Alex Manley

Canadian To-Do List

Carefully select a card
from the troubled relationship section 

Discuss how many senses there are
five or six or twenty-something 

Eat a second maple cookie after church
then a third, then a fourth

Wear your blandness like a cape
Make like a horse and commit to the bit

Vote for your second- or third-favourite party
Ask your local MP to put their murder where their mouth is

Work hard, and hurry hard
Use beaver tail as a verb

Misread the phrase self-storage scattered across windows
think about how and when and where we store the self, and why 

Go over Nowhere Falls in a barrel
Take a seat in your Algonquin chair

With a straight face, say I come from guns
or They avalanche-bombed the backcountry

Look for meaning in an all-white peacock
Remember that summer you thought helium was going extinct

Plant a phone tree in the dirt
Use soapstone to wash your conscience clean

Say a prayer to the sky blue 
of the peace keepers’ helmets

When asked What? say Nothing.
Serve cold cuts for lunch again

Write a dirge for a ship in AABCCB
Take a painting workshop with your wife

Imagine the continent
unconquered by the coming storm of flesh

Learn both official languages
so you can speak with a forked tongue

Stop by a greenhouse that’s closed for repairs
study the empty koi pond

Misread old-stock Canadians as
old stock questions, and laugh

Find meaning in typos, like
The premise is monitored.

Profess your love of immigration
when the right people are doing it

Memorize all the CHL teams:
the Battalion, the Oil Kings, the Generals

Recline into the chesterfield of your laurels
stubby bottle in one hand, slave trade in the other

Wallpaper the basement Buffalo plaid
Come up with an inspiring name, like Ontario Proud

Dress up as an Indian for Hallowe’en
Don Cherry is yelling again

Alex Manley is a Montreal-based writer whose work has been published by Maisonneuve magazine, Vallum, The Puritan, Carte Blanche, and the Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day feature, among others, and whose debut poetry collection, We Are All Just Animals & Plants, was published by Metatron Press in 2016.

Photo credit: Blair Elliott