My Mistake – The Correct Version of the Poem “Leaving Green” from my Post on Canadian Poet Martha Royea, Dec. 30th, 2019 – Sorry, Martha!

Leaving Green

Montreal, hot-as-hell August 1968. I lope along
an early morning side street of modest homes
wearing a black boy’s body, swinging
the biggest boom box you ever saw in one hand,
finger-snapping time with the other,
my lips mouthing Motown all around the town, oooh ya!

Oh, sure, I’m watching the boy from the third floor balcony
of the only walk-up on the street, my little earthbound
heart pulling me down, down into nothing but envy
‘til I turn around to where a husky-throat bad-assed lezzzbian
sits I her underpants at the kitchen table looking me up and down,
sweat tricking over her white breasts and a sidelong grin
like Mama knows best and I too wanna be a long-limbed
black boy, boom-boxing the world out of my way
in no-future, no-past hypno-bliss mojo.
What skinny white lesbian wouldn’t?

And me, summer-struck, I think I’m in love with this
pheromone machine who’s made it her business
to keep me at a distance, protect me from “the life”,
by whuich she means there are drugs involved,
and sex, sometimes in groups. I imagine a smoky room
all mattress, no lights, limbs and lips and moans
I’ve never met before and probably wouldn’t
want to on any dark-night side-street, or even
in the light of day – maybe especially in the light of day.
And smells. I imagine Melmac salad bowlas full os
multicolour mix n match-not jellybeans by any means.
You, she says to me, are a green girl from the country,
and furthermore far from home. This life is not for you.

It was worse than that; I was a married woman
with two children under six. I was running away from a fist
on a spring and a hand stuck to a beer glass perpetually full.
Running away to a sweat-steamy kitchen on a street where
black boys swing up an everyday feast for the eyes.,
set the beat of the neighborhood hormones throbbing
and move on, move on, medicine men in the making.

I was what, twenty eight? We shared a sun sign, it had to be fate.
It was lust; you know it! The bird in my belly went haywire
the first time I heard her speak, and that was years before
on the Canadair factory floor. Skinny boy-girl,
swaggering me invoices to copy in the photostat machine
that burned chemical holes in my clothes and made
my eyes burn red. That wicked husky chuckle,
those half-hooded eyes. Jesus, was I scared!

It’s because of you I married the bastard, I tell her.
Go home, she says. Come here, she means. Doesn’t she?
I cross the floor, cunt full of feathers, I cross the floor, kiss her on the lips.
I’m gong, I say. I’m going. Not home.

Martha Royea from because it was the fifities, 26 leaves with little bird media, 2012

My huge apologies to Martha Royea for omitting a crucial stanza from her poem Leaving Green in yesterday’s blog post! I have now corrected that mistake in yesterday’s post but wanted to feature the complete poem here as well. Too fine a poem to mis-publish.

This poem is a great example of Martha’s narrative flair. How she doesn’t sacrifice poetic craft for the story. How her craft enhances the dramatic impact of the narrative. How she keeps the tension and momentum in the poem by her skillfull use of syntax.  As an example listen to how well these lines add a dramatic colour to the narrator:

I was what, twenty-eight? We shared a sun sign, it had to be fate.
It was lust you know it!…

First an offhand question, then a statement followed by an even more declartive statement: It had to be fate. Then the lovely admission and contradiction: It was lust you know it. I also love how she adds for emphasis the music of the “t” sounds that end each sentence in these three sentences.And through this use of syntax I begin to get a real sense of the narrator. She comes alive on the page. She feels full-blooded and three dimensional.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *