Poetry: Three Poems by Reuben Canning Finkle

This series of poems by Reuben Canning Finkel is transportive; with these three moments of a child’s life, we’re given a deep and intimate picture of family, of community, of childhood. Finkel builds scenes that are easy to recognize and grounded imagery that feels instantly familiar—and note, too, the pieces of grammar used in subtle ways to bring out his persona’s childlike voice.


the taste of earth/ kids tall as quaking
aspen, crowding me & laughing while
their parents wait in a semicircle, one,

who looks nothing like I do watches
a baseball game down the hill/cheers
like a madman for his nephew on the pitch

behind us (at the pool) bodies dive
in unison/ the splash of shallow water
soars up-field—a noise like nothing

I’ve heard before—& soon I’m back
to eating handfuls of dirt until/ two giant
arms lift me towards the gate & we fly swiftly


barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam

I never get any farther than that, but the others do & I try
to parrot each word as best I can, knowing (even then)

there are old rules followed here & each one has a song
as its shrine & I don’t always want to know what they mean

—balancing too many sufganiyah on my plate at once, landing
Shin three times in a row, only a single hazelnut left to wager


a shouting match: someone
breaks their fall against the curb, donating
what I thought was a trail of paint thirty yards
to their door,

dad & Lawrence go out to find whatthehellisgoinon
& they do

—the neighbour unable to string a sentence together
long enough to stay awake
& that isn’t paint running down her ear

(she’s OK, we learn afterwards, just a very sharp fall)


the blood stays on the sidewalk for months & no one
says thank you first or last, but there is more listening
going on than before & when something’s loud
enough to cross the wall, everyone
twists as if to catch it at the source, moving

to the window or the bathroom or the attic
without a second’s hesitation.

Reuben Canning Finkel

Reuben Canning Finkel is a fourth year honours student, currently enrolled at Memorial University of Newfoundland. His most recent work can be found in Paragon 7 and Free Framed with honourable mentions in both MUN's Sparks Literary Festival (2016) and this year's E.J Pratt Poetry Competition. Born in St. John's, Reuben's work primarily focuses on memory, family, and place, inspired by the poetry of Lynn Crosbie, Phillip Levine and Fred Wah. Reuben's forthcoming chapbook, Montage, will be released late fall.

Close Menu