Carla Drysdale’s first book of poems, Little Venus, was published by Toronto’s Tightrope Books in 2010. Her poems have been published in such literary journals as PRISM International, The Same, LIT, the Literary Review of Canada, Canadian Literature, The Fiddlehead, Global City Review, Confrontation, and in the anthology, Entering the Real World: VCCA Poets on Mt. San Angelo. Winner of the 2014 Earle Birney prize, Drysdale is currently completing a new manuscript, All Born Perfect. Inheritance, her new chapbook, came out in October 2015 with Finishing Line Press. In November 2015 Zoetic Press nominated her for a Bettering American Poetry award. Her poems have been set to music by American composers David Del Tredici and Daniel Sonnenberg. They have also been paired with paintings by Ken Dubin. Drysdale was a writer in residence at La Porte Peinte during the summer of 2014, and she participated in two LPP poetry readings during the spring and summer of the same year. She lives in Ornex, France, near Geneva with her husband and two sons.


One of my two sons devours books
as I did, bespectacled, silent.

There are childhood facts I’d like to check,
but the past is unpopular

with my mother. Her husband wasn’t a reader.
His eye was on me during the day

and at night, when the door opened
and carved a wedge of hall light

into my dark room. I would wait for it.
Her pain was mine when

I heard the hush through the wall
after one of their bedroom fights

and her fall into Valium numbness.
My other son peers into

the legacy behind my eyes,
at what I’m trying to hide.

His pleasure and pain
are always mine

as when he kisses his cat or bends
his pen in half and yells at me,

enraged by the words
on the page

in front of him.

Published in Prism Magazine


He’d been crying.
Now, I’m back.
His mouth, overflowing
with breast milk, drips over
my stomach, when he stops
sucking to look at me, relieved.
Shamelessly happy.
The way new lovers
stop kissing for a moment
just to look at each other
still shocked to have found
each other, and now
to be held, to behold!

The way I used to give myself
over and over to strangers.
Even if I was used and rejected,
it was always worth it.

I’d do it over and over again
and that’s how I knew
it was worth it.

Published on

First night in Rougemont

“And the future holds the most remote event
in union with what we most deeply want.”
(Rainer Maria Rilke, from the Sonnets to Orpheus)

Standing in pine-scented wind
I am lit by full moon’s opalescence.
Church bells toll a full fifteen minutes.

Stained by October’s alpine shadows
I lift my too-full wine glass to the axis
of church, moon and mountaintop.

Inside, my children bask
in TV screen’s hypnotic light
despite my calls to step into the chiming night.

When I open the door, they yell “no”
pull the duvet to their chins
a shield against the cold.

You see, they want their story
and I want mine.
Though we live each other’s.

So I stand alone
watching mist from the valley rising
like persistent and prodigal longing.

Published in Wolf Willow Journal

Clemency on the Q Train

A bee large as my thumb
turns in circles
on the black rubber floor
flecked with stars
like outer space or a pebbled shore
under our feet
as the Q train rumbles home.

Silent subway riders
watch the bee lumber up
onto a large tennis shoe
and stumble across its blue
and white checkerboard.

“Step on it!” someone says.
But I’ll tell you quickly
he didn’t kill.

Awkwardly, gently, the shoe
nudges the bee
out into clear space
between platform edge
and sliding door.

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