That day we lost the hound down the way,
watched it bound tongue-slack, freedom-struck
beyond the yellow wood and lichen-crusted
boulders of pink shield rock and undergrowth.
That day we took chances, pressed on.
That day made no difference, even as you
plunged into a field of bemused heifers,
cursing all dogs, as it rolled in steaming dung.
That day we bushwhacked calling its name,
calling it names, until it returned
with a meaty bone that looked like a rib.
A last laugh that day, when glibly
you said, the person who nailed the sign
This Road is Unassumed, has trust issues.
Vegetarians Use the Back Door
The cedar smoke and truck exhaust
of a ribfest at hot noon and white
Canadian men lick fingers
and use lite beer as mouthwash,
cupping the rolls of themselves—
or the wife—giving the flesh
a bit of a jiggle, having a good laugh.
Pre-diabetic with gorgeous tits this one
guy talks so loud not even Stevie Nicks
from the Jimmy six down drowns him out.
Prolly won’t run coon. Might run bear?
Then he shoots you a look. Yes you,
broccoli boy. Come party with us then.
Just how were you holding your face?
Traffic Calming Ahead
I see the laser eye, like a bindi
between descending digits each
an eyelid batting numbers until
I back off to rickshaw speed,
enter a village that will not long
accept an oriental trope.
Nothing here is foreign.
Yes, but the couple who own
the general store are Goan,
originally, and there’s a roadside
rib shack, real Louisiana bark
to tempt bass fishing southerners,
or hungry Yankees up after deer.
I see a harvest moon,
like a Harley’s headlight.
It crests a pitching Otonabee hill,
makes a cow a ghost in a field
a smudge that comes, goes
behind clouds, between firs,
shafts of light climb the ridgeline
until it turns away. Then nothing.
I enter the village late.
Later than anyone else?
Signs for butter tarts and bait
glide by until the exiting traffic
from the arena parking lot halts
progress. A wedding dress and tux
teeter in the back of a Ford F250.
The truck nuts swing. Locals cheer.
Fresh Cut Fries
A hairpin turn dragged the escarpment’s
serrated edge, scoring sky. A chip truck.
You and I argued road sign grammar.
(I bemoaned the lost art of the adverb,
you advanced the hyphen, either way.)
Shield rock nursed pockets of April snow
in its nooks of dark. We were so remote.
We ate at a picnic table, by a lake
that we could agree was not lead grey.
Your salty mouth now unlocked, eager
to lick me clean. So, jump cut to me
in a middle-distance, dappled remove.
My point of view is a weak shaky-cam,
as even the ending was wrested away.
PRAISE FOR HAPPINESSWISE
“Incisive, elegant and fierce, Bennett’s Happinesswise tackles the most illusive and illusory aspects of our culture. It ranges widely in terms of style and theme, but will nonetheless leave readers with the distinct impression of having encountered something wholly real.” — Johanna Skibsrud, author of The Sentamentalists
PRAISE FOR PREVIOUS WORKS
"Bennett's artistry lies in his ability to create poems that shatter complacency with bricks of loaded language." — Quill & Quire on Civil and Civic
"Jonathan Bennett has cleverly and sensitively described the many types of love tested by war. The result is a rewarding and intensely moving read: deceptively gruelling, given its slim dimensions, but also — like its heroine — devastatingly beautiful." — National Post on The Colonial Hotel
"A solid novel on morality in our not-quite-postcolonial world." — Globe and Mail on The Colonial Hotel
"This short novel is at once lyrical and brutal, alluring in its spare, elegant prose and shocking in its honest portrayal of the realities of political corruption and duplicitous leadership. Bennett is able to demonstrate the timelessness of the themes of the original classic story in this contemporary setting, offering both emotional depth and universal truths about the human condition." — Waterloo Region Record on The Colonial Hotel
"Bennett has presented a compelling, lyrical novel of love, suffering and reconciliation." — Winnipeg Free Press on The Colonial Hotel
"Entitlement is an attractive read, and nicely covers a world that goes often uncovered in our own literatures." — National Post
"Bennett's storytelling is effortless in its pace and time shifts, and his dialogue glints like a sharpened knife." — The Walrus on Entitlement