The Duncameron 1: Beverage Lids

Posted: November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

CONTEXT: August, 2011

When I decided to take on the challenge of writing 100 poems based on the titles of 100 Duncan Shields poems, I knew it would be difficult, and it has been, but not in the way I had envisioned. The problem is not the enforced creativity, but the fact that there are so many other things I also want to write and I only have so much writing time in me.

For the first piece, the inspiration came quickly because it was something already rattling around in my head. After I performed this at Capital Slam I was asked if it was about The Recipe. Yes and no. The tour I was on when these ideas came to me was the Southern Ontario tour I did with The Recipe (hence the references to Sarnia and Markham… though we didn’t perform in Sarnia), but the ideas are not specific to that tour. Rather it is me taking my limited touring experience and extrapolating it out – trying to see what it would feel like to do this all the time.

Hopefully some of my fellow artists who tour much more than I do can tell me if this matches the way they feel when they are on the road.

I don’t know what Duncan’s poem was about, but I would be pretty surprised if it was about being a touring poet.

    The Duncameron 1: Beverage Lids

A half-finished,
Coke bottle
Keeps me from using the
Arm rest.
It’s probably for the best
As each inconvenience
Forces my eyelids up –
Each slip risking a multi-ton
Meeting of the minds –
Car versus guardrail.
The red screw top
Joining its cousins –
Water bottles, Styrofoam
Coffee cups – the detritus
Of the road, collecting
Among feet – Poets are
Sleeping, leaning on
One another in an unconscious
Brothers of the road,
Sleeping away trials and
Where planning for the future
Extends only to the next show,
Or sometimes the next rest stop,
Hoping that 3am gas stations
Provide a road junkie’s fix.
Caffeine and sugar acting as
A chemical substitute for sleep
As the tour reaches the
Ruby slipper point
And the taste for adventure
Balances against the pull of home.
But we are the new Maritimers,
Feeling the call of the sea,
Casting off our bowline
And kissing our lovers,
We dreamers
Of whitecaps and salt spray
But the roll of the waves
Is the turning of tires,
Asphalt beneath goodyear
After goodyear –
Luggage in the rear
As we become monks
Taking vows of poverty,
Happy with a change of clothes
And books for writing –
Highways for riding,
Maps for finding
The next town,
The next venue,
The next family to take
In travelling poets to
Help pretend that this is
Vacation, not vocation
And 3am on a dark highway
With a car full of sleeping poets
Is the perfect place
For pondering
Purity of purpose.
When inspiration is your job,
Is it still inspiration?
But aren’t we all paid,
Whether in accolades,
Slam scores,
Or just enough dollars
To move further on the
Highway – one step down
To the next bar, hall,
Or high school –
Trading inspiration for
But we are the
Travelling bards who will
Trade bits of art for a
Jug of wine, a crust of bread,
And the idea that a word
Can make a difference.
The beverage lids
Layer to mark the
Passing of time as the
Floor of my car becomes
An archeological dig –
Soft drinks in Sarnia,
McCoffee in Markham.
Making it harder to click
Our heels together, saying
There is no place like home
There is no place like home
There is no place like home

But once here, the sea calls
And these blacktop sailors
Look for the next horizon,
The next city,
The next audience
To remind us –
Why Art?

  1. […] being pretty happy with my first stab at a Duncameron poem, Beverage Lids, I tackled the next […]

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