Wolsak and Wynn, 1995. ISBN: 1-919897-40-1. 6 x 9, 78 pages. $12

Bookman Summary2

Satiric and Elegaic Poetry. Manifestations of Christ in our materialistic world. A romp. At times the true story of “Dogman”, who for 16 years lived like a tenth century saint with 30 dogs on Fairview Mountain. The manifestations include Leonard Cohen and Elvis.

Bookman reviews2

Harold Rhenisch speaks with a lyric intensity so powerful that the poems throb and disturb and exhilarate as they move, as George Woodcock observed, “from narrative to descriptive to reflective to meditative.” Combine this with Rhenisch’s idiosyncratic brand of humour, and you end up with one of Canada’s most exciting new voices. These poems alternate between psalms in the speech of contemporary Canada, and true, often tragic, stories of a man who spent 16 years living in an abandoned mineshaft on a mountain between the orchards of the Similkameen and Okanagan Valleys in British Columbia. His companions were 30 dogs which had left the farms below to live with him. Robin Skelton

bookman excerpts2


As the faller longs for virgin timber

and the moss crackling underfoot

So do we long for our Lord

and as the pipefitter longs for Saturday

so he can wake up beside his wife
and turn over to hold her

because his skin feels like sheet metal

and his bones like galvanized iron

so does our god
long for lightning all night
and white rain in the morning

so he can watch all the farmers get up
and walk around aimlessly, waiting

not knowing what to do

with such freedom!

So does the god of the fouled sparkplug

open up a small engine repair shop
in the weatherbeaten garage behind his trailer

It is perfect!

right down to the Briggs and Stratton sign
nailed above the door
and the rusted lawnmowers

strewn around through the cactus
and the sagebrush

When I sit down and think on it
I want to weep

Because when the people start to come

in their nylon-mesh hats with the sun-faded brims
their pickups bouncing over the shale

and drag their broken machines before him

I want to see him come out
of his dark doorway

Because I want to see the pity in his eyes

I want to see how he handles it

when his people return to him

I want to be there


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