Pearl Pirie. BookThug, 2015. $18 CAN/US (96p) ISBN 978-1-77166-092-1
the lane walks the legs along mud
while the moongrass verge lullabies.
a hand grapples with sedge more
easily than with a steer.
any mushroom omelette admits
the axe equally as the flax seed.
winning is not all but it is
something of bliss. for one side.
in cold blood? shortfin mako sharks
and yellowfin tuna are endothermic like us.
lose an evening chez chefs
their red snappers, ocean wars.
far hums of the 2 am road racers
making vain small vrooms of their own.
Ottawa poet, editor and publisher Pearl Pirie’s third trade poetry collection, The Pet Radish, Shrunken (Toronto ON: BookThug, 2015), continues her exploration into and through sound, play and meaning. The author of two previous poetry collections—been shed bore (Ottawa ON: Chaudiere Books, 2010) and Thirsts (Montreal QC: Snare Books, 2011)—as well as a growing number of poetry chapbooks, what becomes curious about Pirie’s writing is how she appears to utilize poetry as a way to understand how the world works and somehow navigate through the occasional confusion, whether the immediate day-to-day of existing, or something larger and more abstract. As she writes in the poem “how not to have the mouth say”: “you’re uncharacteristically / quiet. I’ll balance us. we’ll // average us out to everyone / okay. what did I do? I decided / to fix a shirt by getting a huge / pot & dying.” Whereas her first two trade collections felt exploratory, and even hesitant in places, The Pet Radish, Shrunken is a collection by a poet with far more confidence and heft, using language as a series of tools in which to facilitate discovery. As the final poem in the short suite, “discarded early spring,” reads: