lesson/lessen by Bonnie MacLeod

Beautiful things come at the expense of dead relatives
and then you use the candy dish as an ashtray.

The first thing you learn is there is no need to take such big puffs
or such long drags.

The cutting of my long hair is a critical element in the dramatic retelling of my life
and if you had asked at the time I would have said yes, it is a bipolar thing. I wish you had asked.

The first thing you learn is they keep the lighters behind the counter
and the convenience store clerk will insist on giving you the pink ones.

If you can’t see the similarity between the actress and you then perhaps
it is just that she also looks like a deeply unhappy woman.

The first thing you learn is matches need to burn a bit before they will stay lit.

I can’t muster enough anger to be a good spoken word poet or enough joy
to be loved in a meaningful way.

The first thing you learn is it’s not the nicotine you’re craving, because
that only lasts about 5 minutes.

Maybe Anne was just bearing what her mother gave her: a splaying of the legs or head.
Confessional poetry or french colonial medicine: we are little girls, with big words.
If it doesn’t benefit from functionality then it’s just art, not craft. If you had asked.

The first thing you learn is it looks fucking cool but
you shouldn’t play with fire or boys
who can blow smoke rings

even if it seems like a good idea
at the time.


Bonnie MacLeod is a poet and performer from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Her work has appeared in Understory, Joypuke II, In/words, and Chrysalis zine and been featured by the Necessary Angel Theatre Company. In March 2015 she was an invited reader at the Saint Mary’s Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Culture and the winner of the Joyce Marshall-Hsia Memorial Poetry Prize in 2010.