Stephen Collis


The Word

We were
Decaying already
Our throats
The problem of
The relation between
These signs taken
As these signs
Taken to mean
And make
And orchards
Where we write
On the skins
Of apples or
Recoil from
The temptation
To understand
Our urges too well
So fuck it
This is the word
And we are unmaking
The amplitude
Of the boundaries
We do and do not
Still dwell within



The Book

The recursive limits of
What you and I are
To be bedfellows with
Le livre at our disposal
The dispersed atoms
We were looking for
Not to be indignant
But to love this going
Over and over again at
Edges we extend over
As outraged means
To resistant ends so
Jabès put that down
Mallarmé it’s unwritten
And supposed to be
In cold modernism
We sleep close to our
Skins holding forth on
Flat plane we underwrite



The Insurgencies

We were like
The people
Meant some specific
Though difficult group
Rising meant that
Fed up with
Tally of harms
Digital wealth in some
Off-shore pirate haven
Armies moving everywhere
Planet in decline
The fierce precarity of
Just giving a shit
The people are
Having gathered
That we weren’t
Going to go away
Place of assembly
Place we could organize
Place we could plan



Montreal Poem

The security forces

Were little Parises
Cobbled together
From not giving a fuck

So when we
Rose like lions
And filled with drinks
It was as
Tiny Rimbauds
That we came to be
Little Clovers
On the lamb
And in perpetual

Stephen Collis is a poet and professor of contemporary literature at Simon Fraser University. His many books of poetry include The Commons (Talon Books 2008; second edition 2014), On the Material (Talon Books 2010—awarded the BC Book Prize for Poetry), and To the Barricades (Talon Books 2013). He has also written two books of criticism and a novel, The Red Album (BookThug 2013). His collection of essays on the Occupy movement, Dispatches from the Occupation (Talon Books 2012), is a philosophical meditation on activist tactics, social movements, and change. In September 2013 Coach House Books published DECOMP, a collaborative photo-essay and long poem written with Jordan Scott.