Richard-Yves Sitoski is the current Poet Laureate of Owen Sound. His books include brownfields and Downmarket Oldies FM Station Blues. When he is not writing or performing spoken word he makes disquieting sounds on guitars. Find him on Facebook (Owen Sound Poet Laureate for 2019-2021) and visit him at richardsitoski.wordpress.com.


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I forgot the water, like stout until the rapids.
I forgot the rocks, algae covered, mucus on glass.
I forgot the perch fry suspended above their shadows.
I forgot the bank, part liquid, part solid, part neither.
I forgot the mid-century aesthetic of the driftwood.
I also forgot the bathers, their foam-white limbs.
And the anglers and their blind faith.
I forgot the tadpoles, hallucinatory yet too real for children's books.
The garter snakes as well, disappearing in timothy, discreet as butlers.
I forgot the nettles and their thousand syringes.
I forgot the milkweed and the monarch's exhausted flight.
I forgot the cheek-hollowing chokecherries.
I forgot the willow trees and the muck at their bases.
And the flying punctuation of the goldfinches.
And the kingfishers like ordnance, and the conning tower loons.
I forgot all this until I stood to my knees in the river 
and looked down at a pavement of limestone.
I forgot all this until I saw the present tense
fossilized like a bivalve, part of the rock,
a small grey thing that used to be the world. 

memory loss from acquired brain injuries at a cabin in
the blue mountains as the fog rolls in              
there is nothing here but you when clouds 
like a flood of milk fill the spaces between the cedars
you do not see the oil slick of a starling's throat
nor hear a blue jay opening a rusted gate
nothing to do but sit inside and wait 
before seamless white absolute white terminal white
rebuilding what is lost to blankness
wondering if what you make – 
tiger lillies flamboyant as pimps
a scurrying chipmunk pickpocket-bold
– is the same as what used to be there
will still exist if the cloud will never lift

apres toi le deluge
where do birds go in a flood once sunfish
filter through branches they perched on?
what happens when rock bass swim
through open windows, dodging largemouth
hunkered under tables?
when the parquet grows a fine crop of milfoil
to hide the pike in the kitchen?
and your mattress rises to become a ship
surrounded by sodden photographs,
rafts bearing exhausted memories that will
fall off and drown among the islands 
that were rooftops? what then?
will you know how to swim? will you struggle?
or will you be at peace as water overtakes,
as you get dragged down, as the sun shimmers
fading light on your upturned face 
sinking, sinking deeper and deeper in the silt
till waterlilies sprout from your open mouth?

All three pieces written by Richard-Yves Sitoski