Kitchener, Ontario

In which the Writer wonders whether Auden was right

Poetry makes nothing happen over and over. Nothing
slides into your life and heaves itself onto your tall
lap. What a load of old bollocks. Nothing weighs
you down; you squeeze out from under and it lolls

at your feet, never shifts itself. Nothing’s a lazy bastard.
Its great galumphing absence slows you. You trip
over its long naked tail on your way to the cellar,
where you want to hide from the nothing ripped

from poetry. Spiders spin webs between your fingers.
Arachnids know from nothing. So does damp.
Something shuffles from behind the box of books
you saved from the fire, curling adventures and camp

manuals, something small shambles out. It’s
near-sighted and does not love your excuses.
Something’s ugly and nothing’s got the long
sick suck of shallow good looks. It’s got its uses.

It burns the fat of time in heat units of revision.
Your undivided attention. Nothing’s your decision.

Tanis MacDonald lives and writes in Kitchener, Ontario, where she is assistant professor of Canadian literature in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her new book, Rue the Day, is available this April from Turnstone Press. Visit her online at


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