b y Jim Smith

I am going to see Nicanor Parra because together we are 154 years old.

Because I can’t remember the call number of Poems and Antipoems, it was something like PQ something something something something. Because there in the basement of basements of Douglas Library, Queen’s, where it is always 1973, I can remember it stuck its foot out and caught me in its arms, it ruffled my hair, said laugh when you think it’s funny. No, I am going to see Parra because after 11 years Stuart Ross and I sat there and joked wouldn’t it be neat to hand a copy of Back Off, Assassin! to Parra, and because I laughed ’cause that was funny. Because I went home to make Jo-Anne laugh and told her Stu’s and my little chiste, and because she said why not. And I ruffled my hair and said well maybe. No, I am going to see Parra because there is a debt that must be paid. Because all I plan to do is say thanks. And he will say ¿por que? Because I will articulate something like you gave me an example I need not follow, because you showed me there is no one way to write, because you pushed me down an alley in which the words have ruffled my hair. I am going to see Parra because I never told Samuel Beckett I loved him. Because I never made that trip to see William Burroughs. Because Pound was gone before the thought occurred to me. I am going to see Parra because it is only distance, and weather, and time. I’d like it if he would just ruffle my hair, say gee, Jim, don’t be scared. It’s just me.

Jim Smith is the author of Back Off, Assassin! New and Selected Poems (Mansfield Press, 2009). He leaves for Chile to see Don Nicanor in a few weeks. He’s promised future dispatches about the trip, and the meet.

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