Torontoist Reads: Hugh Thomas's Streetcar Poem
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Torontoist Reads: Hugh Thomas’s Streetcar Poem

2007_01_23hughthomas.jpgTorontoist Poetry Contest Reminder! At the beginning of the new year, Torontoist launched a poetry contest to encourage the penning of new poems about our fair city. To inspire you, we are presenting a series of previously published Toronto poems that will run until the final week of the contest.
Our second poem is “Girls who eat flowers and fail their IQ tests” by Hugh Thomas. Its title comes from a mis-overheard conversation at Healey’s about IQ tests for gorillas.
Wandering north from the bar that night, Hugh wrote the rest of the poem. You can find it in his 2005 chapbook from BookThug fittingly titled “Mutations.”
Hugh now lives in Fredericton, where he teaches mathematics at the University of New Brunswick. A frequent visitor to Toronto, he returns this Wednesday for a rare reading with writer M. NourbeSe Philip. Catch them at Mark Truscott’s Test Reading Series (7:30 p.m. Mercer Union, 37 Lisgar Street).
Photo by Karen Sohne from the Toronto Small Press Book Fair, 2004.
Read Hugh Thomas’s “Girls who eat flowers and fail their IQ tests” after the break.

Girls who eat flowers and fail their IQ tests
We got used to the old questions,
so they changed them.
The new IQ test is finding the room where the test is held.
Riding a bicycle improves your IQ.
Ten years, and they never change the streets.
What kind of maze is this?
Boredom is part of the new IQ test,
and also deciding if this shirt goes with these slacks.
I scored much better on the old questions.
First came a big E, then a T and an I,
and so on, smaller and smaller,
all the way to Q and Z, which score ten each.
Now they gave me glasses
which give me headaches, so they give me pills,
and the pills have something written on them
that’s too small to read.
My friend Megan
eats five kinds of edible flowers.
“They make me happier but hungrier,” she says.
I think it ought to be legal.
Some people say marriage should only be
between a man and a woman,
not between a woman and a flower,
but I say, “wherever there’s love”.
I say it to the driver of the Spadina streetcar.
He tells me there’s one more westbound subway,
but none going east,
not ever again.

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