Four Poems – Susan Haldane


Fleeing north just ahead of the storm,
aim to reach home before the front
hits: the radio is all apocalypse
and we choose to burn
or freeze in our own beds; mud
in our mouths, or wind. We know
how we have conjured this. Yet
here we are again, driving
and driving, our headlights flash
against mileposts and markers
the only illumination in the country
where light is already extinguished.
Lead us not into temptation. Deliver us
for we cannot resist the Siren
highways – how they beckon
from the maps; how they fly
through the Shield; how they sing
to the tires. Asphalt, concrete,
gravel – each a different tune,
our low, sweet dirge.

The Coyote on the Killarney Road

He steps out of thistles
and bracken up onto the asphalt,
stands in the road til you stop,
walks around to the driver’s
door, looks you in the eyes.

He makes a living, you learn later,
stopping tourists for food. But
you’re smarter than that. You take
his picture with your phone
and drive on.

You imagine this is wilderness
but coyotes are not even native
here and your wildest imagination
is not wild enough.


The sparrow stuck
in the long departure
hall pauses on a high
ledge over Gate D28,
then cuts ever lower,
more urgent arcs
above banks of empty
seats, its chirp unnatural
in the white morning
hum. What sort
of portent is this?
A boy in Blue Jays jersey
says look dad, the bird’s
sitting on the TV but
otherwise no one looks
up, having no aptitude
for omens. Every thing’s
askew. Hopeless,
these feathers.

Tunnels of Love

               -to my husband’s arterial stents

You Venetian wonders,
canalling salt rivers bent
on farthest ports. You
lace creations, sent
to embroider walls
of heart’s home.
You clever tubes,
whisking blood’s ardent
message through the body’s
busy city. We repent
fast foods, misspent
minutes. You’ve eased
pent pressure, you’ve
enlarged our hours, lent
years to our days.
You mesh marvels, you deliverers
of lifeblood, sanguine, fluent.
You tunnels of love.

Susan Haldane lives on a farm in northern Ontario Canada. Her book Hard Bargain Road was recently released with Gaspereau Press, which also published her chapbook Picking Stones. Her work has been published in a number of Canadian journals, and in Best Canadian Poetry 2020. You can find her at Twitter: @haldaneford

Banner Art: Across the top of our world, an image by Robert Frede Kenter. Twitter: @frede_kenter.

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