rob mclennan





from Hark, a journal: 1032-1863

for Christine,



It follows that if one speaks of literality, one is talking about a position alreadyformulated, orally or in writing, whatever be the truth of the phrase.

                        Emmanuel Hocquard, Crosscut Universe: Writing on Writing from France



San Francisco, 1848


Assisi, the foot of the Golden Gate. Suite, an anonymous task. Thankless. Love, are you listening. Compositions in crisis. I am finally now warm enough. A forest of missions, flood gold in the conifers. The drilling of blood, dissatisfaction. Wonderful scraps. Spanish port in a storm. Your tiniest hands. I was returning to welcome. My stay doesn't take me.



Petersburg, 1712


Baltic Sea, a czar, a saint. Sees only self, messages of city death. Call back Peter, Paul. Arrange, a language without walking. Prisoners of a solvent war. Do stratified, we double, mute in prose? Sex in the distinguished dark, text ages. According to plan. Canals a grid, exemplified. Would evident. I would disarm this plan. Checkerboard, he kings me.



Washington, 1814


James Madison's dinner. Books, handmade copies. A fiction of characters. This neutral room, without speech. Slight of hand torch, sweeping whitewash. Six letters of sky. We were simultaneously, starved. This window-clear sun. Through strict discipline, captured. Branded him as a ruffian. Troops had gathered great wealth. It was not my mother's job. In a panic. We'd come here to live.



Mexico City, 1521


Cortes, the kilter. An elegy, worthy of figuring. Appointment to rifle. Imagine a passion-flower. Trapezoids, drawn. Recording, I am in pain. Some grey lines, gold. Introduction of letters, lined chocolate. To a certain degree, feminine. I am having an atom bomb. The contours of poetry. North, sentence mountains. Knows only, inferiority. Finger-marking the causeway. I heart you, premeditate.



Budapest, 1848


Someone asks, distance or near, a national insurrection. I would like to run wild. The dynamic Pest. Philosophic, one with words. There is no such death, all your life. Became a thing with others. Remember: the dry grass, the ruins. This smiling Buda. A young woman, drawing. The two banks of remarkable. Danube. Defense is difficult, plains. In fact, quite unusual. Privately, book.



Edinburgh, 1124


A small question unwinds, porcelain. This beautiful fortress. In what country this means. Extremities admit to the wound. Such glorious gulf. Scorned, from Germanic. I would like to prolong. A forest line north of. The impossible sea. Determined, your stupid heart, currency. A tribal that binds. Celtic prosody, undertow. Let me drink all of it, name we now call.



Lancaster, 1820


Calamity schema. Highlanders. He informs us in fragments. Loyalist subdivide. Available fields, and intoxicating vigor. Slippery slow, concentrated. The brink of suffocating paralysis. White thread of cheese, perch. Sleek, from paper scraps. Unclouded. Dear Mrs. Thompson, wife of late David. Opened veins of the river. Cairn at the screaming mouth. Stood once where you now. A native impossibility.



Bytown, 1832


This watershed moment. Indexing. Her name, not in cards. First raft of squared timber, sweet. Spent evenings in character. Head stuck in asphyxia. Claimed territorial. Leave deposits in shadow, aureole. Lot deformations, discoloured. Stood their ground by the stream. Imagine, canal. Thirteen crops to sustain. Tributaries, a molten shape. Suddenly, naked. Will the path never rosy. I will not be barren.



Copenhagen, 1167


One may reach by water, furtive. Volume is determined. Inlet to a Viking. Dislocated. Lattice, to a large estate. Propositions, songbirds. Proclaim an inner life. Who is that, crying? Classically trained, essentially ludic. Half a question to answer. Thinking, sleek with morning mists. Except that in the sense to copy. I would hide no castles. Borders, torn from several headlines.



Norwich, 1422


I walked, since. The borders overtake, this fortune. A letter, translated. Transparency, an unknown place. Singularity contracts. Feminine abstraction. Lament, unwinds. It whitens. Pen nor pencil, shipwreck. Prays for wider audience. What fate impunes, a throne. Once drew, a perfect rectangle. An anonymous slowness. Cultivating black thread, a studied rose. Am no longer walking.





Future Bakery: Interim Report





Tumble awake, this morning. Start from fragments. A gauntlet. Urge others, speak slowly, more. Unity precedes. A cranial. Decline to leave names.




Regular harbour, weave. Brunswick House, girlfriend. Ease down like an astronaut. What brief integrity, dialed. Composure governs. I pull my soldiered hands, small fortunes.




Children, the frame. Agency of water, fresh and unremarkable, rare. Brace, with low chairs. The sun strikes everything, rattling plastic clouds. Who is this, really? Table this, divide.




Windspeck, taste of rain. Illusions in this distance, blue. Compulsive fingernails. Battered, cleared and crawled. Hotel concordance, congress. In passing, spark tongues. Suppress. These rooms are legion.




Mechanical lineage. By the way, no longer. Sorry flightless birds. Submit is not the word. The right lane ends. All these coloured pencils. A shelf-life. Blueprint grit. She worries: where we cease to be.




A corkscrew, distance. Impatient, leaf. Sweet fragrance. Hotel, sustains. Time changes colour. Coffee cools, and something moves. Synopsis: boundaries. Hips and dashed integrity. Relieved, we plummet.




Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa. The author of more than twenty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, his most recent titles are the poetry collections A (short) history of l. (BuschekBooks, 2011), grief notes: (BlazeVOX [books], 2011), Glengarry (Talonbooks, 2011), kate street (Moira, 2011) and 52 flowers (or, a perth edge) (Obvious Epiphanies, 2010), and a second novel, missing persons (2009). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, Chaudiere Books (with Jennifer Mulligan), The Garneau Review (, seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics ( and the Ottawa poetry pdf annual ottawater ( He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at