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Banff Program
Postcard Poems
Golden Beret'
Word Travels
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Caroline Szpak

Caroline Szpak takes Dark Pines Under Water to heart. Her life story reads like a piece of surreal Calgarian pulp fiction: homemade vodka in a frozen prairie-town basement - gothic, thrilling, impossible. A graduate of the University of Victoria’s writing program, she was born to a Polish couple in Turkey, brought up between Toronto and Calgary. The tightrope which quivers between narrative and poetic texts is walked precisely, mathematically. In both forms, she presents dense and personal frescoes heightening the details of everyday life. She works for the Calgary International Spoken Word Festival and has fallen red letters in her backyard.


Face dirt, it shares thoughts like shoes,
so something has to be the same
size, come to a point at the end.
Whether laces tied tight to make up
for loose space and shifting soles,
love, or lungs rising from the bottom,
its bubbles drifting until seen - agile lift
the disclosure and flight of winged ants.

Our feet a perfect fit under the tongues
and we move as easily
as serialized bible verse. Footprints.
The words rigid like toes
before a step, curling as the bones
allow into the phrase
tail end. Tail end – so physical,
we could find it like cave divers
tricked into breathing too soon
by the haze that forms
when saltwater meets fresh
water and slides over top,
mimicking the look of air.

We keep our hands out of all
our pockets and the tail
end we find it blind and freehanded
feeling around until we stop
like a bloodline with nothing
but open space left to pull. An animalistic trailing
off - avoiding the clamp of the trap
but dying in the woods by the bank
of the river. You can almost picture
something sliding down from the spine,
gathering sleeks of fur as it reaches
where the body ends and everything else
begins. Tail end - it’s both: end
of body, the end of time.




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