A Bumblebee of a Book

Forgotten Work
by Jason Guriel
(Biblioasis, 2020, 216 pp. $14.95)

When I imagine the Canadian poet/critic Jason Guriel being asked to describe his Forgotten Work, my heart goes out to him. He could take the easy way out and simply say it’s a novel in verse. But that would be like saying that the Odyssey is a poem about a trip. Nothing for a reviewer to do but to take a deep breath, square the shoulders, and attempt a more adequate description of this most unusual book.


Is it wrong to wonder if Yeats or James
Would ever have soared to single names
Without some thrust from the rocket packs
Affixed by fortune to their backs?
Their fathers, I mean. Both breeds apart:
One an acolyte of art,
One of language lashed to thought—
Their sons among the works they wrought.
Maybe if I’d been dealt a dad
A tenth the size of those they had…
As if I wouldn’t have settled for
A dwarf with an interior,
My father having as good as none
For all he let me into one….
That’s not to say he’d never hug
A tyke he termed a doodlebug.
To think those scraps of such a love
Were somehow sustenance enough.

Case Study

For Alice


Of an evening maybe thirty years ago,
A woman I was getting to know
Had the misfortune of asking me
How I’d found my way to poetry.
I answered till the east was coming to.
She didn’t seem all that put out,
But that’s as far as my story got
(I.e., not halfway through).

A Poet Sings the Blues

Me & the Originator
By Al Basile
(Sweetspot, 2018, $13.76)

Poet and musician Al Basile has come up with an interesting concept for his latest CD, Me & the Originator: a story told through an alternation of thirteen poems and twelve songs. Yet this concept may not be the most interesting thing about the project.

Where We Are


A splash with Locke
and reason ripples out, washing
a century hence on the far shore that’s art.
Some dwellers there re-see
the received; find themselves
shucking the received.


A century on:
shucking done,
results in.
Abstraction a smash;
verse’s “first heave” immensely more
than holding its own.
Dissonance? Don’t ask.
All understandable. Hadn’t
eyes been abstracting for ages? Hadn’t there been
unmetered speech for eons? Whereas
Schoenberg (like a certain other seer)
was conceiving a New Man.
Which leaves us



I’ve never been in a fight;
Not the real kind
Where you want to hurt a guy
You might get damaged by:
A fact that one could find
A little peculiar, right?

If I could pull some strings
And have myself remade
As someone with the guts…
Of all the sorry thoughts
A thinker’s ever had.
Among the primal things

A god could not undo
Is a wont to run away.
Were a son of mine to come
Under a bully’s thumb,
I’d know the words to say,
But lack the standing to.