Linda King

this thing we call home

place is always
a relationship    a continuing
stumbling string of Christmas lights

snap the cracker    make a wish
sudden wreckage
among all this ordinary
shoebox photographs
racking up alibis

that’s the problem with cruelties
with broken blood
and this thing we call home
salt to the wound

there is no pardon
just his one whole day    distilled by surprise
a difficult rising    coveting magic

hold on to the night
to your splendid patent dancing shoes
there are red balloons
where the pebbled paths meet
they mark the frayed edges
and potholes

voices over stretched wire
stir the air    nocturnal music
has such a tidy elegance
somewhere beyond wanting

you sleep with the windows open
remember to ask the moon
what payment is required
for leftover light

we all have maps to insufficient shelter

the tormentor walks through the subway cars
distributing alphabet letters

this is a replay of your old fever dream
the one with the forever connecting rooms

the passengers keep asking    what time is it.
what is the name of the next station?

are there
sleeping arrangements?

no one is a paying customer
we all have reward points to redeem

we all have maps
to insufficient shelter

we are all listening
to the sound of heavy machinery

we are all holding our dregs and dreams
and guidebook lists of small comforts

through the dusty windows
we can see the daylight leave the sky


you translate the stories    wear a cold weather coat    carry fear
into every small hour    draw a line as thin as dew    you have a
solid understanding of what can break you

lean into that dark air    strange and rich    follow that doctor with
the bulging file folder    no one asks the questions that matter
when the weather gets dangerous    you want an interpretation

settle for the dark thanks of the underworld    tricks of memory
a net to catch the unwary    sorrow is not a proper judgment
usually what is broken remains broken

Linda King is the author of five poetry collections (Dream Street Details (Shoe Music Press, 2013), Reality Wayfarers (Shoe Music Press, 2014), No Dimes for the Dancing Gypsies (BlazeVOX Books, 2016), Ongoing Repairs to Something Significant (BlazeVOX Books, 2017), and Antibodies in the Alphabet (BlazeVOX Boks, 2019). Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals in Canada and internationally (including Otoliths). She has been nominated for Best of the Net and for the Pushcart Prize.

King lives and writes by the sea on The Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada.
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