7

Sway that colour above your eyes with a shining black and wonder whether you don’t own some night. She knew how to move something true over the floor, though his buddies took it home in boxes of beer, and a haul over their shoulders. She leaned into a muscle shirt and a smirk, while Duckie’s eyes rolled back in the corner. She sat on the floor of the washroom, long legs bent over the pot, head hanging low, her insides kissing the cool surface beneath her knees, a pool forming across a land of flashing darkness, and a clicking tiled floor. The girls are tall and swift. Smooth and polished. She could rip his hair from his head right now. As he lies there at peace. No one ever talks on a dance floor, only out on the back deck while they smoke. This is a free range farm with shuffling from one pleasure to another, bound by short skirts and the cold outside. Her neck bends back with the weight of the drink. starlight can’t reach this room, deep in the basement of a stranger. The girls lie on separate beds with separate men. Their thoughts on each other across a divide of silence and the thinnest of bodies which make up bars. And she sidles to the washroom and adjusts her denim, leans into the glass and swarms into her reflection, pads at her eye and considers throwing off her face with a knife. She misses everyone she used to know. The person she used to see stooped low next to a puddle’s surface. She won’t make it through the next few days. She will fall forward mid bus, grab wildly at the stings of Duckie’s studded pink hoody and long for all of us lost. She will be lain on hot pavement and she will tell herself to curl up tight, and rest. And everyone will wait until someone with a gun can get there. She will suck her thumb and coo, and bite at strangers who want to touch.

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6. Mal Blum

If I put on a binder
do I have to be on top?
‘If a barn needs painting, paint it’*
Hey Devon, put on some makeup.
If we go to a queer club
am I allowed to dance?
Butch kids got their soul mates
soft girls with painted hands.
If I go flat chested in a dress
could I turn your head, Mal Blum?
They seem pretty cool with shit.
Thank God for Mal Blum.
But could I fit in with your friends?
I was never indie, never hip,
but the sexiest mess you’ve ever seen
mixed with an insecure Christian kid,
now how’s that in the Murphy bed?

*quote from an ex pastor when asked whether women should wear makeup.

5

Five years later
the sun is rising
over her back porch
down to the creek
and she takes up a
warm space in rag quilt
stirring hazelnut cream
into a fine drip coffee
on what a morning
of dewy light
and green overhang
Carrie dog in the backyard
wandering where she will
and coming around
to muzzle against knees
kind-eyed in presence
morning air breathing ripples
over water’s depths
She thanks God for this life.

She hardly thinks anymore,
since coming here,
about something that took place before.
He does,
though not enough,
to tell the truth.
To tell the truth,
as hard as it may sound,
the incident was small
in the grand scheme
of them.

Though it had felt like
everything to her
at the time.
When he had laid down
his uniform
like he always did,
and brought her near him
and said
“It happened.”
her head and heart waved hot
and she hurt,
because he had done something
to someone else.
Someone other than herself.
And it took much reassuring and saying
“A girl, a whore
poor to think about
rank and drunk with two men
Wearing a skirt so short,
her white underwear visible and stained.
He could never have really wanted
that.
With so little respect for
herself or him.
She had screamed at him
this Native girl
like a rabid animal
spitting from her little face into his.
When he had held her still
to control the tantrum
she had bit his arm
so hard
blood had dribbled from his cuff link.
And so he cuffed her quickly,
wanting to smash her face against the wall
and against his better judgment
eyed her exposed back end
and enraged (as an angry response and not a pleasure)
thrusted his hand up her”

“Is this what you’re going for?
Just a fucking whore,
no values at all.”

He had only meant to win
and there had not been
anything erotic about it.
He had not been attracted
but rather angry and responsive
and only wanted to see her arrogance
turned to shock.
To teach her something
about herself.

He never could have imagined
that she would have
proper speech by morning
That she was
a student at the local university,
studying Sociology
on various social justice boards.
That she had
the voices of beasts on her side
claims made, his name on local tv.
Already he had received
letters.
A few campaigning activists,
with no claim to facts
spreading accusations
and all their ignorant hate
without knowing him
or his family
or the people on this job
their three girls at home
all under the age of 10.’

And it was on this point of children
That she had to
decide that night with him,
against her initial impulse
to condemn his actions.
That they would have to keep
this truth to themselves,
for the sake of their children
and because the truth
wasn’t really true
not in how they would hear it.
her husband’s character was
a good-natured concern and care for people
and a love of justice,
the irony to look the criminal
when one was the crusader

She was
already convinced
that he was in fact martyr
seen in the wrong place
at the wrong time
with his temper too far stretched.
And her anger against him
was carefully assuaged,
as he shed tears upon her gown
and said how scared he was,
and how much he adored her,
and wanted all to be well,
though it seemed impossible
this side of the kingdom,
and said that she was
the beauty of his life,
beautiful against and above all others
and he somehow found it in himself
to roll on top of her and begin
to act through all his distress.

And she became more free
to hate the snarling girl
rather than her husband,
following her stupid thoughts
across numerous articles online
making a single interaction
about all leftist hype

There had been enough heartache
in both their lives,
without this.
A father who hated him
churches that had abused them,
cancer in her mother’s breast
that had eaten her up
in front of young eyes.
So much hurt,
that at times she could
hardly stand,
and it was only by leaning against
the expanse of his chest,
and feeling the clip of his badge
that she could settle herself
and breathe again.

Tribulation again hit their home life
and it was all they could do
to direct it back at the injustice
of this work he had chosen,
at the people who took advantage
of people in uniform,

But,
sometimes she hated herself too
and sometimes him.
Feeling as though
he wished he could violate her too
only much worse, with more pleasure.
That violence had only just
risen to the surface
in a situation where he
felt the power and right to act,
an anger that was always there,
sometimes in the bedroom.
After he had spent all day
chasing bodies,
he could sometimes
tackle hers in rage.

But when she got over herself.
And saw her place,
lacking in intelligence
and his goodness,
she could gather benefit from
even these interactions,
a sort of refining fire
could come upon her
when he wasn’t too harsh
and she wasn’t too scared.
And they mostly worked
together on this,
and all in all
their sex life had improved
since the incident.

And he had learned
to be much more careful
on the job.
Which he kept
through the many they hadn’t realized were friends,
who came forward in their distress
and showed much support.
The stress slowly diminished
over the years.

Their daughters grew older and handsome,
and the family’s wealth flourished,
and they felt basically blessed.
She not least of all,
with a baked goods business,
and a refined appreciation
for the fine things of life.
She would search upon occasion
the girls name,
and find with satisfaction that not much
had come of her since that night.
She had not been so much heard,
and all the links to her name
were old and monolithic.

She herself had a fresh website
with bright pictures of delicate pastries
she had made with her own hands.
They had much to be proud of
and she felt that they had suffered.
Sometimes she knew this
so acutely
that she could almost forget
all the words she had heard
from Native protesters lined outside her door
there with that whole-eyed girl herself,
and she saw her husband
only in the cut of
the warm morning light
which fell across his face,
as he slept deep in white sheets.

4

Bloody wrists bound with scotch tape
when men came, grabbed him by his hair, and dragged him
to the pointed fence out back where he was had.

next day his wife, who had seen
she styled her hair with a blade
and made herself red for the priest
and together they watched an old home video
a flickering scene with a naked body,
saran wrapped and suffocating from head to toe
hoisted high and struggling upon a post one afternoon
in a clearing by the woods

and death came to her door cocky,  a uniformed man,
who leaned in deep
said ‘We do swim waters with beasts,’
and pouted down mockingly.

something is always draining my head
drawing me down
coaxing my tongue
and painting broad strokes across my mind
until it’s too heavy to lift
and I find myself unable to make my way back to your gaze

While somewhere there is blood
running down
flowered walls
and a mother unrecognizable
pinned to a stucco ceiling
with a wide-eyed child below

There is too a canvas of flesh covered in the horrible scrawl of our signatures.
My God, my sin.
There’s a stake with blood on both ends.
My God I see you there in all my dreams,
a woman, held to wood, gagged with a knife.

3

cottage nights
fork and knife
blade bigger than her hands
week end
away from school friends
the world that haunts
though it’s not made of nightmares
but is realer than this place

where Mom makes soft sweet things
on an old stove
mashed potatoes,
garlic mushrooms,
and t-bone steak,
on a teal table
cracking around its edges
t-bone steak
reddish flesh
browning by the edge
juicy, taut,
woven up against the bone
gutted by my teeth
juice dripping over my tongue
savoury, sweet, peppered
spiced atop
carving up the tender cuts
before cutting down to the bone
held in baby bear’s paws
strands pulled from the body’s stone
last little bits ripped precisely
grease upon my fingers
savouring little muscly bits
conquest of the cartilage

chewing my bone on the Evergreen couch
in dim light
portal windows big and making space
from down by the river through the woods
where only moon hangs low and
glow bugs too
into posh cabin life
wood stove living
electric heaters breathing
close to the stain of hardwood feet
French-doored tv room yawning open
cutlery clicking as Dad’s mashed potatoes
are mixed with juices
and the Bombers score
handing off the bones
to Patches dog.

2

I would like to remember
how to just be and enjoy
the leisure of hosts.
To sit back by
crackling over green moss rock
snaps from backyard flames.

I was a girl brimming wide.
Everything dad’s hand
touched was mine.
And I knew
how to love life.
soft scratch of grass against my side.
Pleasures I didn’t know were spoils.

My my my
What left is mine?
My love for my parents
perverted.
How much of what we’ve
made,
how much of me
shouldn’t be.
I was a bastard baby.
Every weekend soaking in
stolen land.
We still sip blood
with our din.

How much of she, little girl, slipped away
in my dark dreams.

The confusion of these pleasures.
I was an angel amongst the sheets.
A little lovely tip-toeing from her room
in teddie bear jammies.
Blissful meals, the baby
chewing on t-bone steaks
and salted mushrooms.

Always knowing nothing
and growing stupider still.
My care free days.
Heaven made
from the harvest of Hell.

1

Losing touch with
panicky truth.
can’t find my bearings
Subjecting myself to
this working world,
serving soups
and beef burgers.

I am making social events to tint the scapeI am attending group counseling
and out walking
Improving body and mind,
and holding digressing tones,
where they can only be content.

I am building muscle, wearing bras
reading bible and feeling dead.
I am
crying at the the end of the day.
I am
not truthful.
I am
unable to look at myself in the mirror.
There was
never any way I could be
like this.

And she doesn’t know better when
she says to me:
“Remember woman
that from dust
thou were made, and to dust
thou shalt return.”
Returning to my seat,
I know that you name me
with no responsibility to know me.

Adam glancing over the beasts breasts
as he man marks them with names for their entirety.
I’m sitting somewhere in a pew
untouched by this scheme.
I am caught
by the honesty of the failure.
Your disbelief in me
made explicit.

I am
not here.
Not in these actions I make
to get me through the day,
I am a child backed into a corner
in wait for the safe time to emerge
which will not come
unless I run
now.

I am
unsuitable.
I am
unplayable.
I am
getting lost again,
selling off my integrity,
able to pay the rent,
taking knives to my skin.

It’s happening
every day under Adam’s eyes.
The world plays on.
They’re stabbed and gone, split in half.

And I never did live above it.
Even safe havens
of white funds,
uni ed,
slim self,
and artistic prowess
wouldn’t, couldn’t
make this place okay,
wouldn’t wash my chest clean
of blood poisoned from conception.
Bastard child.
I lie to live every day,
and haven’t yet died yet to be.

Not like my queer love
bent before Pilot.
Not so straight
to the blows,
waiting to claim your name.
You had them put it upon you,
rile themselves against
the obstacle of your bare beautiful flesh.