Mating in Captivity
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(Quarry Press, 2004)

 Mating in Captivity is a disturbing and powerful as a recurring dream. The poet conjures up memories of her romantic childhood inItaly -- a charismatic father often absent on secretive business, a loving mother who consoles her family with art -- and translates this relationship into her own experience of searching for genuine love. Like whooping cranes that must be taught how to mate when born in captivity, Genni Gunn offers us a vision of how to make love within the constraints of our arid society.

"Genni Gunn's Mating in Captivity is a long self-documentary poetic cycle comprised largely of prose poems, with occasional poems in verse. Realism and surrealism alternate as the speaker confesses to the distances she has created between herself and others, and between her conscious life and her inner self..."

                                                 - Canadian Literature, Spring 1996


"’Variations of Silence’ works especially well, with its combination of sharp images, sensual detail and emotion . . . Unified metaphor transforms this dense work into something resonant..."

                                                          -UBC Chronicle, Spring 1994

© Genni Gunn, 1994
Reprinted by permission. All Rights Reserved



There are moments you lie still

in the first stir of robins,

the chinking of a home,

dried grass and pine cones.


In your head, a clawing for order, husbands

lovers on microfilm, the alphabetical rendering

of your selves, parchment

peeled off the bark of an ash tree.


You've spread yourself so thin,

a few words here and there men never heard,

nor listened to; the flutter of wings

against a windowpane, sucked-in breath

and a door left unlocked.


You've always stood in the palm of thunder

in the wavering breath of lightning

splitting open a heart.


He comes to you in dreams, silent

as a pillow muffling the throat, intoxicating

as the scent of fireweed and bodies in August.


There are too many layers;

you choose the easy way -- a deaf-mute.

You need only close your eyes to his echoes.

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Genni Gunn