DECEMBER 14

​you cough every few step
the sound and strain pointless
vain
self-reinforcing
something inside you
seemingly gone beyond the remedy
of the gently chilling air
and the good cheer of blue icicle lights
goat cheese
cobblestones
the whole riotous indulgence
of Montreal at Advent
pink-camouflage-trousered cops
handcuff elf-hatted pick-pockets
you tell me you still want
to be the man ahead of us on the sidewalk
out for a stroll with his wife
smoking a cigar
down by the Vieux Port
the carriage horses end their shift
and we stop to let them pass
two dusty
muscled
gray Percherons
they break into a trot
going home
strike sparks from the stones
you tell me certain pleasures
are not vouchsafed to us

.

.

ACQUIRED TASTES

…and none of them useful or meritorious
a much-scraped palimpsest of things–lives, maybe–
that had already been
whence, I suppose, this affinity for my old, brindled dog,
a direct descendant of those stone-age
canids who fed on trash heaps
before people figured they could keep the dogs
if they didn’t throw trash on a heap
so far from the cave
and the making of lists
which so compels me to make every poem a catalogue
of something if it’s only my own
shortcomings
especially then
indeed — martinis
may be one worth listing
and the way one feels with a martini glass
watching the slow, pearlescent
crawl of vermouth around the rim
the olive perceptive
like the eye of the dog
attuned
to the imminent failure of fingers
grasping the food
and a scrap
falling
again


Nina Murray came to the U.S. from Ukraine, where she grew up in Lviv. She earned a degree in Poetry from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her translations include Peter Aleshkovsky’s “Stargorod” and Oksana Zabuzhko’s “Museum of Abandoned Secrets.” Nina’s poetry has been included in Untidy Seasons, an anthology of works by Nebraska women poets. She currently lives and works in Toronto.