Creative Writing News

Ursa Minor: Poetry inspired by real Northern news

“Friends, family, RCMP searching for Jake Angurasuk in Iqaluit.” CBC. December 15, 2016.

Three Thousand Kinds

a man goes by

on a bicycle, the chain

needs to be oiled, the sound

of this badly kept machine crying out to be


better kept is the only

sound on the street in this night, a night


in which a man is dying for want of the same

sort of repair, the man


tries to sleep without going to sleep, fears



and cold, above his hatless head



perches in the unfathomable parka the gods gave him, dozing

wide awake with one eye open on


a wire which holds a string of white

christmas lights, several of the lights


in the line have gone out, the man

looks up at the bird, sparks


up his last smoke so that it glows

warm in the frigid dark, says



tell me why


looking up at the starlit sky alone

puts a hole in my heart sure


as a bullet, tell me

the reason i am sad


when there is something, sad

when there is nothing, why


china tea cups get chips

in their painted rims, explain


why there can be a hundred days of winter nights but spring

slips away even before it arrives, how it is


that some scent on the wind reminds me

of the loss of her and not the loving, how it can feel


like a man is drowning

miles and miles away from any sea, why


glass breaks and bottles run dry, candles

burn out, gardens fail, dogs die, children


forget their mothers, run away, come

to a bleak unknowable hour when


they become men and can never

return home again, why it is there are


three thousand kinds

of unhappiness but joy


only the sort that arrives

in flickering moments like the light


that filters through the wings of birds as they pass

pale shadows over your face in flight, a brief


brilliant thing

that is gone


in a breath and leaves

nothing but weak memory to hold on to?


the questions

go out


with the cigarette, smoked

down to a filter, now


there is nothing left

to burn, still the man


holds the stub in his lips like a coin

he might swallow to hold


silent under his tongue

to pay the Boatman, Raven


shifts, regards the man with his weary

cold-burnt face, sighs


you would think

that i alone


as Maker of this broken world would know

but i don’t


the man thinks about this, says

i wish


i had another cigarette, then

says nothing again, in the morning


the cars come, one

on one, crush


the tightly packed snow tighter

beneath their turning wheels

Editor’s note: The search for Jake Angurasuk was called off after his body was discovered outside Iqaluit on December 18, 2016. 

Photo credit: istockphoto/erectus

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