Shane Rhodes

Recent Tree Appearances

December 13, 2011
Featured Reader
May 10, 2011
Featured Reader

Earlier Tree Appearances


In Print

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The Bindery
Published by
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Cover Image
Published by
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Videos of Shane Rhodes

Poetics Talk
December 13, 2011
Featured Reader
May 10, 2011
Featured Reader
April 13, 2010

Shane Rhodes

Shane Rhodes is the author three award-winning poetry books.

“During the colonization of central and western Canada, the British crown and then the Government of Canada created a series of numbered treaties which became the "legal" basis for the take-over of First Nations' land. These elaborate legal documents were poorly explained, poorly translated, rarely understood, and signed by representatives of the government and First Nations groups. Depending on the time period, most of the First Nations and Metis assembled at the treaty signings could neither read nor write English and would sign their names with an X. If a signatory did not know how to make an X, an X was drawn for them and a signer was told, simply, to touch the pen. When I pick up a pen, this is what I think about.”

- Shane Rhodes



Shane Rhodes has been writing and publishing poetry for over fifteen years. His first book, The Wireless Room, won the 2000 Alberta Book Award for Poetry. His second and third books, Holding Pattern and The Bindery, each won the Lampman Poetry Award (the award was also called, at one time, the Lampman Scott Award until, starting with Shane, poets refused to accept the money associated with Duncan Campbell Scott). Shane’s poetry is also featured in the anthologies Breathing Fire II, Seminal: Canada’s Gay Male Poets, Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008, and Best Gay Poetry 2008


Shane’s last book, Err, was published by Nightwood Editions in Spring 2011.

From Shane Rhodes

Choreographed Echoes

for Nicolas Théodore de Saussure


OH C2H5OH (aka alcOHol), alOHa!

HOwdy HÔte HOrnswaggle,

psycHO HOmocidal hellHOney

cHOice of incOHerent HOmbres

adHOc cacopHOny

& melancHOlic HOoters

of barHOpping barypHOny.

as HOmopHObic pHOnophiles

cHOke on phallopHOric aphtHOngs,

bOHunk ooncHOoks

cHOmp OscHeal allopHOnes.

mucHO HOmosapian bonHOmie.

abHOrring a macHO HOmme's

lecHerOus neurOHumour

(eg nOaH's nympHO-HOloury),

like a HOodlum's apHOtic arseHOle,

jeHOvahs, elOHims & mOHhameds

(ie HOly autopHObes in apHOny)

cHOir catHOlic prOHibitions.

yet etHanOl's eupHOria wHObbles

in icHOric brewHOuse batHOs:

paroopHOronic maHOOHoos HOg sHOchu,

gaucHO yaHOos sHOot samsHOo,

hipHOpers HOard hoOcHinoo

bacHelOrs stOmacH scOtcH.

rHOdes' pantHOdic poetOmacHia

cHOrtles pletHOra (HOoray!),

fatHOms psycHOsis (boOHoo!),

ancHOrs cirrHOsis (bOtcHed HOrror!),

& autHOrs scHOlarly sympHOnic



"Choreographed Echoes" or "Ode to the Hydroxyl" was created by searching the English language for all words containing the hydroxyl (oxygen and hydrogen or, as represented in chemistry shorthand, OH); organic molecules with a hydroxyl attached to a carbon are known as alcohols. Though not all words in the poems are alcoholic, this poem should be considered to be naturally, and linguistically, fermented. Nicolas Théodore de Saussure - great uncle to the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure - conducted important early experiments on fermentation.

Final Call

for The Manx


It's spooky how far, that night, we pushed the dram

and how quick we pulled it from the publican's

hand. Muddled from three gin tonics, I saw la Fée verte

and a Leprechaun breakdance about the rim.

Half way through a Jägerbomb, I met a Wendigo

talking Hubble astrophysics to a Djin.

Near the bottom of the Jeroboam, was it Rimbaud

buggering Verlaine and toasting absinthe to Baudelaire?

Someone slurred in translated text,  U look green,

your I's are red . With a blue Curaçao,

his mouth went O - it was surreal.

To blast beyond that Rubicon, I packed my engines

with tarry hash, swallowed a mouthful of the 'shroom

and spoke in tongues sidereal. The stars replied

in helium and hummed  Om Mani Padme Hum .

The ballast cut, my spirit left the room.

From far below, some Buddha toned,  It's closing time -

enlightenment is florescent , which my mind paraphrased

to that babble that bubbles from the Helicon

effervescent. Then he cracked the gates between

my eyes with a kiss of dehydrogenase.



This poem was previously published in The Malahat Review.


It’s coming back now, I can write it as I almost see it

word for word, out of diesel smoke, a computer screen

a leather boot, a wrench’s chrome flash, cooling tubes and fans

of an engine, where he lived, tools in hand


and smells: old bearing grease, soot, gasoline, men and acetylene

like the smell of my aunt’s baked garlic beans, breaking up

I see her now, as her buttered hands slap down loaf after loaf

of dough coaxed from Robinhood flour sacks

(those bins of flour, so powdery and soft in the hand)

lost in her housecoat and mindless labour, humming a song

from a brand new band, she wouldn’t choose this memory

but I think of it now, enough to raise from a cloud of dust


what was it? a backfire? a wheeze? a cracked head or shaft?

that must have been it, for the shop stewed in gears and clutch plates and cams

(once removed, could they ever fit back?)

each with its milled and worn-down history

of starts and stops which makes me think of stories

how they transmit one to another, how the cogs of letters

and words slip and pitch along an unclear action path

but that’s neither here nor there my mother would say

when I told her I was gay and before the phone fell from her hand.


He didn’t speak much, my uncle. If a grunt worked, he grunted.

His parents came from the Ukraine

(did I once hear him play Volga! Volga! by the Russian Red Army Band?)

to escape famine and plant seeds in untillable land

grow boulders from flint, swamp from muskeg

not that it mattered, where they came from, you made soup from sand.


He puttered, and that verb seems apt, a sort of ambling

unhinged from timecards and maps, if it took all day

it took all day he’d grunt and seemed fine with that.

In his shop, time ran along an irregular graph

of coffee, snacks, fresh white bread stained by oiled hands

as if he and the machines ate a common repast

(what kind of word’s that? my mother, in half-rhyme, ‘d ask).

He’d tinker (like me) with a little of this, a bit of that



telling how he once played in a band

laying down chords in a manner well beyond his stature (5 and ½).

He didn’t shimmy, he didn’t dance, he grunted

he didn’t even rock back and forth to a beat

but stood, centre left, and jammed eyes closed

as his hands cut deep troughs below high G.

Bonspiels, weddings, pubs (it wasn’t high stuff)

before real life took over (they didn’t pay much) and the band

like he, eventually collapsed


in the back yard, where he tended to a meagre sun

dented tomatoes, rusted runner beans, onions

(why so many onions?) and Cadillacs.

I don’t know where they came from or what made them grow

their scabbed canvas tops, flat white walls and swim-deep chrome.

They’d long ago run to rust but one day, he said, one day he’d clean them up

one day (each day a little less eager) maybe a little later than a little later

along the X axis to infinity where the cars grew feral,

lost that lustre and mice gnawed leather.

As kids, we left those cars alone for we knew of adult fantasy

with its make-believe and spiderweb tapestry


like oil from a cracked pan, she found him like that

blood leaking from his mouth on the shop floor, I see it now

fixed in the morning in the back, curled around the mess

he’d made of his heart, I guess, a vee belt in his hand

from one of those Cadillacs.


The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog

F is frayful friction, like the fighterjet F-16

while two fingers (V) fake the fiction of peace or victory.

With gruff fs, the fox huntsman tally ho’s his lazy dogs

lost in Mickey Finns and GHB, high on soporific fogs

while the four foot vamp in vetch

flits her tail and flees – she fights for a land unfetched.

Over cliff and bluff, the huntsman flings his arsenal

of frag grenades, Tomahawks, and UAV extraterrestrial

drones to steeplechase the vixen terrorist

with a palindromic xylophone. Forest informants

waterboarded say the bitch is Archduke Ferdinand

or a UVF defender of the Red Paw-Hand,

while fomenting counter-spooks rumour WMD

and an IRA sleeper cell, pet-name Synecdoche.

Vermin of herded love, the well-versed floozy jumps:

she scuffles in living furs and muffs, she tussles in velvet fisticuffs.

On fenland tongue or covert lip, she leaves the huntsman forfeit –

he fuffs his horn, his hounds hold fast

till the vapid mastiffs pick up again the inky

scent: the beagles turn, the pointers point at me.