Two Poems from Lullabies in the Real World

Meredith Quartermain’s Lullabies in the Real World (NeWest Press) sets off on a cross-country trip from West to East Coast with the momentum of a train—moving us forward while looking backwards to confront and challenge the colonial histories. Below, we share two poems from the collection.


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To the Un World 
stumble stoop stutter-clog
musty muse music
to unknown woods
I would a stargazer,
would a bison-memory be
fringe of spindles on clear-cut ridge
cross river recross
back slip back sneak
unthread Canadia
wiring small glass cones
cockeyed track-side concrete ties
make cents, boy and granddad
play chess, what’s hidden from this
pink bunched glimpse of fireweed
song of innocence, song of despair
for tankers, hoppers, containers
feeding ten million mouths
song of claim, song of emptiness
song of illusion, song of madness
wiring usless us along
through unspoken
not dis-hidden watching
Leaving Montreal 
over the river — wide wide river
over river into night
cornfields and cornfields
and cornfield origin
and deer and flat river delta
centuries eons silted flatted
deer leaping
over the leaves of corn
go east, poet,
east to frankincense, myrrh, Sphinx
east to Ostara’s brim-burst
her beams up-leap 
turn backrunner, backshadow
unpioneer, uninvent, undiscover
back yet forward with earth
into the sun
to backbode backtell
unmap unseers
rub out their erasures

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Meredith Quartermain
 is a poet and novelist living in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her first book of poetry, Vancouver Walking (NeWest Press), won a BC Book Award for poetry; Recipes from the Red Planet (Book*hug Press) was a finalist for a BC Book Award for fiction; and Nightmarker was a finalist for a Vancouver Book Award. A novel, Rupert’s Land, was released by NeWest Press in Fall 2013. She has since published a collection of stories entitled I, Bartleby (Talonbooks) and a second novel, U Girl (Talonbooks). She is also cofounder of Nomados Literary Publishers, who have brought out more than 50 chapbooks of innovative Canadian and US writing since 2002. From 2014 to 2016, she was Poetry Mentor in the SFU Writer’s Studio Program, and she has enjoyed leading workshops at the Kootenay School of Writing, The Toronto New School of Writing and Naropa University. Lullabies in the Real World is a part of the Crow Said Poetry series.Photo credit: Imaging by Marlis