from Janey Settler-Invader

They have no perpetual arrears
of unfinished work, so I can get
enough fame then money to get
away from here so I can become
alive, and they know nothing
of transcendentalism,
microbes, or Mrs. Eddy.
They do not pay taxes,
have no ‘at home’ days,
do not have to re-bind their skirts,
and get no offensive yellow bills
intimating that their water
supply will be cut /
off at the main un- (
less promptly_ ~paid
for. They need
not serve on a
jury, or in the
militia. They need
not Fletcherise
their food, need not
shave, and never
heard of a financial
stringency. You think
booze, sex, coke, rich
food, etc. are doors out?
We need total oblivion. What was
I saying? They keep their appen·d
ixes inside, where they properly
belong, and their children
know nothing of a punctual, piti
less schoolrbell. Of what other
blessed raice can this be said ?



The girls are brightly good-humoured
and intelligent, i.e. adaptable
in the locked room. Marie Louise
has a mouth the colour of blood-lilies. One day
she found a pencil stub. God told her to laugh with it,
every pukey bit, cause some guy covers you with his
sperm a wild girl likes sensual things for the gloaming
had come upon the plains, heads crested with uncouth
horns and shaggy manes inclining her outstretched
wings silver, sapphire, violet-gold to keep this law
more horny just a few minutes ago than by poems
chained to the ground with a terrible awe, then by
oblivion outside the night, night becomes flared
snouts thrust down lest my breath be an augury
for tiny flowers and fears in the f>cked°up arcadia.



The old women sit around and smoke.
Their faces bear the imprint of
monotony. The bear raged. Foam
frothed from his mouth. This tottering beldame,
with skin a wrinkled prune, is the very sybil who
had already lived seven hundred years when Aeneas
went to Italy and threw himself against the door as
hard as he could. That didn’t work. The bear forgot
the rosy cheeks and bright blue eyes and threw
himself against the door even harder. She gave
instructions, you remember, how to find his father
in the infernal regions. These networks become history
and culture (if they work) and as such, turn
against me and take away time and space. They
tell me what to do. The world I perceive, everything
I perceive are indicators of my boring needs. She
conducted him to the very entrance of the fullness and
breadth, the clear entirety of this hell, its limitations
fully apparent the moment we become conscious
of the vj J^]^ <md 9^e,at men and the. olL^ line. arts.
terrorist. pleasures of the chase upon the plain.



Pioneering to-day is not so serious a matter
as it once was. I remember I wanted to be a good
girl for my father. It will not work with the bear
who, like the Indign, has to be shot to be
made good. That was a saying of the Athenian
state. You’re gonna spoil her looks, the white boy
smiled. Back in Alexandria the rebels take over. Art
requires judgment and deftness, for an animal
struggling for hours in a trap turns more or less
mad, desires encircled by a golden bracelet and
ends joined by a venomous bite. Put through your
facings as if all the face of the plains was being
hurled toward the south in a condition of the wildest
turmoil, your scurvy race is almost run. La patrie
has reason to be proud of her zealous son. I go
sojourning to visit a nighbour. Ever a contact of peril,
the bear was causing all the weather. The Indign
despises the man who uses the hoe; then the
settlers’ needs are sore. This was surely dramatic;
this was tragic indeed. Rags! A bed of straw; a crust
of bread; the shattered roof; the naked floor; a deal
table; a broken chair. God save Oirland. Winnipeg
is the Unter den Linden of Canadian enterprise.



But I was telling you about the Indigns.
You must pardon my digressions, you’re flying
away I’m following you whee whee the world
is silver for some reason this sight of blackness
makes the bear very happy. The bear begins
to dance and sing and make all sorts of funny
noises, ‘Everything that isn’t touching
my eyes is gone.’ Thunderball tears roll
sweat-drop hailstones from raunchy fur.
Argus had to keep his thousand eyes
pinned on a horny cow. We shoved
locusts and plagues against each other. Poor
Colonists! Finding it impossible to get the Indigns
to raid the settlement, the crofters were poor farmers,
for they were rather fishermen. Thirty-seven portages
lay between them and the dissociable sea. But there is
trouble just ahead. No turning back now. The Rubicon is
all the sea-divinities combined to stand before total disaster
and muse over clenched sights: ‘You are almost as clever
as an Indign in maiden meditation fancy free.’



Some of the men who hurt me because I don’t
always see myself have long hair and wear
their blankets toga fashion, just like lawyers
in the lonely, the Royal F■ck of Justice, in the
Strand. The roads are our civilization. I rub my dying
-to-come hips against the bones sticking out. The men
who do what other people condemn are the men who
advance our civilization. I’m going to travel to Scotland
’cause there are lots of men in Scotland and no one’
ll tell me what to do there. Don’t ask me nothing. I
don’t know. I’m in pain. Then I’ll believe the stars
light up my head and GJhere dots she qo? She coas a
stupid girl : she went and offered herself }QiokioarcH>y
to sormeone ujbo didn't cuant her. That’s not stupid.
The bia^est pain in the world is feetinq, but sharper
is the pain of the self. My legs and arms spawn winds
(the half-breeds! the half-breeze!) gathering from the
north. In the brave days of old, the bois-brûlé was as
independent as a feudal baron, the Heelander forced
to surrender ancient muskets carried at Culloden. We
all sign the gold ring pulled from this damsel’s demure
finger, blind to the ethics of the guide who robbed her.



The Persian slave traders taught their children three things:
riding, truthfulness, and archery. Just as I’m laying
on his head the apples I’ve ripped off I’m putting in
your hands a thankless sleep gift rolling off your slanted
body. Even so the Indigns. There are quite a few of us
who think we might imitate them with advantage. Here
too, in the hush, for the first time, the planter’s ear heard
a far-off, nigh indistinct, sound of galloping thunder. No
£zaf£ T/) : ) this peasant that peasant oood peasant Then
followed the wooing among the flowery prairies; and the
white men began to pledge *j the, endi'nQS here : ) their
troths to the dusky girls. So far as I am able to deduce,
jistAx3 /!) the Indign’s deadly and unpardonable sin lies
>> a better peasant j.T 'J olKO oil this peasant is better
in the act that he has not made money as a whore
and had nothing else to feel. He knew C**>7 /JJ^
not what it meant, and his followers surmised that
it might be the tumult of some distant waterfall, borne
hither because a storm was at hand, and the denser
air was a better carrier of the sound. But how,
pray tell, can the hideous figure make money
when his blood is mixed with the sap of trees?



Suddenly a little unsuspected ecstatic
crazy-making overtaking wildness
like a big King Viper spreading his
hood rising up and overtaking seventy-
five wagon loads of Indigns in the procession
and I have the distinction of being the only
citizen halfway between an alligator and a bird
who wants to be a □ □» ^ bird I want the textures
of your lives. I want the whole world to burn
up in an instant. “Give us beef!” yelled the Indigns.
If we close our eyes and spread our legs, an abortion
is just like getting fucshiv shifting shivers lurk in
corners, corners of the nothing, here the tiger rose,
some savage queen of beauty Ping! rose to his knees
and breathed her sultry balm Ping! in his face the bullets
whizzed; aloof the shy wild rose stood, bitched up under fire,
shedding scent with delicate reserve; but the wild pea, your
blood is frozen, and the convolvulus, and the augur flower,
and the insipid daisy ran riot through the grass land, this ball
swerving and surfeiting his nostrils with their sweets. Upon the
mellow level stood Riel performing a variety of evolutions like
Mohammed, El Mahdi and other great patrons of rice and religion
weaker than a shorn Samson, a clump of poplars or white oaks, prim,
like virgins sans suitors, the half-breedze laughed, their robes drawn
close, hands blooded with settler; but when the wind blew over the
unmeasured plain, green heads bowed as if saluting the stranger, ‘Ah,
ma petite amie!’ who came to found snug little flocks of wilderness
exteiTftination ^P** sentinels.



The monotonous iteration of the tom-toms
is maddening. If the gods were listening
they would strike these young men dead;
but if there is God, God is disjunction
and madness leaving the young men
of the tribes like vibrating nuts. No emotion
possible is dark mist God blotted out: Your
hateful sweetness I’m clinging to. ‘Nearer,
clearer, deadlier than before.’ Lo! out of
the west came what seemed a dim shadow
moving across the plain. Temperamental
and raging like all the Arabs folding their tents
like all the Indigns stealing silently away. Turn
my eyes insane while being corrupts itself
AS A POOL OF SHAME. Poetry! fc^tO thtre'5
Poetry! Take me away through the farthest
races through the farthest waves to where no
men reek hot breath all over my body. I’ll do
anything, anything but yumped up Jesus Christ!




[Rachel Zolf’s fifth full-length book of poetry, Janey's Arcadia, which errantly enacts the ongoing ravages of settler-colonialism on the Canadian west, is forthcoming from Coach House Books in Fall 2014. For more information on her work, see: http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/zolf/]

Copyright © 2013 by Rachel Zolf, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.