The poetry of Jade Riordan

Tellings From a Linear Landscape

We live in the horizon now.
Found the edge of the world
and called it prey. Found
the Earth’s core cascading into space;
made like Prometheus and brought light
to this nether place.

Land meets sky, girl meets boy:
I’m just retelling the beginning
of the ending of the world.

Cold comfort knowing the sun
becomes sightless. An easing,
oozing sigh of relief when the
ground folds itself a paper plane
without runway to return to.

It starts here: on a wingtip looking
for sky. Here: in the sum of every
life lived singing our time to a close.
Crescendo before the aftermath.
A final swell of waves before
the moon implodes.

Think of the horizon as a crater.
Think the heart lunar wind. Still
and unlikely for us, but perhaps
Calypso, perhaps Miranda.

Now think of the horizon
as a blanket: folds of cityscapes
and daydream clouds. Nightlight
the cumulus, the stratus …
the electricity goes out. Earth’s core
dims. Say goodnight as Earth’s
core fades and flickers out. Say
goodnight as we tuck ourselves
into the edge of the world.

And here: the song comes to a

Jade Riordan is from northern Canada; she’s currently attending university further south. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Aurorean, The Claremont Review, The Dalhousie Review, The Fib Review, the MicroText 3 anthology (Medusa’s Laugh Press), and elsewhere. She is a member of Bywords’ selection committee.

One comment

  1. I am now a fan of this poem. So much recent poetry is self-absorbed and focused not joyously but tediously on things I doubt William Carlos Williams wanted us to put into poetry. The utterly mundane, the scraps of Devil Dogs, the sweat from last night’s lovemaking. Sorry, that may be significant to a writer, but there’s no mountain in it.
    Jade Riordan’s poem, by contrast, gives us an I who is not self-absorbed, who sees all of us in a desperate time, in an imploding or exploding universe now no longer future. We are now finished. The tone of this is interesting. The narrator, seeing the “beginning of the end of the world,” isn’t screaming or mad with despair, but rather speaking in a way that would guide us, perhaps even comfort us, through the terror of the end. “Say goodnight” here seems to me sympathetic, without the sarcasm or the violence of much popular use. May as well tuck yourself in now. There’s no point in irony or recrimination at the end of things; for that matter, there’s no point in lying, cheating, or murdering. I am reminded of the stoic calm of Shute’s On the Beach.
    I have tried to read this poem as an analog for other endings, the end of love, perhaps, the end of art, the end of family, I don’t know. I don’t find such pattern. Perhaps others will.
    The one thing that bothers me a little is the title. I’m not sure what “tellings” or “linear” mean in this context. “Tellings seems to suggest some ongoing story, and seems slightly inappropriate here. Anyway, I am a fan of this poem and want to read the rest of Riordan’s work, even as we’re running out of time.

    –Harold Ackerman


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