I Used to Fall in Love with Capitalists and Movie Theatres

But then I saw a nighthawk in the day
and learned to doubt people in power:

Don't trust those with feathered smiles
and the economic mobility of flight.

But then I learned and kept learning
until the kernels in my brain popped.

But there were too many kernels,
and too little space and no concessionaire

to scoop and feed the hungry children.
Or maybe there were no children to watch

the corn-popping fire of moving image.
Or maybe they just weren’t hungry at all.

So I walked around with a big head,
I told you to touch it, touch me

but you wouldn’t, but then you did,
and I popped into a million pieces.

The pressure launched me into kernel-shaped
stars, where I saw all the nighthawks.

But then they flew higher, and so did I
and the rivers turned into veins, and yours

into archives and stilled pictures.
The nighthawks were in space, I was in space

And it’s always night in space.

This poem won the January Poetry Prize! 

Poetry Editor Micheline Maylor writes about "I Used to Fall in Love with Capitalists and Movie Theatres " by Rena Shang:

Poets are apothecaries of language and insight. In this poem, the narrator begins the title as a first line, then transitions into the conjunction ‘but’ to deny and evoke suspense. Power, capitalism, economics are all anthropomorphized in the nighthawk. There’s a turn toward the movie screen, which, through subtle perspective shift, asks the audience “what is real and what is imagined?” The surreal elements of the ‘pop-corn head’ add to surprise and suspense, like Dada paintings, yet maintaining a tight inquisition of the power structures, what we love to love, and questions reality itself. The poem terminates in space, 'where it is always night,' where the environment is so altered it must, like the images themselves, become impossible for habitation. This poem is a smart, unique inquiry of power systems, full of challenge and surprise. 

Reena Shang

Rena Shang

Grade: 12 / CEGEP I
Crofton House School
Vancouver, BC

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