Spotlight series #67 : Dale Tracy

rob mclennan
2 min readNov 1, 2021


Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.


I’m always trying to figure something out when I write poems. What I’m trying to figure out mainly is how to live. All poems know before they’re even written that there is no complete answer to this question, but I know more after every poem I write. Or maybe the poem activates what I know. I’m also trying to figure out what knowing means.

Poems are the place for my figuring because they are contained wholes with lots of valves. I especially like small poems because I can get a whole one in my eye. Holding that wholeness helps me to notice all the openings: poet to poem, reader(s) to poem, poem(s) to poem, world to poem. But getting a handle on a whole poem doesn’t mean getting control of it: the poem has its hands on its own handles.


Partial Reveal

I trail a speaker to hold the poem,
a real box and cox condition.
It comes home to me

that we are all words.
I pull the lace curtain back
to reveal the inverted commas.

I am motley-minded,
but keep that under the rose.
Keep clear this burn-nose bark.

On the Earth

I sight ocean again
from my dream
that gives nothing to ruin.

The waters whose limits
show bottom
fish eat their limits

make my heart beat exclamation points
in my mind,
my mind, that flame.

A fifth of my food is for my brain.
It’s wondrous
the fancied world.

Dale Tracy is the author of the chapbook The Mystery of Ornament (above/ground press, 2020), the chapbook Celebration Machine (Proper Tales Press, 2018), the chappoem What It Satisfies (Puddles of Sky Press, 2016), and the monograph With the Witnesses: Poetry, Compassion, and Claimed Experience (McGill-Queen’s, 2017). Her poetry has appeared in publications like filling Station, Touch the Donkey, and The Goose.