Exit Through Ragged Falls

The warning sign about dangerous falls ahead
has been defaced.
Letters scraped free of their job
a canoeist’s life
a signifier in the balance. 

You can drift down slow
through this Algonquin afternoon,
the sun dappling golden leaves.
The water curves pastorally
into Ragged Falls.
You will be torn apart
one of nature’s great moments:
death in a second of hang time
underwater, without air, words.

Signs have been hacked down all over.
The tallest trees produce the most shade,
the most oxygen for the largest number
but they were cut two hundred years ago
for Victoria’s navy.

Explorers on their ships could smell the pines
as they approached North America.
It was an entirely different place.

Chris Pannell

Chris Pannell has published six books of poetry. His collection "A Nervous City "(released in 2013) won the Kerry Schooley Book Award the following year. His latest book of poetry, "Love, Despite the Ache", won Poetry Book of the Year from the Hamilton Arts Council. He is a former treasurer and board member for the gritLIT Writers Festival and a former DARTS bus driver. He has hosted and helped the Lit Live reading series in Hamilton for more than ten years.