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Category: Jacques J. Rancourt

Saint Joseph’s Oratory

Montréal, Québec

Didn’t I too once suck deeply from the bosom

of God? In a cathedral in a city that still succumbs

to the past, didn’t I myself see two walls lined

with canes & crutches? & the pilgrims with crooked spines,

those who were paralyzed, were they not—at least some—

healed? & didn’t I also leave with a great hum

like the St. Lawrence flooding the city gardens?

& how long after the last blast of the organ,

how long does that sound remain in the rafters

or against the dome’s peeled plaster?

& when they exhumed the saints’ corpses,

did they not still reek sweetly of roses?

& how far from the cathedral did the pilgrims walk

before they realized they still could not walk?

from Broken SpectreFind more by Jacques J. Rancourt at the library

Copyright © 2021 Jacques J. Rancourt
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Golden Gate Park

Tonight, walking the AIDS

memorial, I think about

the man who hydrated

his partner by feeding

him ice chips with his

mouth. Someone stumbles

down the path, maybe drunk,

maybe a little

fucked up, & I know not to make

eye contact, not to stop.

But I do stop. This man

wants to fuck

right here & now

on top of the red

earth. Back East where

I grew up, the past persists

sinister as a forest: a man hit

on another man

in a rural bar & thus

was beaten with a cast-iron pan,

laid across the tracks,

& severed by a train.

Here, his lips still sweet

from the clove

he smoked, this stranger

kisses me like those men

of our fathers’ generation

who’d rendezvous in parks

past dark. Never again

will I destroy the earth

by flood, God told Noah

after the sun broke

through, the covenant

signed in rainbow.

Once, I believed in God.

Convinced that the earth

was his own

beating heart,

I talked to him out loud

from Broken SpectreFind more by Jacques J. Rancourt at the library

Copyright © 2021 Jacques J. Rancourt
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

The Earth is Rude, Silent, Incomprehensible

Now that we exist

on the other

side of desire,

when I tell you

I love you, I mean

we live

on a planet

that’s dying

& it’s no accident

that the calla lily

is both the symbolic

flower for weddings

& funerals. I told you

that loons

mated for life

& when one died

the other spent

her days calling

out to him across

the gray pond.

Once again,

you see,

I was wrong. Look,

I will be

honest with you:

when I promised

myself, I did so

knowing not even

the sun lasts forever.

Look! The future

is pressing itself

so closely

against us it has already

passed us by

& to die must make

the same sound

as the woman

I watched during

a rainstorm

thrashing a river

with a branch.

Could we make

time pass

a little more

slowly? I want

to watch

the fireflies spark

up the tallgrass

& the bullfrog,

that unrolls

its wide fat tongue

a thousand

frames per second,

thwap the fly

that flickers

before it

with its honey-thick spit.

from Broken SpectreFind more by Jacques J. Rancourt at the library

Copyright © 2021 Jacques J. Rancourt
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

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