Two Poems from The Pit

Tara Borin’s The Pit (Nightwood Editions) is a melancholic gallery of poems that contain perfect portraits of a small, sub-Arctic dive bar’s imperfect patrons and staff. Below we share two poems from the collection!


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Two Poems from The Pit

Heartbreak HotelShe smokes a cigarette in her underwear by the tiny square of window, watches ravens tear into a dumpster in the puddled back alley. Eleven p.m. sunset smoulders into summer. In her room, empty takeout containers bloom across the bare wood floor, chow mein and ginger beef spice the air. Bedspread wilts from a tired bed; her life tumbles from the same duffle bag she arrived with a year ago. Love born in dust and black spruce. Drinking the expensive wine in the willows, the bottle passed between them as though it had cost much less. Slick thighs. When the cranes flew south, they took their love between four walls: a drafty cabin, bed in the corner. Lips traced in kerosene glow. They fed each other tinned mussels, cream crackers, licked oil from fingers. With each snowfall, the cabin seemed to shrink. As winter unravelled into spring, she watched her lover pace the walls, wild. The wood stove continued to eat whole swaths of forest in exchange for a heat that was too much to bear or else not enough. They broke like the river when the gulls returned. Now she’s alone in a cheap hotel room with the muck of all things done that cannot be undone. She can hear life going on, the rise and fall of it, classic rock and bar-top banter. She ashes into an empty beer can. How many heartbreaks has this room held?Sunday Morning Coming Down
The regulars gather
on a Sunday morning,
midsummer sun
as hard as sin
and I minister
to their hangovers
and mine.
Tourists toe the sill,
take pictures without asking,
order pints of Yukon Gold
as if that’s what
the locals do.
There’s a painting
over the bar
of two men fighting
for a drunk and cheering crowd—
this morning
they spring to life
and tumble
into the street:
faces red and straining,
each punch
a lost connection.
I’m calling the cops,
I yell from inside,
          (though we know
           they’ll never come).
The regulars
shake their heads
while the tourists laugh,
crowd the door and
take more pictures—
Aren’t we lucky
to be here today.

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Tara Borin
is a queer, nonbinary settler poet living and writing in the traditional territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Dawson City, Yukon. Their debut full-length poetry collection, The Pit, is available with Nightwood Editions. Tara’s work has also been anthologized in Best New Poets In Canada 2018 (Quattro Books) and in Resistance: Righteous Rage in the Age of #MeToo (University of Regina Press).Tara’s poems have been published in Prism International, Prairie Fire, The LaHave Review, Red Alder Review, and elsewhere online and in print. They completed The Writer’s Studio Online with Simon Fraser University in 2019