David O’Meara at the Ottawa International Writers Festival, spring 2009
rob mclennan reports on his blog, April 30, 2009 - Ottawa poet David O’Meara might have had his book appear last August, but considering he was travelling Europe for six months starting August 20, this was the first Ottawa launch of his third poetry collection Noble Gas, Penny Black (Brick, 2008). How does one feel connected to a new poetry collection after such an absence? I’ve been hearing O’Meara read around Ottawa for years, back to a reading he did at the Manx Pub with his pal Ken Babstock circa 1994, and I think this might have been the best reading I’ve heard him give, hosted by poet Rob Winger, who talked about O’Meara’s writing as having “a firm grounding in the contemporary.” His reading had a kind of clarity and precision that the other two writers didn’t quite have; wise, to make him third. And the best poem had to be his opener, a new piece exploring voice like a speech, from the “poet laureate of the moon.” After the reading, O’Meara talked about how the editorial process involved him removing much of the rhyme-schemes of a number of the poems, simplifying them; is there a correlation here? And in the question and answer session, where he referred to poetry as “an outlet to explore the reaction to things.” After his six months away, I am intrigued to see what kind of writing he has returned with, just what kinds of pieces might slowly emerge.
It was Sunday. September. Our crew
was pushing it hard for second place.
Our ears roared as the stem-post filleted
the Venice lagoon.
Then another boat kicked into the turn
and we hit their high wash. Our sponson
just pecked the wake, but hooked,
dragged, snapped and we barrel-rolled
back over front, then tacked-
a split-second aloft-
straight down, like hitting brick
at 80 mph. My mind left;
there was a high-pitched whine
like a dog’s whistle, that piped on and on.
I flat-lined. Giuseppe, the medic,
got to me, wiped the blood clear,
and blew into the place where my teeth used to be.I’d been injured before, bruised black
as an old banana, and twice broke my nose.
This was different. There’s no fear,
you just know you’re gone.
Someone was screaming, She’s dead, leave her,
and there were thumps on my chest
like a fist on a tomb.
The sky fluttered, wobbled. I started to breathe.
I was nowhere; calm, happy. My team
hovered above while I flowed underneath.
And that weird whistle, the dazzling brightness.
I drifted like TV static, prickly-warm, like Epsom salts
dissolving and sifting through Giuseppe’s hand.
There’s one moment I remember
in all that light and clatter: I’d been lifted
into a helicopter when something cold
went from my neck to my stomach.
It was paramedics bent over
my shattered body (for all I knew kneeling to pray),
and cutting through my race overalls with a cold
pair of scissors. I remember thinking,
But it’s a La Perla bra. It’s expensive,. Then they lost me again.
they’re going to cut it off