Spotlight Poem #1: “The Konami Code” by Mathew Henderson

In this new series, we will begin publishing unpublished poems by prominent Canadian poets, young and old. For our first entry, we have “The Konami Code” by Mathew Henderson which is featured in his upcoming collection Roguelike out with Anansi Press this Spring. A review is forthcoming.


Was it a Dark Souls note that told me how to tap

the ups and downs and ups and downs against

my thigh until my thigh began to tap them back?

Or was it Jessica, who loved me, who taught me

to unclasp my heart, so it would not fly away but sit,

bent-winged and beating b, a, b, a? Who read Salinger

as I slept until the Glass kids appeared in my dreams,

stood beside my father on the Hillsborough Bridge

in his thirties, when he talked a woman out of jumping?

Was it when Franny turned at the edge of the bridge,

The NPCs are dying! And my dad, who had never saved

anyone in his life, grabbed me at the back of my neck,

said We’re all dying, boy! My sister says that for years

she’s surfaced after every dive in the closet of my room

in Horton Park just after my first panic attack left me limp

on the floor. Even now, after a swim, she drips over

to my body and presses her fingers left-right-left-right

into my sternum, like she could maybe bruise me

well and young enough to seed the sequence.

Like by now, I might wake to find a life unlocked.

By Mathew Henderson

MATHEW HENDERSON’s first book, The Lease, was a finalist for both the Trillium Book Award for Poetry and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Henderson earned an M.F.A. from the University of Guelph and has poems published in The Walrus, Brick, Maisonneuve, and Best Canadian Poetry.

Chris Banks is a Canadian poet and author of six collections of poems with Deepfake Serenade from Nightwood Editions forthcoming in Fall 2021. His first full-length collection, Bonfires, was awarded the Jack Chalmers Award for poetry by the Canadian Authors’ Association in 2004. Bonfires was also a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry in Canada. His poetry has appeared in The New Quarterly, Arc Magazine, The Antigonish Review, Event, The Malahat Review, GRIFFEL, American Poetry Journal, Prism International, among other publications. He lives and writes in Waterloo, Ontario.