About the Author

John Pass

John Pass’s poems have been published in Canada, the US, the UK, Ireland and the Czech Republic. He is the author of twenty books and chapbooks, most notably the quartet AT LARGE, comprised of The Hour’s Acropolis (Harbour, 1991), Radical Innocence (Harbour, 1994), Water Stair (Oolichan Books, 2000)—shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award—and Stumbling in the Bloom(Oolichan Books, 2005)—winner of the Governor General’s Award. crawlspace, from Harbour in 2011, won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Forecast: Selected Early Poems (19701990), appeared in 2015. He lives with his wife, writer Theresa Kishkan, near Sakinaw Lake on BC’s Sunshine Coast.

Books by this Author


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Selected Early Poems (1970-1990)
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Radical Innocence

Radical Innocence

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A Small Blue Banknote, Dear Companion

Were you a woman, featureless in layer upon
layer of outerwear, as we struggled up the road?
And the hope we pulled through the wet snow
astir in its yellow sleepers on the little sleigh

ours? I was the way I used to be
with women. Incapable

of the inevitable, incapable of grace
in the final hours: fearful, angry
grieving already, self-pitying. . .

until we got off the streetcar and could see
how they were shelling the old city, see the arc
entire of the mortar, the miraculous distance we'd come

from the shuddering explosions. Here the atmosphere
is distinctly middle-eastern, that hour between
too late at night and too early in the morning
the air soft as if a new faith or delusion

were being born from old texts, the hand-worn
hieroglyphics-tentative, reaching, calm.
It's my small blue banknote

the last between us, gets us into the nearly closed
cafe, the mezes and Turkish coffee before me
you a step out the door in the neutral light

half-turned, half-smiling, getting away
and on the bar the heap
of hastily torn scraps of paper.
A hatful upturned of ticket stubs, ad hoc ballots?

Unmarked, enigmatic, left to me. . .
all of our nameless chances to win.

Terminal Velocity

Ask the man going in to his sleepless son last thing
for a further word re the carburetor.

Likewise the water rising in the tub
as you eased under.
Was it hot enough, Archimedes? Sudsy?

A nibble anon Mr. Newton, or what's an apple for?
Beneath the force that makes the apple fall

the best ideas are domestic, that old sink
for watercress in the garden's wet corner

a lock-nut on the idle screw, red pepper jelly --

or just when she's got the kids off to school
pouring her second coffee
and you call down

"Hey, honey, come back to bed a moment."

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Stumbling In The Bloom

Stumbling In The Bloom

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The Hour's Acropolis

The Hour's Acropolis

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Apex, high anchor
of an April sky mishandled
so to splash the night, sans moonlight

upon us freely to the lees -
well never see, listing

in frog pause, steep Chablis
of Narcissus sleeping nearly

how our wonder is undone, unravels
how we've lost

you, locating Leo.
Or one said, "Ride
the dipper. It's nothing,"

and then above the racket
of the ratchets clacking
under our ascending car, peak

of that propelling climb
"You're gonna die."
But didn't.

But done before we knew it. And hard
on the heels of mesh and meld
weld personal
a cooling song

of all things wants apres

her rudimentary handle on
the far light, its libation.

Us in Everything

What to make of light
is issue

against the nay-
-sayers, turners-away
but for them at length

who swim too in its puzzlement

raising their glasses
into its assurances, modest vocabulary

of qualities in and around and upon
definities of objects and ethers, clarities

of isolation

but of itself
what is it, despite our successes

aslant here in the tulips, there
in the white flash blindness

commencing and concluding the opened
atom's invitation? Some simple telling

image drowns
in any human eye for it, a smile's
infusion, eddies of pollen
on the windshield

signals the singular singing again
of the invisible making us see and seen.

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Water Stair

Water Stair

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