The ends of maternity leave


The baby, just asleep. Preschooler, schools. Flicks, these moments, spare. Or sparing. A small word, finally. Grasps the pen. White noise machine, a rolling electronic fog. To monitor. For this, a moment. I would create my alphabet in starts, in swells. These lines that stretch out into nothing. Rumbles now, with thunder. An endless horizon. The outlet, curls. Our sleeping cat. A darkened room.



Origin story


Established, 1969. That summer. What happened, followed. Shadowed. Slow retreat: come autumn, winter, into spring. Was born. Emerged, picayune. Became another. I hold my _____ in high esteem. Nameless, named. Mother, mother, father. They held the border. Lawns. This form, coheres. An aftertaste. Around a wound. Small, digestible. Impeccable. Mistakes, no question. Who are you, really. I’ve reached the point at which I prosper.



Poem, with errors


What the body adapts. A map, perforated with holes. Sequenced, sequestered. The snow cavalcades. Blankets the driveway, the street. Face, light, light, skin. How we build bone. These are not facts. History, crowds. Bluster, endless. Even the squirrels hide. Who will write me a comfort. We won’t leave the house.



Map of the Niagara Frontier


Write it out: Fort George, overrun. Thorold, tweetstorm. 1812. Begins the poem. A jargon of muskets, footfalls. Soldiers. The Village of Niagara, burned. Youngstown. Border crossings. Tecumseh, Brock. The barricade. Defend, the red barracks. Testimonials, decide. British, American, various First Nations. The enemy is bored. Boring. All that remains, buried. Underneath the soil.





Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012 and 2017. In March, 2016, he was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour. His most recent titles include the poetry collections How the alphabet was made (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018), Household items (Salmon Poetry, 2018) and the forthcoming A halt, which is empty (Mansfield Press, 2019). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics (, Touch the Donkey ( and the Ottawa poetry pdf annual ottawater ( He is “Interviews Editor” at Queen Mob’s Teahouse, editor of my (small press) writing day, and an editor/managing editor of many gendered mothers. He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at