Once More for the People in the Back | Chris Banks

3 mins read

Books are my morphine. Ditto the sun. If night is secular, 

why do I seek its blessing? I’d rather build a paper kingdom 

then bend a knee, or kiss anyone’s ring. Words are joiners.

They connect to everything, inexactly, like how oil paints

connect the naked young model, half-shrouded in a white

bedsheet, to the artist in the chilly airless room. I say

anything, anything, under my breath like a hymn. Whose

century is this? Too early to tell. My muse is a bricked-up

window. A phone booth with its cord cut. My ardent wish 

is that a little wisdom will tempt you to let go of your caution

before the calvary arrives too late. Before the rain sulks, 

ruining the wedding. Hope is rapacious. You can’t bottle up

lyricism. We drink its contents thirsty for what is new. 

I like to think of myself as a prodigy of serial monogamy. 

Sometimes the right phrase shines through. To where? 

It’s a toss-up between a dark forest circling my childhood, 

and a forgotten shopping mall full of people seeking escape. 

No ideas but in brand clothing, says the mall’s directory.

Who is going to do our dirty work? Hackneyed little men 

are always willing to put up grubby little hands. The afterlife 

is no longer taking reservations so try further down the street.

Billions of stars, and not one of them hear us down here

squabbling over physics, low-income housing, this sonnet

which is not a sonnet but a riot of voltas. I’m picketing

for enlightenment over lobotomies. Really, I would like nothing

more than to listen to you read just three more sad poems 

after anaesthetizing a local crowd seated at small candlelit tables,

but look! There is a field of dandelions all losing their minds, 

in unison! A dorm room kid is saying I love you in the dark! 

Wonder biopsied is still wonder. Without any irritable reaching after facts, 

I dare you to look at a rose bush. Connect these dots.

Chris Banks is a Canadian poet and author of six collections of poems, most recently Deepfake Serenade out with Nightwood Editions (Fall 2021). His first full-length collection, Bonfires, was awarded the Jack Chalmers Award for poetry by the Canadian Authors’ Association in 2004. Bonfires was also a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry in Canada. His poetry has appeared in The New Quarterly, Arc Magazine,, American Poetry Journal, Prism International, among other publications. He lives and writes in Kitchener, Ontario.