Don’t say “Geiger counter.”
Don’t say “Last night I lost a friend.”
Say “We’ll take that up tomorrow.”
Say nothing, or pretend.
Don’t ask for the note.
Don’t hear the girl who weeps.
Ask how the story should end.
Close the blinds. Repeat.
When people talk of Canute, said my father,
they talk of his madness
and vanity, ordering his soldiers
to beat back the waves of the sea.
He was teaching them something, said my father
as we walked along the strand,
but no one was listening.
Derek Webster’s Mockingbird (Signal) was a finalist for the 2016 Gerald Lampert Award for best poetry debut. He received an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis and was the founding editor of Maisonneuve. His poetry and prose have appeared in many publications including The Malahat Review, The New Quarterly, Boston Review, The Walrus, and elsewhere. He lives in Montreal.