Liam Burke

Liam Burke (he/him/himbo) lives in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe land. His work has appeared in battleaxe press, &co, and in/words and is forthcoming in The Malahat Review. He has been the Assistant Director of the Sawdust Reading Series and co-host of Literary Landscapes on CKCU and performs in the band Moratorium. He is pursuing a master’s degree in philosophy at Carleton University.

“In ‘Lonely Souls: Causality and Substance Dualism,’ Jaegwon Kim problematizes substance dualism, the view famously defended by Descartes that we have a material body connected to an immaterial soul. Kim’s thoughtful, lyrical short paper provided a way into constructing a love poem — ‘Contiguous’ — as philosophical exegesis: a way to consider the attraction of two souls and all the metaphysical entanglements that follow.”

“‘Bolero’ responds to Anne Adams’ Unravelling Boléro, itself a response to Maurice Ravel’s Boléro. It’s about the loss of speech resulting from semantic dementia, a degenerative frontotemporal brain disease. Both Adams and Ravel suffered from this illness; Adams was unaware she was ill while painting her response piece. Semantic dementia patients will typically become more visually creative and engage in repetitive behaviours as their speech centres begin to degrade.”

     To prove a cause, draw a line
     between two things; show a pairing.
     A body “A” is contiguous with a body “B”
     just if it shares a border with “B.”
     It’s okay for A to B to have rest stops,
     A1 after Cobourg, B1 Port Hope;
     so long as the vestige of each space rests
     fingers on the next. I want the road.
     I drink so much coffee these
     days that my soul shakes. Is that
     contiguous enough?
     The days are getting colder and my
     lover is far from me. It’s hard to draw a     line
     to Mississauga on foot. I miss the mornings
     where our bodies overlapped in bed
     and our boundaries blurred, contiguous.
     This palm “A,” as in “at last.” This mouth “B,” for “be still.”
Pressed like this, our souls are meant not to occlude
     one another, welcome in the same space. In any case,
     fine if they aren’t concatenated
     like our skins. As Kim put it,
     we only want to know what God did.


     trace      topography of each line

         blood-orange crescendo

     her breath in every valley

     in the dark;      the momentary latch

     could feel her way around the contours

     as glissandos out to the horizon

     soft arp. could catch



     gathered      in the dust      in every valley

     follows leading tones

     in the                      dark; the          momentary latch

             clustered like notes

     or pareidolia of a polyrhythm



     pink      as the bel         ly of the earth

                   feel her way around the contours

     though words unravelling

     left-hemisphere rallentando

     limbic system uncoupled

     ventrotemporal dragging



     minor-major third slur

     (in the dark      ;          the momentary latch)



            pareidolia      patterns

     faces              as thin as notes unravel

     a red brass ostinato      desert dusk

     before th      e cold brea      th of night