not a good mother's day for all...

clutch of bluebird eggs gone... the pair are building another nest.

Three Poems by Nyla Matuk

What Critics Do


Is it 

Captain Tolstoy?

Your Royal Highness Beyoncé?

Viceroy Napoleon?

Admiral Dostoyesvsky?

Right Honourable Sanders?

President Rodham Clinton?

Rear Admiral Albright?

His Holiness the Barack Obama?

Lady Kennedy?

Chief Operating Officer Kardashian?

Her Majesty Streisand?

His Royal Highness Trump?

Lieutenant-Governor Rushdie?

His Worship Bowie?

Duchess Kidman?

Your Honour West?

The Marquess El Chapo?

Countess Westheimer?

Lord Sinatra?

Princess Glück?

Queen Rampling?

Prince Heaney?

King Pierre le Premier?

Prime Minister Trudeau?



Art and Politics


Your life could cut you for holding a bias.

A bluebird darts in, spectacular tease 


of spotlight and shadow. It catches you between 

appreciating your naturally shimmering 


freedoms, and asking someone else 

what they appreciate. But enough about me, 


what do you think of me?

You could be accused of dandyism


yet there is an earnest doom-saying about you.

A system was established in the tradition 


willing to separate the issues from the community

whose collectivity created communal issues 


to begin with. You could say that painting a bad painting 

is a question of poor life choices but that your poverty is not 


bad luck, because it might be alleviated with help from 

someone with power in the alleviation arts and sciences.


Rather than compose aphorisms for posterity –

that summer swarm in a blurred mantle of woods 


standing for four hundred acres of history – you could

redeem personal desiderata available on installment.


Some magazine articles 

call this adulthood. 


Judy Chicago’s study for the Susan B. Anthony 

plate, the Georgia O’Keeffe plate. 


The intelligentsia wrings meaning from 

the apathy, autonomy, degeneration, 


and melancholy dialectics of nature and concealment.

It’s not the effects of power as much


as power’s repetitive architectural feature 

that keeps us complacent, and the design 


imperatives that reckon on a whole 

philosophy for the god-like nature of artists.


A painting hangs in a poor man’s house

a whole lifetime. It’s not that I minded 


that you’d adopted a persona, I explained, 

but before that, I knew the person underneath.



Beach Spleen


A semblance of grandstanding, temporary 

contentment in a little newspaper boat.


Picturing myself standing on my hands. 

On film, supplicant in an act of humility.

An obscura, a felt position.

I’m feeling it. You’re seeing it. 

I want a seen position, too. 


I want to see Myself the way you saw Me. 

Yet there are other worlds. 

Fields burning, horses frightening, 

a child playing peekaboo at the ha-ha.

It was never about a selfie. It was an inquiry 

into our ideas on the sublime 



point of view. 


A man walks on the horizon, 

freely given harbour and hound of love.

I sing of shells and a splendoured shutter,

of seaworthy drapery of self-erasure, 

of what I felt, of which I would never see. 

Of retrospective, point of view.

Oh I wish I could see. Me in 1975.


[Note: ‘Beach Spleen’ began as my observations on ‘The Restless Image – A Discrepancy Between the Felt Position and the Seen Position. Self-Portrait’, a 1975 photograph by Rose Finn-Kelcey which hangs at Tate Britain. When I viewed it one day in February, 2014, the curators had just placed a vase of flowers next to it, along with a notice that Finn-Kelcey had died 3 days earlier.]



Nyla Matuk is the author of Sumptuary Laws (2012), nominated for the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award for a best first book of poetry in Canada. Poems have appeared in Canadian, American and U.K. journals including PN Review, Ladowich, Prelude, The Walrus, and The Fiddlehead, among others, and in the anthologies New Poetries VI (Carcanet, 2015) and Best Canadian Poetry in English 2012 (Tightrope Books). A new book of poems, Stranger, is being published with Véhicule Press in 2016.



Image credit: nosha

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