SINGLE MALT POEMS

CORN AND KOREA

From the 1950s I remember corn on the cob and new potatoes; also the Korean War: hellish fighting, dead of winter, fat yellow colonels, narrow little eyes. Men and machines immobilized in an ice world, stripping off the husks, sperm freezing before it hit the ground. I remember father digging in our garden, putting little spuds in pots of boiling water, men screaming as our family gathered around the dinner table, shells bursting in layers of hot golden butter or dying quiet in the heartless cold. I remember the black and white newsreels, mashing and piling them into little heaps while clapping their hands and stomping their feet, steam rising to the ceiling, as the people watched impassive eyes half-closed, bodies being stacked like firewood. Then there was the smell of freshly-cooked corn wafting over the dead bodies mixing with the stench of freshly-killed soldiers and new potatoes split open, machine gun fire all around us, mother adding more cobs to the boiling water accompanied by hideous shrieking as Chinese and North Koreans entangled in barbed wire behind our house or stepped on land mines planted every spring from seeds mercilessly forcemarched out of the Eatons catalogue then carefully sewn between the tomatoes and new shell holes still smoking with arms and legs blown off reaching for another helping of steamy potatoes blood pouring from the glowing cobs onto the white snow all around with father telling us stories about life in northern Ontario during the 1930s.

Calgary Thurs 08/30/00