
this is Calgary, so the streets snap back—
I look for neon swords of the King-Eddy-blues kind.
Look for porch-swaying jazz and cinnamon over tomorrow’s front—
clear skies just downwind of
the hermetic catastrophe of alienation.
If you’re heading to the mountains, tomorrow’s forecast calls for
our ecosystem’s perceived limit on
production control.
Let any free economy burn itself out, to be new again.
Remember: don’t feed the whiskey jacks.
They’re enterprising enough to stalk bear-proof dumpsters in Banff,
while I imagine sitting with you in your willow swing, overlooking Highway 22.
Calgary’s skyline in the distance, renewed, ageless.
Tonight’s the Single Onions reading. Stuart McKay
is contributing, so is Viv Hansen, so is Kirk Ramdath (Mr. Peace-Bridge himself), Matt Smith velveteering
and solo.
We don’t know a thing about baling hay, but hey,
we’ve all had our hearts bucked before, and friends are your second skin.
Wind after a storm clears the air.
In that empty calm, I can hear silence mention my name again.
In a world where self-love seems to be the only proof that this moment has passed,
what leads to the first star of the evening
is the pit that’ll become the new library downtown.
A book finds a home when it lives in your head.
Just like you can’t get through an open door without a body.
Am I right? Novels, poems, essays.
My stampede hangover needs words, to make sense of other worlds,
which float by and ricochet like spurs off my shades.
Sunrise, morning glare.
A city remembers itself when I’m in it.
Everywhere I’ve gone to
will get me back
to where I am now.
Hooked like a trout to these bones, I stop at the porch, see you waiting.
One of us
had better cool their heels and stay a while.

~ Weyman Chan

Weyman Chan’s first book, Before a Blue Sky Moon, won the 2002 Writers Guild of Alberta Stephansson Poetry Award; his second book, Noise From the Laundry, was a finalist for the 2008 Governor General’s Award for Poetry. The poems included here are from his third book, Hypoderm, which will be published by Talonbooks in Spring, 2010.
“‘Home’ to me means any kind of real or imagined construct of familiarity, comfort or solace that I come to associate as part of who I am… so I then form emotional attachments to it: all of us need to build a sense of personal history, and finding a place to call home satisfies this deep, underlying need.”

Read more of Weyman Chan’s poetry: here

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