Coke Machine Glow
This week, The Minerva Reader features ​​​​Coke Machine Glow by Gord Downie, Penguin Random House. 

Coke Machine Glow is not a treasure you might have missed, nor is Gord Downie an unsung hero. But he is a man whose life was cut far too short and for this reason, and out of sadness, and gratitude, I'd like to feature Coke Machine Glow by Gord Downie, on The Minerva Reader this week.

I came to Canada in 2000. Yes, with one small suitcase and a portfolio that weighed more than me and the suitcase put together. That was back in the day when you spent a fortune on the presentation of the actual physical thing. 

Today, nothing's as precious as that unwieldy sum of one's life’s work used to be. I’ve still got that old portfolio. I carried it from Sydney to Hawaii to Los Angeles to Minneapolis to Vancouver to final stop, Toronto. 

Why am I telling you this tedious, unoriginal immigrant tale, you might wonder, when the post is supposed to be about Gord? 

Because, alone as I was, when I came to Canada, I knew I was in the right place. The first time I stepped on Canadian ground, I knew I had returned home. The spirit of the land knew. Gord Downie knew. He told me, in his poetry collection, Coke Machine Glow. You belong. 

I’d heard of The Tragically Hip, along with Leonard Cohen, Great Big Sea, Buffy Sainte Marie and Neil Young. And now, I was here, in the right place. 

I recently had the honour of being a guest reader at an event with Mike Downie, Gord's brother. He explained how the Secret Path had come to be, and how hard he and Gord had worked to make it happen. Chanie Wendak's story was finally told, thanks to Gord Downie and Mike Downie and Jeff Lemire (he did the beautiful artwork). This was yet another way in which Gord tried to truly make a difference and do some good to fight the injustice and cruelty of the past. 

Gord Downie stood for so much. Artistry, passion, justice and doing the right thing. Let’s try to emulate just a tiny bit of Gord Downie, every day. The world will be a better place.

Some poems from Coke Machine Glow

Coke Machine Glow

Here we are on the highway. 

Here we are on the road. 

Here we are in the parking lot's Coke machine glow.

Here we are in the bedroom 

Here we are in the bed. 

Here we are beside each other 

after everything 

we've said.


Insomniacs of the World, Good Night.

I can see the line of your brassiere. 

I can contemplate it from here. 

There's no need for breathlessness 

when we're so far apart 

I see us writhing in a phone booth 

or laid back in the dewy grass of our youth 

and gathering our sweetnesses 

and wishing on the Neverstar. 

And happy days of electrical smiles 

and loving evenings falling down in piles 

and not imagining a restlessness 

that could keep us apart. 

If I could sleep there's a chance I could dream 

and reconjure all of those vivid scenes. 

O insomniacs of the world, good night. 

No more wishing on the Neverstar.



"And if a writer has genuine star quality, a sharper, deeper radiance than most, then he or she ought to be identified and celebrated without delay. 
Time may be of the essence. Margaret Macpherson, a relatively unknown Maritime-born Albertan, is such a writer, and Body Trade, her seventh book and second novel, is the proof. She writes with the psychological insight of Carol Shields, the gravitas of Margaret Atwood, the poetic reflexes of Earl Birney and the earthy eroticism of Leonard Cohen, but her voice remains uniquely her own."  
Lesley Hughes, Winnipeg Free Press