From the Archive: Ian Williams (CAROUSEL 22)

Staff/ September 2, 2020/ Poem


The Commute

Nobody ever survives.
Margaret Atwood

                                                   Ikemefuna certainly didn’t
make it through the forest, pot of palm wine on his head,

with an entourage of slammer mouthed men who led
him to believe he was going home. A lie, but they meant

well. Machete to the neck. Then the unnecessary announcement
My father they have killed me, past perfect, as if he were already dead.

And good weather, maps, company, trusty ship, work permits
didn’t get all the Africans across, packed — like the Escher print

of birds morphing to fish — so you can’t tell what you’re seeing,
lost property, stolen goods. Even if they survived they didn’t survive

to talk about it. And the driver of the tinted window chrome
rimmed black SUV who chose to eat a bagel in the traffic and not ride

the shoulder was still pulled over. No seatbelt. A small thing
relatively speaking. Easy to fix. Don’t go out. Don’t go home

Ian Williams is a Canadian poet and fiction writer. He is the author of Personals (poems, 2012), which was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award. His collection of short stories, Not Anyone’s Anything, won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. His first book of poetry, You Know Who You Are, was shortlisted for the ReLit Awards. His debut novel, Reproduction, was published in 2019, and was awarded the 2019 Giller Prize; it was also shortlisted for the 2019 First Novel Award, and the 2019 Toronto Book Awards. Williams earned Honours B.Sc., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Toronto. He is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of British Columbia. More at:

The Commute
appeared in CAROUSEL 22 (2008) — buy it here

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