The Hart House Review 2015 Winter Supplement
1a. JACOB WREN
I don’t mind being wrong. I don’t mind writing things, and publishing
them, and then later realizing they were in fact completely or partially
wrong. I don’t mind someone reading something I wrote and disagreeing
with it, or even thinking I’m an idiot. (Though I do at times feel it is my
job as an artist to activate honest or vulnerable reactions in and around
my words.) When I read something, I am not looking for it to tell me
how things are. I want to consider it, question it, decide for myself, agree
or disagree, be provoked or refuse to be provoked. I want to read two
different, intelligent, well-written texts that argue almost opposite points
of view and consider all the ramifications of how they relate to each
other, conflict and intertwine. I’m not saying there is no truth, but rather
truth is the thoughts we choose to fight for, and in doing so we must
continuously consider other possible perspectives on each matter. I fear
that people who want to be right see thought as a sport and they want
to win. I’ve never been good at winning, so perhaps when I say ‘I don’t
mind being wrong’ it is only a form of sour grapes. But I wonder: how
is it possible to really know what one is doing? To write something and
think: now I’ve really got it. Not to hope one might still think something
remarkably different in the future, might still have the good fortune to
completely contradict oneself. At the same time, I don’t want to only be
wrong, I don’t want to get more and more wrong the further I go, or to
be my own worst enemy. And realizing I was wrong about something in
the past does not mean that suddenly now I’ve got it all figured out. Of
course, constantly changing my mind about every single thing all the time
is exhausting, so I agree (with myself) to think a few things for the time
being. Time heals all wounds.
1b. JACOB WREN
It’s true that I’m at war with myself
and that nothing good can come from being
at war with oneself
but I think your work might benefit
from being at war with yourself
just a little bit more
And by you I mean all of you
at war with oneself and at war with
and against war
completely, utterly and totally
against it and in it
For war one requires an army
I am not an army
often I don’t know what I am
where there is fascism one
must fight against it
there are so many things one must
some committing crimes of pure power
are evil while others are only misguided
and evil is also misguided
I change so little
how can I expect others to change more?
I know it is naïve and trite
to speak so generally
about such general things
but I’m not afraid of being naïve
and I’m not afraid of being wrong
Read our interview with Jacob Wren.
2. ADAM GREGORY
There is a substratum tick at the edge of the nerve, embedded in a
spindle of synapse and white heat.
It has been mandated by the British Empire, (1) and it feeds the Zombies
in Minecraft (I think), waiting for night to wrap itself around
cube-shaped blocks of human endeavour.
It’s Count Orlok at the end of a dark hallway, steps from my door. The
light breaks and he’s there – the length of a KitKat (2) from my nose.
I am afraid of it telling me I deserve more, that I’ve been cheated. I don’t.
I haven’t been. (3) So I live like a parade. Oblique to a level of desire,
petaled, (4) that I keep within my body, a pantomime injustice safe from
the corruption of a dimensional life. Outside of circumstance or story.
From beauty, I recede into myself in layers, to Star Trek, (5) or a place
where I guard my solitude, (6) gnarled in the bed of some ancient Oak,
rooted to the register of the 7Eleven munchies line.
I am with all of them. Waiting. High. Angry. Wandering where the
universe swells with star-eating 7Eleven light.
Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
I’m sorry, Dave, I can’t do that. (7)
Make it so. Please.
3. BAYLEIGH FRASER
Waking Up / Like Boobs On The Ground
This morning I drank seven cups of coffee
and it was the best mistake of my life––
my son’s voice louder than the sizzle of the pot,
than the frequency of Mickey Mouse, than my feet
from room to room, making the eggs, undoing
the morning, mess by mess, little by little.
I guess I am little. I mean, look at my chest.
I mean, I do a little mothering. I mean, at the crosswalk
the driver doesn’t see me or the double, convertible
stroller attached to my body like a third breast,
and as he passes, he laughs. He never looks back
to see my middle finger riding the wind,
a sharp blade of grass. It’s like that, my smallness.
It’s a piece among, against many. I’m used to it
because I have children. I’m used to it because this morning,
after my fourth cup, my husband kissed my forehead
and left for work, and I felt the burn inside my throat,
and I couldn’t speak, and this is familiarity.
Like a plane, I’ve landed. I’m in position, on time,
as expected, and this is how I describe myself.
Through the haze of Brazilian, the news anchor asks,
like boobs on the ground?
“… an ongoing series of pencil drawings created while watching cartoons.
This investigation into unconscious activity while in a television-induced
state of meditation also explores my struggle to reconcile seemingly opposing
media interests. Automatic art techniques are experiencing a renaissance due
to rapid technological advancement. This is not of particular interest to me,
as my concerns are significantly more regressive and low-tech. My inspiration
for this project was wanting to watch the Fleischer Studios cartoons I watch-
ed as a child instead of doing schoolwork.”
4. BEN LADOUCEUR
222 The Esplanade
Away to say the least –
even the mattress impression fluffed
out, even the bubbles
gone from the soda he chugged
most of, then left, for trains
are inflexible, they await
no man. I am a roommate:
if I am home, I say so
by closing the bedroom door
behind which we made a game
of keeping the sodomy quiet
all morning long. The first week
of a new lease is a forest mnemonics
get lost in: once you’re settled you forget
the painting of the caribou did not
always live above the white lamp.
You grazed every wall with its
back, unsure if it belonged.
The room did not always brim
with such vacancy. First, someone
loved you while exiting it.
5. ANDY VERBOOM
Counting Half The World
The toes of boy-soldiers love a storm, burning the boulevard
to shape from muck uncountable rainwater bowls. Rain gathers
they call it blessed. Behind the shop, the pale ajnabiyyeh boy
drops his shirt because I ask, his chest so freckle-draped nipples
can only be accounted by touch. Wall of sandstone where sun
marks the days of its captivity. The twists put into rope
by a courtyard of women, the hands of Grandmother’s business.
As if youth were the shaft of an arrow sticking through one’s life
certain innumerables continue their occupation
years after, their stiff trajectory stalled in an abscessed lung.
Mongols knock at the gate, demand a surrenderers’ tribute
and we hunch in our treasuries, shaving the edges of coins
that half the world might be minted out of nothing. The silver
worm-heaps crackle like knuckles over flame, gold swims in puddles.
Riots, the throats of the khan’s horsemen slit, his tax collectors
burnt in their tents, but in the week before Timur the Lame rides
back from the front to nail death to Isfahan like a horseshoe
there is still no quantity enough. Meals cripple with hunger
tongues buzz in circles, dreams of syrupy thunder fold through night
to plunge us to our waists, and early workmen are thrown-out drunks
driving their inelegant brick-chocked mules to the damaged walls.
The last panicked cork of air shot up from a sinking body
they are released. Burnt-out Isfahan, a charcoal sketch against
sky; black cavalry grumbling far off. Wake me, alone, nudged
along this false ocean’s belly, another atom of sand
in a vast abacus, I will tell you what I saw. The whole
city, only twenty-eight towers still standing there, and this
I count this meticulously, fifteen hundred heads make each.
6a. IRIS LIU
from Time Isn’t Passing It’s You Passing*
16 October. The secret laid bare. What breath
was left, in that empty apartment––(An open window
in the country,––I moved in.
I knew not then
I was one among them
the leaves in fall
–––––––––(if I remember
–––––––––from the Berlin lectures: At the beginning
–––––––––of thought, we can produce everything
–––––––––and at the same time––God,
–––––––––and by virtue of this He groundlessly exists.
––––Schelling had me at
grows? Where is the beginning
of thought, if it is thinking,
and not yet Thought itself––
alone, ––Is it you, my ghost, an open window
in a country house,
(and how I spoke to you––
––the bird that flown,
along the path of the West itself?
* TIME ISN’T PASSING IT’S YOU PASSING is an epistolary chap-
book project by IRIS LIU and MICHAEL CAVUTO. Click here to
read another piece from the project.
7. HAMISH BALLANTYNE
Down past the trees a
ways, way down the
A ways away down on the
there’s a kid waving
like mad waving one
waving waving waving
the vast electric
Mystic Beach, 2014
Click here to read about the Winter Supplement in print.