Roger Nash was born in the blitz in London, where he was bombed out of his pram. He grew up in Egypt and Singapore, coming to Canada in 1965. He’s Poet Laureate of the City of Greater Sudbury, Professor Emeritus in the Philosophy Department of Laurentian University, and Cantor at Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue. He served a double term as President of the League of Canadian Poets, during which he worked with Senator Grafstein to create the position of Canadian Poet Laureate.
Nash has authored seven books of poetry, one of short stories, and three of philosophy, as well as editing four anthologies of poetry. His most recent book of poems is Something Blue and Flying Upwards: New and Selected Poems (Scrivener Press, Canada, 2006). His literary awards include the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Poetry (1997), the PEN/O.Henry Prize Story Award for one of the twenty best short stories published in the whole of North America in 2009, Arc’s Confederation Poets Prize (1997, 2001), 1st place in Fiddlehead’s Poetry Contest (1994), and 1st place in Prism international’s Poetry Contest (1986).
"Nothing happens here, only someplace else."
The hands of the clocks are stiff with arthritis,
and hardly move. The radio coughs
with asthma, instead of the news. Neighbours
sigh and say only "Eh?" and then "Eh?"
– though in both official languages. At night,
a naked girl swims in the lake,
but clothed decorously, right up
to her chin, in a thick shimmer of moonlight
and several flying frocks of mosquitos.
Seagulls try to find wires
to settle on, but the wires won’t agree that they’re there.
There are no adulteries among the tall cabbages.
When the newspaper arrives in the driveway, it’s a reprint
of tomorrow’s. Our hen looks attentively
at absolutely nothing on the ground, then pecks it
all up, with one jerk
of her neck that’s so fast, she never
even moved. And the nude girl swims
on and on, completely unnoticed.
The paint is peeling from every wall
in town. Flakes flutter down to roost
on people's shoulders. In high winds,
they fill your pockets with multi-coloured
but devalued bank-notes; in rain,
layer your eyes with mismatched and discarded
vistas of the mountains. There are nail-clippings
under tables at the side-walk café.
Dust of the dead swirls up
behind farm-carts. Hands eddy
at the menus, and place more forgotten
orders for forgotten appetites. Fish,
laid out on their slabs, pull on new
sets of scales, even duller
than the first. Their huge eyes don't blink.
They see more of what is happening than we do.
The daily dust we eat begins
to taste like bread; the bread we eat,
to taste like soot on the roof-beams
from candles at the Festival of Lights, sifting down
into our soup. Tomorrow, we will renew things
completely: paint the rooster and his fence;
and the cow a sunshine yellow, so she will yield
bright blue milk. We are determined
to make even fish on their slabs
swivel watering eyes and blink.