9781550171488

Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets : Selected Poems 1962-1996

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  • ISBN13:

    9781550171488

  • ISBN10:

    1550171488

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1996-10-01
  • Publisher: Partners Pub Group

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Summary

A selection of poems by the man described by the Globe & Mail as "the greatest of our poets". 'Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets' includes three decades worth of thought-provoking work. Purdy personally made this selection, assisted by Sam Solecki. In these poems, Purdy ponders the remains of a Native village; encounters Fidel Castro in Revolutionary Square; curses a noisy cellmate in the drunk tank; and marvels at the 'combination of ballet and murder' known as hockey, all in the author's inimitable man-on-the-street style. This book is destined to become the standard Purdy poetry volume for many years to come.

Table of Contents

The Dead Poet (from The Stone Bird, 1981)
11(1)
Poems for All the Annettes (1962)
12(7)
Spring Song
12(1)
Remains of an Indian Village
13(2)
At the Quinte Hotel
15(2)
House Guest
17(2)
The Cariboo Horses (1965)
19(19)
The Cariboo Horses
19(1)
Song of the Impermanent Husband
20(3)
Necropsy of Love
23(1)
Hockey Players
23(3)
Home-Made Beer
26(1)
One Rural Winter
27(3)
Winter at Roblin Lake
30(1)
Roblin's Mills
30(2)
The Country North of Belleville
32(2)
Fidel Castro in Revolutionary Square
34(2)
Transient
36(2)
North of Summer (1967)
38(14)
Trees at the Arctic Circle
38(2)
Arctic Rhododendrons
40(1)
Still Life in a Tent
41(4)
When I Sat Down to Play the Piano
45(2)
What Do the Birds Think?
47(2)
The Country of the Young
49(2)
Dead Seal
51(1)
Wild Grape Wine (1968)
52(24)
The Winemaker's Beat-Etude
52(2)
Hombre
54(3)
Watching Trains
57(2)
Dark Landscape
59(2)
The Drunk Tank
61(2)
Sergeant Jackson
63(2)
Roblin's Mills (2)
65(2)
About Being a Member of Our Armed Forces
67(1)
Lament for the Dorsets
68(2)
Wilderness Gothic
70(1)
The Runners
71(3)
Over the Hills in the Rain, My Dear
74(1)
Detail
75(1)
Love in a Burning Building (1970)
76(2)
Married Man's Song
76(2)
Sex and Death (1973)
78(7)
Dead March for Sergeant MacLeod
78(1)
The Horseman of Agawa
79(2)
The Beavers of Renfrew
81(3)
For Robert Kennedy
84(1)
Sundance at Dusk (1976)
85(7)
The Hunting Camp
85(3)
Pre-School
88(1)
Alive or Not
89(2)
Inside the Mill
91(1)
A Handful of Earth (1977)
92(5)
The Death Mask
92(1)
A Handful of Earth
93(2)
Prince Edward County
95(2)
The Stone Bird (1981)
97(13)
Journey to the Sea
97(1)
May 23, 1980
98(2)
Red Fox on Highway 500
100(3)
Shot Glass Made from a Bull's Horn
103(1)
Bestiary
104(2)
In the Garden
106(1)
Moonspell
107(1)
Birdwatching at the Equator
108(2)
Piling Blood (1984)
110(14)
Piling Blood
110(2)
Gondwanaland
112(3)
In the Beginning was the Word
115(2)
Adam and No Eve
117(1)
In the Early Cretaceous
118(3)
Museum Piece
121(1)
Voltaire
122(2)
Collected Poems (1986)
124(4)
Elegy for a Grandfather
124(3)
The Smell of Rotten Eggs
127(1)
The Woman on the Shore (1990)
128(10)
The Prison Lines at Leningrad
128(1)
Quetzal Birds
129(1)
The Others
130(2)
In the Desert
132(2)
On the Flood Plain
134(2)
Seasons
136(2)
Naked with Summer in Your Mouth (1994)
138(5)
Glacier Spell
138(1)
Procne into Robin
139(1)
On Being Human
140(3)
Afterword 143

Excerpts

TRANSIENT

Riding the boxcars out of Winnipeg in a
morning after rain so close to
the violent sway of fields it's
like running and running
naked with summer in your mouth and
the guy behind you grunts and says
"Got a smoke?"

Being a boy scarcely a moment and you
hear the rumbling iron roadbed singing
under the wheels at night and a door jerking open
mile after dusty mile riding into Regina with
the dust storm crowding behind you and
a guy you hardly even spoke to
nudges your shoulder chummily and says
"Got a smoke?"

Riding into the Crow's Nest mountains with
your first beard itching and a
hundred hungry guys fanning out thru
the shabby whistlestops for handouts and
not even a sandwich for two hundred miles
only the high mountains and knowing
what it's like to be not quite a child any
more and listening to the tough men
talk of women and talk of the way things are
in 1937

Riding down in the spit-grey sea-level morning
thru dockyard streets and dingy dowager houses
with ocean a jump away and the sky beneath you
in puddles on Water Street and an old Indian woman
pushing her yawning scratching daughter
onto a balcony to yell at the boy-man passing
"Want some fun? - come on up" - and the girl just
come from riding the shrieking bedspring bronco
all the up and down night to a hitchpost morning
full of mother and dirt and lice and
hardly the place for a princess
of the Coast Salish
(My dove my little one
tonight there will be wine and drunken suitors
from the logging camps to pin you down
in the outlying lands of sleep
where all roads lead back to the home-village
and water may be walked on)

Stand in the swaying boxcar doorway
moving east away from the sunset and
after a while the eyes digest a country and
the belly perceives a mapmaker's vision
in dust and dirt on the face and hands here
its smell drawn deep thru the nostrils down
to the lungs and spurts thru blood stream
campaigns in the lower intestine
and chants love songs to the kidneys

After a while there is no arrival and
no departure possible any more
you are where you were always going
and the shape of home is under your fingernails
the borders of yourself grown into certainty
the identity of forests that were always nameless
the selfhood of rivers that are changing always
the nationality of riding freight trains thru the depression
over long green plains and high mountain country
with the best and worst of a love that's not to be spoken
and a guy right behind you says then
"Got a smoke?"

You give him one and stand in the boxcar doorway
or looking out the window of a Montreal apartment
or running the machines in a Vancouver factory
you stand there growing older


NECROPSY OF LOVE

If it came about you died
it might be said I loved you:
love is an absolute as death is,
and neither bears false witness to the other --
But you remain alive.

No, I do not love you
hate the word,
that private tyranny inside a public sound,
your freedom's yours and not my own:
but hold my separate madness like a sword,
and plunge it in your body all night long.

If death shall strip our bones of all but bones,
then here's the flesh and flesh that's drunken-sweet
as wine cups in deceptive lunar light:
reach up your hand and turn the moonlight off,
and maybe it was never there at all,
so never promise anything to me:
but reach across the darkness with your hand,
reach across the distance of tonight,
and touch the moving moment once again
before you fall asleep --

Excerpted from Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets: Selected Poems 1962-1996 by Al Purdy
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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