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Sarah Breisch on Monika Cooper

This poem first ran in the Fall 2008 edition of Grub Street Grackle. It appears here online for the first time.

This essay (and the poem it is responding to) first ran in the Fall 2008 edition of Grub Street Grackle. It appears here online for the first time.

The flight from time is essential to the human condition, but is also a typically modern fancy. We have built our world upon devices and rituals whose sole purpose is to bend time to our will, to escape the perceived bondage we are in to its unrelenting tread. But what we have forgotten, and what this poem by Monika Cooper reminds us of, is that time is not a predator, but a friend; not a tyrant, but in fact a servant, charged by our Master with the task of being watchman, herald, secretary and archivist of all of life’s turnings.

Time and one’s relation to it plays a crucial role in literature. For example, one essential distinction between tragedy and comedy is that in the former, the tragic hero feels the press of time as a burden and rages against it, only to find that it runs out for him. In the latter, the comic hero allows his action to develop more organically and so finds that it is fruitful; time for him is sufficient and generous when he keeps the task at hand in focus, rather than agonizing over the time in which he has to accomplish it. But this is true also in life, and in life one’s relation to time has implications regarding one’s relation to the whole of the human experience, as our mortality, and our fear of and dependence on time are an essential and defining aspect of our humanity.

In our poem, after reflecting on the Amish response to an event that time has made irrevocable, the speaker recalls an earlier desire to be Amish, “like in books.” This suggests an idealization, a symptom of the modern wish to make time the captive of our desires, or of a romantic notion to escape the bounds of time altogether, “to make time stop.” But is this the response of the Amish? Is their silence a sort of rebellious sullenness at an event that disrupts their lives and is outside of their control, or is it merely a clichéd passive acceptance?

But one man must have turned his wide-brimmed hat
Over and over slowly in his hands.

In this simple yet deliberate gesture, the man expresses the contradictory reaction to the fire and to all events which are beyond our control, and binds them together into a harmonious way of living. The gesture bespeaks grief and nervous discomfort, yet it is performed gently, slowly, without anger, almost meditatively. One can imagine the farmer comforting his family that night, reminding them that God turns their lives as gently and as slowly, yet with a steady speed certain to bring them at last to completion, in His omnipotent hands.

Time cannot be stopped, that much is agreed upon by the opposing ways of viewing it. But the difference lies in the means of one’s conveyance through it. The English poet Robert Graves gives us a modern’s impression of one’s movement through time, in the language of antiquity:

Is it of… the Zodiac [you tell] and how slow it turns
Below the boreal Crown,
Prison of all true Kings that ever reigned?
…So each new victim treads unfalteringly
The never-altered circuit of his fate.

The tone of those lines is one which might be taken by that ominous car of the future in our poem, or by its driver. It is a tone of bitter, melancholy resentment of an impersonal cosmos which has made destiny captive to its whims. The speaker is aware of a dangerous future, a future that threatens to run her down before she has learned to keep pace with it, but perhaps of more concern is that it is her own future that she fears. She fears becoming yet another reckless driver on Time’s roadways, and moreover she fears being compelled to move along them at all. The image of the untrustworthy car is an image of the arrogance of speed, the illusion of control; and in the context of the contrast to the Amish lifestyle, an image of the disconnect and alienation suffered by a modern society whose center not only does not hold, but does not exist. The Amish do not own cars, but not because they have a particular prejudice against technology. They simply are not willing to sacrifice their close-knit communities and agrarian lifestyle for perceived convenience. It is only in case of extreme necessity that they would wish to be conveyed beyond a distance attainable by horse, which by default keeps them close to their home community.

The car of the future—whether it be the speaker’s own future or the impersonal future which presses on her—offers only a limited vision of how one may relate to one’s movement through time. It could be a passive experience, in which one takes the role of passenger and allows oneself to be pushed along, or it could be an aggressive but ultimately foolish response, in which one sees oneself as the driver, bucking the idea of an “unalterable circuit,” but finding in the end that moments have been rushed past and the destination is still the same. Our speaker seems caught between these responses; she wants to stop time, to neither drive nor to ride, thus putting herself in a position to be run over by the impending future. Her tactic, fear, is a negative force and can do nothing to halt time, nor can it properly dispose her to moving into her future with grace.

The revelation first comes with the obvious realization that time cannot be stopped. But it is not just for her realization of this truth that the speaker modifies her prayer. She now prays, “Time, not too fast.” This is both a petition and a statement. At the very moment she asks for Time to slow what she perceives as a headlong rush into the future, she not only realizes that she cannot help but move along with it, but that it is in fact she who determines the pace. If she must step into time and carry herself forward, then she prays that it might be at the humane pace of breathing creatures, of a horse, or of her own two feet.

Robert Graves’s lines are a truism both from the perspective of the alienated man who rages against his “prison” being written into the swing of the zodiac, and from that of a simple, community-oriented man who has helped to build a schoolhouse only to watch it burn. It is perhaps easy to understand the first perspective; it is infantile and we can empathize with that. The second is more complex. Again, we should not be tempted into assuming passivism, but rather understand that it is an expression of the irony or even the paradox of our relationship with time. We are mortal, yet we look beyond our temporal setting for meaning and feel an affinity for eternity.

We therefore are at the mercy of the march of time, but can choose to keep step with it and even to set the pace; and moreover we are able to move beyond its rhythm in moments of Kairos, in which memory and desire serve to lift the present moment into the timeless realm of the universal. The man revolving his hat in his hands while watching the fire consume the schoolhouse (a good metaphor for his world) silently echoes the truth he observes; that time comes and takes us all with it, but we can take it in our hands and turn it as it turns, and in so doing participate in it and are freed from servitude to it by assenting to the command that first caused it to move.

One may wonder why the poet also prays for flames. Why are they needed? Fire brings completion, perhaps of something we cannot or will not complete on our own. Fire is part of the symbolism of the cycle of life; it brings death, and from it, life. The speaker prays for “flames, deliberate, complete.” Thoughtful, slow-burning, thoroughly consuming flames. Flames that bring an end to one part of the cycle and give rise to the new. She knows that fire will come, whether it be in the twisted wreckage of a burning car, or in the scented and ceremonious flames of a funeral pyre, or in the divinely appointed flames that will baptize the world into its rebirth at the end of time. In all these the fire burns with the same steady intensity; the difference and thus the meaning lies in how it is lit.

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This poem first ran in the Late Winter 2009 edition of Grub Street Grackle

What an appetite! Moonbelly would have eaten everything—earth, sky, ocean, stars, lakes, comets—swallowed all of it, given a lifetime long enough.
That’s how awfully violent, hopeless love afflicted him: lifelong love as makes men empty, turns terrestrial hearts to an alien element.
Food’s the stuff when you’re hungry, but lovers’ stomachs want thicker fare: stones, mortar, concrete, iron—all inedible objects are lovers’ aliment.
So they starve, so what’s new? Isn’t that the oft-repeated and age-old theme of lays, odes, sonnet cycles, ghazals, and hasn’t that song been sung enough?

Here’s the difference: Moonbelly’s hunger wasn’t metaphor—no pale mime of real gut hunger. No, he wanted the world in his stomach, bodily.
Having once heard Veronica singing, seen the way that her songs would load her rash, soft, smile with echoes, suddenly sharpening every entity,
nothing else but to harbor the whole—which saturated with those rich strains, now ran him through with aching emptiness, longing of boundless quantity—
could have satisfied Moonbelly’s craving, quelled his ravening. Next best was a piecemeal banquet, downing sequently one then another victual.

He ate the nearest things first: several thousand meals, compacted in one night’s dining, was what his immediate prospect amounted to: broiled asparagus,
steak and french fried potatoes was what he’d made for dinner, but could not sate him: he had yet to eat his plate, and the place-mat and table under it.
Still unsatisfied, Moonbelly stood with cracked alacrity, ate his chair and tore his dining room to pieces and—taking no time to ponder it—
threw it down, in a frenzy of biting chewing, swallowing. Next day, though he was still hungry, scads of sodium bicarb and foul saxifragous

oils were all he could think of consuming—things conducive to sound digestion. But no good. It turned out Moonbelly’s gastric constriction called for a
stronger treatment. He roamed in a bloated craze, partaking of each thing which he thought might have medicinal properties: boiled aconitum, milk thistle,
dandelions, banana peel extract, mercury by the fistful, bacta, birch bark, frogs, ammonia, gerin oil, terrigen crystals, darthisol,
uncut ginger root, buckets of fresh volcanic ash—
he ate all these, but ate not least the acrimonious gum of the laurus camphora.

All the same, the unbearable constipation, dyspepsia, heartburn, retching, bloat, aches, gas, and reflux kept him as sick as a whole infirmary.
Still, his hunger had nothing abated. Now—no hope in his song-wrecked heart of eased pain, nor contentment—at random Moonbelly stuffed his orifice.
Almost half of the town he had swallowed whole, or chewed, or somewhat nipped before Moonbelly’s mad campaign could be stopped, and he exiled, shorn of his
access to his Veronica. Still, if music be, as they say, love’s food, yet this love needed no more sustenance than the remotest memory—

though, of course, if its food is the fruit of geological stock, Moonbelly had his fill: for now his diet was nothing but stones. A carat or
two at first was a mouthful, but soon his intake stoutened.

Now in those days, a blood ore forest covered untold expanses of country, whence if it
can be true what was said of it, men of iron spirit in times long past had come, intent on taking hold of the world, but a fateful deficit,
not of might, but of libido, cut their conquest short—for their empire, though successful, fell in time for want of an heir to become its heritor.

There stood columns or trunks of a crimson hue, so high that a man might wonder if their roots (or their foundations) were sunk into earth or firmament.
Thither Moonbelly’s way was inclined, as though magnetically drawn; five hundred miles at least he had to travel, until the blood-red horizoning
thickness split into towering pieces, looming suddenly each by each and cast rock-hard obscurity over Moonbelly’s rabid reasoning.
Huge with weeks of unceasing intemperate gorging, swaying now towards these piles of doom-frought stone, he eyed them just as a conqueror surveys his armament.

Now I’ll tell you the ending: our hero knocked one over on his way in—his girth outstripped his inner sense of his body’s extension. Thousands of
pillars toppled like tenpins, and pitched in all directions—our man had no recourse but stretching out his jaws as he never had done and swallowing
whole each copious morsel of this his most cacophonous meal. Stones into his mouth slammed hard—he gulped, his cheeks and his belly aflare and billowing.
Still, the forest was tumbling around him—fallen columns were heaped up higher with each passing moment. Finally, one of these pillars, propped on a

pile behind it that served as a fulcrum, see-sawed up, and it caught Moonbelly by both legs and catapulted him skyward and into orbit.
He flies there even today, and at times stoops low and blood-red, and draws out from the earth faint ghosts of his Veronica’s song with his gluttonous gravity.

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This poem first ran in the Fall 2013 edition of Grub Street Grackle

This poem first ran in the Fall 2013 edition of Grub Street Grackle

Life spelled itself in letters, black, tight-lipped:
I’ve bled my passions out in spates of ink.
The margins bloomed like flowers on a crypt.

Once, when my hands were empty, and I dipped
them in Night’s waters, there, I seemed to think,
life spelled itself in letters, black, tight-lipped.

So much was written there, the pages dripped
with more than time could bear or death could drink:
the margins bloomed like flowers on a crypt.

I came too late to mark the manuscript:
a seal bound it, on which in ancient ink
life spelled itself in letters, black, tight-lipped.

In desperate, errant strokes that shook and slipped,
I filled the text’s outside up to the brink.
The margins bloomed like flowers on a crypt.

I waited for the pages to be flipped,
till waiting out of time I seemed to sink.
Life spelled itself in letters, black, tight-lipped:
the margins bloomed like flowers on a crypt.

Original bio from the Fall 2013 edition:

Amos J. Hunt delegated his bio to a lazy and unrelialbe peerson who sometimes.dsdf….eh


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The Lamp


This poem first ran in the Fall 2013 edition of Grub Street Grackle.

Shower-curtain curtains. The early light soaks through,
sea-foam green, the color of the wings of the luna moth,
wings found broken underneath the streetlight
when the night had passed.

Oh New Hampshire,
let not your dawn find me so broken
after this night of hard beating
against the brightness of what I seek.

Original bio from the Fall 2013 edition:

Sarah Breisch has journeyed about half of our life’s way. She cannot quite fathom how she has gotten so far, while remaining unsure of the way forward. She tries not to waste too much time wondering which weight is greater—that of the past which presses from behind, or that of the future, which hangs down heavily like a tarp bulging with rain, ready to fall.

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Lay in a Deep Confusion

This poem first ran in the Autumn 2007 edition of Grub Street Grackle

The stone was in the ground, the body,
as though delivered from mere surface,
was out of sight; the unreflective
soil lay over it, and that was

For days, he bore it, grieving sorely
but not despairing; death, whose quiet
approach had more than once already
come near him, to his thinking was not

the thought was in the grave; it rested
with her, allaying discomposure,
as though by veiling it with knowledge
of what had laid her

But more than grief befell this mourner,
when some days later, after every
funereal sentiment was settled,
rain drenched her grave as much as any
place else, and stirred into the soil
and in his soul a muddy, heavy

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Three Considerations of the Eye

This story first ran in the Late Winter 2009 edition of Grub Street Grackle. It appears here online for the first time.

This story first ran in the Late Winter 2009 edition of Grub Street Grackle. It appears here online for the first time.

Most things can be done without. Once I slept on the floor for six months because I didn’t think a mattress was important, and besides I thought it would make me stronger. I don’t know if it did. I skip meals sometimes, and under the right conditions I can see nobody for a week and be happy about this. However the one thing that could destroy you is not being Seen. This is not tolerable. If you are Unseen for too long you will kill yourself or kill somebody else. Because blood at least seems to draw the Eye. Are you Seen now? If Unseen, do you crave the Eye?

Is there an Eye?

Not the eye of others like you. Whether or not others like you are present is nothing to the Eye, which can fix on you when you are alone and can forget you when you are in a crowd or surrounded by brothers and sisters. Even the eyes of brothers and sisters are not the Eye. Their eyes can be, at the worst of times, the obliteration ofthe Eye, and so of you. If you are not Seen, perhaps you are nowhere.

Is there an Eye? Is it better to think so or not to think so? I will tell you three things.


Consider this. I walked once in woods, at night, when I was in school therefore away from home. A terrible night, despicable, so that I hate to tell. Do you know how it is? What ached and anguished me this particular night is no matter—the same thing, unnameable but the same in whatever form: that which confronts you in every direction, a giant all face and no back. What will you do? It is impossible to stay in your room, since even the question of which chair to sit in becomes intolerable. All choices are closed and all pursuits are vain. It is too late even to start finally on the course of virtue, since it would be for the wrong reasons and you are vile, vile.

You see how it was. What could I do but leave my room and seek a wood?

A wood, and a path through it. Twenty minutes down the path there is a lake. Twenty minutes, though, is a long time not to be Seen on a path in a wood. Which is worse: not to be Seen in a room, or not to be Seen in a wood? One is small and therefore intolerable, the other is large and therefore intolerable. Nevertheless you cannot stay in the room. It may after all be only the ceiling that is keeping the Eye out.

To be Seen makes the body light. When he said the Eye is the lamp of the body he may have meant this. In any event the Eye was not on me, and my body was heavy and full of darkness. I mean to say that every step had to be decided upon.

The lake was my goal if I had a goal, though to have a goal means to walk in a direction—I mean that direction is a gift of the Eye, and when the Eye has ceased to exist, or never has, no directions are. All things are the same, since distinction is a gift of the Eye. The Eye Names.

Something glowed on the side of the path, firefly green, a small spark. Some insect. I bent close but it remained indistinct. Straightening I saw that they dotted the path. I tried to bless them unawares but you see the problem with this.

I continued five more steps. This now is the part of the night I would rather not say, but it is necessary that you consider it, since it is the crux. I sat on the grass first. Then I kneeled. Then I lay on my face. I remained this way, with my nose in the dirt, for a minute.

Then I got to my feet, turned around, and walked back the way I had come; having achieved nothing; less.

Do you see? The shame is not the lying in the dirt. This is something that one does, and it was required in some way, or at least there was nothing but this to be done at that moment. The shame was irrefutably in the not continuing, in the walking back.Yet this is unfair, because I walked back because it was impossible to walk forward.

I returned to my room. If you want to know how it was, do this: find a video that contains a man drawing a line with his pencil. Watch the video until the line is drawn halfway. Now press pause. Now rewind the tape, watching as the line is undrawn, all the way to the beginning. Now remove the tape and keep it on the shelf for the rest of your life but do not watch it.

That is how it was. I think it was the worst thing that has happened to me. What can happen when the Eye is not on you? Nothing. You cannot even be anywhere. It is impossible.

But consider this, now: there was once also a night on which I wanted to be Unseen. Can you imagine that? I will tell you about it.

I had a friend when I was young. I would go to his house, which was far away not only from my house but also from other houses, and from all city lights. All day we played. You see that it was not a question of words or thinking. He had a large collie that we would run with, and chickens that we would throw high in the air to watch them flap down. Once we built them a hutch, to make up for throwing them. At the bottom of the long hill of his driveway was a swimming hole with a small waterfall. I mean small for a waterfall but big enough to stand in or even behind, the sound of the water replacing all the thoughts in your head. Once we pitched a tent in the back yard but instead of sleeping in it we sat outside it all night. Watching shooting stars and inventing constellations.

Three years later I moved away. Maybe there were letters. Who stopped sending first? Three years after that I drove by his house one summer on my way to some wedding. I slowed down but did not turn up the driveway. I didn’t know if he lived there anymore, and there was no time. I thought about our times for the rest of the drive but it was too heavy to do for long, and nothing came of it. It felt like being Seen but in the wrong place, as if you should have been somewhere else.

Two years after that he was in town and found my telephone number, and invited me to meet him at such and such a place, at eight o’clock, to catch up. He mentioned the night of watching stars. I was happy, and I said I would come.

In five minutes the happiness faded and the dread came seeping. At seven thirty I was sitting in my room. I thought of how much I had changed in eight years. He did not know that I had dissolved into words and thinking so that there was nothing left that could invent a constellation or run with a dog. I could not like him anymore and he could not like me. At eight thirty the phone rang. Also at ten to nine.

On the night of which I have previously spoken, I was Unseen and as a consequence I was nothing. On this night, with the Eye fixed on me, I was something singular, and knew what it was. Every minute.
One thing more. This is two years after, again. It was last night. I have moved back to the town where I was born, to a small apartment across town from where my parents still live. My friend has married. I was sent an invitation but you can see that it would not do. And why do they marry such people? I have seen her, a soft one with no weight, no eyes that could fix you. There is a bad weight and a good weight.

Two months after the wedding, here I am. My apartment has become intolerable, so I am out walking.

There is a place I have been by car but never by foot, on a hill beyond and tar above my town. The town lies spread between a hill and a mountain. In the morning a band of cloud will rise from the river and lie like gauze in the valley. Once I saw deer there, and once a dozen turkeys that disappeared into the wood when I approached. It is night now. lt will be an hour before I crest the hill.

It is not to say that I have been called to a meeting there. Can you meet the Eye? It will be a meeting without words. Nevertheless there is direction to my steps.

Here I leave the town proper, which is to say that I am passing the last stretch of houses that are visible from the road. Alrcady the streetlights are sparse, and soon they will be gone. One last house, with paint flaking in the orange light of the porch. A woman is standing with her back to me, smoking. When I pass she does not turn. Do my footsteps make a sound?
I have left the streetlights behind me for half a mile, and here is a curious effect, or fact. I walk uphill with the woods dark to my right and to my left, but the road is as dark as the woods. Ifthere were a moon it would reflect on the road and make it a band of grey, but there is not a moon: so there is no difference between the road and the woods. Where does the line of sight end? Am I Seen? Consider this; I have a choice. The uniformity of light, or of darkness, imparts a uniformity of essence: the road is not distinct from the wood. What would it be to leave the road and enter the wood? A difference, or no difference? But I do not leave the road, since l fear to vanish from the map, or from all maps, to walk in unchartedness.

It is possible that I am called after all, or that the road is a kind of calling, so that to leave the road is not a choice, but is madness and death.

Give me a road and I will walk it.

Here past the lights it is silent, as if the lights had been a noise. A brook is flowing deep in the woods on my left. Something rustles close by: I freeze and wait. There is nothing that threatens, but now that I am still I see a shape standing on the side of the road ahead. It is featureless, grey on black. A murderer, or my friend whom my silence betrayed once. If he sought me I could not refuse. O seek me. We watch each other. After a minute has passed I see that he is a fire hydrant and a signpost.
Here is the crest ahead. You cannot see it but you know the feeling of an opening out to sky. The opening is like speech after silence or like the breaking of dawn, some slow but sudden flood.

I gain the top and see that the land is all awash with fireflies, blinking in staggered concert: the myriad eyes of a thousand Seraphim.

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Untitled [“When have you ever heard a silent crowd?”]

This poem first ran in the Fall 2008 edition of Grub Street Grackle. It appears here online for the first time.

This poem first ran in the Fall 2008 edition of Grub Street Grackle. It appears here online for the first time.

When have you ever heard a silent crowd?
Without a word, they watched their schoolhouse burn
But one man must have turned his wide-brimmed hat
Over and over slowly in his hands.
They go home silent. I remember when
I wanted to be Amish, like in books,
Or Mennonite, like one I saw, my age,
Pushing a stroller, in a pioneer dress.
The future drove a car I didn’t trust.
I knew instinctively that it meant harm.

It meant me harm. With all the force of fear,
I fought to make time stop. But since I’ve learned
I can’t do that, I modify my prayer.

Time, not too fast. The pace of horse
And buggy was just right, the pace of feet.
When needed, flames, deliberate, complete.

Original bio from the Fall 2008 edition:

Monika Cooper may or may not spend too much of her time discovering the visible connections of all public and private affairs.

featured image: “Fire” by Elena Penkova
Used under CC BY-NC-SA // cropped

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The Wound Dresser

This poem first ran in the Spring 2015 edition of Grub Street Grackle. It appears here online for the first time.

This poem first ran in the Spring 2015 edition of Grub Street Grackle. It appears here online for the first time.

Soft, late at night,
 by the late star light,
  you can see the wound dresser

going round the camp,
 tallowy lamp in his hand
  and its flame leaf yellow,

opening tent stays
 with his silken paws—
  the camp men say he has the softest fingers

of any nurse you’d know—
 as he makes his slow
  rounds, beard gold as the pissed-on snow.

He has linen bands stretched out in his hands,
 cut from fringes of Dixieland
  dresses of long ago

ladies’ sashays round the ballroom floor—
 he has the finest dress sense
  of any bandager you ever saw.

Where he found dresses—out on the field since Vicksburg—
 or where he finds clean tables
  to cut gowns on, who in hell knows—

you seen a bench since Vicksburg
 that didn’t have the blood in each joint
  deep inside its every piece of wood?

I haven’t seen a surgeon
 could find a plate to lay a saw on
  or a needle to sew belly since before Bull Run.

He comes, he shows the soldiers
 pictures of the stars and rivers
  he tells them his songs and shivers
   with them—till they cry.

He leaves sometimes at first light,
 goes on to the next bedside,
  the lamp in his palm near doused
   by the sky so bloody with the night.

He turns sometimes at first cock
 or looks as first clouds break rank
  and let the dawn shower pay back
   ground for all the blood put in the rain.

He turns and he sees sunrise
 unfold from some soul’s dead eyes
  that open as the wetlands
   flower underneath his empty hands,

with nothing left but flowers
 in the soldier’s open blank stares
  as the daybreak leaves them beauty but no breath.

He turns and you see murmurs
 cross his mouth like fixed battalions,
  those ragged crossing lines at Vicksburg
   marching toward the maize.

He turns and he walks sunrise
 out to cornfields with the bedpans,
  and he empties all those hours

of the night into the flowers
 beside the camp with words so soft,
  so soft, of what he heard them wish.

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Misinformation Dissemination 6: Utrum Canada veraciter sit

This essay first ran in the Feb/Mar 2007 edition of Grub Street Grackle. It appears here online for the first time.

This essay first ran in the Feb/Mar 2007 edition of Grub Street Grackle. It appears here online for the first time.

by Michael Bolin

Objection One: It seems that Canada exists. For we see in the world many people that we call Canadians, who seem to be so denominated from their country of origin. Now this would not be so, if that country did not exist; hence the conclusion follows.

Objection Two: Again, even among Americans, there are many who are said to have gone to Canada. Now motion implies a terminus ad quem. Therefore, etc.

Objection Three: Again, many people celebrate the Canadian Thanksgiving. But thanks is properly given in return for something received, which would not be the case if Canada did not exist. Hence it does exist.

On the contrary, stands the authority of Socrates, who nowhere in his treatment of the tyrannical regime mentions Canada.

I Answer That the non-existence of Canada can be proved in five ways. The first and more manifest way is from the authority of Sacred Scripture. For it is written, All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness (Isaiah 40:17). Now Canada is said to be a nation; therefore it is less than nothing and emptiness.

The second way is by a kind of ontological argument. For it is manifest to all that the definition of Canada is that country than which no lesser can be thought. Now it is worse for a thing to exist in the mind only than in the mind and reality also. But if Canada were to exist in reality, one could conceive of a lesser country, namely one that exists in the mind only. But this is contrary to the definition given, by which we know that Canada is that country than which no lesser can be thought. It follows that Canada can in no way exist in reality.

The third way is from the intention of nature. It is evident to experience that nature acts for an end, which we also know from the Philosopher in Physics, II. But if Canada were to exist, nature would have produced something in vain, and to no end. Hence Canada does not exist.

The fourth way is from the convertibility of being and goodness. Since being and goodness are the same in things and differ only in account, it follows that any thing that exists, insofar as it exists, is better than any thing that does not exist. But the land of Oz, which does not exist, is better than Canada; and from this it follows that even less does Canada exist. If, however, someone denies that the land of Oz is better than Canada, we must cease to argue with him, for as the Philosopher says in Metaphysics, those who deny first principles need not argument, but punishment.

The fifth way is from the nature of the first principles of things. For actuality is to potency as being is to non-being. But according to the universally accepted authority of http://www.bacad.com/about_canada.htm, Canada is a rich country with great potential. Therefore also is it great in non-being.

Reply to Objection One: To the first, then, it must be said that not all peoples are denominated from their country of origin. For example, many people have been called “Communists,” but this naming in no wise implies the existence of a country called “Commune.” And this is how it is with those called “Canadians.”

Reply to Objection Two: To the second, according to the Philosopher, motion is said in six ways. Thus, it is not necessary to assume that the act of “going to Canada” is said with respect to local motion; rather, it implies the motion of alteration, as in the common phrase, “going to pot.”

Reply to Objection Three: To the third it must be said that the “Canadian Thanksgiving” ought to be understood in some mystical sense. This is evident from the fact that, even if Canada were to exist, it would have nothing to be thankful for. And from this the truth of the matter is evident.


Read more great Grackle classics!

Original bio from the Feb/Mar 2007 edition:

Michael Bolin once lived in the frigid midwest and now lives in the scorching southwest. He is rumored to be intensely interested in philosophy, though both the source and credibility of this rumor are unknown. He had long noted that all of his friends despised him, and so was not surprised when it recently turned out that they were actually someone else’s friends.

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Nash’s Words Trash the Bird

image by Brent Eades

image by Brent Eades

Regular Grub Street Grackle contributor Ogden “Not Bogdan” Nash has a few choice words for our patron avian:

The grackle’s voice is less than mellow,
His heart is black, his eye is yellow,
He bullies more attractive birds
With hoodlum deeds and vulgar words,
And should a human interfere,
Attacks that human in the rear.
I cannot help but deem the grackle
An ornithological debacle.

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The Grackle is a production of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Imagine Dallas Literary Arts, Inc.