The Dazzling Oppression of the Real #9: Alison Hedley

Jude Dillon presents: Alison Hedley

Jude Dillon

Alison Hedley likes to eat books, and then write about them. She is partway through year six of a four year English B.A. at St. Mary’s University College, Calgary, Alberta. God only knows what she’ll do when that’s done.

Alison Hedley works at Caffe Beano.

Alison Hedley falls down a lot.

(Except now that she doesn’t skateboard so much, this is more of a metaphor than a statement of empirical fact.)

See circle

If I stretch my fingers out far enough

I feel all things possible. ( is, see)

As I just tip touch my own tail, graze

and grab scales. A hold tangible enough (for

the moment) to take my weight, I pull.

Closer in, bring my face so near, so near.

I open my mouth wide.





Fading summer flower brights

Made luminescent glazed and dewy by the




We can see our breath leaving our souls again.

                                               It is that time.

from gay pinks

to mean reds

 – rusting geranium heads

Rotting moist, cooled by fall fingers

Tapping gently each




The sound of w a t e r, w a t rr w a ssshhh h uah

                               and, Once


                                                        somewhere in the distance, a loon cracks up


                                                                                                                                                 lau    u

    ghing away

    rotted reds

                            even as he   splashes   in the foreboding of late summer

                                                               (water being the loon’s natural element)

                                                               (autumn being mine)

i wonder if a loon can see its breath too,

today or always?


i’m a jerk and you’re a true friend

S i d e b y s i d e b y s i d e b y s i d e

your hand


my thigh:

warm and earnest (earnest and warm)

                     open palm.

                     face down

remember that game we all used to play,

everybody put a hand in the middle,

heap of hands.


each one, first one, then the other –

and when you run out of hands to stack pull another

from the bottom and place it on top,

all the way to i n f i n i t y

side by side,


                    is not


you know, for

to play that game there’s gotta be at least

two people.

my hand

                   is not (i do not place)

on yours.

I was a lover before this war


We stand face to face

doing battle with our eyes

talismans blazing

…slowly put our weapons


Alcohol, cigarettes,




The stories we always tell

people we don’t know.

The huge gaps of unspokens,


You take a step towards me

your body is right in front of me,



I reach inside your chest

and pull out your talisman,


In truth, you disarmed me with

some warm gaze the first time

we faced off.


I was a lover/ Before this war




love me

’til I’m calloused bruised blissed-out on the inside


My body is a battleground, and there is no neutral territory.

                                                                              mouth, shoulder, fingertip

“Never let your guard down.”

I let my guard down:

Never let yer God damn

                               Guard down.

The enemy will not be gentle;

They did not grow up learning and loving these lands

                                                                              grass, bird’s nest, willow tree

And anyway, there’s a war on

Landscape measured in strategic topography

                                                                              form, faultline, barrier

They are not from here.

This is the intimacy of death.

Rip out the flowers, burn the crops:

The horizon moans,

A muddied field of blood and bleeding.

Each touch a tactical strike, and there is no neutral emotion.

Keep your weapons up,

Never let your guard down.

My body is a garrison

Surrounded by high walls,

                                                                              impenetrable impregnable

There were raids

They violated the perimeters before;

I let them in.

Such is the desire and the struggle:

Such is intimacy of death.

Never let your guard down.

I was a lover, before this war.


The enemy teaches you inner strength.

Trust in God, but tie your camel.

“Don’t  (even)  touch me.”


After all was uneloquently said and done.

All I found in yer last night’s wake

is the we in this poem

and the lines,

“Two hundred tiny cracks

in a heart still intact”

My body is a garrison;

I was a lover–

 before this war.


Unfortunately after I’ve spent hours eating my pain, a ritual, my stomach’s too distended  for me to sleep curled up in the fetal position.

I’m pregnant.

It’s autumn, harvest time, I’m going to give birth to a bastard-child:

She’ll have my shoulders, and my eating disorder’s eyes, and nothing between the ears but a half consciousness, constantly aware only of a vague blood-buzzing, the ears ringing, the body shaking

I will name her Diabetes.

When she is still young and lovely she will be ensnared by Death, eating will be the link, he will have her hand and I will force her to marry him, to go through with it, all or nothing you know.

All or nothing.

She will divide her time between Death and I, my winters lonesome for her,

But so cold, secretly peaceful: free.

I half-awake dream of wintersleep.

Smoking naked in bed

It is windy

Across the street

berries, livid and red, lit sideways from a sun sliding down, strewn on the pavement like road-kill debris, dashed to the curb by careless cars

Guttered, half-crushed in clusters.



of the whispers of saints, channeled over the mountains into one grand vent, voice,

in the month of subtler colors, and grace less easily seen –

Mystery, our month of all souls.

The sky is so, so blue, even warmed still

by summer days before. Before.

There was a cold snap, mid-October, and leaves froze mid-metamorphosis –

green paled deep and colourless, to a hundred husks of before, curled pieces of one burial shroud shuddering in unison, fingered by saint whispers, illuminated with sunlight.

A polyphony crescendo’d to a song without notes,

only hollow sounds, every tree and blade of grass naked and carefully dried into a vessel for whispering.

Through large front windows, you see a car slow as it floats down the street. Perhaps because the driver is wary, checked by wind – perhaps because he sees the bright clusters on the road, and wonders if they are not something, before.

Only tiny gashes into the serene somnambule November.

You think about other Novembers. You think about other blue and brown winds, other seasons of drying out and listening to inarticulate truths of human life. History. Livid and red

Your eyes looking out from another window, when someone lit two cigarettes and handed one to you, delicately.

You think about a different kind of sacrament:

Smoking naked in bed, you a paper husk lit with sunlight. The same hollow-song, vent, but different.

The sublimity of it, simple, beyond language. Before. Smoke like November wind, grace whorled around your body and gone. Then, outside you’d hear it intensify to one great, long breath, crashing against gnarled-naked tree-torsos; gently, easily, up-swifting scraps of leaf in whirling gusts.

You wondered,

At what you think you feel now, something so real it only hovers above the words, woven into the air

It is the month of all souls, and whether you listen or not, you breathe it in.The sun slides down, and outside the window it all goes grey. Everything but the sky, still.

Outside, spirit-gusts

murmur opiates to gutters and sloughs, berries and stones.

But invite the human in

to a heart that will not slow; veins that will not harden chilled.

And whisper: for you

There will be no rest.

All night you will sit awake in the cemetery.

Trying to read your fortune on the weathered, bared skin of sleeping trees.

See Circle Pt. 2

“What to tell you?”

There is no new sound.


We can always begin again:

I love you /Ab Ovo

Anything is an omen if you want it to be

Love is a choice and a destiny

Published by lenavanelslander

Lena Vanelslander swam many waters. History, Comparative Culture Analysis, Languages, Mythology, Literature, Poetry, too many to sum up. After a life of tribulations the turning point came in her mid twenties: she started to write actively poetry in English. Her melancholic and darkminded nature colour her poems to an individual signature in both time and space. Poems got published in the Stray Branch, Savage Manners, the Delinquent and The Sylvan Echo. Her first chapbook ‘Ma Chanson de Rien du Tout’ has been released in September this year. Her first book of poetry, written with Marilyn Campiz, Quills of Fire, will appear in November 2009. Currently she edits writers' profiles for and

One thought on “The Dazzling Oppression of the Real #9: Alison Hedley

  1. Hello Allison,

    We have not met but sean (not Shawn) showed me your poetry. You might not read this, but if you do I would like to say that I love the hands in game.


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