Book of Vole (Excerpts)

By Jane Tolmie and Perry Rath

1. Meet Vole

Literature is open to everybody,
even pests.

2. Vole Feed

Nerve-wrung creatures, wasp, bee and bird,
felons for life or keepers of the cell, and
Vole in a wooden crib of seed and feed.

3. Winter Vole

Winter kept Vole warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

4. Vole Seasons

Vole has a winter too of pale misfeature,
Or else Vole would forego a mortal nature.

5. Sleepy Vole

How hard it is for Vole to sleep
in the middle of life.

6. Troubled Vole

Vole is troubled
by the occasional
flea.

7. Further Honey

A smell of further honey,
embittered flowers,
sirens Vole.

8. Vole Venture

Venture for the Vole!

9. Observing Vole

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of Vole.

10. Curious Vole

Vole wonders if honour
to an ancient name
be due.

11. The City of Vole

Through me the way is to the city volent
Through me the way is to eternal Vole.

12. Transient Vole

As for Vole,

Vole is a watercolour.                Vole washes off.

13. Vole Collection

Vole searches on endless sandbars in the dark
for building blocks to make Vole’s empire great.

14. Sensual Vole

Imagine, amid the mud and the mastodons,
Vole sighing and yearning with tremendous creative yearning
for some other beauty.

15. Swarming Voles

vole vole vole vole vole vole vole vole Vole vole vole
vole vole vole vole Vole vole vole vole Vole vole vole
vole vole vole vole VOLE VOLE vole vole
volevolevolevolevolevolevolevole
vole vole vole vole vole vole vole vole Vole vole
vole vole vole vole vole Vole vole vole vole
Vole vole vole vole vole vole vole VOLE VOLE
vole vole volevolevolevolevolevolevolevole
vole vole vole vole vole vole vole vole Vole vole vole
vole vole vole vole Vole vole vole vole Vole vole vole
vole vole vole vole VOLE VOLE vole vole
volevolevolevolevolevolevolevole
AGH!

16. Hard Times

Life is hard but
Vole pays no tax.

17. Hungry Vole

By the glow-worm’s light well guided,
Vole attends the Feast provided.

18. Vole Wisdom

It causes nothing but grief
to want to sleep with the gods.

19. Hunted Vole

The falcon cannot hear the falconer,
nor can Vole.
Things fall apart.

20. Vole’s Nightmare

Vole kneels in the nights
before tigers
that will not let Vole be.

21. Volenerable

Ouch!
Vole hurts.

22. Vole Compassion

Smaller and more helpless
but as deeply felt
miniscule lives
extinguished.

23. Vestigial Vole

Vole, you there?

24. Jesting Vole

Vole jests at scars.
Vole never felt a wound.

25. Loser Vole

It’s not true,
of course.
The art of losing
is
hard to master.

26. Poem without a hero

Vole is
no hero.

27. Stoic Vole

Vole does not fondle the weakness inside
though it is there.

28. Vole

Vole is not Vole
which alters.

29. Constant Vole

The woods have no voice but the voice of complaining
but Vole
holds fast.

30. Mistaken Vole

Vole is mistaken
for a shadow or symbol.

31. Procession

One had a cat's face,
One whisked a tail,
One tramped at a rat's pace,
One crawled like a snail,
One was Vole.

32. Strong Vole

Vole is not proved too weak
To stand alone.

33. Shadow Vole


Vole has a dark side.

34. Sage Vole

When the sun rises on ugliness, it is stark to see.
Vole does not carry it home.

35. Vole Heals

There will be mornings of sunlight
after the end of all things.

36. Vole Marker

When the dust falls over Vole’s thoughts
over Vole’s head with its gleaming jaws,
the brows made beige and ugly, into a blown ripple
into a snake of powder on the trail,
chance will maybe leave an edge
marking the jawbones, the dust wandering in the sun.

37. Vole in Love

Vole’s vegetable love grows
Vaster than empires, and more slow.

38. Happy Vole

Vole has a green thought
in a green shade.

39. Vole Pride

Pest is best!

Publication of this poem was made possible by a donation from Sofia Samatar. (Thanks, Sofia!) To find out more about our funding model, or donate to the magazine, see the Support Us page.

Jane Tolmie is an Associate Professor of Gender Studies and Cultural Studies, cross-appointed to English, at Queen’s University (Canada). Her current research is on memory, trauma, and women's art activism in comics and theatre. She is a poet, feminist activist, and blogger. Her publications appear in various journals and in Laments for the Lost in Medieval Literature, Canadian Perspectives on Men and Masculinities, The Broadview Anthology of Medieval Drama, and Performance, Drama, and Spectacle in the Medieval City. Forthcoming with the University Press of Mississippi this year (2013) is her collection Drawing from Life: Memory and Subjectivity in Comic Art.

Perry Rath (b. Sarnia, Ont, Can, 1971) has been pursuing artistic projects in a variety of international venues, collections, and publications for 18 years. His practice has taken a few different directions and series, encompassing installations, objects/artifacts, paintings, printmaking, collaborations, and education. Rath has established himself as a prominent artist, educator, and advocate in northwest British Columbia, where he lives near Smithers, BC.

These excerpts from "The Book of Vole" are part of a larger work. The Vole project is an ongoing collaborative text/image piece, which experiments with epigraph, collage, displacement, and art-word relationships. Other sections are being published and presented elsewhere. Parts of the project will be on display in New York as part of the 2013 Parallax "Art" Fair, May 11-12.

Comments

No comments found.

Leave a Comment

The following HTML tags are allowed: <em><strong><cite><strike><b><i><a>