BC Poetry 2018: "False Spring" by Darren Bifford (Brick Books)

Habitable Earth in Last Analysis
It’s like in a cartoon, all the forest fires 
Leapfrogging fires. Small civilizations caught 
In the dirty, say they’re sorry and plead their cases 
Ad hoc and brilliantly. “Scared as shit” 
Is my summary. Excuses get you 
An extra minute. The army is always 
Dragging the mutilated 
Corpses of the newest emperor 
And his son through the streets. It’s no wonder 
The sky is filled with frogs. Upturned
The ocean spills its fish and seashells and sharks. 
In the old country you could count on fine weather
All summer, vernal festivals, voluptuary laws
Which sanctioned the General Course of Things. 
It was a pleasure then, being alive 
When a fifth of the world was known. The downturn
Happens when the knowing is over. It’s like
A forgetfulness comes on, a bad cold
That you didn’t know you had until recovery 
Commenced. By then, though, you’re dead,
And so it’s the afterlife playing its cards and tricks.
You recall the old neighbors, how they packed 
Shoeboxes of photographs. And that cartoon again,
When the talking animals all flee the forest,
Tailed by a great deluge of fire and wind. As if running
Could get you to the somewhere else it’s better to be at. 
The great romance was this: there’d always be somewhere to go. 
Otherwise there is no literature. As for me, I grabbed a novel 
Though I’d never found time for fiction. It’s science fiction now, 
Says the Judger. I told you so, says the river, which by now is everything. 


Darren Bifford is the author of the chapbooks Wolf Hunter (Cactus Press, 2010), Hermit Crab (Baseline Press, 2014), and The Age of Revolution (Anstruther Press, 2017). His first full-length collection was Wedding in Fire Country (Nightwood Editions, 2012). He co-edited (with Warren Heiti) Chamber Music: The Poetry of Jan Zwicky (Wilfred Laurier Press, 2015). Originally from Summerland, BC, he lived and taught in Montreal for many years, where he also coordinated the Atwater Poetry Project. He has recently moved with his family to Penticton, BC. False Spring is his second full-length poetry collection.


False Spring, Darren Bifford’s second collection of poetry, is a book largely concerned with various forms of collapse and cultural disintegration. These are poems of considerable weight and great energy at once, so that the impression is of a large-muscled animal that is also nimble. They are the work of an engaged moral imagination, alive with the conceptual issues of the times embedded in experience; their “philosophical” import speaks out of the poetic act itself.

Bifford seems always in active conversation, dialogue, dispute with figures from literary and classical traditions. There is also a set of “translations” of a Polish poet of Bifford’s invention, which permit him to write, Pessoa-like, in another voice—even if it shares a few features (as a disillusioned Pole writing of general collapse) with his own.

While non-confessional in intent, the poems do attend to the inner pitch — like a white noise — which the events of the world sound. The book thus contends with a nostalgia for old forms without belying any sustained confidence in their veracity.


Arriving May 2018.


Purchase from the Brick Books website or at your local bookstore. $20.


Translating invented Poles.

The copyrights of all poems included in the series remain with their authors, and are reprinted with the permission of the publishers.

No comments: