two poems by Laura Ritland


I can rage like the best of my species.
Make my howls as do the mandrill, bonobo
or siamang. A natural, upright grief, driving
parrots away in fear of the biped. A night of eight
million years gnawing on the same speech––still,
your absence is silent as a hunted glade, tiny birds
flying off like advanced hands. At dawn,

my anger is genealogic, hairy, and complete.
The city trashcans exhale another steamy morning
and airplanes twangle their thousand metal tongues,
ugly and incomprehensible as God’s music. Darling,
I am what I was. I smash together an outfit for
a civil spring day. I stomp through the new world
and it is just like the old.


Hunting Sharks

None can say for certain if the mind is monolinear.
What familiar carcass it has stripped to bone in the dark,
eating itself sick with its lithe anger. It’s a kind of hunger

infrequently discussed. Once stirred up
by blood, say, it roves in several senses and nerves,
tears bed-sheets, breaks doors, gnaws holes

in what was yesterday honest and simple. To hunt
feels less alone. You can take a knife, dive
into the night sea, your headlamp proving a ghostly line

against your spume and fishes parting like loose pages
in the reefs. You want silver to rip open your sight.
You want to see how far you can shoot, underwater, at night.


Laura Ritland recently completed her M.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto, where she was a Junior Fellow of Massey College and the Editor in Chief of echolocation. She won The Malahat Review‘s Far Horizons Poetry Award in 2014.