Georgia Wilder

Two poems

Light Verses Raining Napalm

for Phan Thi Kim Phúc

Splashing through puddles, you and I
The summer we both turned 9
If you could
If I could
Then we

But only
in subordination;
As if the subjects:
You and I
submitted to others’

Others’ othering of
you in a foreign war

I: insubordinate
turned the page
to find you
running toward the lens

I shouldn’t have seen
You shouldn’t have seen
puddle bombers, raining defoliants.
Wet and scorched, you ended
language, grammar, subordination
abolished diminutive endings
for little girls caught in the rain.


in the photo
I grin, eager to please
eager to be praised

my little blonde brother
picks his nose

my grandfather poses
an axe in one arm
a big headless turtle
in the other

after the photo
grandfather ruffles
my brother’s hair and asks
if he’s digging for gold

my brother cries for no reason
they call him a sensitive child

I am hero, finder of
the snap-jawed giant
beasts that eat
my grandfather’s
ducks: the ducks
that he would have
eaten himself when
they fattened in the fall

it becomes a summer of headless
turtles, canned or frozen
preserving the taste of swamp
monsters for winter soup

I enlarge the hole in a turtle
vertebra, wear it on a chain
I call it my turtlestone
beg forgiveness from
a bone locket that
never opens

today, I would put it on a black ribbon
choker to recall the guillotines:
one type of violence always
replacing the others.


Georgia Wilder writes poetry and short fiction. She is a winner of Quattro Books “Best New Poets in Canada” (2018) for her collection “Atom-Bomb Nostalgia.” Her story “Cocoa Divine and the Lightning Police” was nominated for the Journey Prize and appears in the 2015 Journey Prize anthology. She runs a monthly poetry salon in Toronto called Wild Writers, and has featured at many poetry events. She teaches at the University of Toronto.


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