BC Poetry 2018: "Trauma Head" by Elee Kraljii Gardiner (Anvil Press)

from Trauma Head

                                                                      pack animal: go where expected
                                                                      crave curves, to burrow or nest
                                                                      but recognize

                                                                      cold and flat and thick and numb
                                                                      am meant to be displayed

                                                                      illness is platform
                                                                      numb and cold and still and stiff
                                                                      and this bed is built of violence 

                                                                      stiff and cold and thin and mute
                                                                      brisk hands start a line
                                                                      depart, return, withdraw, arrive

                                                                      bring a blanket thin
                                                                      as human skin

                                                                      give body / over /
                                                                      to whomever wants to touch it

                                                                                      here, have it, I’ll unfold
                                                                miles of myself into capable hands
                                                         unspool veins and empty all my arteries
                                                                within the pages of the chart

                                                                                      unfold / become
                                                                                      lotus in heat

                                                         flutter and bloom on this bed

                                      opening           ( dilating       (                    (

                                                         read me how you like,
                                                             me / an instrument 
                                                 prized for pliability, unobstructionist
                                                                                               and unmysterious

                                                         I’ll make it easy
                                                    pull shirt off shoulder
                                                            push palms
                                                    into your capable hands
                                                             wait for you to decide
                                                if I am as strong as I appear


Elee Kraljii Gardiner is the author of serpentine loop (Anvil Press, 2016) and the co-editor with John Asfour of V6A: Writing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2012). She is the founder and creative mentor of Thursdays Writing Collective, a non-profit organization of Downtown Eastside writers, and editor and publisher of eight of its anthologies.


In 2012, poet Elee Kraljii Gardiner precipitously lost feeling in, and use of, her left side. The mini-stroke passed quickly but was symptomatic of something larger: a tear in the lining of an artery known as the tunica intima. This long-poem memoir tracks the author's experiences with un/wellness and un/re-familiarity with herself. Shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, Trauma Head disturbs and disorders language and syntax to reconcile appearance with experience.


Arrives May 18, 2018.


Purchase from the All Lit Up website or at your local bookstore. $18.


Losing your left side.

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

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