Translation

Truth is:  “old” cheddar’s mild
soft, jejune, not yet walking
Need medium underwear?
Buy a “large” pair

“Two thumbs up”
means sucky, infantile
California cine-goo
Better to read a book instead
in which opposable truths
are sometimes wed

“One size fits all”
(not you it seems)
“Convenient, electronic” leaves
you on your own, abandoned
“Gracious living” is commercial code
for no unwanted folks can call
“Virtual” denotes not really
and sometimes not at all

“Handy to,” “within minutes of,” portend
a life in cars, commuting without end
“Complete selection” means
you’re out of luck
if your waist is 33 or 35
if you like “foreign” films
or music on cassettes:
something “better”
(something else)
is what you get

“Unhappily married” male
seeks “romance” and “affection”
In Edmonton, call “Stan”
SWF seeks “professional” man . . .

Like distant stars visible
to the well trained eye
you discern asterisks trailing
Our commitment*
Our pledge*
A nominal* fee
Six per cent financing*
Lifetime* guarantee

Even doors betray their promise
The architect planned four
The builder built four
But try one – locked – as by decree
Four doors, and some janitor
always locks three
You grow used to the equating
of incommensurate things
You get used to decoding
discounting, translating
It’s the price you pay
for mundane living

Sad it will be therefore
(but in keeping with the times)
to discover scare quotes around
the gate of everlasting life
to discover that
whosoever believeth shall live, though he die
was really meant
to be translated, deflated
bereft of promise, or
to discover that there is in fact a gate
real and untranslated
a gate of supernal promise
a celestial portal the other side of which
is all you've longed for
(truth, love, music of the spheres)
that has, alas, been locked
by some overzealous manager
who’s been drinking too much beer


copyright: 2004

From Just Like Blood, a collection of Jamie MacKinnon's poetry. If you'd like a copy, ask your bookstore, or order online at:

Chapters.ca or phone the publisher, SGB Perfect Current, at 416 405 8768

Photo and blurb:    SGB Perfect Current