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Issue II – POETIC SYSTEMS – Klara du Plessis

This is a walking poem we wrote along Dundas Street in Toronto in 2014. We stopped at the end of each block and wrote, walking west to east. When we got to Nadia's cousin's house, we combined our writs into the couplets of the poem.

The voices are distinguished by different fonts—Erin in line 1, Nadia in line 2.



Dundas Street Walking Poem
Toronto, Summer 2014


205 Crawford

Yellow lilies and a swept stoop
The birds say everything at once as if it were the last evening


Pleasure announcing purple mustard a howling songbird a single pea vine, hot gold
Sealed brown unmarked, her shoulder glows


Super four variety lottery tickets, gifts fecund and a shy benzy, the lake breath rolling in
Among children at the flower store a ringleader in rainbow stripes, her gestures hold her future standing wave


Everything happens in a block. Twins, men, ranunculus, statues of shy desire, dealership flags encircle the church
The choreography of traffic, the pointillism of stop signs, the moving picture windows

Gore Vale

Healing the community through sunlight
2 oil drums, 4 recycling bins, about a hundred flattened cardboard boxes await resurrection. Inanimate. Does the gate come to them?


Telepathic relay, fearless we do not obey animals, mom, torture or the company of saints
War God Human Sodomy Telepathic Relay Flattery Third Eye Watch Lucky Iron Soul Golden Age Fearless Witch


One way arrow up at a diagonal, a bird yelps, a sidewalk unfolds our Everest
Her leopard skin chiffon catches the oranging unperturbed by her audiences


New exquisite comelight on a piquant block, a hooting old goat
Hero. I feel quite heavy. You cannot force the future. In the seventies I made a left. No matter what we’ve done. People run. They fly over water.


An as yet unknown guide walks in front or beside or on soundwaves
Four men in a car all look at us. The driver flicks his cigarette


Sleep furiously we glide into the letters in signs, in chalk, metal, sleep furiously on shrink wrapped couches
Modern romance is dead. Sleep furiously. It’s a double headed gryphon


Ideas in crops hide. Soon come pulses of burgundy and birdsong. Feed us
Sundresses on dates, in packs, Fridaying May away, will they be cold tonight?


We can’t dance if we want to but we can 24 hours and a store for little myriad lights
Somewhere behind these buildings the sun has set, leaving only its upstretched hands to pat the walls to sleep


Dusk comes in a long block of hungers, moral curve, feast. Do you?
Dreadlock punks practice tattoos in sketch books at table in park. Laughter. I smell a joint


Brick and shit windows across from new win bright punctuated elaborately by evening birds
Pepper. A paper maché dog. Win’s flowers.


Temptation. Women are brothers in the night, men broken records I’ll cry to
Temptation. What if we treated our bodies as if they were alive? What if we treated our stories as if they were alive?


Men approaching a bank, approaching an intersection, a fire, a lake
Her oversize T-shirt says Candy in body sized block letters. Her mouth is downturned; her mouth is dragging her feet


Duck gizzards chicken heart diabetes cancer everything is possible. To eat to cure to catch
Factory price to public


To envision chaos is good as life, the extravagance of
Billboards reach greed claws dripping hoping to infect my lines


Silver jaws of night laughing and wishing for cigarettes and the unknown guest
The trolley car tracks bend my eye in opposing directions sensual and overpowering pulling at cohesion

St. Patrick

City folds novelty gives way to waves of eighteen carat information. I’m growing borders again just to survive and to stroll
Seed husks crowd against the curb, the poles, the door frames. Brown-silver congregations do not take root or flight here


Police trees police glass police shimmer police climate police breeze and a floor of unsaid architecture
Facial familiarities (mom dad daughter) defy the anonymous towers


“guys are smart. Let me find a girl with a car. On his birthday she bought 375 dollars worth…”
3 piles of pylons: squat and yellow toothed, tall lean and nonchalant, square and steady, a pylon to come home to


Corporate printing houses line the mountain sides, thrum thrum thrum
Each window has a waiter in a white shirt. Same smile


A man looks like my father and all varieties of noise organize
They all look the same, suddenly


The part of the city I don’t know how to see
“We’re trying to pull all nighters and just leave the TV on anyway”


Stimulus beyond beside between until under towards my salient ideas
What are you craving? Night shapes on Bay street: triangles holding hands, ovals bend together, rectangles safe


In trees, on horses, on beach beside horse in a green gown, ocean, jungle, shirtless wherever
The streetlights chirp and ping. All these voices sound automated to me. Drunk and bowing in the flow of foot traffic


Rooftop on a Friday, slope sitting like it ain’t no thing, it’s everything. Dundas Square as Manson’s Hall
Friday night fronting – hopes high


We cross the border from cheap goods to church lighting, the walks go side to side, bodies warble
No one is here. This intersection is closed on every side. He walks with his shoulders propelling


Crossing into boredom into gold foil on pavement pizza pizza looking good, exhaustion of the I
Seeing the city like this feels blunt, trying to see its heart but listening too hard I keep hearing surface patterns. “I was, like, in San Francisco. Gay? They’re so hot. You have no idea.”


The fast talking guy in pin stripes and saints “Abdul 647 …1499”
I see the sameness rolling days writing ruts into the streets “Abdul 647 616 1499”


Karaoke choir sings modern people from an edifice, women and men as different kinds of beings
I hear men in a bar I am unmoved by their shouting I am a maroon hammer


We are living greatly in our ramshackle ideas disappointed and tired of beauty all around us. And what people in the centre appear to us as
One brother is tall and the other is smaller and sclerotic. It’s been too long says one, Too long says the other. Same smile


Open up the possibilities by the tail. Here sex wars dance for us along the open road
Slumped against a pile of cinder blocks, cross-legged, asleep


The painful zone of the city
No less concrete but feels like a neighbourhood again. I feel suspicious eyes on my notebook


I am still thinking about the back of his neck in the piss smelling breeze on the stoop of the true love café, how pain can be carved in a neck
His face covered in tattoo tears, drip down his throat into his collar


A green edge of money, ivy dogwood blooms yes we are doing some research
They party in the store, food and spices, kids and grandparents, all dressed up


And so royal oak in pilgrims watch and research the end of pilgrimage for the night
The evening breeze. He carries a viola



Erin Robinsong (she/her) is a poet and interdisciplinary artist working with ecological imagination. Her debut collection of poetry, Rag Cosmology, won the 2017 A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and she is the author of Liquidity (House House Press, 2020) and Wet Dream (Brick Books, 2022). A PhD student at Concordia University, Erin’s research-creation work focuses on transcorporeal poetics. With scholar and place-based educator Michael Datura, she recently organized a Geopoetics Symposium & Residency on Cortes Island. Collaborative performance works with Andréa de Keijzer and Hanna Sybille Müller include This ritual is not an accident; Facing away from that which is coming; and Polymorphic Microbe Bodies. Originally from Cortes Island, Erin is grateful to make her home in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal.

Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, of Indian descent, Nadia Chaney (she/her) has been professionally active since 2002 in poetry, music, creative non-fiction, visual arts, social practice, and performance installation. At the core of these tentacular practices is community art and the belief that creativity is a birthright for all beings of the world, human and beyond. She holds a master’s degree in Imaginative Education and a certificate of advanced graduate studies in Expressive Arts Therapy.  Her current work is with the Time Zone Research Lab, a non-local and nonlinear community for arts-based research into the nature of time and temporality.