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One Thing — Then Another

Contents

EAST

Yesterday I thought winter had given up

Cool Enough to Sink a Ship

Stories My Father Told

Neighbours Are Wormholes

Short-Term Desires

Tick, Tick, Tick Went the Machine in the Bushes (a post-pre-post-apocalyptic poem)

Sophocles’s Jalopy

Spring Solstice Blues

How to Invoke the Patron Saint of Procrastination: St. Anti-Expeditusia

Every Dusk, Mothertongue. Mothertonguing Every Dusk.

Out(r)age

Trappings

Renters in pyjamas

A Millennial’s Poem

THEN

Westward U-Haul Gothic

WEST

In the Land of Cinematic Drought

i) Spit’s all that’s holding me together.

ii) We don’t do anything right now.

iii) Water’s precious. Sometimes may be more precious than gold.

iv) No man needs nothing.

v) Now pick up what you can and run.

Avoiding East-Coast Nostalgia Out West

One Thing — Then Another

Nobody Every Day Keeps Saying Nothing

How Turkeys Become City-Dwellers in Edmonton

Steady Work if You Can Get It

Boyle Street Triptych

D2O

A March Commuter Considers Newton’s Third Law

Her Pillow Smells of the Special

The There, There, There

My Grade Six Meteorology Lessons Help Me Categorize Pedestrians

Turtles All the Way Down

Notes

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Copyright

To wait staff and librarians.

To eagles, crows, and magpies.

To the Trans-Canada and Yellowhead Highways.

To Fredericton. To Edmonton.

East

The west stands for relocation, the east
for lost causes.

—Karen Solie, “Bitumen”

Yesterday I thought winter had given up

all its images: white worn out,

utter glut of neutral.

But today, weird

mitt-ruts.

Snowbank

etchings

from kids

dawdling

their hands

to school;

overhead another storm

isn’t breaking

but is moving on:

the elm-edge and the cloud-edge

slotting into each other.

As if the tree picked up

the sky secondhand,

and wears it—

a sapphire heavened hoodie

in the black and white film

of early March.

Then,

expertly,

the elm-clutch

lets loose, disrobes.

A sliver of blue expands,

becomes a sluice, a gorge,

becomes the whole

damned naked winter

flouncing down a side street

shoving her hands

knuckle-deep

in the bank.

Cool Enough to Sink a Ship

I wanna be cool the way Patti Smith says

coool.

Take a peeler and scrape

away these tough bits. Gnarly

as a knuckle sandwich.

Oh don’t croon it, baby. Siren it. Lure

my ships in.

Hey Joe,

drop that pea shooter,

take me

on a cruise I can’t afford

and don’t want to go on.

There’s me bypassing

portholes and ice sculptures,

eyeing floatation devices.

There’s me finagling bouillabaisse

and breadsticks

for the inevitable norovirus,

the predestined crash.

Hey Joe,

if things get choppy

and rations run out, hawk me

to the highest bidder,

the one who knows

what’s what in lifeboat soothsaying,

who isn’t panicked when the waves crest.

Forget tarot cards and palmistry,

I’ll show ’em their bank balance

and tell them everything’s coool

as an iceberg

’til tiger sharks

start circling and I crank up

these Popeye biceps, a chilly

one-two right to the gills.

Stories My Father Told

The way it goes:

they’re skinny as he is,

long hair clotted down their backs

with different colours,

the fabric of their shirts

growing stiff, holding shape.

Two acquaintances doused in paint

meet my dad at a Montreal bus depot.

When passersby stare, they giggle,

walking from the station,

and my dad follows

looking too clean in comparison

like a masculine Alice

lagging behind two Mad Hatters,

all the way to their aslant

meantime house.

Screen door off its hinges,

smacking into the front step.

Grains of the door frame

splitting with dry rot,

wood faded grey-brown

like bad ground beef.

Inside, the fumes of still wet paint,

this hyped-up duo opens cans,

tosses their contents through the air,

all over the walls and found-couches.

A powerless fridge—

neon green and taupe.

The floor muddy,

everything running together.

There’s more, one says

and hands Dad cottage-deck brown.

The fluid beauty of liquid airborne.

When they finish,

reaching for cigarettes

and warm beer,

even the toilet’s

gooey and half-dried.

Later in BC,

my father sees

one man curse another,

a wand revealed

from a jean-jacket inner pocket

and tapped against a fellow

drifter’s shoulder: Today,

you’re gonna die.

That same summer my father digs

clams out of the beach

and stays—for free—

in a trailer.

Always happier telling a story

where he had no bed of his own,

when he left us

he crashed on couches

and rented fully furnished

basement apartments

while my mother bought

a new bed for herself

and repainted the walls a pale yellow

to gather the morning light.

Would you like to know how the story ends?

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