mixed tape

side a:



1. 18 and Life

her friend takes her to

the guidance counselor

she doesn’t see the point

but her friend won’t go

without her


2. Patience

the dining room table

stacked with papers

her brother’s face

on all of them

like labels

on cans of soup


3. Long Cold Winter

his football team 

organizes a search party

scruffy boys in

orange jerseys climb

snow banks

along the river


all the way to



4. Without You

she is as still as silence

jolts every time

the phone rings


5. More than Words

the family sliced into wedges

like pie


6. Don’t Know What You Got

the cold




everyone else




side b:



7. Nothing Else Matters

the family goes to two psychics

and an elder


8. Every Rose has Its Thorn

one says he will call soon

one says he is dead


one says he is




9. What You Give




in the air






10. Don’t Cry

her stepfather

tells everyone

his son is



and he isn’t going to look



11. Home Sweet Home

her mother moves

wide and slow

almost imperceptible

limbs floating

as if in water


12. November Rain

the girl walks under

winter naked elms

such a cold november

a season warmer

than her house


Dive in

  1. How does the structure of a mixed tape work to tell this poem’s story?
  2. How does “side a” differ in tone from “side b”?
  3. What images does the poet use to capture the cold atmosphere following the brother’s disappearance?
  4. How are the relationships among the family members described?
  5. If you were going to recite this poem, how would you voice its short lines? Where and for how long would you pause?
  6. Write a poem using song titles to tell a story.

Useful Links


Check out Katherena Vermette’s website: http://www.katherenavermette.com/


Watch Katherena Vermette talk about her poetry after her first book won the Governor General’s Award: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyNJSfpkkBQ

Bibliographical info

Katherena Vermette, “mixed tape” from from North End Love Songs. Copyright © 2012 by Katherena Vermette. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: North End Love Songs (The Muses Company, 2012)

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