Published February 2015
I want to talk to rain after a flood. To describe skin, pelts punished by raindrops like fists and hypodermics, pounded as a junkie pounds his own body, punctuating with needles that pierce what cannot be broken with fists. To describe a river, swollen as if deep-kissed by a lover for eons. Swollen as if stung by an errant hive of bees that mistook it for flowers so flowing with nectar they couldn’t resist kissing it to death.
While Rhekia called Darl at work, I walked the short block north to Bow Crescent, turned east, to the house of my friends Phyllis and Randy, set back from the river’s edge up on a long sloping yard. Only the yard had been invaded by the river.
Phyllis was at her sewing desk. “Dee! What are you doing in town? What a nice surprise!” Before she opened her arms, I started to sob.
Recounting the story took a few minutes. Phyl put her hand on my arm. “It’s fate,” she said. When I looked at her in surprise, she went on. “Fate. Lise and her boyfriend are moving to London. The basement suite will be available in a couple weeks. Tell Darl and Rhekia to come look. They can put their stuff in the garage until then.”
Riding a borrowed horse behind a mile-long dam in central Saskatchewan, Diefenbaker Lake stretching on the other side, all I could imagine was the breakthrough. Being swept away. Losing control. An orgasm of immeasurable proportions. I shrugged my shoulders together under the weight of sky masquerading as ponds of light, nudged the horse into a canter, raced for the far end of the dam.
Water is light, mirror-glass physics, angle of incidence equals angle of refraction. Is mercury droplets. A sheet. Ice/steam/fluid. Invisible. A rock-chipped diamond. A skater’s agony. A skier’s liftoff above the T-bar. Raft supporter, life raft. Float. Inhale, and death to all but fish. Life and death. Water is blue green aqua emerald azure cobalt sapphire cerulean indigo. Sea of Tranquility. Sea of Despond. Sea of heartache. Water is in. Out. Fashionable bottles, stored, iced, jugged, poured, hoarded, squandered. Water is hip. The Arctic, tamed and bottled, icebergs with olives and a twist. Is tankers, plastic bottles forming floating islands of post-industrial despair in the oceans. Glasses. A mattress. Water is eternal. Evanescent. A desert. An ocean.
Cheap Night at the AGO
Look how we can get completely swept away—
snow is going down the drains. Downtown,
it’s hockey season—rivers of blue and white
have petered out of Union Station to College
St. where men squeeze hands of other men,
camaraderie in high fives. I looked at them
and they seemed in love. One says you gotta get it
to hit it. Men can be brutal. Beforehand, I was full
of art and symbol in the silence of the AGOs
interludes. You talked Picasso, and yeah—I like him
too—his emergence through the blues, the changes
from room to room—his history of moods.
In the liquor store, we conceal the red
wine in your coat, and scatter deep in the pockets
of Chinatown’s street calligraphy, the alleys—Guernica
night-time, these emporiums of moon
shine down to Queen St. We’re full of good
circulation. All night we traveled through
doorways into rooms with portals to another
life. Distortion, and my eyes haven’t adjusted.
I want to turn the corner to a real
courtyard with pink flowers, a Parisian walk-way,
where a woman is simply peeling
her orange. It’s a night of second liquor stores—
I am so in love with grapes!—Bacchus Amongst
the Cityscape. I want to get it, all the pieces,
I want to understand men.
The Twigs (excerpt)
Dyllon spent the last years of his life as a preacher in a non-denominational New Mexico church. His adherents, I’ve heard, were of the belief that the instruction to multiply in Genesis referred, primarily, to humanity’s stores on earth. (Eden, in this view, not a paradise lost but an example to follow.) Shortly after I took over I met him at one of the two conventions he flew out to every year (one in New York and one in San Diego). He always rented two black Cadillacs. One to sit in on the show floor, in lieu of a chair, with the door open while he uncomfortably perched on the edge of a backseat. A low table set in front of the open door, he signed autograph after autograph, occasionally (for an extra fifteen dollars) retreating into the car to complete (on an art board he pulled over his legs) a hasty sketch.
By the end of most shows, Dyllon just kept the board over his legs and signed everything in the car, which partially explained the quirk, I guess. Though it must have miffed fans whose interaction was limited to passing a sheet of paper or a collection over a table to an arm reaching out of the darkened cabin. The other car was his shuttle for the weekend’s duration, travelling from convention to hotel, from hotel to bar or clinic, depending where he was on his relapse cycle. I asked him, the first and only time I met him (introduced by the syndicate’s distracted PR person, who, after disappearing for several minutes, returned only to shuffle Dyllon back to his booth), if he ever regretted giving up the strip. He said he didn’t regret it at all. But I think he answered a different question than the one I had asked him.
Other contributors featured in this issue include Nicole Brewer, Mack Joe C., Joyce Chong, Vincent Colistro, Christopher Evans, Clay Everest, philip gordon, Myles Gough, Michelle Kelm, Diana Manole, Patrick O’Reilly, Christine Ottoni, Jason Paradiso, Nicolae Prelipceanu, John Rowntree, Gayle Smith, Adam J. Sorkin, James Southcott, Mitch Spray and Adam Zachary.