Three Poems by Jill M. Talbot

Jill M. Talbot

They Put My Name in a Museum

There are just as many in the “write what you know”
and the “write what you don’t” camps, like protestors
who don’t realize their signs are the same, only in
different languages: duck or rabbit.

They put my name in a museum, and I was foolish
enough to complain that they described me as “fearlessly
tackling difficult subject matter.”

I complained when there are people whose last words
were put in museums—words spoken from phones, before
the cell towers failed—before anyone knew to pick up.

I didn’t complain because I’m not fearless—nor that
there are things I cannot tackle—towers, for instance—
people falling.

I complained because I didn’t want to be defined by trauma—
because Law and Order: SVU also starts off with a warning:
“Difficult subject matter: Viewer discretion is advised.”

Personally, I’ve always been on the side of the ducks. Perhaps
the problem was always a sort of imposter syndrome.

Personally, I’ve tackled fuck all—drenched in fear like a duck
standing under sprinklers after a fire.

I complained as if any of us get a choice in the matter. Tackling
an enemy you know is different from one you don’t. But I haven’t
even tackled a raincoat.

And regardless, I only managed to stay afloat. For that, they should’ve
put somebody else’s name in the museum. A sane man, perhaps.
A fearless statue—when Jung said, “show me a sane man and I will
cure him for you,” did he mean the ducks or the rabbits?

I was fifteen and in a cult when the towers fell. Trapped in a cage
of rabbits who watched the TV like robots. Personally, I’ve always been
on the side of those who end up with the same names as hurricanes.

I should’ve gone to more museums. Some people just put their names
in wet cement. They put my name in a museum. For what? I can’t even

tackle this poem. I wanted to tell you the way my heart skipped as I read
the messages in the museum. I wanted to tell you the way the rain
feels and that poetry is the most inadequate raincoat—but sometimes

it’s just the only one you’ve got. I wanted to tell you that I haven’t
even been to the fucking museum, and it’s not my name.

I wanted to tell you, but I’m just as drenched
as you are. I wanted to tell you that if you pray,
someone will pick up. I wanted to tell you:

don’t put your name in wet cement, and always
answer your cell phone when it’s someone
you love—and love, despite the fall.

8 a.m. Wednesday

How are you?
Which version do you want?

How are you?
Breakfast tastes like coleslaw from a toilet.

How are you?
It’s welfare day.

How are you?
I am many things, few good.

How are you?
I am familiar with the question, but the answer always befuddles me.

How are you?
How is the moon?

How are you?
I’m eating for the regrets of ten.

How are you?
My kitchen is trying to murder me with oils.

How are you?
The majority of kitchen deaths occur on Monday mornings.

How are you?
I have a smile plastered on by Microsoft Paint.

How are you?
There are seven mornings, this is one.

How are you?
Caffeine is not the solution to global warming.

How are you?
I’ve been asked that before.

How are you?
The sea turtles are dying.

How are you?
I had a dream that kitchens were purgatory; the refrigerator, the exit.

How are you?
I like the smell of gasoline.

How are you?
Doesn’t everybody want to know?

How are you?
It’s too early for me to understand irony.

How are you?
Good as gold.


Did the war fuck you up?
Did being out of the war fuck you up?
How did you know?
I know you—I feel like I’m in a book.
You are.

On the curb in Sechelt, land between waters,
creator gods were sent by the divine spirit
to form the world. A male raven and a female
mink carved out the details of trees and pools
of water. Land between waters but I
felt surrounded.

He brought me six bottles of cheap rose, each
a gift he brought, each time forgetting the last.
We sat not far from the McDonald’s
and the reservation and the hostel where I
was staying until the homelessness grant
ran out.

Soldier, Don’t kill yourself until
you write a book.

I have been putting it off ever since, the way
you hear an old song on the radio and you’re
fifteen again and everything is okay because
nothing is. Nothing and everything don’t exist,
of course. After the war, nothing does.

The Sechelt people’s land, ideal for fishing,
sawmills and logging camps, was taken over
by Europeans who brought smallpox with them.

Waiting for one ferry an overly sensitive camera
warns me,         you are trespassing.

From the Nanaimo shelter, the armpit of
Vancouver Island, we used to walk along
the train tracks—afraid that to stop
would be to lose balance. Hanging out
with those who ran from popo with stolen bikes
and jib pipes and cycled the psych wards,
fighting with the nurses—the comic book
of the defeated.

Sometimes it takes practice
to be out of the war.
Sorrow is not a one-night stand
and soldiers don’t retire.

Jill M. Talbot attended Simon Fraser University for psychology before pursing her passion for writing. Jill has appeared in GeistRattlePoetry Is DeadThe PuritanMatrixsubTerrain, and The Tishman Review. Jill was shortlisted for the Matrix Lit POP Award for fiction and the Malahat Far Horizons Award for poetry. Jill lives on Gabriola Island, BC.

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