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Poetry General

The Monument Cycles

by (author) Mariner Janes

Initial publish date
Apr 2012
General, Canadian
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    Publish Date
    Apr 2012
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The Monument Cycles investigates our relation to monuments and works of public art, ranging from memorials to cenotaphs, expressing our desire to capture the fleeting and intangible. Speaking specifically to the city of Vancouver, these poems focus explicitly on the impoverished Downtown Eastside, exploring the narrator’s experiences working in the poorest postal code in Canada. 

About the author

Contributor Notes

Mariner Janes was born in Victoria, BC, and raised in East Vancouver. His books include The Monument Cycles (forthcoming from Talonbooks) and blueprint, a chapbook. He has also been published in the literary journal West Coast Line. While studying at Simon Fraser University, he co-edited iamb magazine, a venue for new and emerging writers. 


Janes works in Vancouver’s troubled and inspiring Downtown Eastside, and aims to bring the multitude of voices he finds there into his work, through found poetry, transcription, and storytelling. He is currently at work on a second collection of poetry that peers into the lives and deaths of social and environmental figures from around the world.

Excerpt: The Monument Cycles (by (author) Mariner Janes)

ginsberg and kissinger argue in a late-night supermarket
bomb bay, or, political power comes through the barrel of a sunflower


“political satire became obselete when kissinger
was awarded the nobel peace prize.”      -tom lehrer


what thots i had of you, henry kissinger, for i
walked under an atomic sky in silent alleys
with a headache self-conscious, looking at the angry moon.
in my angry fatigues, and shopping for images,
i went into the neon supermarket, dreaming of your conspiracies!
what obfuscations, what pomegranates!  whole nuclear families
shopping at night!  aisles full of chilean dictators!  mercenaries in the
avocadoes, hand grenades in the tomatoes!  and you, allende, what
were you doing down by the bananas?
i saw you, kissinger, hateful, lonely old bastard, 
poking among the corpses in the refrigerator, and eyeing
the cambodian grocery boys.
i heard you asking questions of each: who killed capitalists?
what price human life?  are you my antichrist?
i wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cruise missiles
following you, and followed in my imagination by the c.i.a.
where are we going, kissinger?  the doors close in
an hour.  where does your gun point tonight?
 (i touch your ears and dream of our fight in the
supermarket and feel forlorn)
will we stroll dreaming of the lost america of love,
past green tanks in driveways, home to our oval office?
ah, dear horn-rims, lonely old assassin,
what america did you have when charon quit poling his ferry
and you got out on the smoking aisles and stood watching
the floor of the supermarket yawn wide, and
the watermelon bombs disappear into the black sky beneath?




tripped the light fantastic, then just tripped
spit sunfire, echoed coins roman and cold
back to alert bay, to honesty's goodbye basin
hello bodega y quadra compass quandary


o lines frenetic, o lines unstraight and bloodwavering
crossing and recrossing and recrossing
cut through with territorial growing pains
o those pesky inhabitants, o silt of watered earth
trust me, there was no-one there when we arrived
it was the cleanest of slates
trust me, it's still clean


what is there to see?  what land is opened,
pleads furrowing, pleads own?
spoiled parallels, quadracepted and inverted
in tune with the local culture and economy


the prow cut through the water cleanly and left
a wide swath of history and ash
we drank cups of international tea, bloodlines furrowed
across the soil
and the sand